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Those readers who were also hearers of the following 
Course of Lectures will observe that it has been increased 
by the additicjn of the first discourse, which was preached 
earlier in the year. The purpose of that sermon seemed 
to fall in with the general aims of the succeeding course 
so well that it was difficult to resist the temptation to 
include it. though it is to ])e fearcitl tliat here and there 
the similarity amounts to repetition. The compression 
and occasional mutilation caused by limits of time has 
heen in some places rejjaired by exjjansioii : >but the com- 
pai'ative fn'cdnjii ])(-rhaps roughness of oral delivery is 




The iSouLs Loxging aftkr a Final Causi! ... 1 

The GoD-coxsciousNKsa in Humanity 31 

Inspiration 69 



The Ube and Abusk oi" the Bihle 140 


Note A. On Buddhism as an Argument for the possi- 
bility OF REST IN Atheism , . . .185 
,, li. On the Development Theory in relation to 

the S(n;L and Im.mortality .... 190 

,, c. On Natural Process and Original Force. . 204 
,. D. On the Metaphysical Issues of Physical 

Science ......... 207 

.. E. On St. Paul's Revelations 209 

.. f. EusKHius on the Canon 219 

, c On the Divinity of '"jirist 22S 



' Till' eye is not snthficd Kith seeing, nor the oar filled ovitk 
hcariii'j"' Keel. i. 8. 

' Tlidt theij .should sech the Lord, if h(q)hj they might feel after ILim 
and find lllni." ^Vcts xvii. 27. 

If, as I presmnc, yoii all take an interest in the progress 
of scientific discovery and the consequent modifications 
in tlieological opinion during the last half-century, I 
cannot appeal to unsympathetic hearts Avhen I say that 
sometimes the future seems a v(?ry dreary outlook. I 
do not of course r(!fer to the revolutions in time-honoured 
organizations and modes of thought, Avhicli appear m on; 
and moi-(.' incnitahle. The issue with which I pro])oseto 
deal is much dfX'jx'r than that. A vai)our " heavy, 
huclc.-s, foi-mlcss, cold" C7'(,'C[)S more and more above the 
distaiU !ioi-izon, and \v(; feel as though its touch must \)(\ 
so i'ar deadlier than physical death, that we would very 
much rather die l)cfoi-(' it (;oiu(;s any nearer. In (me word, 
as all our hodily actions tend to death, so, to some moods 



of mind at the present day, all activities of thought seem 
to have but one inevitable goal, a blank material 
atheism. I am of course not stating my own fears; 
though I should be ill prepared to deal with the subject 
if I had never felt them. But I can easily imderstand 
the frame of mind to which in view of prevalent currents 
of thought at the present day, it may appear that there 
is no ultimate issue })ossible other than the one I have 
named. Let us therefore at the outset put the fears 
natural to such a frame of mind in the most plausible 
light, in order that we may not overestimate our re- 
sources against them. 

The tendencies of the future, it may be urged, are to 
be augured, not from the present enthusiasms or prtyu- 
dices of the many, but rather from the uniform leanings 
of those leaders of thought, mIio best know what the 
significance of scientific progress is. Indeed the real 
state of ])ublic opinion now is to be gathered, not from 
formulas of religious profession or worship^ but rather 
from the practical attitude of men's minds, and the con- 
clusions which this tacitly assumes. Judging then in 
this Avay of the general tendency of thought, we may 
regai'd certain positions as permanently and irreversibly 
taken up, at least by the sort of minority which always 
decides the future of tlie world. It used to be regarded 
as a great stretch of cliiirity if one could hope for the 
salvation of a liomanist or a Unitarian. But now it 
has come })ractically to this, tluit no intellectual o])inion 
whatever whether religious or otiierwise can pijssibly 


save or condemn a man's soul. We are simply to 
apply the rule "by their fruits ye shall know them" 
impartially to Atheists, Deists and Christians, making 
abstraction altogether of their opinions Avhile "vve do so. 
Farther, no one can now state a theory of the infalli- 
bility of the Bible, "without encumbering it "with so 
many limitations as to amount practically to its denial. 
Again the unmistakeable and, it may be added the 
resistless tendency of science is to extend the reign of 
law not (mly to all phenomena of existing nature, but 
also to every conceivable process in its development. 
And still farther, physiologists exhibit an always in- 
creasing confidence that all movements of mind are 
associated with, and find their equivalent expression in 
cliaiiges in the matter of the brain. AVliat more is 
needed, ask some, to show that atheism is already 
clcai-ly in vitnv ? One by one all sacred principles and 
oljjects of reverence are undermined or exploded: and 
very soon we shall have nothing left to us beyond wliat 
we can toucli and taste and handle, matter, nothing but 
matter, godless matter, or in other words material 

J might reply, I am not so sure of that, at least so i'ar 
as (:oiicci-ns tlic issue. A\'liy sliould matter necess;!i-ilv 
be godless? To lii-ge lliat coiiclusioii so coiiHd;'))', j\- 
one ought to have found out what matter is; and 1 
a(n not aware that any one has done so yet. Tlie 
most |)hiu<il)le conjee.:! ures on ilie subject wotdd ratluir 
begin an upward moveinent in the e\erlasting see-saw 


oi" opinion, by showing that matter is only a form 
of force, or aggregation of forces. And this "would 
certainly point the -way hack to spiritualism. No ; I 
am not at all sure that the reduction of everything 
to matter would involve atheism ; in fact rather the 
contrary. As in Browning's famous ring, tlie base 
alloy needed to work out the theory would fly off on 
its com})letion, and leave only forces, which, if they 
inliere in anything, are more likely to inhere in spirit 
and life tlian in aught else. 

But that is scarcely the kind of reply to the religious 
fears of the times which I desire to urge noAv. I wish 
rather to insist on a principle in human nature which 
really makes the issue of all such controversies a fore- 
gone conclusion, however perplexing and imcertain they 
may apjiear to be in their course. A traveller, who 
comes upon a winding river in an unknown mountainous 
land, is not more sure that the ultimate destiny of that 
river is the sea, than we may be about the final issue of 
the ouJ;i controversy which caii be regarded as a question 
of spiritual life or death. I do not for a moment deny 
that individual men may conscientiously hold atheistic 
<j})inions. But I say that to regard these instances as 
]>roplietic tokens of the final destiny of human thought 
is just as though, standing by a river and noticing a 
i)ack eddy here and there, you were to fancy that at 
some jtoint in its course the stream might turn round 
and go up hill. In both cases there is an inward 
principle which, in spite of apparent exceptions to its 


working, all explicable on close examination, points to 
one only possible ultimate issue. In a word, what 
gi'avitation is to the stream, that I contend, the irre- 
pressible longing of the soul after a final cause of 
existence is to the course of human opinion. It makes 
atheism for ever impossible, unless as a very exceptional 
position, and then only provisional, the negative expe- 
dient of suspense, not the confidence of assurance. Of 
course the position is not self-evident ; and therefore the 
first thing that we have to do is to explain and support 
it. Afterwards I shall ask your attention to the 
degrees and disguises of which the apprehension of this 
final cause is susceptible, and the security which we have 
for its ultimate achievement in ourselves and others. 


Tliis, says St. Paul, is the reason why God made 
the AA'orkl ; tliat it might be the abode of men, and 
that they might seek the Lord. We cannot help ask- 
ing ourselves how comes St. Paul to S})eak with such 
confidence of God's object in the creation of mankind? 
To say that he docs so by inspiration is to say little, 
because the t(;rm, thovigh, as we shall try to show in 
anothci' lecture, it has a very real significance, is so ex- 
ceedingly indetinite. Is this a part oC tlie iiiroi-mation 
lie received in the ecstatic visions of his exiihed inter- 
coursfj with th(! risen Lord? That does not appear 
likely, for this reason; that all St. Piiul's rell'rences to 
this source of his knowhnlge seem to imply that the 

6 THE sours LOXGIXO 

instnictions he thus rcceivocl concerned only the special 
form in which he, as the A])ostle of the Gentiles, was to 
})reach the gospel. Did he learn it froni the Old Testa- 
ment? Well, it is implied in the Old Testament; but 
in such a mode that perhaps only those who bring this 
idea to the study of its pages are likely to find it there. 
I rather think that St. Paul in these words uttered a 
truth, which ho in his consciousness found funda- 
mentally necessary, while it was doubtless illustrated 
and developed by his Christian experience. Indeed the 
whole tone of the speech on Mars' Hill is that of one 
who desires to appeal to first principles. He speaks 
not as a Jew, but as a man. And he was a man who 
could not take life easily. He could not live, as the 
saying is, from hand to mouth. There are some men who 
appear satisfied with the consciousness that they are 
alive, and are on the Avliole enjoying it. But not such 
a man was St. Paul. He felt driven to seek for some 
ulterior signihcance in life, some divine purpose, attain- 
ment of which should be the highest goal and perfect 
bliss of man. And this instinctive impulse found, as 
he believed, its exj)lanation and its satisfaction in the 
divine life which Christ awoke in his soul and was 
awaking in the world. Therefore he says with such 
confidence that the ]\Iost High has made all nations of 
men that tliey should s(H'k the Lord. Now this is 
insj)ir:iti()n undoid)tedly ; l)ut it is an inspiration which 
is f)pen to us all, and which in some degree we all 
possess, whether we yield to it or not ; for it is just 


the quenchless longing of human natiire after a final 
cause of creation. 

These remarks upon St. Paul's words may illustrate 
the meaning that we are to attach to the phrase ' final 
cause,' in this connection. I mean by it such a supreme 
and comprehensive motive, or purpose, as would give 
us a rational if only approximate conception of the 
ultimate significance of creation. Of course our ob- 
servations are necessarily confined to the part of crea- 
tion in which humanity is unmistakeably the predominant 
feature. But Avhatever satisfies the craving for a final 
caiisc here will also suggest the possibility of an analo- 
gous moti\c pervading the whole universe. 

Let no one think that because science has no place 
for final causes therefore there is no place for them in 
philosophy or religion. As an anatomist, or a Ijotanist, 
or a g(^ologist, the student may be very right in saying, 
I have nothing to do with final causes, my only business 
is with observed appearances and ascertained connections. 
But as a man ho cannot hel]) himself; final causes will 
obtrud*; ujton him whether he likes it or not. For as a 
man he not only sees and classifies, but he wistfully 
tiiinks and wonihirs. There are relations betw(H'n liim- 
selt" and tiie universe, whicli no analysis of sensuous 
obsci-\ ations can exhaust. The starry sky has some 
nainrlcss gi-andeur, whi(;h no results of mathematical 
calculation can exjjress. Tlu' tender clouds, whose 
colours lie analyses with In's ])rism, speak a language to 
his li(;ai-t, which no j)risniatic chart can interpret. And 

8 THE sours LOXGINQ 

amongst sucli incalculable relations between liimself 
and the universe is the wistful longing after inner 
meaning and ultimate aim, which the enigma of creation 
always excites in the contemplative souJ. Most natural 
is the artless hymn which represents the young child 
as appealing to the little star on high and exclaiming, 
'' How I wonder what you are !" So all life long we 
stand at gaze, the vision exjmnding from a star to a 
imiverse, while still all our cry is of wonder what it is. 
And this enquiry after what ts, includes manifestly a 
longing after the significance and purpose of appear- 
ances ; that is, it involves the hunger of the soul ibr 
a final cause of creation. 

But it is time to show the relation of this to the 
moral and religious outlook of the age. For, as we 
have said, the fear is entertained by many, that critical, 
physiological, and philosophical enquiries all converge 
on one inevitable goal Atheism. AVell then let us 
suppose the goal to be reached. Let us imagine the 
Bible to be regarded, not only as fallible, but as delu- 
sive, and God to be given up as a poetic myth. Let us 
conceive the reign of law so interpreted as to exclude 
any possible freedom of will ; let us assume it estab- 
lished as the combined triumph of all scientific enquiries, 
that in every direction the last obtainable result leaves 
us with centres of force and their vibrations. Does 
any one think that such a conclusion can ever be re- 
garded as slmtting u]) the mysteries of the universe or 
closing the avenues of spiritual perspective ? Opinions 


change, but human nature survives ; and no decrees of 
a scientific hierarchy can long hush the questions, what 
is force, or how is it gathered into centres, and why 
do they for ever vibrate, and what is the stupendous 
movement working out ? If there is a Ijahmce of forces 
in the universe, why do they not ncutrahze one another? 
If there is not, how are we held off" fi-om chaos ? And 
is thcH'c no meaning in it all, no purpose accordant 
witli mind and heart and conscience in man ? Is the 
universe but a stupendous kaleidoscope, in which forms 
of beauty tumble together, only to be scattered by the 
next revolution ? If it be so, I am not of that world 
on which I look through the window of the eye. In 
this etherial inward world to which I belong, Avill, 
purpose, reason, atfection, {trinciple reign as supreme 
all-animating powers. And I, being as I am, lune no 
part nor lot in that great and terrible wilderness masked 
with a shimmering mirage of Ijcauty that rings me 
round, ^'ay, I am myself more real than anything 
without. That desert woi'ld is a dream for auglit I 
kiKjw: but as for nu; I live and Oh Jbr a mu'versal 
life, that in it I may liv(! and move and hav(; my 
bt.'ingl Surely, surely tluy were ri<,dit of old who said 
that iir(j w;is the b(g-iiiniiig and the (>nd of all. And 
wli;il ifaftcf all tlie lbrc(!s of which nuiii speak and their 
vibj-atidiis be th(,' sii;'ns of some etei'iial eiici'gy ofHfe? 

Tin- -i;n. ill'' iii(j.,ii. the ^tar^. llic s!vi<, tlic IpIN riml tlie plains, 
\v W'X ih''-!-. () -(,ul. the vi-iMi! (if llim wliM rciunis .' 
j^ ii'.l thf vi-i'jii Jlc.' thuULfh liij bu lu.i thai whi'jh lie sr(;)ii-? 


Dreams are true while tliey last, and do we not live in dreams? 
S{X)ak to llini thou, for lie hears, and spirit with spirit can meet, 
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet." 

But it will not need modern poets to give voice to 
the resurrection joy of laitli. There was one of old 
who to a Hebrew harp uttered words, which may yet 
express the rej^entance of a world awaking from a 
short nightmare of material atheism. ^^ So foolish was 
I and vjnorant^ 1 was as a least before thee. Neverthe- 
less I am continualhj with thee; thou hast holden me hy 
my right hand. Thou shalt guide ivith thy counsel, and 
afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven 
hut thee ? And there is none upon earth that I desire 
beside thee. Jify flesh and my heart faileth, but God is 
the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.'''' 

I believe then this irrepressible longing after a final 
cause, after some significance and purpose in creation, 
which sliall have due reference to human nature, will 
for ever make atheism impossible except as a tem- 
porary ex])e(lient of suspense, or the paralysis of despair 
A\iliich comes in the darkest hours of times transitional 
through ilecay.* For human nature is a part of the 
universe, and in interpreting the universe it must surely 
have duo weight. If then the hunger after a final cause 
be as ineradicable from fully developed human nature as 
th(; l)('lief itself that the senses really ini])ly an external 
world, I regard it as a very important indication 

* Si.-e Aiipi-iKlix Note A on Buddhism as an argument for the possi- 
bility of rest ill Atheism. 


that a final cause exists. I do not now say how far 
it can come into clear consciousness. I do not contend 
that it can ever be adequately and absolutely appre- 
hended. But I do say that it may hint itself to the 
spiritual imagination. I do contend that it may give 
prophetic types of its reality in the noblest moments of 
this mortal life, as the glory of manly or womanly love 
may be anticipated in the affections of the child. And 
if immortality should be the ever growing apprehension 
of this final cause, that itself is sufficient to make 
heaven an cxhaustless joy, a joy which continually 
enlarges the power of perception, and for ever exceeds 
its capacity. 

Tlie suggestion which St. Paul makes as to the nature 
of th(; final cause of creation is this, that the world was 
evolved for tlie piu'poso of bringing al)0ut the comnmnion 
of th(j created spirit Avith the eternal God. The value of 
this suggestion will be better understood, when Ave have 
considered the deorees and disofuises of Avliich that com- 
munion is susceptible. Meantime I urge that, like truth 
and love, tliis is one of those things Avhich commend 
thomsolves to our spiritual ])erce])tions as good and 
worthy for their own sakes, apart from any other con- 
sid(n-ati()ns Avhatever. Nny, eveiy special instance of 
our joy in truth and love suggests a larger raTige of 
sucli bliss ; nor can the iinaginati<m once aroused stop 
short of a possible universe, in Avhich (;very creature is 
blessed I)ee;ius(j consciously ti'ue to tlu; divine thought, 
con>ei(usly (Mubraced by and responsive to the divine 


love. In such a conception, and in sucli a conception 
only can wo find an nltimate rest for our souls. Give 
us that, and we find no insuperable difficulty in the long, 
slow, often painful process of development which leads 
up to the final issue. For it may well be that degrees 
and contrasts of finite experience are necessary to the 
fulness of that issue, and when enshrined therein will 
explain themselves. Grive us that, and it is not even 
needful for us to imagine that creation, development, 
conflict, redem})tion shall ever really cease. A completed 
universe, a closed heaven, an exhausted mystery may be 
only an expedient of the mind for iacility in embodying 
the desires of the heart. But those desires in their 
essential significance are satisfied, if we can dare to 
conceive of some pinnacle in the throne of God, from 
which the imivcrse though in eternal flux, is seen to be 
working out in every newly created ])art some i'resh 
creature consciousness of the Divitie Life. 

Though no such com])rehensive vision be j)ossi])le to 
us now, still there are many hints that tlie purest and 
keenest ha])])iness Avliich existence ever yields us is of 
the nature of communion with God. ^\lmn we indig- 
nantly revolt from wrong and earnestly stand uj) for 
right, the im])ulse which sustains us is I'elt to be a 
triumphant joy. And I know not better how to describe 
that imi)ulse than by the Avord loyalty loyalty to the 
Supn'ine Goodness which all in one sense or another, 
however dimlv, feel to b(! tin; ultimate law of existence. 
And in the warmth of this lovaltv I recofmise the 


embrace of our souls by God's purity and love. Tlie 
very eag-erness of science in the pursuit of natm^iil 
truth receives in my view its real exj^lanation, only 
when we think of each new discovery as a fresh hint 
of the eternal light in which all things are open and 
miconcealed to the consciousness of God. And when 
the Psalmist in his oavu rapture at the magniticence of 
the world as])ires to think of the bliss of the Creator in 
His work ''the glory of the LORD shall endure for 
ever., the LORD shall rejoice in his works^'' I think he 
suggests the real secret of the strange and deep emo- 
tions which are stirred in our hearts by our intercourse 
witli Nature. When we can stand in the midst of God's 
beautiful imiverse, and feel that wo love it because He 
loves it, a.iid that our love is one with His ; when we 
ciiii realize' it as living because He lives, nay as being 
only the trans])arent veil tluit moderates His intolerable 
light : then we know why every feature of noble scenery 
has a meaning to tht; soul as well as to the eye. For 
our hearts an; not alone in the universe; they answer 
tlirough the \v\\ U) the life of God. Tlien Ave know 
why the ])iiritv of Alpine jx.'aks sliould touch the heart 
with a-piration; and why i\\v. sweet jiei'sjx'ctive of a 

wooulnnd "ilade 

dioiild dim tiie eyes with t(!ars ; and 
wliv the ocean niurmurs of eternity ; and why all sounds 
ol'Tiatnre seem to vail oi' sigh, with longing moi-e than 
sadne.-s. I"'or what is lov(! in God is longing in his 
ci-eatni-es. " As fur me J irijl behold linj fare in rufhteons- 
ness, I sh'dl be satisjicd tchen / axixike icifh th/j likeness^ 


'' The earnest e.vpectat'ion of the creature waitethfor tlie 
manifestation of tJie sons of Gody 


It will natiirany occur to many that if the final 
cause of creation be the communion of the creature 
with the creator, there is, at any rate so far as the 
field of hmnan ohservation extends, hardly any con- 
ceivahle end which creation has hitherto fulfilled so 
little. But such a thought is probably sugf^ested hj too 
limited an idea of the meaning of communion between 
the Creator and the creature. To this limited idea 
consciousness on the part of the creature that it is God 
to whom the heart answers is considered absolutely 
necessary. Now that is true no doubt of the highest 
communion. But if God gives himself in some mea- 
smx' to all His creatures, and if their feelings are any- 
thin"; to Him, then there may be endless dem-ees and 
disguises of this communion ; or the final cause of 
creation may be attained more or less ])erfect!y, and 
in many ways. The meaning of this Avill perha})s be- 
come clearer as am; ])roceed. But first of all it must 
be plain that by tlie attainment of the final cause of 
creation in any single instance we cannot mean only 
an intellectual apprehension of it. What we mean is 
such a practical realization as satisfies the desires of 
the sold. For example, my o])inion as to this final 
cause miirlit be held with inlcilectual clearness, even 


wliilc in tone and temper and deeds I mio;lit be selfish, 
base and false, tliat is, utterly ungodly. But in sueh a 
case it could not for one moment be maintained that in 
mc the ultimate aim of creation was realized. Yet 
thouoli my intellectual notions on the subject might 
be considered imperfect, still, if in my soul I realize 
anything of the tone and temper which come from com- 
munion Avith God, and if I am the means of infusing 
something of this s})irit into those about me, then the 
end of creati(jn is to that extent attained in me ; and I 
am made the instrument of promoting it in others. 
Thi> rcmai'k is obvious enough ; but it leads us a good 
deal i'arthcr. For if an intellectual a])])rehension of the 
final cause of creation is nothing a])art from the lile 
that shows a moral conniuniion with Grod, the question 
narurally arises, su])])osing the life to exist altogether 
a])art innn any correct intellectual a])])reliension of 
its source, what then ? Docs the absence of a right 
ojfiiiion change the essential iiature of the lifi; ? The 
answer niay b(; ready on many lips, tliat such a case is 
iin])o-sil!!c. But some of our greatest ])er])lcxitics at 
t!ic pix--cnt time arise ironi tlie jiractical pi'oof lo llie 
contrary, wliicli is foi'ccd on us by all social experience 
(!xce|)i ilie narrowest and most scctariiui. And nolliing 
but ;i t'ui'lori! ()] j)ei-\'ei'se delenninat ion to constiMie the 
mo.-t unconronnable facts accoi'ding io a jireccjiieeivcd 
theory can long maintain sn(b an an>\\('r. The smallest 
eii'<'le ol' societ\-, containii:.'.'; ;i!i\' in;ii'ked \arieties of 
tliou'.'-liL aiid (}ia!',".cler, is (jr.lle suliicieni to illu>trate 


the startlinix and paradoxical extent to wliicb moral 
and s})iritual life is independent of tlieolorrical opinion. 
To Lrino; the argnnient to a point, take an extreme case, 
which unfbrtnnately is too common at the ])resent day. 
It is by no means micommon to meet with men not 
only t)t" keen activity of thonsht, but of high })urpose 
and chi\alrous tem])er, who, when pressed, Avill t(>ll you 
that we do not and cauTiot know whether there is a God 
at all, and that at all events any personal direct and 
conscious communicm with Him is impossible. Yet 
often the life of such men, not the outward semblance 
only, l)ut the essential character, so far as the most 
intimate intercourse can ascertain it, is distinguished 
by u})rio;htuess, kindliness, earnestness, loyalty of soul, 
sometimes even by the enthusiasm from which self- 
forgetfulness and self-sacrifice are inseparable. Now 
there, as a matter of fact, you have the life without the 
oj)ini()n. Well, Avill any one undertake to say that the 
final cause of creation is to no extent realized in such 
cases ? Are uprightness, truth, honour and love any 
the less divine bec^ause the intellect of their ])ossessor 
is mistaken alxnit their fundamental nature and origin? 
You might just as well deny that they are spiritual at 
all, because their ])ossessor's theory is that they are 
functions of the tissue of liis brain. Our creaticm by 
the hantl of God does not dejjcnd upon our o])inion on 
the question. And the procession of all good thoughts 
and holy desires from the Sj)irit of the Most High is 
just as much a (juestion of fact ; and therefore surely 


inJeponclent of the opinions of those in whom good 
thoiights and holy desires are awakened. 

At the same time truth or falsehood of opinion is 
never indifferent, least of all on subjects of such trans- 
ctindant import. For in the unity of our personal being 
our faculties are to such an extent mutually inter- 
dependent, that the opinions to which we have alluded, 
though they cannot affect the essential nature of the 
moral life, must of course prevent its highest development 
as a clear consciousness of God in the soul. The God- 
conscioHsiiess indeed is, as I shall try to show in another 
lecture, itself capable of many degrees, and in its obscurer 
forms may co-exist with the most erroneous, even with 
materialistic opinions. But t(^ become '^. consciousness of 
Go<l. it necessarily demands or ])(>rhaps in becoming 
this it ])roduces an intellectual a})preliension of the filial 
relations between ourselves and the Father in Heaven. 
I can \\(,'ll Ijelieve that tlu* full attairnuent of cmr ideal 
]erfection is the co-ordinate result of accuracy in o])inion 
and loyalty in heart. But I cannot and dare not 
believi! that in any iii(li\i(lual man the final cause of 
his creation is wholly missed becaiis(,', in the candid 
exercise of his reascjn, he arriv(!s at erroneous oj)inions 
e\cn as to the Ijeing of G(jd. Nor can J deny that such 
instanco of cundid conscientious though as \ :im very 
sui-e rurnlauiental error exist, without doing violence, 
L will nut -ay to charity, but to coniuioii sense. Vet 
in tile -coiie for miwai-jted judgenient ^\hi(h the frank 
acceptance (;f such a j)o>ition gi\cs me I am, if jtossible. 


more conHdent than over that conscious communion 
Avith God is open to all .seekiiiDj souls, and must needs 
bo a noljlor state and a keener joy than any hlind 
partici])atioii in his lil'e. Ft)r he who can trace the 
mystic lio-ht that conscience loves, who can follow it 
u]) the beams of heaven and tind its soui'ce in the 
brightness of God's glory is more consistent, and is 
likely to be more earnest, in cherishing that light with 
reverence, than any man who tinds in it only an electric 
condition of the brain. All I contend is that the one 
o])inion or the other cannot possibly alter the essential 
nature of the moral life, and therefore cannot change its 
character as a commmiion with God. 

The use of this word communion to express any- 
thing short of ])ersonal conscious and recognized 
relationship to God will no doubt a])pear incongruous to 
soriie. Yet, as it describes the sharing in some common 
elements of lif' if all ijood thouolits and holy desires do 
really ])r()c;'e(l from God's Spirit, such a use of the word 
caiin.ot lie inaccurate or illegitimate; and it is most 
conveni(!?it to our pur])ose. Indee(l it is vc^y conunon 
for good ;'.!! I pious a'lvis{M-s of the faint-hearted to 
comfort them in their religious d(>pression by assuring 
tlieni that they an^ partakers of the divine natiu'c to a 
much greater extent than they are a^vare. I then would 
merely ])ush this ])ossible dissidence between conscious- 
ness and n'ality to the exti-eine limit which facts require, 
ami would maintain that God's creatures may be par- 
takers o:' the divine r.ature \\'ithuut knowino; it at all. 


In this view it is evident tliat there is opened up to its 
an endless scale of deforces and disfjuises of wliieli tlie 
attainment of creation's tinal cause is suscepti1)le. In- 
deed the possibility of many deo:rces in attainment is 
surraested Ijy St. Paul, when he hints that men niay 
have to feel after God before they find Him. And 
sui'ely they often feel after Him, when they know not 
at all what it is they want, i^ay, in the sense which 
we have seen to he inherent in the word, there is some 
comm\inion with God even in the humblest parts of 
creation. For tliere is a certain communion possil)le 
b(;t\veeii the artist and his work, thouo;li indefinitely 
lower than that Ijetween a father and his children. A 
])art of the wcn'ker himself has ixone into his work : it 
aj)])ca!s to him as it cantiot do to any one else. A thin;: 
bcaotlcn, he knows not how, in the d(>pths of his life 
benc;ith consciousni'ss has risen more and more clearly 
into the sui'faee liis-lit. And in his ea^'er desire to 
n;i\-e it the most articulate cxiircssion he has put it 
ahon'-ilicr outsi'le him in the dry li^'ht of the outer 
\voi-!il. Hut tlKr.iii-h it is outside him he feels a< t!ieU;:h 
hi,-- own life were in it; aiid in its ndiection of !iis 
tlioiiiilit wittiout the eilbi-t of concepiion. or at h ast 
in t!ie 'omiuunicatio;i and diifu>ion of the tr<'a-ure> !iid 
in sell', he finds pei'hiiis some faint annloi'.'x' to creative 
bliv-. r'oi- so the S:ip--;'i;ie A\'orker, we I'e.l. must li;i\;' 
a eeilaiii eoiii:nu:H"on with la.ndseape beaul:es. am! or- 
;fa;iie worrlei-,^, with niounlain }ieii;hts and nc>lhnu' 
violet >, with lexialhati in his stren^'th, and with the i::ik 


in his ecstaey. I doubt not these are precious to the 
soiil just because thev are thoughts of God; they are 
great or beautiful because tliey are ])artakers of the 
divine nature. If we may dare to say it, they reflect 
God u])on Himself; in them the treasures of his nature 
are dirtused abroad ; and He, the changeless, dwells in 
everlasting comnnxnion with the always changing uni- 
verse, whose revolutions are phases of his glory. Thus 
no blossom drops, no withered leaf flitters down, but it 
enshrines its little i)art in the final cause of creation. 
For not at the birth of the world only, but now and for 
evermore the Divine Artist looks on all that his hands 
have made, "and behold it is very good." 

But the Su})reme Worker is a Father too ; and in this 
relationship Ave believe Him to seek a higher com- 
munion, which bears a transcendental analogy to the 
most })erfect communion of fathers and children on 
(arth. Tlie first approach to this higher communion 
was made, when the first moral sentiment was felt ; and 
this relationship between God and Man will be consnm- 
nuited when all things are gathered into one in Christ, that 
is in the divine humanity. By a purely moral sentiment 
I mean the j)reference for an action because it is right, 
because it is kind or good, even at the (>xpense of self, 
or at any rate apart from any consideration of comfort 
or convenience or advantage. If for example we may 
suppose that after ages of ci'catiAc })rogress one of those 
dim fiir)t-splitting creatures, who haunt the shadows on 
the borders of a past et(;rnity, took pity on a wounded 


comrade left on an abandoned field and said ' I will 
cjirry him food and water though I die, for that is brave 
imd right,' then I maintain that in him this higher 
divine communion was beofun, thouo-h he could not 
know it as we do now. Onlv little bv little woidd such 
moral sentiments acquire clear distinctness from the 
carnal life, and in the continuity of progress we can 
easily believe that the first steps might be imperceptible; 
but could they be traced, that would be the begimiing 
of this higher communion with God, and an a})proxi- 
mation towards the purest and intensest form of creation's 
final cause. But when men looked up to the glory of 
the da^\^^, and dreamed that day Avas })oured from a 
source of light, supreme, unapproachable, which no man 
had seen or could se(;; when they began to associate 
that Shining One with the imj)artial sanction of the 
g<^od]iess they ab'cady loved, and to see in the lightning 
and the sun-stnAe images of his vengeance against evil 
theJi the gates of a nearer access to the divine majesty 
were ojicnecl, and the ])()ssibility of a conscious com- 
munion with the Mi>st High touched their hearts Avith a 
blc-scd awe. 

I nl;d^(; no pnitenee at ])resenting anything but a 
|)os>ibl(' (juth'iie of th(,' earhCst spiritual ])i'()gress, an 
outh'uc to wliich 1 sliall ask attention again from another 
[)oiiit of view.* The Avhole subject is \ct far too obscure 
to alli^w any confident assertion of precise ste[is and tlniir 

* See Leciurc J I. 

22 THE SO I'L 'S L ONaiNCr 

conncetioii. But -when I tliiiik Low onr faith in God 
and even the patent facts of spiritual consciousness are, 
by the ])erv(>rse obstinacy of a zeal not accordinfr to 
knowledo-e, made to stand or fall with certain theories 
of human history which every }ear makes more miten- 
ahle, I should he false to e\('ry highest duty of my 
^"ocation did I not attempt to show that the reality of 
our personal divine relationship is conceivably consistent 
with any scheme of the past that science can i)ossibly 
propomid. Wheii I am smnmoned to stand and deliver 
on the one hand candour and common sense or on the 
other my faith in God, it is high time to show cause why 
I decline to do either. 

It will easily be conceived that every movement in this 
high progress might be accompanied by eddying fancies 
or even back currents, by fetisliism, or magic, or the 
wild theogonies of old ; by devil -worshij) which ])assed 
backward through the beast to the demon ; or by the 
material pantheism, which often, as in the case of 
Lucretius, had an inspiration little suspected by itself. 
But on the whole the history of human ])rogrcss is the 
history of the growing ])urity and lustre with which this 
final cause of creation, creatm-e life in God, has Ijeamed 
forth on human souls. Prophets who heard in stillness and 
s])oke in thunder, lawgi\'ers Avho strove to bring down 
the marsballed order of the heavens on earth, poets who 
cauglit the su])tle s])irit of earthly beauty and breathed 
it i'rom their lyres, ])salmists who iiiterj)r(!ted the meaning 
looks of sky and field and flood and found their whole 


significance to be the praise of God, all had their part 
in attracting, in fixing the eje of conscience, and iin- 
folding before it the splendoiu* of its desire. To such 
as these, St. Peter says, " men did ^srell that they gave 
heed, as nnto a light shining in a dark place, until the 
day dawned, and the day-star arose in their hearts."* 

When the ideal of all purity, self-sacrifice and love 
stood on earth and said " he that hath seen mo hath seen 
the Father," then the Day-star did arise in the hearts of 
men, l)ringing with it the da^vn of a clearer and universal 
communion with God. That dawn, after what many 
think the darkest hour of night, a])pearcd a sudden 
and startling brightness; but to us who are longing for 
high noon it may seem gradual and slow. Yet the 
divine consciousness of Christ has an exhaustless wealth 
of sjiii'itual sugo-cstion, which always re-animates our 
faith whenever we are brought into vital connnmiion 
with him. And it is of tins effect of his glorious 
personal life, not of tlie letter of the gospels, not 
of any dogmatic theologv that I speak, Avhen I say that 
at his coming suspicion changed 1o certainty and as])i- 
ratioii to a soul-felt grasp of God. Christ in his own 
manire>t communion with tlie Father, and llirough the 
(convictions he produced of the close and sui)ernatural 
relation of (jlod and man, su])ernatural because irans- 
c(;nding all phenomenal investigations -lied a light on 

* 2 I'.t. i. I'.i. TIk! npi.^ilf- rcfrr^ npi.annily 1'i tln' second ccniiiiif: 
of r'hrUt : l.ut \vi' iniiy vcvy well apply lliu ^v,,ni.s Id a fuller a].jiiv. 
heii.^ii.ii (.,1; tlie J.oi'il'.s spiritual wurk. 


the dim desires of tlie soul, -wliieli brings the final cause 

of creation clearly into view, and awoke in human 

nature a spirit, which is nothing less than God's creative 

energy in the evolution of a better world. He awoke 

it by imparting not wisdom, not morality, not theology, 

but himself to mankind, by dying and entering into our 

life.* For " the Lord is that Sjnrit,''' the spirit of the 

latter day, the spirit of truth, of candour, of reverence 

for fact, the spirit of high pi-inci})le, self-sacrifice, divine 

commmiion. And they who are in that spirit, if still 

they seek the finger of God 

" in world or sun, 
In eagle's wing, or insect's eye," 

seek it not by way of proof that He is, but in com- 
munion with his creative joy, which they realize first of 
all by the sense of His work within their o'svn souls. 
' The Lord is that Spirit ;" and as the might of the sun 
is sllo^^^l, not by the burning spot he makes in the blue 
of the sky, but by the wide atmos})liere of liglit that 

* How Christ \\Touglit this work ior manhood, that is, what was the 
particular bearing thereon of his ministry, his suiTering, his death 
and resurrection, is a question outside the limits of the present subject, 
and our ideas on that question are best formed gradually in the light 
of practical Christian experience. Teaching on such a subject may 
fairly be i-egarded as the main duty of the Christian ministry ; but it 
should be for the most part the teaching of the prophet "line 
upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." 
'ilius is it host kept closely associated with a realization of the moral 
needs to which it applies ; and without that association any attempt 
at systematic teaching on such a question too readily results in the 
substitution of opinion for faith, and of sectarian confidence for spi- 
ritual life. 


fills, and bv filling expands tlie world, so lie who rightly 
uses the all pervasive spiritvial light that streams from 
Christ better knows the power of the Sun of Righteous- 
ness, than he who too much concentrates his gaze on 
one dazzling spot in history. The healing, says the 
prophet, is in his wings, those wings of light that sweep 
the ever Avidening horizon of life. 

Thus men have been feeling after God, tliat finding 
Him they might know the reason of their own being, 
and in it the final cause of creation. And though since 
the day of Christ, Christian 0})ini()n and organization 
have often undergone corruption and revolution, yet on 
the wlK)le, wliatever that narrow faith which is all but 
universal doubt ma}' say, great progress has been made 
in that high ([ucst; and, though some may scoiit it as a 
mei-c ])ara(lox, I verily believe that taking heart and 
iutellect and moral life t(^g(;ther num is nearer to God 
than ever. Our highly organized civilizati(m is very 
])robab]y more liable to souk; forms of evil, such as 
connnercial (()nspira(;ies to dei'raud, and hojx'lessly de- 
moralized pauperism, than wc^'e simj)ler states of society. 
And on the other liand we feel, mon^ j)ainfully than 
gfuci-ations to whom the extent of the earth was little 
known, the \ ast expanse oi" ])ai'I)ai'ism. Jbit on tlie 
whole puhlic spirit ncNci" had highei' aims; public oj)in ion 
never \\ii> ruled by more ])Ui'elv ethical j)i"inciples as 
distingiii>he(l from the jiassions of super>tition ; and the 
"entliii>ia>m of huniarn"t\','' which is always kindled 
directl\- or indirecllv bv a sense of man's sacre<ln(;ss as 

26 THE so urs l on gin g 

the son of God, -was never more f^enerally felt tlian at 
the present day. Al)o^(! all, seienee, politics, social life, 
as well as s})iritual revolutions, are workin front at leno;th 
a true catholicity of relifjion, according to which the life 
of God in the soul of nnm shall be freely reverenced 
and loved, no matter -vvliat the intellectual form it may 
take. At any rate the need of such a genuine catholicity 
was never more widely realized. It presses itself upon 
thousands of anxious hearts, who while they hold their 
religious o]>inions dear, are galled to agony by the 
limitations which such opinions 8eem to impose on the 
recognition of earnestness, truth, and loyalty of soul 
unless stam])ed as piety by some intellectual creed. 
Meantime morbid developments of Christian dogma, and 
the incongruous worldliness of Christian organizations 
have led to many paradoxical reactions, in which the 
very energy of faith in goodness drives men into the 
forms of intellectual unbelief. AVhat then? "/s- not 
the life more ilmn meat, and the hodij than raimeiitr'' 
We cannot indeed pretend to the prerogative of God, 
who alone looketh directly at the heart. Ihit yet we 
can discern through many an intellectual disguise the 
emotional and moral life which is only possiljle by com- 
munion with God ; and whether "\\e caTi or can not 
reconcile the evident fact with our opinions, we can at 
least hold fast the fact, while the faith that is the living 
soul of our opinions f(;rces them to adapt themselves 
to a wider catholicity of love. That seems at least 
to be the lesson taught us and the example set by 


the ;rreatest and best amongst the leading spirits of the 

Yet let not any one think tliat this charity, which 
believeth all things and hopcth all things, can ever 
lessen our own joy in that faith vrhich knows in whom 
it has believed. Our highest idea of manhood, and 
surely oiir truest conception of immortality, is still the 
contemj)lative but not necessarily inactive life, which, 
being consciously embraced by the love of God, finds 
in the universe an ever expanding revelation of his 
glory. And that life can bo ora's now only so far as 
we enter into the spirit of Christ. f " He that believeth 
(m me,'' saith tlu; Lord, ^^ ItafJi everlasting lil'e ;" and, 
making allowance for differences in forms ol" sjjcech 
and thought, we cannot doul^t that the essence; of that 
l^'Iief is ])os>(.'>sion of tlie s])irit of Christ. Most blessed 
are tiny who can aj)pr(,'hend in Clirist a divinity btyond 
all other human ex])erience, and who v/ithout fear of 
idolatry can worshi]^ God in him. " Let iis therefore as 
many as he j)erfectt he thus minded; and if in any respect 

* Tli;;r .-(;cms in nic lo liave Lcen (specially ilie nliifiido suij^ecstcrl 
by K'il.iii-ai, c4' l'.i:;j^liiiiii. and A. J. Scdtt. (if .Maiic-lir.-icf. i)f whum 
tint fonni r liv liis eiiui-iniiiis |)()si1iuiiiohs influence, and the laiter by a 
peculiar jici-'.nal |i(i\vci- i)i' insjiii-at i'jii diu'inL'' liis life. ;:cniiinaiit iji 
many iniii'U ~ini'i' his ileatli. )iav(; doiie wvivv tlian many \\\vi in their 
lii"i'ti!:ie ha'.-e ;/i'|.;it(.r names U> !-i ren.ft hen reli-j-ioiis I'aiiii ilui'intr this 
sickly \,>v\',<\ (if l!-ah-il inn. 

t 'i'lii- !.' -uicly tint fundarndital and nnivcfsal sen^c of the wni'dn. 
"1 am \^:'- way. the tpiitli and the life': mi man cnmeih mito the 
l-'athif \<\\\ \>\ Mie." .Jolin .\iv. (i. 

:j; Till' 'iieek r^Afioi does tkA neces-arily involve the vain t'lorioiis 
a.^sumjii i' II that s(;ems tu lit/ in our Jin'_di>h vei':-ion. J'.iit to render 


ye he pfhericise minded, God shall reveal eveii this unto 
you. Nevertlieless, ichereto loe have already attained, let 
us icalh hy the same rule, let us mind the same thing." 
If Ave are lowly reverent, aspirin;(if and devoted, this is 
the real spirit of Christ ; and in it wo shall experience 
the truth of the pro])hetic testimony, " to this man ivill I 
look, even to him that is "poor, and of a contrite sjyirit, 
a7id trembleth at my word.'''' " Tlie secret of the Lord is 
with them that fear him.'''' Snrely in words of inspira- 
tion like these there is an endless gerniinative power to 
fill with spiritual life the widest horizon of knowledge. 
For what is the secret of the Lord but this, that all life 
is a connnunion with the Heavenly Father, all beauty 
a glimpse of His light, all joy a share in Plis bliss, all 
struggle and sorrow but a hint of the ineffable burden 
that He bears " in bringing many sons unto glory ?" 
He then Avho has this blessed secret knows why he lives, 
and why creation ens])lieres his life, and why the whole 
world groans and travails in ])ain together until now. 
Such an ex])ericnce when l^right and clear is lieaven 
benfun on earth ; it is a draun-ht from that " river of 
God's ])leasurcs," which some tlay we shall follow uj) to 
its source behind the veil. And he with whom is this 
secret of the Lord can look, if Avith ])!iinful longing, 
yet Avithout despair on all the darkness of the Avorld's 
mystery of sin. For his oAvn exjKjrience tells him that 

" cc)m])ktoly initiated," which I believe St. I'aul to have meant, would 
seem and pedantic. 


God is not very far from every one of us. His own 
communion with God lie values, not as a personal or 
sectarian peculiarity, but as a token of the divine 
kinshi]) of all mankind. Indeed herein often lies the 
distinction between fjenuine religious experience and 
mere sectarian fanaticism. For the one makes us more 
human than before, brings us down from our personal 
isolaticm unto the dee])er region of life, which, though 
beneatli the surface of consciousness in many, is never- 
theless Ave feel a generic attril)iite of man. The other 
shuts us u]) in self or sect, and makes us feel as the 
detestable Calvinistic sentiment has it 

" a garden walled around, 
Cliosen and made pecidiar ground." 

Xor is tliis all the distinction. Sec^tarian fanaticism 
will generally be J'ound to eye the future with gloomy 
tear, sweetened only by the fierce joy of personal 
sahatioii as a brand snatched from a burning world. 
But he Avho I'cels most profoundly God's essential 
nearness to liimsclf, Avill derive from that a secure and 
Sonuitimcs tr!uni])hant (confidence that one day God will 
be all in all. The jiresent life w(! ha\'e in CJod should 
rill us from any slavish depeTuh^icc! on the letter of 
Sci'ipture. Therel'oi-e we shall not try to guess the 
ful ui'e of eju'th and heaven I'roni peildling ei-itieisin of 
words, which. liowe\cr di\ine in s|)iritual suggestion, 
wei-e specially ada|)ted to times when the oidy a\ail- 
able foi-ni> of speech and thought were inseparabh; I'roni 
utter misconceptions of the universe. The dawning 

30 TUE sours LOXGIXG 

of God's presence in ourselves, interpreted l^y the 
creneral continuity of j^ro^i'css, is the most certain 
propliecy we can have of tlie final and universal pre- 
valence of life in Him. The feelini^ that the final cause 
of our own creation is our joy in God and his joy in 
us assures us tliat the mystery of God can never be 
finished until the kino;doms of heaven and earth and 
hell are delivered up to the Father, that He may he 
all in all. 



^- Xercrthrlegx I am continually Kith fhcc." Ps. bciii. 2:!. 
' If haply they might feel after Ilim. ami fnd Illm though lie he 
not far from ecery one of vs." Acts xvii. 27. 

The ])]inis(', ' God-consciousnes.s,' awkwanlly iniitat(^d 
t'roH! thr (Icnuun, soiuids no douht luirsldy to English 
rar.-, ;iiid it i.s as well to coiii' at onco tluit I am 
ahout to ixlvc. to it a wider sense; tliaii jx'rliajjs is 
usual. ]jut wliether I could liav<! used any bettei- words 
to e.\))ress my JiK'auiiiu; I must leave yon to judae; ni'ior 
tliat meaiiiti^' is uui'oldcd. I will only by way oi" anti- 
eijtaiion s;i_v tliai it at least expresses a ])reseiir actual 
tact nt liu)iiaii life. And this much at least W(W)\\-e to 
til" "r(i>iti\(! l*hiloso])Iiy," that wo ;ir(! di-iveu more 
tliau c\(T to seek the roots ol" reliirious conviction 
as well as ol" scientific knov.ledi"(! in the undeiu'alilc 
realiiits of exi ei-"c;!ce. besides, I ha\<' said 'in 
liiim.inliy' I'a'.her t!:aii 'in mai!,' l;ecause I do not 
in'an an occasioird or e\'. :> ;5 "re; li km it ])h"nouiei;o!; of 


experience, but a constituent element in human nature, 
a foculty so irrc})ressil)le and universal, that if it be 
blocked in one direction it almost invariably re-appears 
in another ; an instinct so deep that even where it 
does not a])pear in the articulate consciousness of the 
individual, it broods in an im})ersonal form round the 
bases of the life of his race. For every single member of a 
tribe or nation may be Avholly without any perception 
of personal communion with a living eternal Spirit, 
while yet in the ideal aspirations, or, if you wall, in the 
superstitious habits which move or control the commu- 
nity there may be signiticant indications of that element 
in humanity which is the subject of our thoughts. 

If I read aright the signs of the times, the interpre- 
tation to be given to this element in human nature 
is likely to become more and more the one religious 
question ; and will ])erhaps bo felt to carry within itself 
the decision of all others worth contending about. 
Ajid farther one may venture to say that if only 
earnest a})preciative attention can be secured to the 
thing itself, the mere name that shall be given to it is 
at most a secondary question, and l)y no means so vital 
as sonu! a])])ear to think. For men otherwise lost in 
doubt, may still be candid, still Ix; faithful to what they 
feel to be the noblest instincts of their nature. And if 
so, I maint'ciin they may be })ractically obeying the 
God-consciousness within them, even thouo-h throu<rh 

'' oft 

intellectual error they may call it by another name. 
Let a man realize with awe the vastness of creation 


and tlie de])tli of life ; let him realize tlie siipersensuoiis 
significance of the perceptions of conscience, and own 
the })()wer of its imperial voice ; let him measure self 
against the imiverse, and feel that while his place is 
that of a sacrifice to higher ends yet in the conscious 
act of sacrifice he is greater than all the material 
world Avliy then we must at least oyva that he is loval 
to his liigh vocation as a man. But if he should 
say ' I know, I feel all this, yet what you call God 
I call, alas ! I know not what, shall we then cry 
Anathema I atheist ! fool ? Nay rather, surely Maran- 
atha ! the Lord is at hand, thou art not far from the 
kii)gdom of (xod. 

1 am Xw) well awure of the anxieties felt hy many 
minds at tlu; jn'csent time to douLt for a moment 
that the words already uttered may suggest or re- 
wakon more (piestioiis than we can h()])e to solve. 
Jjiit the most important of such questions I think I 
can catch, tlii>ngh the li])s of the questioners are silent. 
' Tell us more ])lainly what you mean,' says om; ; ' have 
we all this (iod-consciousness, as you call it, whether 
we l)clic\c in (Jod or not?' 'Of what use then is the 
Jjililc, a>ks another; 'or what is the relation of this 
faculty to i-cv(;lation ?' ' ^<ay rather,' asks a third, 
'how can tin; existence of such an element in mail 
l)c harmonized with the theories of man's ])liysical 
origin which scientific men hegin to regard as already 
ItroNcil':'" 'After all,' savs a fourth m()i'(! jiractical, 
'what is it wortii, this God-consciousness in num ? 


Can it give lis the strength to live or die ?' To svich 
qnestions as these I hope to give at least some hint of 
answer ; and to dcnd Avith some of them more fully in 
the following leetnres. Meanwhile I Avill endeavour 
first to ex])lain more clearly the meanino; I associate 
with this phrase, the ' God-consciousness in humanity.' 
Then afterwards I will venture to offer certain suofores- 
tions as to the probahle history of this faculty. And 
without endorsing any scientific theories yet in dispute, 
I trust these suggestions may be found consistent with 
any possible theory about the physical origin of man. 
Finally, I should like to say something on the practical 
bearings of the question, that is on the moral and 
spiritual value of the Grod-consciousness in humanity. 


Althongh the phrase which describes our subject is 
undeniably an awkward one, yet after all it carries its 
meaninir on its front. It expresses a mino-linfr of God 
with our personal life. It is in fact a short and em- 
phatic way of putting St. I'aul's words "m Him xoe 
live, and move, and have our heincj.^'' Xo doul)t the 
phrase in its German original means pro])erly a con- 
sciousness of God. But I prefer the (^ther and more 
awkward rendering, because it is more open to the 
wider meaning which I am desirous of associating with 
it. 'Consciousness of God' would express both more 
and less than I wish to convey intensively more, 
extensi\elv less. I do not sav that every man is 


directly conscious of such ideas as may be suggested 
to our minds by the name of Grod, or by the phrase 
c^mnnmion with God. The position I take is this. I 
find certain elements in my own deepest life, elements 
which experience, nay, which my generic consciousness 
itself assures me are common to all mankind, and which 
when closely examined seem to me necessarily to involve 
God and my moral relationship to Him. I may of 
course l)e pointed to individual men here and there to 
wh(jm these elements however closely examined do not 
seem to involve God. But then I do not feel driven to 
seek uncharitaljle reasons for tliis. Be it so, I would 
say, yet these men have what we call the God-conscious- 
ness nevertheless ; and if I can induce them to giv(^ 
mon; heed to these divine elements in consciousness, 
ev(;n thougli they may never in this life put the same 
interjn'ctation upon them that I do, I shall not have 
spoken in vain. 

B(,'f()re we go any farther it may be necessary to say 
a few woi'ds in explanation of a ])erha]is uiuisual ])hrase 
which T have just used, and which has I v(,'nture to tliink 
an important betiring upon our present enquiry, I refer 
to th(? term generic as distinguished from hidivldnal 
consciousness. 13y this I mean the consciousness which 
we in-tincri\cly take lor graiited tliat we shai-e with the 
wiiole of our race, as e()nti-asted with what we feel to 
lie |er>onal peculiarities of oui'scKcs or of a limited 
nunibei-. ilowcNcr the propriety of the term may he 
disputed, some -ucji distinction certainK' exists; whether 



Avliolly the growtli of experience or not, I shall not care 
to dispute. There are certainly some things which you 
readily believe to be characteristic only of yourselves 
and a few more. There are others which you cannot 
help feeling confident you share with the whole race. 
For example, there may be some one amongst you with 
such a genius for calcvdation, that the moment a com- 
plicated arithmetical problem is put before him, he has 
what seems an instinctive perce])tion of the result. 
This he will know of course to be peculiar to himself. 
But if you were to tell him of a race of men who could 
not distinguish between one and two, or two and three, 
and who never thought of counting their cows, or pigs 
or canoes, he would probably reply, you are not telling 
me of men but of monkeys ; I will believe in no such 
race ; for the tendency to numeration is an essential 
clement in hxnnanity. Such a man woidd be speaking 
out of his generic consciousness ; and if I say that he 
would be })crfectly right, I do not mean that he would 
l)e justified in denying that there ever Avere antliro])o- 
morphous creatures who could not coimt ; but only that 
such a deficiency would })ut them outside of the ])ro])erly 
human kind. Man, liowever he came to bo constituted 
as at present, has certainly a notion of a generic inner 
nature, as well as a power of recognizing the generic 
outward form ; and a race of creatures who could not 
count three would no more be men than a race of 
creatures with hairy bodies and prehensile feet and tails. 
Similarly, a man who is conscious of such delight in the 


pursuit of truth tliat he prefers abstract speculation to 
money-making, knows Avell enough that in this respect 
he is in a minority. But if he were told of a tribe Avho 
could watch a thiuiderstorm or an eclipse without a trace 
of wonder or imaginative awe, he would probably be 
incredulous ; at least his generic consciousness would 
suggest that such a form of human nature was in the 
highest degree unlikely. Still farther if he were told 
of beings in the shape of men who cared nothing at 
all about the reason why ; who could see a watch or a 
mechanical toy for the first timci, and neither form nor 
try to form any theory whatever about the cause of its 
movements, his generic consciousness would lu-ge him 
to suspect unfairness in the accoimt, or if not, to insist 
that whether through imperfect develo])ment, or because 
of degradation, such creatures wei'c below the level of 
hmnaiiity. These ol)servations will show tluit the idea 
of a generic consciousness is not to ])e taken in too 
extended a significance. Assuming for a moment, wliat 
many of high authority hold to be inost ])rolja1)]e, that 
man has gradually risen through Icnver grades to l)e 
wliat he is now, then this generic consciousness may 
include many ])re-historic races, but by no means neces- 
sarily all. V)\ humanity we mean 

' Men our Ijrolliers. men tlie workers, ever learning sometliini; new.'' 

not aiiv creatui'c; lioN'ei'ini: betwecTi a|ie and man. I 
((iiit'c-^ 1 do not Wwr the alarming iulei-eiKcs which some 
suitiio-e to be iii\ul\cd in lli' L;r;idual in>teadof sudden 


creation of mankind. However it came to be, this 
generic consciousness for -whicli I contend is now an 
actual fact. And it associates with the idea of humanity 
a s])iritual nature, which remains the same whatever may 
have been tlie means wliich God lias used for calling it 
forth. Nay we may conceive that should this theory 
be ultimately established, it may even relieve us of 
the pressure of some difficulties. For as our generic 
consciousness does not feel bound to gather all possible 
])re-historic races into its embrace, so its confidence need 
not necessarily be shaken by isolated instances of ap- 
])arent exception at the present day. If for instance a 
Bushman, or an Andaman Islander, or an Australian 
Savage be thougli I do not acknowledge that these 
races are in any respect ovitside its range, all Ave can 
say is that such races must have stoj)ped short of, or 
fallen b(!low tlus generic inner idea of humanity. It is 
as an essential element in this generic imier idea of 
liumanity that I am anxious to look at the God- 
consciousness noAV. 

In the book of Jol), Elihu, in the heat of a vehement 
re-action against what he thinks the ignoble tone of the 
other speakers, exclaims " hut tliere is a spirit in man, 
and the inspiration of tlie Ahnightij liath given them 
'understanding.'''' This is ])lain]y an utterance of his 
generic consciousness. And Ave all know moments of 
sacred })assion Avlien our souls hear ringing in his Avords 
the key-note of the higliest human life. Noav Avhat do(;s 
such an utterance mean to us Avlien it affects us so ? 


Surely we do not interpret it then as a pliilo.sopliieal or 
metaphysical proposition about the rehitions of body and 
souL AVe love it rather because it gives articulate ex- 
])ression to an experience which is very dear to us. 
' There is a s})irit in man"' means simply then, there is 
something in us deeper than self or sense. And the 
" ins2)iration of the Almighty" expresses our feeling of 
direct dependence for this inner life on " that which 
made the world so fair." "There is a spirit in man;" 
we are not Avholly the slaves of pleasures and of pains, of 
mercenary gain or loss ; there is a keen unutterable joy 
in the pursuit of truth for its own sake, in self-sacrificing 
love, in longing contem])lations of the mystery of lite. 
In sucli moments the God-consciousness s})eaks out. It 
is the deep and fiery energy of a divine impulse breaking 
through the cold hard surface of oiu" self-containment ; 
it is our oneness witli the su])stance of the world 
rc-actiiig against the superfi{;ial intensity of our 
indivi(bud isolation. When, in a time of })erplexity 
and temptation, you say 'I will do the right thing, 
then let cohk; on what may,' A\hat is the S(;c-ret of 
the >trange stern joy you feel? AVhen, in painful 
(lonbt. you say t(j timid teaehei"s ' doii"t talk of safety 
and prudence, tell us oidy tin; truth,' what is the iii>pi- 
I'ation or\()ni' ^ti'ong desire? AVhen voulnuc I'oi" once, 
in >e(i(t and unpraised, made an uni'esei'Ncd sacrifice of 
yoiii'-clf tiir a cause that toucheil \-oui' hearts, what was 
the li;iiiii that dropped into \dui' soul, and made a holier 
pence than y<;u had ever kiKjwn? 1 am jtersuaded that 


were it not incongruous even to tliink of self-scrutiny 
in sucli exalted moments, you would feel that the secret 
of this spiritual glory was a sense of oneness with an 
order gi'ander than material laws, with an all-jHTvading 
life in which for ever all is well, with an all-emhracing 
love, to be at one Avith which is your lieart's final joy. 

I know very well the claims or hopes of physiological 
research to show for every s})iritual emotion a vibration 
in the brain. I know how laws of association with 
lower pleasures are invoked to account for strains of 
thought which seem rather an echo of the harps of 
heaven. Nor can I, like a jealous landed proj)rietor, 
build out by walls of prejiidice obtrusive fact, then 
take my pleasure in my narrow garden as though such 
things were not. I am content with a conviction which 
is as impregnable as a mathematical axiom, that however 
accurately or exhaustively science may display the 
accom])anying conditions, or material phenomena of 
thought, it never can produce a feeling of conscious 
identity A\ath nerve vibratioiis ; it never can eft'ect such 
a realization to self of an existence terminable inwards 
by the anatomy of the ])rain, as would alon(! avail to 
disturb the Grod-consciousness in man. After all, brain 
is only a phenomenon, or collection of phenomena ; and 
however completely a correspondence could be shown 
between its variations and variations of anotlier kind in 
the j)]ienomena of consciousness, the two things com- 
])ared are to every sense or ],)erce])tion Ave possess so 
entirely different, that their ultimate unity must be 


conceived as concealed in the true substance underlyino- 
tlieni both. aSTow physical science does not affect to 
deal with substance. But so far as its subtle analysis, 
its revelations of infinity in an atom, its generaliza- 
tions concerning force give any hint, it is certainly 
adverse to the gross materialism which really identifies 
material phenomena with substance. If the epithet 
'material' means anything, it ought to signify every- 
thing that appeals to the bodily senses. And if that be 
so science knows nothing material except forms of force, 
or if you will, forces. That is, it follows up all material 
phenomena to a kind of border land, beyond which it 
loses them in a certainly immaterial mystery. No one 
then under any conceivable condition of science could 
be entitled to say 'brain tissue is the substance of 
which our consciousness is the mere phenomenon.' It 
will always be o])en to re})]y that we recognise brain 
energv as a form of forc(^, so far as observation goes 
inextricably associated with the definite forms assumed 
by consciousness. All the admission amounts to is this, 
that brain seems to be a condition necessary to the 
limitation or definition of that poi-ti(m of miiversal sid)- 
stance which takes form in human personal life; but 
whether that condition be initial and tempoi'aiy, or 
permanent anil essential, there is on this mode; c)f en([uiry 
no evi<lence to show. I>ut to sup])os<' that science tends 
to pT'o\ (' bi'uin only sul)stantial and mind ',\n 'eidolon,' 
is a (lehi-ion which it would Ik; most unjust to charge 
(ju the greatest and most unconipi'oniising ])li\sicists of 


the day. Tliey know nothing of substance and care io 
know nothing, save oidy in some moments of wistful 
reverie when "what they seem" would so fain "behold 
what is, and no man understands," And in such 
moments I maintain that men are nearer to the 
substance of the universe tlum in any scientific gene- 
ralization. It is the Grod-consciousness that enthrones 
us above a visionary world. 

I believe that this divine element in tis appears some- 
times as pure reason, sometimes as spiritual imagination, 
sometimes as conscience, thus presenting a triune mani- 
festation of the one God-consciousness in man. I need 
not stop to discuss the question of pure reason as 
between one school of philosophy and another. Even 
granting that every universal judgment which wo form, 
and every supersensuous aspiration which we breathe is 
the issue of experience, still ex])erience requires two 
factors, the sul^ject and the object ; and the ibrms which 
experience takes in consciousness must owe something 
to each of these. Let it be granted for instance that 
the universal judgment, " things which are equal to the 
same are equal to one another," is not merely suggested 
but learned by ex])erience. Still, the fact that experience 
takes this form is due to a certain susceptibility in the 
nature which is educated iq) to that point by experience. 
And this susce})ti])ility has a right to considerati(m just 
as much as the })lienomena which influence and educate 
it. For the purpose of our })resent argument then, I 
am content that the pm'e reason should take the loAvest 


fonn tliat can well be assigned to it. For if there is in 
our personal life a susceptibility wliieli under impressions 
from the external world is led inevitablj and nniversally 
ti) certain judgments which we cannot conceivably re- 
verse, we slioidd be disloyal to the order of the universe 
if we did not hold that these judgments involved 
an ultimate truth. I hold then that there are some 
deeply-seated convictions or impressions call them 
intuitions, call them conclusions or what you will, such 
as no science which deals with a})pearances can possibly 
overthrow. Pure reason insists that appearances or 
])henomena always imply substance; it suggests that 
ultimately all substance is one, and thus sets us groping 
towai'ds (mA. Pure reason insists on cause, and so step 
l>y step leads us l)ack towards God. It joins cause to 
torce, and i'oi-ce to liviui; will, and so draws iis uj) to 
(xod. So long as men kec}) within the limits of the 
jiractica! ujiderstanding which is content with calculating 
the chances of phenomenal succession and acting accord- 
ingly, thei'e is nothing to o])en th(! inward vista which 
!(iok> to the infinite. Put no sooner do we I'calize tiie 
inipuUc to (listingui>h what seems from what /*, what 
mo\c> from A\hat is moved, than a door is ojx'iied in 
licaxcii, and we heai" a voice saying, ''come up hither. 

^ cl we do not in fact ascend thithci- unless reason is 
winireil |,y ~|jii-itual imagination. I)\- this |ihi-ase L mean 
of CMiiiM' iioi the more or le>s .-en-uou> faeuhy which 
l)uilil> out of the ruins of memory an ideal outward 
woi-M, iitit rather the same cnerifN' of the soul, which 


enorenders tlie lonoin<x after a final cause, the con- 
templative gaze wLieh dotes upon the vision of life, 
until its depths 0})en up and its inward meaning 
da"^^^ls. The spiritual imagination, aroused by per- 
ceptions of congruity and beauty as real and far more 
searching than the sight of the eyes, roams through 
the universe seeking some object of supreme adoration, 
an object apart from which, existence seems not an 
Aiigma only, but a contradiction to every demand of 
reason, to every longing of the heart and every convic- 
tion of the conscience. The spiritual imagination may 
be poetic, mystic, vague, even visionary, but it is no 
liar ; and its unconquerable feeling that the life of 
humanity cannot be alone in the universe commends 
itself after all to the most dispassionate judgment. 

Of the conscience we have in effect already s])oken. 
I only desire now to add that in its sense of a supreme 
eternal authority as the ultimate sanction of right it is 
the most commonly realized aspect of the God-conscious- 
ness in man. Whatever theory is held of the moral 
standard, whether it is supposed to make its appeal to a 
special intuitive perception, or is regarded as the product 
of utilitarian experience and transferred associations, 
the sanction which binds us to obey is a wholly distinct 
question ; and no satisfactory account can be given of 
this, which does not in one form or another involve, 
wdiat we may call the common sense view, ' I mvist, I 
ought, because Grod wills it.' Say that a man is bound 
to live in harmony with the order of the universe, 


say lie is bound to coiitrilnite his part to the com- 
mon good. I do not deny that he may i'eel the force of 
this without ever asking the reason why. But it is not 
tlie less true that in this feelincr the righteous and lovincj 
Life which embraces all things manifests itself in him 
though he may not know it. And in this obscure 
inarticulate sense of indefeasible obligation I recognize 
the God-consciousness of humanity. 

Once more I repeat that the possession of this divine 
sense docs not necessarily bring any man consciously into 
]>ersonal comnuinion with God. But it does tend to 
this; it does come very near to it. ^' I (jlrded thee 
tJionqli tlion Itast not hnoim rue'' is a prophetic word 
ap])lic;d)le to more than C\tus, and in a deej)er sense 
than the ]iro])het's immediate meaning. JMaiiy a man, 
who in early life has given little attention to religious 
tliouglit, feels in after times of deep sj)iritual ex])erience 
that (idd has been with him and in him all his days. 
AVhile thcreiore 1 cannot maintain that the God- 
ciiiisciousness alwavs involves a realization of communion 
with a living Person, I contend that it does bear out the 
wor^ls ot' St. Paul, " lie is not far front every one of us ;" 
il does lead up to (bxl ; it does give everlasting meaning 
to the revelation in .Jesus Christ; and when realised as 
beIoni;itii!' t(j the generic consciousness of mankind, it 
(ioe> i;i\(" an undying interest and significance to all 
reliiiious history. Of one thing at least we may be 
conliileiit ; it will Ibr e\('r forliid Atheism as the finality 
of human thou'dit. As the soui"s loiiifinii- for a final caus(^ 


still iittors its sio;li when apparently crushed out Ly the 
dead weight of materialism, so the God-conseiousness in 
ijeneral even where to the intellect there is no God, wakes 
afresh in craving's for religion such as followed the com- 
pletion of the Positive Philosophy. Nor was Comte so 
inconsistent as many suppose, however melancholy the 
fantastic development of his positive religion may have 
been. For if Positivism means taking facts as they stand, 
it was impossible in the science of humanity to ignore 
the feelings and atfections Avliich generate religion. An 
essential condition of our highest life is some supreme 
loyalty, for which Humanity has been otiered as the 
object, but which that is neither spiritually definite nor 
morally exalted enough to command. It lacks the 
majesty of eternity : it has no tenderness like the name 
of Our Father ; it is too evidently a laboured abstrac- 
tion to excite the ])assion of worshij). But if a man 
should say I worship the universe, the All in All, I 
should be bold to say, sir, you worship God, though you 
call Him by another name, and ajiproach Him from 
another as})ect. For a man cannot worslii]) a thing 
however big ; and the moment he talks of a harmony 
order and beauty that touch his heart, he shows a sense 
of a hidden life, wlii(;h I welcome as a sign that the God- 
consciousness is awake Avithin him. Should mankind 
tlicu b(> driven in a momentary maze into intellectual 
srilicisiii. what would they do Avitli this obstinate irre- 
])ressil)le faculty, the religious nature, Avliich we smn up 
as the Go(l-conscious]ie.-s? Its bei^-inning and end 


would l)e tlieoreticallv cut off, its origiu and inspiration 
fTone, but still it wonld not, could not die. I have seen 
a so-called air-plant cliniiing to a little bit of wood 
suspended by a string. But even this has fibres which 
grasp the wood, and pores which drink in the moisture 
and gases of the air. And no freak of natin-e, no 
miracle indeed, iinless the creation of something out of 
nothing, could rival the harsh discontinuity with the 
reality of things which would be presented by a God- 
consciousness without a God. It would be a universal 
aspiration without an aim, a restless mystic tendency 
without any conceivable adeqtiate impidse, a lie inherent 
in the generic consciousness of man, a fundamental 
discord in the highest i-csults of creation. Surely nuito 
inanimate law, which necessarily carries within itself 
only the gei-ms o\' action congruous with itself, coukl 
never ])i'oduce so cruel an isstie as this. Such a law 
would kcc]) all things within the symmetry ol'7iature, and 
not a thought of man could have waiidered beyond. 
Under such a law there could hav(^ been tio dream of 
God to bui'u its creatures with vain desire, and maki; 
the fj'iilli abhorrent to their noblest affections. Xo ; if 
li\iiig lo\(' is not creation's final law. there is soniething 
in tlie eon>titution of the universe which looks like 
malice. The (lod-consciousness in humanity ine\ita1)ly 
iji\(i]\e< either religion oi- super.^tilion : the woi'ld is 
ruled eiilier lv (lod or |)e\il; and no one who I'eels 
lldil i--U'> will he-~itate about his choice. 



Tbo question tlicn naturally arises, what is the relation 
of all this to the Bible and the Christian revelation? 
"Yon tell ns/' it may be said, "of a voice in every 
man throiifrhoiit the race speaking of God ; what then 
was the use of the voices of Sinai, or of the utterances 
of prophets and apost'es? AVe read in the Scriptures 
that man fell from a state of hapi)y innocence and 
utterly died to God. Did he not at the same time lose his 
God-consciousness and all heavenly inspiration unless by 
special grace?" Others again from a diiferent })oint of 
view may ask, " supposing the theory of the natural 
origin as distinguished from the instantaneous creation 
of man to be established, as some who are best able to 
judge think it will be, if it is not established already, 
how will yoiu' opinions consist with this ?" I shall give 
mv ansAver to both sets of enquiries in the form of a 
\x\\\i [ can scarcely call it a sketch of the ])robable 
liistory of the God-consciousness in man. A\'e have 
alreadv seen the fundamental impossibility that scientific 
investi o-ations of material phenomena can affect the 
substantial nature of present spiritual facts. But dis- 
coveries as to the liistory of the material world do affect 
the process by which those s])iritual facts have come to 
be what they are. Whether God made man out of 
an anthropomorphous ape, or made him directly out of 
inorganic dust, either way lie made him a man ; and 
the decision of the question cannot alter the meaning of 


the word ; but it must necessarily alter our opinions 
about the history of the spiritual consciousness Avhich is 
an essential element in that meaning. And here I take 
leave to protest against the senseless use which is some- 
times made of the solemn truism ' reliWon is one thino:, 
science another.' If it be meant that they approach 
the central Truth from different sides, and that the 
one mode of access leads more deeply into the heart of 
it than the other ; or in other words, if it be meant that 
science deals with jjhenomena of one kind, and religion 
with phenomena of another, but phenomena much more 
significantly suggestive of ultimate substance, that is 
all very well. But when as is sometimes the case this 
formula is used to justify the holding of two directly 
contrary sets of opinions on the same subjects, one can 
hardly refrain from characterizing it as a subterfuge of 
spiritual cowardice. It is perfectly consistent to say 
' my heart holds to the living God as the substance of 
all tilings, a faith no scientific theory can touch.' But 
it is iKjt consistent, and but for the effect of custom 
would be felt to l^e sheer seli-stultification for an 
acciiinplislicd ireologist solemnly to declare as a fact 
th:tt (joil xjxike all these wordx, scvjIikj^ . . . i/i. .-/>/ 
(fi/^/s the Loud mode lieaven and earth, the .^m a/td all that 
i.n thnii !.<, a/id rested the seventh da)j:^ In i-c^-;!i-d to 
many rcliidous opinions it is not trui,' that religion is 
one thinij; and scaence anothi-r. They reju'ocnt simply 
op]o>iic jii'lLf:nrtits on^tlic >ain(' facts in the san.c aspect 
oft!i";ii, tli.u is. ih(Mr lu-t(;fica! reality; and ilicr( I'ofc 


50 THE god-consciousjVess in humanity. 

one or the otlier must be false. Of course scientific 
theories are often formed very rashly and are often 
superseded. But that some theories totally incon- 
sistent with old religious opinions are finally established, 
only stolidity, or a faith desperate through ignorance 
of its own immortal essence, can possibly deny. And 
surely it is intolerable to go on any longer holding our 
religious faith as though on sufferance of imperfect 
knowledge, miserable to hold our ground like tenants 
along the line of an unfinished railway, who hope against 
hope that bankruptcy of the company or some diversion 
may occur to save their old habitations. It is necessary 
not merely to yield a grudging admission to such new 
facts as are thrust upon our attention, but also if possible 
once for all to take some view of the spiritual nature 
which shall be entirely independent of all contingencies 
of future opinion, because it can afford scope for them 
all. I have tried to keep this object before me in the 
remarks made hitherto ; and at this point I am particu- 
larly anxious it should be understood that I do not 
undertake it is no part of my duty to recommend 
this or that scientific speculation Avhich may yet be 
in dispute, but to show that the -vdew of the God- 
consciousness which I have m'ged gives ample room 
for all. 

In attempting to give any hint as to the probable 
history of the God-consciousness in humanity, we grant 
at once that the Bible does not yield us the means of 
o])servinn: its earliest manifestations. For whatever 


fragmentary reminiscences of preliistoric Hebre"\v origins 
scholars may think they can disinter from the early 
chapters of Genesis, it is useless in the present state of 
archaeological research to contend for the historical 
character of the narrative in which they are imbedded. 
Such reminiscences have their value ; but as for the 
primeval lieginnings of human history, they leave these 
in utter impenetrable darkness. On the other hand, the 
farther prehistoric archaeology advances, the more remote 
does the first appearance of man upon the earth appear 
to be : while at the same time indications multiply 
which suggest that only by slow degrees did he assume 
mentally and spiritually the full proportions of humanity. 
As to the mode of his creation we have no need here to 
decide. It is sufficient if we exhibit a theory of his 
spiritual nature consistent with acknowledged facts, and 
dependent on no contingencies of any controversy that 
may yet bo undeci(l(;(l.* AVe only assume that the his- 
tory is an inconceivably long one, and that its iirst 
indications suggesting a very low condition appear to 
many to imply a pr(;vious progrc-ss from a condition 
lower still. But Grod's })urposes concerning inankind 
were from the very beginning marked in the bodily 
form he gave them a form which l)y whatcne)' process 
it was (iriginated was equally the work of (jlod a I'orm 
which ill itself was a prophecy that a spiritual kingdom 
of God was at hand. The signs oi' menttil suj)remacy 

* Note 1! on the relation of the I)cvcl(;pnieut nieory to Immortality. 

52 THE Gon-coNsciousNESs iw iimiAmrr. 

over the world Avould soon be inanifest. Little by little, 
we may su|)])0se, the mind of man rose to a self-eon- 
scioiisness elearly separable from merely animal instincts. 
And when once he coidd so far stand distinct I'rom and 
over against nature as to feel wonder, the life of con- 
templation was begun, and at least the germ of the God- 
consciousness was formed. For the sense of wonder 
involves the realization of a disturbed unity which the 
soul struggles to restore. And here we have the begin- 
ning both of science and religion, which like highly 
differentiated oi'gaus in the mature animal, may very 
well have been indistino-uisliable in their o-erms. The 
sense of wonder too is closely akin to that of awe, and 
easily suggests some Unknown Power which from the 
vast beyond breaks through the limits of vision and 
maTiifests itself in the marvellous object of contempla- 
tion. But it is the distinct consciousness, involved in 
wonder, of self as separate from and set over against 
Nature, on which I would most insist. This would stig- 
gest the possibility of overccming natural forces by 
skill, as for instance of conquering the Avolf by the stone 
hatchet, or the ele])hant by the jntfall ; while, on the 
other hand, it woidd beget a tenderer feeling towards 
human kind, exhibited first of all towards mend)ers of 
tlie same horde or clan, but leading on towards the 
recognition of a mystic sacredness in man. In all this 
there was assuredly the teaching of God, " the inspira- 
tion of the Almighty," although a spiritual conception, 
nay the \ eiy notion of His being uiight yet be miformed. 


But the sharper grew the contrast between Man and 
Nature, the more would wonder and reflection be 
awakened by the sunset and the daA\ni, bj the woodland 
vista and the deep abyss, above all, perhaps, by the 
thunderstorm, the earthquake or the eclipse. Thus, it 
may be, was engendered the first tendency to worship. 
For if it is true that the liiofhest civilization is the residt 
of long fermentation amongst inferior elements often 
utterly unlike itself, there can be little difficulty in 
recofTiiizino:, what manv phenomena amoncr barbarous 
reliiiions would sua: (rest, that the nol)lest sentiments of 
love and reverence for an Almighty Father are connected 
in a direct line of ascent with the dread felt by the savage 
of the Power that can withhold the sunlight or shake 
the solid ground. Probably the first signs of conscience 
would be shown in loyalty to the interests of the A-illage 
or the trilK". VmX as the sense of an Unseen Power frrew 
more and more upoTi tlui soul, an association would be 
gradually realized between the voice of conscience and 
the authority of the gods. Then as wonder at the 
greatness of nature; deejx'ued into reverence and awe, 
breaking sometimes into love, and someitimes into dread, 
the heart would long for som(! word from the unseen ; 
and if we say that the sj)iritual imagination suj)])lied 
this want, let it not be su])|)osed for a moment that this 
inip!ie> th(> inirealitv of all divine; connnunications with 
the soul of man. On the contrary, according to the 
view taken now, that craving I'or a word from tlu^ 
unseen was itself ;i divine .suggestion, and the meeting 


of that want through the avenue of the spiritual imagina- 
tion was just a mingling of divine inspirations and 
human thoughts, capable of all modifications of degree 
up to the visions of an Isaiah or a Paul. 

The danger of misconception here arises from the 
strange but inveterate tendency to sujipose that divine 
action is necessarily sudden, complete, and incapable of 
progress through various degrees of perfection. When 
geology first became a science many seemed to think 
that it necessarily ignored, or rather denied the agency 
of a Creator. For if God did not make the universe in 
six days, and each main division of it in a second of 
time, they could not conceive that God made it at all. 
So when it began to be maintained that species are the 
result of gradually accumulating modifications of struc- 
ture, inherited by successive generations, many seemed 
to impersonate Development as a sort of huge ugly 
idol which was set up as a rival to the Creator. They 
could not conceive that it was really God who made an 
elephant, unless he did it in one particular way, that is, 
imless he gathered a heap of inorganic dust together 
and commanded it instantly to become a living animal. 
If the theory of the 'process be changed, and instead of 
springing instantly out of inorganic dust, the elephant 
is supposed to be the result of successive modifications 
according to an ascertainable law, then to such minds 
as these it seems that divine energy is entirely eliminated 
from the process, and creation ex})lained without God. 
Yet a little reflection would show that it is just as easy 


to conceive of God working gradually as suddenly ; and 
a little more reflection would sliow that no theory which 
touches the process implies any opinion one way or the 
other as to the original energy by which the process is 
worked out.* 

So with regard to the growth of the God-consciousness 
in man ; let no one think for a moment that if we believe 
its origin, like all other origins, to bo lost in mystery, 
and its progress to have been gradual, that avo therefore 
empty it of in>})iration. Kot one step in the whole 
process can be rationally accounted for apart from 
the inspiration of the Almighty, least of all the deep 
instinctive association of conscience with the voice of 
God. But I am assuming that inspiration all through, 
and only pointing out thu steps by which it may be 
conceived as advanciug. 

There is Jiotliing unnatural or arljitrary in the sup- 
position tluit tlie God-consciousness might bo developed 
much more ra])idly in some races than in others. The 
extent to whicli it did so is not a matter of faith, but 
simply of historical enrpiiry. ]3ut there can hardly be 
any dis])utc that amongst the Jews its ])re-eminenc(! 
became tluj distinguishing characteristic of their national 
life. And accordingly to deny an unusual degree of 
ins])iratinu in llieir cas(! would 1)0 as al)surd as to 
supjiosc that the Go(l-consciousn(;ss was awakened in 
man ^\itllout any inspiration at all. F;irlli(,'r, that 

* Svc Apiiciiflix. Ni/a; C. 


extraordinary inspiration may affect tlio ordinary relations 
between human volition and snrromidinor phenomena 
is an idea not necessarily op]x>sed, so far as I am aware, 
to any established conclusions in philosophy or science. 
Believing as I do that the only ultimate force is the 
energy of God, and that this is the energy of a free and 
lo\'ing Will, I have no sympathy with any tendency to 
impose the limit of experience on possibility, or to say 
that no evidence can prove a miracle. That such a 
thing is on merely natural groimds, that is, from 
observations on the regularity of nature, highly impro- 
bable, I fully admit ; that it requires uncommonly 
strong evidence to prove it I allow ; and I conjecture 
farther that even where proved, it would be found, if 
we could know" all about it, to be simply the super- 
session of a lower order by a higher. The issue is that 
the reality or non-reality of miraculous occurrences is 
not necessarily a matter of religious faith ; but that it is 
necessarily a question of historical evidence in which 
testimony should be scrutinized with unusual care ; 
while the moral and spiritual interests of mankind, 
and the Godward direction of the highest progress 
should have due weight in determininfj the degi^ee of 
possibility or probability that some such extraordinary 
manifestations of power might mark great eras in 
universal history. Looking in such a frame of mind 
at the narratives which describe the growth of the 
God-consciousness amongst the Jews, we should be 
disposed to say that as regards the Old Testament we 


have really no historical CA-idence to go iipon, at least 
none sufficient to maintain by its own force the 
stupendous and sometimes apparently gratuitous mira- 
cles it enshrines. And therefore the amount of belief 
which men accord to those miracles will be foimd to 
depend simply on the extent to wliich they think them 
to have been necessary for the religious education of 
mankind. For myself I do not believe that the literal 
truth of Old Testament miracles can be maintained on 
this ground alone. The history is most suggestive and 
impressive. It shows many tokens of a special inspira- 
tion in the Israelitish race and its writers. Its preser- 
vation is a rich blessino; to the Avorld : vet that blessing 
consists not in any literally accurate preservation of 
the external history of the Jews, but much more in 
the helps it gives to the imagination in realizing the 
im])ulses of their inner life. That God revealed Him- 
self in virions, I do not at all doul^t ; but in producing 
them the Divine Spirit wrought through the nerves 
and brain of the excited seer. That miracles may have 
been wrought in those early days I have no wish to 
deny: but the evidence for individual instances has not 
come down to us in a form which will bear historical 
criticism. All that remains and must always remain 
]>crf'ectly certain is this, that the Jewish race b(>camc 
the natural and inevitable line of the liighcsi (le^el^p- 
UK'ut of the ( iod-consciousness in ]iian, Avhich in this 
pre-ciiiiiicnt liiK,' reached in Christ a critical culmination 


such as introduced a wholly now era, and almost a new 
species of man. 

On reaching the ministry of Christ I contend that 
we enter at once into the light of historical evidence. 
I do not indeed suppose for a moment that the Gospel 
narratives are perfectly and uniformly accurate. But 
the variety and congruity of the evidence connecting 
them with the living testimony of Apostles are to my 
mind so resistless, and the idea of falsehood on their 
part is to me so impossible, that as a matter of historical 
opinion I am compelled to regard the narrative, miracles 
included, as substantially true. On the other hand it 
seems not unworthy of the Most High that the stupen- 
dous energy of a spiritual life, which so dominated the 
future of the world, should be associated with a command 
of nature such as set before the wondering eyes of 
simple men the most expressive symbols of saving grace. 
At the same time a judgment on historical evidence 
cannot be regarded as a matter of relioious faith. I 
know it may be urged that spiritual sympathies neces- 
cessarily affect our judgment of evidence ; but if it is 
meant that the historical evidence for Christian miracles 
leaves no room for difference of opinion except what is 
occasioned by varieties of s})iritual sympathy, candour 
as to my own feeling com])el3 mo to demur. Still 
farther, if it is meant that historical disbelief of the 
Christian miracles necessarily implies an unchristian 
heart, there are facts to the contrary so patent and 


undeniable, that he who can ignore them would, if 
bom a Jew at the Christian era, have refused to believe 
the resurrection of Christ though he had seen it wnth 
his own eyes. 

To me, while I hold fast to the historical facts, these 
are but the "flesh and blood" to which our Heavenly 
Father has " linked a truth divine." The appearance 
of Jesus on the field of history may be regarded as a 
crisis of universal progress greater than the birth into the 
world of the first creature that could be called a man. 
So far St. Paid's parallel and contrast between Adam 
and Christ would be tenable on any theory. For a new 
race was born in Christ ; the divine humanity to which 
God is not 01)ject only but Subject.* Up to Christ's 
day the God-consciousness had availed mainly to give 
significance to the tokens of God's being which were 
more objetttively than sul)jcctively regarded, whether 
seen in vision or in outward events. But the one pre- 
eminently distinctive characteristic of tlie Lord Jesus 
is his intense, marv(?llous, unwavering consciousness of 
God. In the sunny clearness of the synoptic discourses 
which like a summer day hide their depth in light, in 
the diiiiiiicr vistas o])ened up into the mind of tlie Lord 
by tli(! discourses of the fourth gos])('l, in such words 
as "t!i(! l'\ithcr that dwelh'tli in me, lie doctli the 
works,"' a;ul oven in the a])par(!ntly d('S])airing cry, 
" My (^utl, my God why hast tlioti Ibrsaken uie," wo 

* F(/r t]i's 'iK't.'cstion I ,'ini iii'lchtcd fo ilic rorriiirk of a fric'iid who 
[trohahly would not desire to have his unnic lucutiuiicd iii these [)afrc3. 


have tlic manifestations of a life of wliicli God was felt 
to be the inmost substance as well as the basis and the 
law and the glory of creation. I have little sympathy 
Avith the efforts that are sometimes made to describe the 
nature of the Incarnation in pseudo-ontological essays. 
It is sufficient for me to recognize and to worship a 
fulness of divinity in Christ which makes him the 
most perfect expression to us of Avhat God is in moral 
relations, and of what man may be in communion with 
God. Henceforward, without any dislocation or break 
of continuity in the spiritual history of the race, men 
were to learn that in seeking after God they need not 
ascend into the heavens nor descend into the abyss, 
because the word is nigh them in their hearts. Hence- 
forward men were to grow in the knowledge of God, 
not merely as the supreme Object of contemplation 
reflected from all the works of nature, but also as 
i\\G inmost Subject deeper than self-consciousness, but 
coming to light in ever-recurrent inspirations. In this 
point of view we may mark a special significance in the 
mission of the Comforter, so prominent a feature of the 
Christian dispensation. With this tendency of Christ's 
religion also we may connect the promise of the Lord, 
" if a man love me he will keep my icords, and my Father 
will love him, and we will come unto him and take up our 
aJjode rrifh him.'"' Surely this implies that the spiritual 
consciousness of Christ was to be renewed in his people 
according to their measure. In this direction we may 
look for the fulfilment of some of the most mvsterious 


longings and promises of the Lord. ' The glory icJnch 
thou gavest me I have given tliem ; that they may he one 
even as we are one ; I in them and thou in me, that they 
may be made perfect in one, and I have declared unto 
them thy name, and will declare it, that the love whei^eioith 
thou hast loved me may he in them and I in them.'''' 
Strange as these words may sound to some, they have a 
very practical significance to those who can feel with 
St. Paul, that God "has revealed his Son in them." 
" For God who commanded the light to shine out of dark- 
ness hath sinned in our hearts, to give the light of the 
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.^^ 
So every man who knows God in Clu-ist may enjoy a 
God-consciousness, the calm intensity and filial confi- 
dence of which surpass all prophetic vision. And I 
maintain that the real matter of interest for us is 
practically to enter into that diviner manhood which 
feels God to be the soul of its soul as well as the sub- 
stance of the world. Theoretic (juestions as to the precise 
nature of Christ's j)erson will perhaps never be set at 
rest, unless by the j)rcvalence of a deeper philosojthy of 
the relations of man to God and of the creatur(! to the 
Crrutor. Ji' 1 feel that I am broiiglit nearer to God 
through ('hri>t, if I realize through faith iu hiui as a 
true mauircstation of (iod a keenness oi' self-rei)r()ach, 
a glow of love, a self-sacrificing zeal that intensities 
every bc>t element in my nature; whatever th(;ory I may 
hold concerning his ])erson, or even if I have no theory 
at all. he is to nie the jtower of (j!od unto salvation. 


We need not follow the history of the God-consciousness 
beyond the appearance of Christ. Indeed all the latter- 
day glory of which wo make our boast, even those 
triumphs of science which some foolishly suppose to be 
at the expense of religion, are only a fuller expansion of 
the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of purity, truth and love, 
and of lowly self-sacrifice for them all. Nay if we turn 
our eyes to the future, the spiritual imagination, like 
poetic foresight in its highest mood, sees only in the 
more perfectly divine Humanity to come, " the Christ 
that is to be." 


But after all, what is the value of such an element in 
our nature? I hear some complain that all spiritual 
perceptions are dim and vague ; that religious notions 
are for the most part incapable of clear definition. To 
this it is customary to reply that from the nature of the 
case it must be so. But I am by no means sure about 
that necessity in the sense in which it is urged. Of 
course it is far easier to define a triangle than it is to 
define a conviction of the conscience. But that is only 
what may be said about the colour red or blue ; and for 
very much the same reason. For the triangle is made 
up of parts which can be mentioned and their relation- 
ship to one another specified ; but the colours red and 
blue are presented to the eye as a confused intuition 
which can be distinguished from all other objects only 
by saying that it is what it is, namely red or blue. The 


sufficiency of the definition depends upon the sameness 
of the idea which we and others are accustomed to asso- 
ciate with the words. But a few cases of colour bhnd- 
ness are not thought to justify any compLaint about 
the uncertainty of the idea represented by the words. 
Supposing the vibratory theory of light to be accepted, 
it would indeed be possible to define red as a colour, the 
rays of which vibrato so many thousands of times in a 
second. But whatever place such a definition might 
have in a theory of optics, it would not in the least help 
us in our practical consciousness of the perception of 
red. I believe that our difficulty in defining some of the 
intuitions of the God-consciousness may be illustrated 
by this analogy. For if I say that to speak the truth 
is right, or to tell a lie is wrong, the sense of right or 
wrong Avhich accompanies the Avords is in conscious- 
ness whatever theory may be held about the remote 
origin of that consciousness a confused intuition, which 
is marked to my apprehension only by its difference 
from all other intuitions ; and expressible to others only 
by saying that it is what it is, namely, right or wrong. 
It is a sort of moral colour that I see, and of which 
I speak to others in the belief, usually justified, that the 
word recalls to tlu'ir mental eye the same sensation 
which I YVAxVvAQ myself. The origin of this mental sen- 
sation, if 1 may use the phrase, that is, the ])rocess by 
which God has produced it in maTi, may very well bear 
discii.-sion ; but no theory on that subject can, or at any 
rate ought to, afi'ect the natun; of the impression that I 


feel, any more than the adoption or rejection of the 
vibratory theory of light can affect my perception of red 
colour. In Loth cases the theories must Le judged by 
their adequacy to account for the perception. And so 
with regard to our perceptions of communion with God, 
of the beauty of self-sacrifice, or our anticipations of 
immortality, the difficulty or impossibility of defining 
them can be no proof of their unreality. For they are 
confused intuitions of dawning spiritual faculties, which 
we may believe destined to attain fuller powers in 
another world. 

But it may be urged that if we all have the same 
feeling when we say of one thing that it is right, and of 
another that it is wrong, yet we differ very much indeed 
about the actions with which we associate the fet^ing. 
And as to perceptions of Grod in creation or God in the 
soul, it may be said that even in those who are most 
vividly conscious of such experience it is so misty and 
so incapable of verification that it may very well be a 
mere projection of fancy. Should this notion seem 
probable, I can only lament that I have been so 
unsuccessful in exhibiting the place and im])ortance 
of the God-consciousness in humanity. Here in 
conclusion I can only suggest, that much of the vague- 
ness and variability which is charged against our 
spiritual perceptions may be explained if, as just now 
hinted, the God-consciousness be regarded as an im- 
perfect attribute of the soul, awaiting a fuller growth 
in the individual and in the race. If the theory of 


development has any truth in it, we have no right to 
assume that the generic consciousness of man has 
attained its utmost stature yet. We are in truth only 
waking up from unconsciousness ; and we cannot tell 
how men will feel in a fuller consciousness of themselves, 
the world and God. Even a man who wakes up from 
sleep in a strange place is often some time before ho 
can bring his .])erceptions into order, or as we say, 
collect himself. He sees the walls and windows clearly 
enough, but his own relation to them and to the living- 
society thev sufrfjest is for a time very misty and 
disjointed. Xow such a moment may ])ossibly be 
anal()""()us to a"-es of affes in the history of the o-eneric 
consciousness of man. For what are these amidst 
et(!rnity? And if there is any law of continuity in 
l)ust jtrogrcss IVom animalism to rationality, from the 
rule of the senses t(j spe(;ulations of the soul, from self- 
seeking ])ussion to self-sacrificing love, surely the God- 
consciousness in humanity has all the promise of the 
I'utnrc. i\Ieantiine its intuitions nuiy be indefinite, but 
they are not dim ; as our s(!nse of the ])Octic glory of a 
landscape is indcHnite, not dim. ft has the indefinitc- 
ness of ii honndless splendour which one feels to be 
<l;i\vrn'ng moi-e iind more. 1 admit the rapidity with 
winch the o-|i)ii])ses that we get of an Infiin'le Life are 
lost, in ;i light that is unaj)proachal)le. I'ut 1 anticipate 
a day when, us ;ill the (colours of the flowers are known 
to he only ini])erlec,t reflections of the suidight, so that 
Life shall he lelt to be one with all its fragmentary 



manifestations in creation. I anticipate a day when 
the God-consciousness shall have such an insight into 
the universe as to feel that Holy Love is not only God 
over all, blessed for evermore, but Al])ha and Omega, 
beginning, midst and end. But if you ask, what is 
that to us who depart we know not whither, while 
God's dawn is so very faint? I can only urge that 
the very existence of an individual God-consciousness 
implies that elsewhere, and in other guise, we shall play 
our part in the endless revelation. The observations 
which show that each man in his earliest growth sums 
up all the })rogress of the past, and the endless analogies 
of the macrocosm without to the microcosm within 
suggest that each individiial may repeat in himself the 
whole evolution of the mystery of God. ^' Go thou thy 
way till the end he ; for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy 
lot at the end of the days.''"' 

Finally, to gather up in briefest compass all that I 
have claimed for the God-consciousness in humanity, I 
do not contend that it is a separate and independent 
facvdty ; but rather that it is a perception of relationship 
to God, a perception capable of numy degi'ces of dimness 
or disguise, and glimmering in the mystic outlook of 
many higher {)owers of man, esjx'cially of conscience. 1 
maintain that it has been an esscMitial power in all the 
noblest triumphs of man over self and nature, and next 
that its very force and essence lies, if not in a clear 
apprehension of God, at least in its indications of a 
veiled majesty, such as inspires awe, reverence and love. 


When I say the noblest triumphs, I do not mean the 
bridging of abysses or the levelling of mountains, 
though these have not been always uninspired by 
worship ; I mean rather mastery over the brute ferocity 
originally inherent in man, I mean the miracle of 
orderly society, and the gathering federation of the 
world. What feeling of loyalty, what bond of brother- 
hood, what self-forgetfid heroism ever ruled or refined 
the hearts of men apart from some appeal to Heaven 't 
What is said of the great prophet of the Jews is in one 
sense or other true of every grandest soul the world 
has ever known " lie endured as seeing Illm who is 
invisible."' Enthusiasm and inspiration do not spring 
I'rom deductions of the intellect. They breathe we 
know not how as " tin? wind l)loweth where it listetli,'' 
l)tit always from the realms of the Infinite and Divine. 
A revolution in modes of thought is nothing: the 
o\('rfhi-ow of an ojjinionative creed is little has been 
accomplished often, and is in course of achievement 
ev(Mi now. IJtit the elimination of that adorable mys- 
t(;rv, which we call God, from the soul's intensest lite 
and longings would l)e more thati a rcxolution of 
thought or creed; it Avould be the destruction oi' the 
generic consciousness of man. Foi* ch.oose what theo)-\- 
\ou like of cons(!ienc(!. \-et vour obedience to its \-oice 
i- pi'oni|ited by no i-ational calculation, but by a sense 
of niitiioril V from which no tlieorv eliminates unstcrv. 
Make what \ou will of" the |)h\si<-al (lispi()])ort!on 
bctLween ourselves and the iiiidniaht hea\ens ; still it i- 


the inner oneness of the vast expanse, the secret spell 
of universal Power, which touches the contemplative 
spirit with awe. Magnify as you may the sweets of 
intellectual ambition and of gratified human pride; yet 
the silent rapture which men feel in the sublimest 
generalizations on substance and on force is something 
of a purer and a higher tone ; it is as the joy of Moses 
in his narrow cleft, when ho felt the skirts of Jehovah 
sweeping by. Enlarge as you like on the principle of 
curiosity in human nature, which magnifies the little 
cell a thousand times in pursuit after the fugitive life ; 
yet after all, the deepest impulse of this yearning desire 
to know is the feeling that could we in any single 
microscopic cell catch the mystery of substance or of 
life, we should have touched the secret of all that is, 
we should be translated out of this seeming phantastic 
world, and should be as gods knowing the eternal 
good. I care not then what may be said about the 
variability or the vagueness of this God-consciousness 
in man. The thing is there. Ami as the earth cleaves 
to the sun, as the needle points to the pole, as the rivers 
often through devious tracts hurry to the sea, so this 
diviner nature within us cleaves to God, it points to 
heaven, it pants onward tovt^ard immortality. 



For it is not ye that speak, hut the Spirit of your Father ivhlch 
i<peuketh in you." Matt. x. 20. 

Perhaps no passage in the Scriptures Avoiild be more 
suitable than this, as a starting point for the considera- 
tion of the subje('t which we have now in hand. Foi- 
that subject is not simply the inspiration of the Bible, 
though this will naturally occupy a good deal of oui' 
attention; but we have to deal with Inspiration in 
general, of which on any theory the Bible is only a 
particular manifestation. ' On any theory,' I have 
said, because even those, if any, who seriously main- 
tain the ' verbal insjnration' of the Scriptures, and who 
acc<)r(lingly regard them as the only instance h;ft to us 
of tin's action of God's Spirit on th(! souls of nuai, would 
scar-ccly insist that all the insj)ircd uttcTances of pro[)hets 
and a])ostl(;shave been preserved. Besides, a (comparison 
of the recortlcd names of God's nicssen<rers to mankind 



will show that there has been a considerable number of 
inspired men who so far as we know never left any 
writing behind them at all.* In a word, the work of 
inspiration has not on any theory been confined to the 
production of a book. It has been and in this lectm*e 
I shall contend that it is a continuous though variable 
force in the development and progress of mankind. I 
want us then to understand, what we can only under- 
stand by sympathetic feeling, the nature of that ex- 
perience, half human half divine, which has so gloriously 
helped our race in its aspirations towards God. 

For such a purpose, I repeat, the text is pre-eminently 
fitted. Its object is not to announce a theory, but to 
describe a plain practical experience ; though like many 
another plain practical experience, that here described 
is in its origin and essence very mysterious. " Do not 
be over anxious," says the Lord to his disciples, already 
perhaps somewhat fearful at the prospect before them, 
'' never be over anxious about what you shall say when 
brought before kings and governors ; for divine sug- 
gestions shall arise in your minds ; you shall feel 
reasons, motives, appeals springing from unknown 
depths within you; and al] you will have to do will be 
to clothe them in language natural to you; for it is 
not ye that speak, but the Spirit of yoiir Father which 
speaketh in you." The mingling of human faculties 
and divine suffo-estions is somewhat obscured in our 


E.g., Elijah, Elisha, Stephen, etc. 


version by the rendering, " take no thought how ye 
shall speak," For what the Lord really said was, 
' take no anxious thought."* And when he adds, " it 
is not ye that speak," since it was certainly through 
their lips that the speech must come, every one feels 
that this is an instance of legitimate hyperbole, needed 
to impress upon the wondering disciples with sufficient 
emphasis the reality of the divine origination of their 
thoughts. To the idea of inspiration implied in 
these words the rough practical conception generally 
cherished by the po])ular mind may fairly be considered 
as corresponding. And in dealing with this sub- 
ject the popular teeling is most important. For you 
caunot work- out a satisfactory doctrine of Inspira- 
tion as you might Avork out, let us say, the Cal- 
vinistic doctrine of original sin, by a consultation and 
oomj)arison of books. You cannot settle it, as you 
Jiiight the Jewish doctrine of Messiah, by an induction 
oi' texts. For it is not a thing of sacred arclueology. 
not a l)Ook, doctrine, not a technical link in any 
raticmalisticf theory of the imiverse. As is well knoAvn 
fh<' word insjiration hardly occurs in the Bible at 
all : and when it does, it offers no means whatever Ibr 
deterniining its significance apart from its aj)peal to 

fiij fupijit'iinriTt 

t Jf this cpillict. describes the tendency to map out the nature of 
'.iml and the histuj-y of liis {.'race so as t<i )iiak(; tliem conl'oi-niahlc 
to tcclmical ti-ic,ks of }]uman reasuii, iIk; ))alir) of rationalism must Ijo 
a.ssi'Mied not tu Tubjn'j:eii but to Geneva. 



a general popular conception.* / But it is equally well 
known that the notion of inspi;i^ation belongs to what we 
have recently described as the generic consciousness of 
man. Our best plan therefore is to realize as well as 
we can first of all what is the common and essential 
sio-nificance of the notion : then we mav illustrate this 
by some of the most remarkable phenomena which 
answer to the notion; and in this course we cannot 
help marking the variations in form and degree of which 
it is susceptible. 


In seeking what is common and essential in the 
notion we naturally recur to the derivation of the word. 
But while doing so we ought carefully to bear in mind 
that etymology, if a good servant, is a bad master. It 
generally suggests with wonderful precision the root 
idea of the word, which idea animates all its later 
applications. But if we allow ourselves to suppose that 
the root idea can accurately define or limit these secon- 
dary limitations, we are sure to fall into arbitrary 
pedantry. For example, the root ideas of notorious 
(weU-known) and famous (much spoken of) are very 
closely akin ; but the usage of spee<-;h shows that this 
does not prevent secondary applications of the most 
divergent and indeed opposite character. In both cases 

* Whether OtoirvtxTOTOQ in 2 Tim. iii. IG be part of the predicate or 
of the suVjject this remark is equally true of that passage. 


the root idea is siifjo-estive enoucjli as to the meauino; of 
the words ; but in neither does it define or limit the 
a{>plication sanctioned by usage. Now the root idea of 
inspiration is of course ' a breathing in,' as a man 
breathes into a flute when he plays on it. But if it is 
argued that prophets and evangelists, being inspired, 
were nothing but pipes through which the Holy Spirit 
breathed, and that therefore every word they wrote was 
directed by God, the error is committed of turning a 
mere vague sufjofestion into an exhaustive definition. 
While however we decline so rigid an application, we 
gladly adopt the suggestion ; for it is very grateful to 
the s])iritual imagination, and Avill be found, I hope, to 
fall in with all that was said in our last lecture on the 
God-consciousness in man. 

How often we say of one who has uttered lofty truths 
with a pure jjassion that ho spoke as one inspired ! 
Such an expression requires no ex])Ianation to the 
c<>mmon heart. By it we mean of course that in sucli a 
("ise self is suljordinate to a great intellectual idea, or to a 
lofty moral purpose. Such a man is moved by an im])ulse 
\viii{;h is from beyond himself, and which is su})erior to all 
s(!lfisli considerations. Yet we do not mean merely that 
h(( is disinterested. For the disinterested man either 
feels that self is not at all concerned, or hy a candid 
efi'ort of cons(tious self-control he ])iits it, on one side. 
l>ut tli(! man who, as we say, seems like one ins])ired 
do(^s not feel anything about s(;lf either one way or the 
(jthcr. He is not his own; he is as though possessed 


by a power greater than his will, beyond his control, 
vaster than his imagination. This element of spon- 
taneity, of im])nlse from beyond the range of conscious- 
ness, must be constantly kept in view, if we would get a 
satisfiictory notion of inspiration. It does not occur 
to us to regard as inspired any work that is evidently 
laboured, patched, hammered together with many a 
re-consideration and re-arranijement. It is of course 
quite possible that we may be wrong here. For quite 
apart from the mere pertinacity of self-will, we see 
sometimes a quiet earnestness, sustained by an unselfish 
impulse, and maintaining a patient continuance in well- 
doing, notwithstanding the utter absence of any facility 
in performance. ^\^hen we have any sufficient sym- 
pathetic knowledge of such a character we feel, not that 
the man s})eaks or acts, but that he lives like one 
inspired. But at present we are trying to get at that 
popular idea of inspiration, which we believe to have a 
very strong hold on the generic consciousness of man. 
And with that object we refer to the phenomena which 
most manifestly realize that idea. For we naturally 
think of inspiration as a rushing impulse that comes 
we know not how, that pours through the soul like a 
glorioxis gale, and away out into the world of speech or 
action, with no strain of effort and hardly a movement 
of the will. Such a notion may require to be modified 
or corrected in some instances of its application ; but 
certainlv it is a main and distin^cuishino- feature of 
inspiration as commonly understood by mankind. 


Farther, when we say of any man that he spoke or 
acted like one inspired, Ave generally imply that his 
s])eech or action was characterized by an exalted moral 
tone. We talk indeed, it is true, of poetic inspiration. 
But it jars on the conscience to ascribe that to any 
poetic utterance which is morally bad. There have of 
course been bad, or at any rate impure men of genius, 
in whose works we often catch the tones of inspiration. 
But such utterances have been the impulse of moments 
when an intense longing after the purity of an ideal life 
subdued or silenced all baser desires. " Tarn O'Shanter" 
shows the tire of genius ; but I hardly think it suggests 
to one the notion of ins])iration, unless indeed in a 
secondary sense, in which we consciously limit the sig- 
lu'ticance to a free and fervid impulse. Whereas "Mary 
iu Heaven" and the " Cotter's Saturday Night" show 
that Burns too in a higher sense could speak as one 

In addition, when we use such an expression with 
most em[)hasis aiid in its highest significance, we are 
impH'ssed witli a fulness of life whicli seems too great 
to Ixilong to an individual soid. Who docs not feel at 
times in reading Shaks])eare as thougii tliese could not 
be the utterances of a h'liiited ])ersonal ex])erieuce, as 
though some large collective life; of many ages and 
nations must have centred in him, and found ex])7'ession 
in his woi'ds? Tluy^ search the depths of tlu; heart; 
tliey enhirirc consciousness inward, towards tlu; roots of 
being in which ail hunuuiity is one. Nor is such an 



impression confined to the words of the dead who yet 
speak, and whose shadowy forms, discerned through 
the darkness of the past, may be supposed to affect 
the imagination with a special reverence. For as it is 
said of those spiritual orators, who perhaps best illustrate 
ancient prophetic power, that they lose self in their 
subject ; so it is true of their hearers, that in the larger 
views and deeper feelings realized they forget for a 
while at least the individuality of the speaker. He 
becomes to them an oracle, through which for the time 
they have fuller access to the everlasting Life about 
us, and the eternal truths which in ordinary moments 
are so dim and far away. 

These then are the notes which make up the idea of 
inspiration, when in ordinary speech, Avithout presuming 
to say that such an one is actually inspired, we say that 
he spoke or acted as one inspired. We attribute to 
him possession by a gi'eat idea or lofty purpose, a 
mysterious impulse from beyond self, exalted purity 
of moral tone, and altogether a fulness of life which 
seems to break u]X)n us from beyond things seen and 
temporal. Hitherto we have said nothing of the source 
of inspiration ; because that hardly comes into view in 
this common and popular use of the word, which we 
have been trying to describe. That is usually associated 
exclusively with certain historical experiences of special 
men. But when we say of any one whom we know, that 
he spoke or acted as one inspired, this is about what we 
mean. What then is wanting to enable us to recognize 


in any instance not a mere similarity, but an actual 
realization of the idea? Simply a confidence in the 
true divinity of the impulse which gives a spontaneity 
beyond any etfort of the will. We need to feel that the 
origin of that impulse is the very life of Grod, the love 
of God, the truth of God. And this is just what is 
expressed by our text, " it is not ye that speak, hut the 
Spirit of your Father luhich speaketh in you.'''' 

Is there anything in this notion of the reality of a 
divine impulse in tlie soul to make it an abnormal or 
xmnatural condition of mind ? The Christian theory of 
th(! universe teaches that God Avas in the beginning, and 
will, in the in\(\, in yet a higher sense be all in all. It 
sj)(;aks of " one God n)i<l Father of all, vho is above all, 
and thronijh, all, and, 'in, you all."' Indeed I trust I 
sliall not be misunderstood if I say that the Christian 
tlieorv of the universe has for its background a mystical 
pantheism ; not that it dissolves aAvay the personality 
of the Most High, oi- of any of his creatures; but it does 
seem to inij)lv that (Jod is the only ultimate Substance 
and the oik; oiiiiiiprcsciit energy of lif('. And in this 
its i'uiHhuuental assiunption it has by ins])irati()n aiiti- 
eipatcil from of old the lina! issues, towai'd which science 
on its (iwn line of en(|uii'y is diitdy pointing now, l)ut 
which by the necessiu'v Jiiuiiations of its mission science 
c:ui ncNcr reach.* She tells us that tlie whol(> creation is 
in :i state of movem(.'nt and flux, for ever changing I'rom 

* Sec Appendix. Note I>. 


glory to glory. Christianity tells xis it is "by the 
spirit of the Lord." As some years ago a myriad 
meteors burst from one vanishing point in space, and 
blazed over the whole heaven ; so to the contemplative 
mind beneath the sky of eternity the sjilendours of 
creation rush upon the sight; and beyond the vanishing 
point of vision no eye can intrude : religion only tells 
us of Him who dwells in light that is unapproachable. 
To us as Christians there is no beauty, l)ut in it we 
know that God shines out ; there is no life but feels the 
impidse of his breath ; there is no virtue but manifests 
the energy of his grace. If then we have confidence in 
the reality of the divine impulse which we regard as 
the secret of inspiration, there is in our view nothing 
abnormal or imnatiu-al in this. It is sim})ly a particular 
a]>j)lication of that theory of the universe which Chris- 
tianity assmnes, and which indeed is the only one that 
can ultimately consist with taith in God at all. 

It may be imagined by many that such a view 
necessarily does away with everything distinctive in 
the idea of ins|)iration, and that in fact we are simply 
explaining the thing away. But to this I altogether 
demur. I might as well be told that if I refer to the 
falls of Niagara as an instance of gravitation, I do 
away with their distincti\e grandeur ; or that if I 
call a flash of lightning a particidar manifestation of 
<'lectricity, I ex])lain away its ])ower and terror. A 
particular nuaii/estatioii remains a ])articidar manifesta- 
tion still, to whatever generalization it may be referred. 


Circumstance, degree, effect, all have to be considered as 
well as the ultimate cause. And as I should not think 
of calling a spark from a Leyden jar a thunderbolt, so 
I have a perfect right to confine the name Ins})iration 
to special and exalted instances of a divine impulse in 
human souJs. God manifests Himself in the lilies of 
the field, but we do not call that inspiration ; because 
so far as we know there is here no creature conscious- 
ness. Grod numifests Himself in the strength, and 
grace, and instinct of the animal world; but we do 
not call that inspiration, because there is no God- 
consciousness. God manifests Himself in tlu; laAvs of 
thought which govern the operations of human intellect ; 
but we do not call that inspiration, because there is in 
th;'se no feeling of divine conununion. God manifests 
Himself in answer to every ])rayerful aspiration, but 
we do not n(;cessarilv ("ill this inspiration tiiough we 
nearly t(jueli it here b(;cause there may be no definite 
impulse, and no distinct overmastering idea. In a 
word, our idea of inspiration is a divine impulse; whieli 
takes the I'oi'm of intense purity of moral feeling, ol' 
jjossession l)y a lofty purpose, of a I'ulness of life which 
energizes in \:irious ])roportions every faeully of heart 
and mind. I believe that this essentially aee(ji(ls with 
the po])u!ar idea wliieh we have been seeking to illus- 
trate : but whciher the exelusi\ciiess with which the 
populai- notion is usnally applied can faii'ly he juaintainc.'d, 
is a (piolioii which 1 at j)res<'nt reserve. 

If it is asked how are we to know that the ini])ulse is 


divine ; I reply, partly by its fruits ; partly by the cir- 
cumstances under wliicli the manifestation takes place. 
If the issue is an utterance of qui(;kening, elevating, 
hallowing ])o\ver, it is quite possibly, though not certainly, 
a genuine insjjiration. "Not certainly" I have said; 
for if the circumstances are such that surrounding 
social and educational influences amply account for the 
utterance or deed, without the supposition of any great 
originality of imj)ulse, of course inspiraticm in the highest 
sense has no ])lacc. But if it is impossible to account 
by such mundane influences for the moral and spiritual 
])ower of deeds ami words that give men higher life, then 
we may safely say this is inspiration. A Xenophon 
or a Euripides, however salutary their teachings, are 
accounted for if we consider them as instances of culti- 
vated genius ; a Moses or a John the Baptist is an 
ii>congruous portent if not inspired. We cannot main- 
tain indeed that any man is free from the influences of 
inheritance and early surroundings. It is in a great 
measure a qiiestion of degree. All we can say is, that 
making due allowance for this, there are some men who 
strike us as animated by an original impulse pre- 
eminently di\in('. 

But supposing that we are satisfied of the genuineness 
of ins])iration in any ])articular case, what amount of 
authority are avc to attribute; to it ? Are we bound to 
i-eceiv(^ an o})inion b(;cause it has been announced by an 
ins[)ired man ? These are questions which cannot be fully 
answered aj)art I'rom a discussion of infallibility, which 


I reserve for another lecture. At present however it 
lies within the limits of our present subject to observe, 
that according to the idea of inspiration which I have 
been urging upon you, its force lies in its appeal to the 
God-consciousness in man. The amount of its authority 
therefore will depend upon two factors ; one being the 
degree of purity and power with which it passes through 
tlie human faculties of the divine messenger into 
utterance; the other being the amount of attention, 
susceptibility, and candour in the spiritual nature of the 
hearers. And these factors are so related that if the 
one be increased, the other may perhaps be diminished 
without much difference in the effect ; while if one be 
diminislicd, the otluir miist be inci'eased, or the authority 
realized is correspondingly slight. The inspiration 
which fails to reach the obstinate Jews of Thessalonica is 
all ])owerful in the nobler minded svnafjofjue of Beroea. 
And the Hellenic mind, which can scoft' at the intellectual 
fervour of St. Paul on JMar's Hill, yields in Corinth to 
a simj)l('r and fuller s})iritual ins])iration.* So amongst 
oursches, the ins])iration which fails to penetrate self- 
satisfied irreverent arrogance, brings the moral su])remacy 
of (Jud home to the lunnble soul. And spiritual natures 
unsuscc])til)l<; to the di\ine impulse beneath the wilder 
forms of ancient Hebrew insj)irati()n are stirred to 
r(pent;inc(! and faith by the everlasting gospel of God's 
love. l>ut tin's \ lew manifestly puts the responsible 
relation of indi\idual men t<> jiarticular instances of 

* Sec 1 Cor. ii. 1, ^:<', 



inspiration, especially to the earthly vessel in which the 
heavenly treasure is contained, in a great measure 
beyond human judgment. Indeed I am convinced that 
could we rightly apprehend the real nature of the 
authority of inspiration, we should feel opinionative 
bigotry and sectarian uncharitableness to be impossible, 
or at least most grossly incongruous with the nature of 
the case. For the authority of inspiration rests only 
in the efficacy of its appeal to the tribunal of conscience.* 
And concerning the righteousness of the judgment there 
the opinions of the man are no evidence whatever, one 
way or the other. His outward life, his manifest dis- 
position may in marked cases be a sufficient indication; 
but for the most part the purity or impurity of that 
tribunal is kno\\^l only to God. 

Still, it may be urged, if inspiration has been accom- 
panied by miracles, and if it has risen to the intensity 
of supernatural visions, not only should its moral 
influence be commanding, but even the intellectual 
opinions announced on such credentials must be binding. 
So far as miracles and visions are necessarily bound up 
with the present subject, it will be sufficient to reply, that 
without at all derogating from the import of certain 
miracles at critical periods of religious history, it may 
be very safely affirmed that there is no necessary con- 
nectirm between any such wonders and the truth of 
opinions propoimded by their worker. No holder of the 

* Oij tlie submission of personal judgment to the authority of the 
Bible, see Lect. v. 


infallibility of the Bible can possibly dispute tliis position : 
because there we find statements to this effect expressly 
made by Moses, by our Lord, and by St. Paul.* While 
those who believe in certain miracles on historical 
evidence, apart from the infallibility of the Bible, are 
disposed to view them as an extraordinary development 
of occult powers in humanity, such as mifjht Avell 
correspond with an unusual excitement of the spiritual 
nature. But neither on this view is there any necessary 
connection between miracle and truth of opinion. f 
Thus the doctrine taught, though it is certainly likely to 
attract more attention and to come with more weight 
when accomjianied by miracle, must be judged, as we 
have said that all inspiration is to be judged, by the 
eii'ect of its appeal on the spiritual nature. x\nd the 
same princi])le is a])])licable to visions. For visions are 
ins})iration in a pictorial form; and in every case that is 
described in the Scrij)tures they manifestly owe much 
ol" that form to the memory and associations of the seer. 
But that is only a mode of saying that in this, as in 
ev(;rv other form, inspiration issues into utterance under 
th(^ necessary limitations and imperfections of the indi- 
vidual mind and its surrounding circumstances. 

* Dent. xiii. \?, : M;ifl. xxiv. 24 ; 2 Tlicss. ii. '.). Even tlio douht- 
ful view ilial tlicse iiassngos all refer only to pretended niiraclcs 
would make no diil'erenee in the arj^umeut ; becaust; tin; works arc 
(IcscriKfil a- hav;!:'/ on the .svn.^r.s all the ellVct of nal on^'s. 

t 'J'hi'ii' ai'- 'lie or two ajiparont 1 y woll an; lioni icateil events in the 
life of ^\v( (lcnl)(>i';_' whieh werf. in iIk' only senx: I can attach to the 
w(jrd, inirac'iloii-;, i.e., allon-cthcr Ijcycnd the known order of nature. 
But I do not. f.,cl hound to accept his doctrines on that ac uuiit. 


No doubt if wc })elioyc that Moses received his 
account of the creation in articidate intercourse with 
the Deity, that woukl be a case in Avliicli assent would 
be a binding duty. But the most devout su))])orter of 
such a view would hardly maintain the historical 
evidence on the subject to be such as to make all dif- 
ferences of opinion impossible unless from dejn-avity of 
heart. And if there is room for conscientious difference 
of opinion here, the notion of a binding authority in the 
theories taught by Moses collapses at once. 

There is one other point on which I would touch with 
all the reverence and love which a devotion at least sincere, 
though far, far too inadequate can give. For we bless 
God for One greater than Moses, Avhose story also 
stands in a clearer play of historic light. And not only 
is his Sj)irit our unfailing inspiration ; but his Word 
remains to us the highest law. Still He speaks to us 
"as one having authority," and we hear only to obey. 
' Is not this then,' it may bo asked, ' precisely the case 
which you seem to regard as impossible ? True, " the 
Father giveth not th(^ spirit by measure unto him," and 
he stands altogether above apostles and pro])hets as 
" the brightness of the Father's glory and the express 
image of His])crson." But still his word is not merely 
an a])peal to the s])iritual nature ; it is also a law im- 
posing on us assent to certain opinions altogether 
irrespective of any verifying faculty in man.' Even if 
this were so, it would be strictly consistent with all that 
\\'C have said on the general subject of inspiration ; for 


by that word we understand not a reception of the 
spirit beyond measure, but in measure, and in combina- 
tion with the ordinary action of human faculties. Biit 
though the supreme spiritual authority of our Lord 
Himself does not in itself come properly within the 
limits of our present subject, yet its outward action upon 
us does ; because unless in our communion with the 
Eternal Spirit of Christ, which is of course not outward 
but inward, the word of our Lord comes to us not 
directly but indirectly through the gospels, which are 
on any theory ordiiuiry instances of inspiration. And 
here I may remark that there is perha])s more signifi- 
cance than is generally felt in the fact that our Lord 
neither committed aTiything to writing himself, nor 
commanded his disci[)les, so far as we know, to take any 
memorandum of the forms in which his doctrines were 
to be taught. Once more we are reminded of St. Paul's 
most pr<;gnant words, "the Lord is the S})irit;" for the 
Lord's method in his divine mission suggests that he 
felt that mission to Ijc, not the autlioritative imposition 
of opinions, but rather the infusion of a spirit into all 
(;oming time. Certaitdy he is said to liave ]m)niised the 
a])ostles that the Holy (Ihost should bring "all things 
to their nniiembi-ance whatsoever Ik; had said unto 
them." I)Ut tlif! actual differences amongst tlie gospels 
show cleai'ly enough, that this inspii'ation was subject to 
limitations invoked in the faculties of the individual 
writiu's. Still farther, tlu; inunbei' of intellectual pro- 
})ositions to which our Lord is rejiorted to have 


authoritatively demanded an intellectual assent is amaz- 
ingly small.* The compilers ot'theolofrjcal systems have 
usually had recoiirse far more to the Ej)istlcs than to 
the Gos})els. Indeed the one point on which the Lord 
does seem to have insisted, the acknowledgment of his 
Messiahship, was, under the circimistances of the Jewish 
life of the period, much more a practical matter of the 
heart than the decision of an intellectual question. All 
men around him were expecting the Messiah ; but only 
those who Avere seeking God w^ould recognize, in an 
incarnation of goodness and love, the lonfj-looked-for 
salvation of Israel. 

We cannot allow then that the exceptional character 
and mission of the Lord Jesus makes any real exception 
to the account we have given of the authority apper- 
taining to ins})iration. This must lie in the force 
with which it appeals to the God-consciousness in 
man. It is mainly a divine im])ulse giving elevation 
and intensity to the spiritual life ; but the fulness of 
that life energizes, as we have said, in various de- 
grees every fac;ulty of heart and mind. Insight into 
religious truth, knowledge of human nature, sympathy 
with God, susceptibility to heavenly suggestions which 
no reflection or reasoning could have reached, all 
associate themselves with such an elevation of soul in 
conununion with the Most High. And these are amply 
sufficient to account for all the phenomena which are 

* Inferences from Christ's use of lanj^uage and ideas common to the 
lime in which he lived are not in point here ; but see Lectures iv. and v. 


actually presented by the Scriptures, and possibly by 
other monuments of the spiritual history of man. I 
repeat that this view does not explain away everything 
distinctive in inspiration. It does indeed best accord 
with that theory of the universe which I have suggested 
as the mystical back-ground of Christian truth ; but it 
is not to be dissolved away into the generalities of any 
theory. In the previous lectures we argued that the 
divin3 self-manifestation has assumed a special form in 
assoc.ation with the gradually awakening self-conscious- 
ness jf man ; that it has in fact become a God-conscious- 
ness in the creature, a comnmnion higher than that of 
the Maker with His works, a communion of the Father 
witL His children, and as such capable of endless degrees 
of perfection. All we assert now amounts to this, that 
inspration is a peculiarly intense form of the God- 
coasc'iousness in man. It does not belong like that to 
tlit gfineric consciousness of man. It is something 
sj)tcial and individual. It is the manifestation of God 
in tlie sha])e of an energy felt, a mission realized, a 
trith grasped, a fuller wave of life which the enraptured 
5onl knows to be the overflowing of God. That is, to 
ay mind at least, the essential idea of inspiration. And 
t has this advantage, that it enables us to see in this 
>less('(i inlhi('iic(;, not a fixed, arbitrary and extraneous 
orcc ; but a living imjjulse capable of all degrees, from 
lie higher mind God sometimes breathes on you and 
ae, u]) through all the rang(,'s of insight, vision and 
tjvelation, to the sublimest contem})lations of St. Jolm. 



I will now lay before you one or two illustrations, to 
show how the views advanced apply to acknowledged 
instances of inspiration. And one most admirably 
suited to our purpose we shall find in Ste})hen the first 
martyr for Christ. If Ave needed any other evidence 
of his ins])iration in addition to his own work and 
testimony, we have it in the assurance of the primitive 
church, that he was " full of the Holy Ghost," in the 
transfiguration of his countenance by the light wi.hin, 
and in the heavenly vision that accompanied his 
triumphant death. He was one of the first to exporitTice 
and to signalize the fulfilment of the Saviour's prom'se, 
" it shall he given you in that hour what ye shall specky 
And in his speech before the council we shall find the 
best comment on the meaning of the Lord when he 
said, " it is not ye that speak, hut the Spirit of yoxr 
Father which speaketh in you.'''' What then are the attr- 
butes that most strike our attention in the brief lust'e 
with which tliis character shines out from the sacroi 
page? At first thought indeed it is hard to say. Fcr 
the holy passion that consumed him to death, or rather 
transfigured him into immortality, gives him a sort of 
single-toned radiance, which makes us conscious only 
of a longing sympathy with some divine intensity of life, 
with some unworldly exaltation of motive, some stainless 
purity of purpose. But if we must examine farther, we 
should say that the elements which unite in the singular 
spiritual beauty of Stephen are loyalty of soul, spiritual 


freedom, singleness of eye, religions insight, and forget- 
fulness of self in the blessed enthralment of a God-given 
mission. Of these qualities we may say, not only that 
they are precisely the elements which make a man 
an apostle, a prophet or a martyr ; but that in such 
circumstances as make apostleshi]) or martyrdom pos- 
sible, that is, in formative periods, they are rinfailing 
tokens of an original impulse of inspiration. God shone 
very brightly in the heart and conscience of this man ; 
and therefore his devotion was not patient only, nor yet 
exulting, but of that pure calm intensity which we 
associate with a seraph's joy. He was " full of faith," it 
is said ; and of course it is involved therein that he had 
clear and definite o})iniuns u})on the Messiahship of 
Jesus. l)Ut that does not exhaust the meaning of the 
phrase. F(jr if you try the effect of this and say, "he 
was a man full of Christian o])inion," ycm will feel how 
meagre and inadequate it sounds. No ; his soul had 
eml)raced with all its powers of self-forgetful affection 
the divinity that dwelt in Jesus Christ, the eternal 
righteousness, the exhaustless love, the rc'conciling 
sacrifice, which make the three-fold c()in])h;teness of the 
GosjK'Fs manifestation of God to sinful men. It was 
his complete; ])osses.sion by the spirit of Christ, which 
gave to this man a loyalty of soul so (earnest and de<'j), 
so fearless of any change or faithlessness, that in its 
strength Ik; felt anq)]e liberty t(j meet new circumstances 
and fresh needs with tu;w asiHicts of Christ's truth, in 
unconventional lano;ua"-e fresh from the lieart. Nor 


can wc doubt that in this respect he was distinguished 
above all the earlier apostles, and proved the forerunner 
of St. Paul, to whom it was finally reserved to break 
the yoke of Judaism off' the neck of the growing church. 
Neither Peter, nor James, nor even John had yet ade- 
quately conceived the utter spirituality of the reign of 
Christ. They seem to have cherished still the hope 
that the kingdom should be restored to Israel.* The 
]>aradox of the fulfilment of the law by its abrogation, 
through the expansion of the spirit beyond the letter, 
had not yet become an open secret in their minds. 
There is no (evidence that they had any expectation of 
"chanmnnr the customs which Moses delivered," or of 
making the world instead of their Holy Place the 
temple t)f the Living God. In their view the ancient 
land, hallowed by the very footsteps and echoing to the 
voice of God, should ever be the imperial province of 
Messiah's kingdom. As Jews kindled with a more 
devoted and generous zeal than others, they would have 
proselytized the whole world ; but they could not think 
that Judaism like a ripened flower must shed its seed 
and die. That Stephen had already passed beyond this 
strictly Judaic Christianity is significantly hinted in 
the accusation made against him, and confirmed by the 
whole tenour of his a])oIogy.t A Hellenist himself, 

* Acts i. 6 : iii. 1!) 21. 
t It is true the witnesses are called false (Acts vi. 13) ; but so they 
are in the case of the Lord himself (Matt. xxvi. 61), ret these only 
distorted, apparently, the actual words of Christ. (John ii. 19.) 


and frequenting principally the foreign s^Tiagogues 
Avhicli received wanderers from all the earth, he seems 
to have felt the want of a large catholicity in religion, 
and to have realized by the sort of insight, which is the 
peculiar gift of inspiration, that a true catholicity must 
needs be exclusively spiritual. It may be thought 
indeed that here one of the conditions of a genuine 
inspiration is scarcely fulfilled, namely, circumstances 
suggestive of marked originality. For did not Christ 
proclaim that his kingdom was not of this world ? He 
did ; but the disciples had not generally understood 
the bearing of his doctrine. And that Stephen alone 
should have had such an insiglit into the real nature of 
the Lord's mission surely suggests a special inspiration 
by his ]Master"s Spirit. In that inspiration Stephen 
already kn(!W, what St. Peter himself ai'terwards learned 
so well, tlie IVcedom that is in no danger of license 
because it is the spontaneous service of God. There 
could be no danger in the freedom of such a man, whose 
cloudless loyalty of soul left no obscurities in the path 
of duty. The (claims of righteousness and expediency 
never strove together in his heart ; for to the singleness 
of an v\i\ bright with the fulness ol" liis inspired life 
they were always one. Such qualities, in a soul enriched 
by j)raycr and contenq)lation, always bring with them 
more or less (jf religious insight. J)Ut il" 1 rightly 
a])prflicn(l the tendency of Stephen's a])oligy, there was 
in hjs. iri>i::ht just that fir>t K>()k over the mountain 
ridge bari-inif the \va\'. which alwavs nudvcs an era in 


the pilgrimaf^e of pro|^ess. I tliink I see those parch- 
ment-bound slaves of the letter, those scribes and priests, 
idolaters of a land, a city, a buildinfr, a book, as the 
martyr's face beaming with supernatural light looked 
back throufrh the centuries past and called them up in 
vision. What matter that here or there he fell into 
mistakes of date, or name, or place ? The sympathetic 
souls who saw his face and heard his voice would no 
more have thought of explaining such errors than of 
seeking to polish the spots off the sun. And sympathetic 
or unsympathetic, how strangely transformed, with 
what a wealth of spiritual suggestion the history 
vmrolled itself before the hearers, searched out by the 
keen insight of inspiration ! Abraham the father of 
the faithful, an alien and a stranger to the sacred land ; 
Joseph like Jesus, rejected of his brethren ; Moses like 
Jesus, spurned by the people whom he would save ; 
Moses like Jesus, a ruler and deliverer in spite of all ; 
Moses unlike Jestis, the maker only of symbols of 
heavenly things, the antitypes of which were out of 
earthly sight ;* Grod refusing a temple made with hands, 
because enthroned everywhere as the eternal king 
such were the flashes of truth which seemed to leap 
forth from the dulness of the well-worn story, when it 
was touched by a soul that glowed with the present con- 
sciousness of God. In his view the history was a 
progress from bondage into liberty, from the flesh to 

* Verse 44. 

inspiration: 93 

the spirit, from darkness into light. All through he 
seemed to hear a divine voice ever " speaking unto the 
children of Israel to go forward ; " all through he could 
mark a divine hand ever pointing onwards ; alike 
speaking and pointing in vain to the stitf-necked and 
imcircumcised who would always resist the Holy Ghost. 
^^ And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on 
him, saiv his face as it had been the face of an angel.'''' 
Yes ; for if anything can make a man's face like an 
angel's, it is the joy that comes of an inspiration 
hringing larger views of truth, and impelling to a self- 
forgetful mission. 

Were not the Lord's words fulfilled in Ste])hen ? He 
was not over-careful to think what he should say. 
Indeed he liad no time. But as the hour demanded, the 
light in his soul shed its heams over all ])ast history. 
" While li(! mused the fire burned; thv.n s])ak(! he with 
his tongue ;'' and he knew that, however imperfectly, he 
s])oke tlu! purposes of God. Not self-consciousness, but 
God-consenousness pre\'ailed in him as he sjjoke. They 
wen; not merelv the conclusions of experience? that he 
uttered, but the suggestions of tlu; t^^pirit of God. 
Therefore it was not (mly Ik; that spoke, but tlu; Spirit 
ol" the I'^ither that sj)oke in him. 

Is not tliis very nnicii the feeling which St. Paul 
must have had in writing out of the; fulness ol' liis own 
(jod-consciousncss to sustain and strengthen tlu; faith ol 
his coincrts? A great deal Iins been made of a certain 
|)ass;;g(' in the first Kpisth' to tlu; Corinthians, wiiich is 


supposed to imply that St. Paul wrote verbatim from 
the dictation ot" the Holy Sjjirit. " Now ive have received, 
not the spirit of the world, but the Sjnrit which is of God ; 
that we might know the things that are freely given to us of 
God. Which things also we speak, not in the words, which 
maris wisdom teacheth, hut which the Holy Ghost teacheth.''''* 
In these last words St. Paul has been imagined distinctly 
to assert, that every word which he dictated to his 
amanuensis was first dictated to him by a Higher 
Power. Now I would ])ut it to any candid reader who 
has given any attention to the style of St. Paxil, whether 
the apostle writes at all like a man who thought every 
word he uttered was an infallible communication from 
God ? Such a man would surely never argiie in support 
of what he advances ; nor would he ever allow himself 
to be swayed by any passionate impulse. For he 
who argues expects to prevail not by authority but by 
reason ; and he who is possessed by a passionate 
impulse is conscious only of a feeling that struggles into 
im])erfect expression, not of facility and perfection such 
as would be involved in dictation by the Holy Ghost. 
Such a man would never use forms of adjuration to 
attest his sincerity, as for instance, " I p)rotest by your 
rejoicing^ which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord 
I die daily." Such a man would never indulge in 
biting sarcasm, or in impatient, though most natural 
wislies which soimd like a curse, as for example, "I 

* 1 Cor. ii. 12, 13. 
vTf Ti'jv vfit-'tpai' Kavx>l'^i-v 1 Cor. xv, 31. 

ixspiration: 95 

would they were even cut off which trouble you."* Such 
a man would not make an express distinction in favour 
of the authority of well-known moral laws or the 
received sayings of Christ, as when St. Paul says " to 
the married I command, yet not I hut the Lord, let not 
the wife depart from her husband : But to the rest 
speak I not the Lordy'\ Such characteristics are surely 
utterly incongruous in any man wlio is supposed to 
regard himself as simply an amanuensis to heavenly 
dictation. No ; I think we may give a much more 
natural interpretation to the passage in the Epistle to 
the Corinthians, where he speaks of " the words that the 
Holy Ghost teachoth." For before the apostle was at 
Corinth he had been in Athens, and he had tried there 
the effect of such words as man's wisdom might suggest. 
The speech which he delivered there was a very 
noble oiu! : but, as f have already intimated, I cannot 
avoid a feeling that the intellectual interest of the occa- 
sion somewhat overbore the simj)licity of the spirit. 
The imjmlsf! of inspiration is imdoubtedly there, but it 
is much more embarrassed by self-conscious intellectual 
effort than, for instance, in the same apostle's address to 
the elders of E])liesns. He who gloried in being all 
things to :dl men doired no doubt to show how the mes- 
sag(! he had to deliver could be presented in philosophic 
gTiise. Nor iKM'd we for a moment supj)ose that there 
was anything WTong in such a desire; l)ut in that period 
of sud<leM I'cgciicration b}" tlic niar\clIous out])ouring of 
* Cal. V. 12. tl dr. vii. 1012. 


God's Spirit, the time Avas liardlv suited for its fulfilment. 
St. Paul appears then to have gone to Corinth in some 
depression,* saddened by the unimpressionable levity of 
Athens, and feeling deeply the strange incongruity of 
the S})iritual life ho proclaimed with the formalized, 
polished, and supercilious self-satisfaction of the world 
innnediately around him. And yet when he reached 
Corinth he could not choose but speak. " Necessity was 
laid u})on him," and silence was a worse woe than the 
scorn of unbelief. But as he spoke out, in what the 
Saturday lieviewers of the time no doubt thought 
barbarous forms of thought and speech, the tale of divine 
love he liad to tell ; behold the hearts of men were melted, 
and their sj^irits felt the glory of an inner revelation. 
A sacred excitement spread from house to house ; a holy 
})ower testified its presence in a moral reformation ; and 
even the sick in body were healed by the strange and 
sudden grace of God. So says St. Paul, " my speech 
and mj preacliing icas not with enticing words of mans 
irisdom^ hut in demoJistration of the Spirit aiid of power. '''^ 
And this gi\es ample meaning to the passage which has 
been su])])()sed to profess dictation from the Holy Ghost. 
" Which things cdso ice speah, not in the words which 
man''s wisdom teacheth, hut which the Holy Ghost teacheth; 
comparing spiritual tldngs with spiritual.'''' The contrast 
is not Ijetween his OAvn words and the words of another 
Being; but between words carefully selected in accordance 
with a prudent intellectual design, as at Athens, and 
* Compare 1 Cor. ii. 3. 


words rising freely to the lips from a heart full of 
emotion kindled, by the Spirit of God. This view of St. 
Paid's experience of inspiration could easily be con- 
firmed by a farther survey of his writings.* But for our 
purpose this illustration suffices. It suggests in St. 
Paul's case, as in that of Stephen, a general exaltation of 
the moral nature energizing every faculty, an impulse, 
an idea, a mission borne in upon the soul by the Spirit 
of God, but taking form according to the individuality 
of the man ; and this it is which constitutes inspiration. 
Bearing in mind what has been said about visions or 
dreams as a pictorial form of inspiration, we may safely 
affirm that the ideas hitherto ])r()pounded answer very 
fairly to the ancient prophetic notion of the 'word of 
Jcli()\ all." This comes out clearly in a very touching 
and descriptive passage of Jeremiah,! wliere the pro})het 
complains of the hopeless ])urd<'n which his mission 
s('eme(l at times. ' llien I said I ivi.K not make mention 
of J lint, nor speak any more in His name. But His 
wo?'(l was in mine heart as a hurning jire shut vp in my 
J)(nip!<, and I was iceary with forbearing , and I could not 
stay." Here again w(! recognize the same experience 
as ill ('hrisliaii Apostles, an idea, a ])urpose, a mission 
boi'iic in npon a man from beyond himself, the 
Life ol' God flowing in npon him witii such j)ower as 
to bccoiiic practically a resistless impulse. This is a 
notion of ins|)iration which amply I'ulHls the conditions 
requirc.'d ly po])ular feeling on the subject : while with 

* Sec ApnciKlix. N'Mfc K. t ''li- ^-- '-i'- 


due allowance for changes in modes of speech and forms 
of thought, it is applicable to every genuine instance of 
inspiration which the world has known. 

At this juncture it may be fairly asked, has this 
experience of inspiration been confined exclusively to 
the Jews ; and are its only records in the Bible ? To 
which I answer, most unquestionably not. For all the 
tokens of a genuine inspiration, impulse, idea, mission, 
associated with unusual elevation of moral life, are to 
be found in some of the greatest heathen teachers ; and 
if you judge inspiration by one rule amongst Jews 
and make another to exclude it amongst Gentiles, you 
only reduce it to mere conventional emptiness. Who 
does not know how Socrates declared himself guided 
by some divinity within, which animated him with the 
right impulse at the right moment? And who that 
has heard or read it does not feel the pathetic earnest- 
ness and deej) significance of his words when condemned 
to death, that never had ho felt the inward divine 
indications of duty so luminously clear ? How strange 
we dare not say ca])ricious are the issues of the 
history of faith I It is not Nature only but also Grace 
that "of fifty seeds" "often brings but one to bear." 
And while wcj bless the Providence which has evolved 
from the old Hcbnnv consciousness of the Word of 
Jehovah the glory of Christian inspiration, we cannot 
but lament that a true Hellenic form of the same doctrine 
should have wasted into idle jests or idler curiosity 
about '' the Demon of fSocrates."' One illustration here 


suffices. It is not necessary that I should give any 
list of uncanonical writers whom I think to show traces 
of inspiration. " By their fruits ye shall know them;" 
the inspired teachers of mankind as well as their fol- 
lowers. Show me the man whose moral and spiritual 
stature rises above his times, and who earlier than his 
fellows notes the jirophetic tokens of a coming day ; a 
man who by a profound insight discerns, and by heroic 
faith meets the critical needs of the period ; a man 
who is driven by an impulse, the soiu'cc of which no 
r(;flcction can search, to sink all private interests in the 
ennoblement of hunuiii life and the glory of God; and 
1 care not what his creed, his race or his country 
may be, there I hail and reverence an ins])ired man. 
Let no one fcai' that acknowledgment of God's work in 
other races can (!vcr mar tlie immortal ]K:)wer of the 
j)r()j)hcts and apostles of the Jews. 1 do not lower the 
Alps by calling Si)owdon or Ben Nevis a moimtain. I 
do not narrow the Atlantic or Pacific by calling the 
shallow German sea an ocean. I do not dim the glory 
of the ros(j by admii-ing the daisy and the buttercu|) 
as flowers il' spring, is Shaks])ear(,''s genius any the 
less iinrivniled because Ave attribute a sombre majestv 
to ^I'lscliyiiis, poetic gi'ace to Sophocles, iitid human 
piitlios to i'hiripides? Xo : nor aii\' the more will the 
siijifciii;- -jiii'it ;ial in-]iirat ion of the dewisli I'ace sutler 
any (le]ii-cciation thfough a fi'ank ackiiowlediiuierit of 
iiil'ci'ioi' in>|Mi;ii ion elsewhere. 

( )f' co;ir-c if the admissioti of the I'cality of inspiriitiim 


elsewhere })e takcMi as e<pxivalent to a denial of it any- 
wliere, that is, as iiierelv a mode of explainiiifr it away, 
I eaii very well understand the ol)jection whieh is often 
felt. But if w(! lusartily insist on the full signiticance 
of the word ; if we verily believe that God does breathe 
into the souls of men, and manifest liimself in a form 
higher than any generic consciousness, int(nis(;r than 
ordinary comminiion in jirayer ; then surely it cannot 
lessen the value of the highest inspiration if w(; admit 
analogies to it elsewhere. But it may perhaps be 
ask<^(l, as in the days of St. Paul, " what advantage 
thcMi has th(^ Jew?" What profit was there in the 
special covenant of circumcision? And the answer 
given must be the same, " much every w^ay ; chiefly 
be(^aus(; unto them were committed the oracles of God," 
that is, the records of sacred utterance whicth pre- 
eminentlv deserve that name. Xor can such language 
])ossildy be too strong for the inestimable s])iritual 
])rivilege, which that naticm ]>ossessed in its extraordinary 
prophetic gifts and in the sublime religious tone of its 
litci'ature. All the difference mad(; by such views of 
ins})ii'ation as we liave enunciated is this, that the 
claim of those ancient documents to be by ])re-eminence 
'oracles of Gcjd" is not to be maintained on any 
abstract or <i j^riori theoiy. Neither will technical tests 
of authenticity and canonicity suffice. The question 
with us is simply to what extent do they, like Stephen, 
make the imj)ression of ins])iration on our hearts? 
With wliat degree of power do they appeal to, and stir, 


and brighten the God-consciousness within ns ? Let 
no one fear lest the Scriptures should not abide a test 
like that Herein is precisely the strength of tlieir hold 
on human kind, on the generic consciousness, on the 
common heart of the race. For not one man in a 
million can estimate the historic accuracy of the story 
of David, or judge the technical validity of his claims, 
or those of the other Psalmists, to inspiration. But all 
can feel the peace that steals over the soul with the 
words, " the Lord is my sheplierd I shall not want ;"' all 
can perceive the expansive faith of the resolve, " / icill 
run the tray of thy cominandments wlienthou slialt enlarge 
my heart;'' all cnn realize the completeness with which 
the relation of sinful man to God is set forth in the 
\vf)r(ls, "/ h<u:e gone astray like a lost slieep ; seek thy 
servant^ far I do not forget thy commandments y And in 
jiroportion to the ])ower with which such utterances 
a])p('al to the God-consciousness, will inevitably be the 
slreiigtli of a num's confidence in the inspiration of the 

For my oyvn ])art, unless when pressed by en(piir(n's 
(n- c^jiiipclled by the duties of a teacher. [ have Tiever 
\''At any desji-(i to I'orm for mvself an iiitelicctiud theory 
of iii>piratioii. Hut when 1 have I'clt the reah'ty of the 
thin/i- itx'lt' breath(! like an invigorating air from tlu; 
jj;i2"('- ol' the Scrij>tures, this has b<'en a joy which it is 
lianl for articuhiti; speech to set I'orth. Anil 1 do not 
K'now any part of the Bible with which the (!\i)erienee 
iJ' thi-; iov has been more associated thnn with tin; first 


Epistle of St. Peter. This does not tell of any great 
mental gifts ; it has none of the intellectual eagerness of 
St. Paul. But there seems such a quiet deep-toned 
earnestness about it, such a clear-eyed artless sincerity, 
such a quick insight into the practical spiritual power 
and highest use of facts and doctrines, that one can 
hardly fail to realize in it the direct impulse of God's 
Spirit. The exuberant thanksgiving at the outset is 
radiant with heartfelt joy in the higher life which God's 
grace has given. The appreciative sympathetic com- 
munion with Divine Love, shown in all the allusions to 
Christ; the moral elevation which rises to a tone of 
grandeur touched now and then with human scorn* in 
the second chapter ; the hallowing light shed on all 
human suffering from the cross of Christf such charac- 
teristics as these require no external formulas of sanctity 
to ensure their appeal to the heart. They come straight 
home there at once. 

Finally, if in this view the Bible should cease to be in 
the harsher sense a perpetual miracle, on the other hand 
there are voices in your own souls which at once claim a 
supernatural dignity. Moses, Elijah, Paul and John 
|>utting aside for a moment external miracles, which are not 

* ' For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to 
silence the ignorance of foolish men'"- literally muzzle the ignor- 
ance of fools, (verse 15.) 

f ' Beloved, think it not strange concerning tlie fiery trial which is to 
try you, as though some strange thin g had hapjtcned imto you : but 
rejoice inasmuch as yc are ])artaliers of Chrisfs sufferings." 
(iv. 12, 13.) 


necessarily connected with inspiration became prophets 
and apostles through obedience to the same voice that 
sounds in your own consciences and your own hearts. 
In proportion as the creature Avill prevails, and consi- 
derations of policy and expediency usurp the tribunal 
of the soul, so will God seem to be far away, and 
inspiration an incredible fable of the past. But he that 
will do the will of the Father shall have experience of this 
doctrine. And in proportion as expediency and pru- 
dence are bowed before the majesty of duty ; in propor- 
tion as the sanction which touches the conscience with 
awe is owned to be the supremacy of God ; in proportion 
as we acquaint ourselves with God, and feel that to 
devout self-sacrifice communion with Divine Love is 
real and possible ; so shall we realize that to contem- 
jilative faith all life may be a perpetual inspiration. 



" Yea, and 7vhy even of yonrselces judge yc not what is right?" 
Luke xii. 57. 

There is somewhere or other in the Government offices 
a standard yard measure, which is the criterion of all 
other measures of lencrth used in this realm. And of 
course by hypothesis it is an infallible test, by which 
every draper's yard wand and every surveyor's chain 
may bo finally and indisputably judged Or corrected. 
In such a case it is most satisfactory, and indeed abso- 
lutely necessary, to have an external standard of final 
appeal, which will permit of no farther discussion or 
controversy. Similarly men very commonly think that 
God must of necessity have given us, in some outward 
objective form, an infiillible standard of religious truth 
and moral right. But in such a mode of arfjnment 
there is too often forgotten an important element in 
the case, which has no place at all in the analogy 


suggested ; an element which may perhaps be brought 
into view by another illustration. I suppose in rifle 
practice one object in training is to acqitire a quick and 
approximately accurate power of judging distance. 
For without this, in the field the rifleman would be 
incapable of accommodating the sights and elevation of 
his weapon to the required range. And therefore it is 
the custom in some corps, perhaps in all, to assemble 
the men for practice in judging distance by naming the 
range of various objects that may be in sight. Here 
then, by the very nature of the case, reliance, on the 
part of the men in training, on any infallible standard is 
altogether excluded. And why ? Simply because the 
express object of the practice is the education of the 
power of measurement by the eye. Some hasty unre- 
flecting youth, who did not understand the object, might 
naturally exclaim, '' what fumbling sort of guess-work 
this is I How much better to stick to a ground already 
marked out I" Here is in effect a desire to fall back 
upon the infallible yard measure. But the obvious 
answer would l)e, "our purpose is not to inform you 
what the distance is ; but to practise you in judging 
for yoTu-selves."' That, as you see, is an element of 
consideration which was entirely k'ft out in the analogy 
suggested just now. lieligious and niei-al truth, say 
some, is so inefl'ably im]>ortant, that to suppose a 
Government of the universe, which leaves us without any 
external and inliilliblf^ appeal in sucli a nuitter, is as 
absui'd as to inuigine a civilized earthlv (jlovernment 


which has do standards by which its subjects can judge 
their weights and measures. As we shall presently 
insist, this is very much a question of fact ; for it is 
easier to find out what God has done than to decide 
what He should do. But as regards the principle 
involved in such an argiunent, what we now say is this ; 
that if the office of religious and moral truth is to 
draw out men's spiritual susceptibilities, to educate the 
judgment and the conscience, then an infallible standard 
is precisely what we ought not to expect. It is indeed 
necessary that shopkeepers and surveyors should have 
access to an infallible standard of length. But that is 
because there is no question as to the education of their 
judgment. The measure is a pui'ely conventional thing, 
which has no existence except so far as it is similarly 
understood by every one. But now change the case. 
Suppose that every shopkeeper had not only in his hand 
a yard measure liable to be corrected by an infallible 
standard, but also before him on his counter a visible 
and unerring test of honesty. By a stretch of fancy 
you may conceive a crystal phial standing by him 
within view of all, filled with limpid water, which at 
the moment of any unrighteous dealing should change 
to blue, or brown, or black, according to the shade of 
dishonesty involved. This might be very convenient to 
customers ; but it would manifestly do away altogether 
with the exercise of conscientious judgment on the part 
of the trader. And as all are in one way or another 
traders in their turn, the imiversal application of such 


an external infallible appeal would simply eliminate the 
freedom of man's moral nature, and with that its very 
existence. For nobility of conscience consists not in 
such agreement with a conventional criterion as can be 
instantly and definitely detected by the eyes, or enforced 
by the authority of others; but rather in the refined 
perceptions which distinguish what coarseness cannot 
feel ; in the purity of tone which elevates the standard, 
as well as in the loyalty that obeys it. Any thing 
therefore that dispenses wdth the exercise of such quali- 
ties and this the establishment of any infallible objective 
standard must do necessarily puts a stop to all educa- 
tion of the moral judgment. '' Yea, and iclnj even of 
yourselves judge ye not ichat is rxfjht ? " 

It may occur to some, that while this argument is 
good enough against the advantage of an infallible test 
of conduct, it is no objection whatever to an infallible 
rule or law, which can only ])e made a test by the free 
operation of the individual conscience. But a little 
reflection will show that a rule, the api)licability of 
which in each separate case can only be decidecl by the 
conscience, is not an ext(;rnal infallible statidard of 
practice.* It might indeed be a certain, or if you like 
infallible declaration of a general truth : as for instance, 
that it is wrong to steal, or to murder, or to li(\ But 
without siiying anything as to the iuade(juacy ol" such 

* SupfKjsc tlic imperial yanl to b(; incai),'il)l(: of iiii'allihlo apjilii'ation 
f^xccpt. hy t,li(; (oiiH<!ienc'o (jf tin; ti'adcr ; ami it will bu seen that it 
would ('(iasc to be an infallible external stundani at ail. 


words to define ])rccisely tlie wrong that is forbidden, if 
any one will try to think whj the thino; he feels to ho, 
meant by them is in his view so certainly wrong, he will 
find that it is because of the im])ossibiIity of thinking 
the contrary. That is, the infallibility of the rule lies 
not in the external authority however august which 
imposes it ; but in the resistless assent of his spiritual 
nature to it when imposed. But it Avill be said, such an 
assent is not universally resistless. There are many 
barbarous tribes who do not think it wrong to murder 
or steal. Precisely so, I answer ; and this only shows 
that the standard, as well as its application, is a matter 
of spiritiial education. Or as we have already said, 
nobility of conscience is shown in the purity of feeling 
which elevates the standard, or in other words, discerns 
more of God's righteousness, as well as in the loyalty 
that obeys it. And this purity of feeling is surely best 
secured, not by the authoritative imposition on unprepared 
consciences of an infallible general rule in the form of a 
positive law ; but by successive inspirations awakening 
men's minds to a more and more distinct pei'ce})tion of 
eternal principles of right. A race in a barbaric state 
is much more likely to be helped by inspirations that 
come mingled with and limited by the imperfect notions 
of the time, than by any infallible exhibition of truth 
which is necessarily beyond its range. But when that 
race is educated u[) to the apprehension of a purer truth, it 
will need no infallible guarantee. The security of the 
truth will lie in the imjjossibility of thinking the contrary. 


These observations of course apply mainly, and the 
last perhaps exclusively, to the a])prehension of moral 
princi{;le. But it may he said, the highest life of man 
is intimately connected with the apprehension of super- 
natural or supersensuous facts, such as the being oi' 
God, our moral relations to Him, and the immortality 
which awaits us ; all of which are entirely beyond 
scientific discovery, and absolutely require a divine 
revelation, if they are to be known at all. Most 
heartily do I grant this ; that is, I believe it quite 
impossible to explain human history and ])rogress a})art 
ft'om the (xod-consciousness and the inspirations, which 
have liecn the subjects of ])reviotis lectures. Through 
these (jJod has revealed Himself and immortality and 
heaven to liian. These ibrm together the supernatural 
element in our being, which generates the otherwise 
in(K\plic;ible antagonism, or at least antithesis, of 3Ian 
and Nature, and rais(\s us into connnmiion with (lod. 
In man there is sonu'tliing that we do not know to exist 
anywliL-rt! else," in creation wonder, reficH-tioji, hunger 
alter a final cause. And this implies in human b.istory, 
as distinguished fnnii the ])1iysical growtli of creation, 
the intfoduciion of a lunu itiodc of the continuous 
creative power; which mode we call gi'iiee, ilivine com- 
munion, inspiration, rev<;lation, accor(h'ng to tlie degree 
of intensit\- wit!) which we recognizi^ it. ^l'or do I 
know of anv i-eally established conclusions which make 
it irrational to believe; that this new mode of the con- 
timious creative junver has. like jirevious modes, liad its 


marked crises of what seems to us special intensity. 
The doctrine of continuity is probaMy as applicable to 
human history as to the geological periods ; but in 
neither application can it be so construed as to exclude 
any seasons of special activity. And such seasons of 
special activity we may recognise perhaps in the 
development of the Caucasian race ; perhaps in its 
separation into tlie Aryan and Semitic branches; 
perhaps in the golden ages of imagination which 
generated their respective mythologies ; perhaps in 
the severance of tlie Hebrew family from their Chal- 
dean congeners ; more certainly in the emancipa- 
tion of the Hebrews under the sublime spiritual 
dominion of Moses ; clearly in the pure aspirations 
and impassioned protests of psalmists and prophets ; 
and most plainly in the glorious outburst of spiri- 
tual life at the Christian era. At such seasons, 
even including the earliest, we may believe the 
minds of men to have been quickened by hints 
and tokens, or by bright manifestations of higher 
truth ; all of which came from the 8])irit of (rod, 
from the fidlcr flow of the life of God into the 
souls of men. The final cause of all this process 
we feel must l)e if we are capable of ap])rehend- 
ing it at all the elevation of human nature into 
a nearer coDimimion Avitli God, by the working io- 
gether of creative grace and ercuiure receptivity in 
tnvitual acti(m and reaction. l)Ut with such a pro- 
cess the presentation of sjjiritual do(;trines in tlie 


form of an infallible* standard for all time is entirely 
inconsistent. Inspiring suggestions are most precious : 
glimpses of the divine ideal of life have a glorious 
power; commands in the name of God arouse us just 
so far as they can establish their authenticity in the 
conscience; but the moment these are set up as an 
infallible yard measure of our thoughts, or words, or 
deeds, at any rate to whatever extent they arc allowed 
to dispense with the exercise of om* judgment, they 
contravene a manifest and fundamental principle in 
God's education of the race. 

All the I'emaining remarks I have to make will be 
more or less an application of this principle. I do not 
at all forget that, as we said just now, the question is in a 
great measure oiu' of fiict. Has our Heavenly Fatlien 
or has he not, seen tit to give us an infalHble objective 
appeal ifi matters of faith and morals? If he has really 
<lone so, the same reasons which made it necessarv 
would also suggest that the I'act should be plain and 

* I'o.ssibly >iime rco.drrs^ ni'ij tliiiik tliiit tliis iiivoives a denial ni' 
tlic Divinity (if Chi-ist. I'lit it iciill y dix-s iioi. Was tlic maTiifcstation 
of Divinity in Clirist. liniitcil or unlimited .' If tin; former, wa.s it, 
eoiidiiioticil only ly tlie fact of its presentation in humanity, or also 
i)y the specialit ie's hcilonuini,' to the humanity of a [)ai-ticular ai^'e or 
i-aco.' \i the lattei- is theeas(- anil with the (lospel iiairativcs before 
us it would 1)0 ilitlieult to deny it then it follows that some forms, in 
whieli his Divinity was be.^t manifestecl to that aire, liave t<i be 
di--solved. liefMre we (.m .-ippn rini- t!i' !: I i-e:i iii'e. 'Iliat is, wiiir-ii 
is ijerfeei ly true, in St. I'e'ter"s sensi'. tli;il ilie Lord liiis the woi-ds of 
eternal life, yet he saves us iK/t ly his wurds but by his Spirit : aiui 
the Spirit is iqipreliendi'd liy s\ iiip:;; hy, n 'l by sulijiiiration to an 
infallible verbal standard. See beei i.i;e v. 


palpable. But iu pursiiing tlic question of fact we are 
likelj to be at once less hampered by fear, more reverent 
and less negative in our treatment, if we keep in view 
the principles with whicli we have started. As for my 
aim, the impression I hope to leave on yoiu* minds is 
this ; that while insistance on any external infallible 
standard is a contravention of the will of God, still in 
the Bible, in the ordinances of the Church, in the signs 
of the times, and abt)ve all in the communion of our 
own souls with the divine Spirit, we have amply sufficient 
guidance to righteousness, immortality and God. 

First, then, think of the history of this craving after 
infallibility ; and judge for yourselves what arc the indi- 
cations of God's will wdiich that history suggests. It is 
of course sufficient for our purpose to trace that desire 
as it has atfected the Christian Church. 

It would perhaps surprise many who are conversant 
only with modern theological discussions, to see how 
disputed questions are treated by the early Fathers. I 
remember a debate, somewhat celebi-ated at the time, in 
which an evangelical clergyman persisted in interrupting 
his o])ponent by calling out " chaj)ter and verse ! chapter 
and verse I " as though the very words were a magic 
talisman of error. ]5ut the early Fathers did not care 
nearly so much about chapter and verse. At least they did 
not discuss Christian doctrines with any such exclusive 
reference to the Scriptures. Their quotations indeed 
give most valuable indications as to the history of the 
canon and the sacred text, establishing with considerable 


certainty the authenticity of most of the Xew Testament 
books. Still their mode of dealing with the Apostolic 
writings shows a feeling in some respects considcrably 
different from that which has been so sedulously culti- 
vated since the reformation. I will try to illustrate 
what I mean. Papias, writing in the former half of the 
second century, says that it has never been his habit to 
care so much for books as for the words that still 
breatlu^ in living men, that is, he is much more in- 
terested in the siu'viving traditions of the church than 
in studying any documents whatever. And Eusebius, 
writing two centuries afterwards, divides the books oi' 
the Xew Canon into three classes; namely, those which 
were acknowledged by common consent ; those which 
w(!rc dispiitcd ; and tliose which were rejected ; while one or 
two ])()oks acknowledged by us, and which it is thought 
a jMjirit oi' our allegiance to the faith to defend, arc 
])laced by him, a])})ar('ntly without any feeling that nuich 
was involved in the matter, either in the division of the 
doul)triil, or in that of the rejected.* These two references 
will suggest Avhat might be borne out by manv others, 
that th(^ ap])('al of the earliest Fathers was not simjjly 
to tlic New Testament, but rather to the testimony and 
traditidu of successive generations in the church, in 
tact it would not lie uid'air to say that in their view tlie 
cliureh guaranteed the writings, rather than the writings 
tli(; cliui-ch. And the New Testanierii was prized as the 
voice ol' the earliest and most purely inspired congregation 
* See Apiieiidix, Xole V. 



of the saints. The very epithet ' Catholic ' shows this ; 
for of eoxirsc it means simply universal ; and the 
Catholic faith was not exactly that which could be most 
lon;ically deduced from the gospels and e[)istles, but 
rather that which represented a universal and uniform 
tradition. tSo one often finds tlu; earliest controver- 
sialists counting u}) the lunnbcr and exalting the re- 
spectability of the bishops who agreed with them, with 
th(^ evident confidence that should they be able to 
convict tlu'ir o])]K)nents of transgressing the tradition of 
the elders, those; op})onents would be condemned by an 
infallible standard. I am very far from insinuating 
that they undervalued the Scriptures. On the contrary, 
it is not unlikely that they had a more thoroughly 
sympathetic and therefore more truly noble estimate of 
them, than those who seem to put the Bible in the place 
of God. What I do say is this, that on the whole they 
socm to hav(^ prized the New Testament mainly as 
recording the earliest and most authoritative tradition 
concerning the foundation and corporate life of the 
church. And the classification of Eusebius shows that 
the separate books were themselves submitted to this 
informal judgment of the church. Most en([uirers 
alter infallil)ility will acknowledge that this vague notion 
of a Ccuholic ti'adirion gives a very inefficient standard 
of api)eal. Something of the kind is indeed em])loyed 
in the English coininon law: but Avitli the inevitable 
result of gradual groAvth and ex])ansion, such as none of 
our religionists, who at the ])resent day so strenuously 


insist upon the need of infallibility, conld for a moment 
contemplate with satisfaction. And as a matter of fact 
crises arose, in which it was felt necessary to define 
authoritatively Avhat the tradition of the church actually 
was. With this object Provincial or CEcumenical Councils 
were from time to time assembled ; that is, the Catholic 
church was summoned to say, by her authorized re]>re- 
sentatives, what was the truth and life which she en- 
shrined in her heart. The decisions of such Councils, 
bein^ supposed to sum up the Catholic tradition on the 
subjects agitated, were naturally invested with intitlli- 
bility which, if not formally professed, was at least assumed 
in the claim of im])licit srtbmission from all the faithful. 
The simple words in which the a])()St!cs and elders 
at Jerusalem expn.'sscd tlieir confidence that their deci- 
S!r)ii was the issue of diviiK; teaching " it seemed [toad 
to the Jhihj Ghost oud to vs," were taken to justiiy the 
arrogance which claimed for the ihction fights of 
wr;nigling ecclesiastical mobs the infalliljle guidaiK r 
and omnipotent control of Clod's Spirit. IJul thf 
\voi-|il changes rapiflly : ;Mid the intere>ts >u])])oseil to 
be liounil uj) witli I't'ligious opinion gave a swift impul.-e 
lollie evolution ol'thought. Thus llic aullioi'itali\c deei- 
si(jn.- of one eoinieil iiad hardly bee?i given 1;eibre li scoix' 
of n"W (pii'>tions wei'e raised, which demaiuled aiiotlief 
::pji''-:l to ^fm\i'. infallibh; Iriljuna! for tli' ir seitiement. 
l)Ut ii w;;s inipo>>ib!e that eounei.U on aii\' great scale 
should a--~enible \cr\- olten. And in the mean lime 
ih;' I'ight and diUv of private judgment had been su 


completely overborne or in;nore(l, that each ChristiaJi 
felt utterly dependent on the decisions of" the Church. 
The })riests then, being the authorized exponents of 
those decisions, woidd become more and more the 
keepers not only of the consciences but of the intellects 
of their flock. And as hierarchial authority inevitably 
involves centralization, the tendency grew up in the 
Western Church to regard the Pope as the standing 
representative of an (Ecmuonical Covmcil, and as in- 
vested, for the direction of faith and morals, with the 
same infallibility. No attempt was made until the 
present day to define the doctrine in an authoritative 
form. But as a vague notion, accepted in some 
undefinable sense by all Ilomanists, it has undoubtedly 
existed for long. It is to be feared that those who are 
most argumentative in their comments on this new 
' Papal aggression,' and loudest in their protest against 
it, are precisely those who fail to perceive the real sig- 
nificance of the rev-ulsion which it is exciting in men's 
minds. For it is the '' redudio ad absnrdiaii' of the 
whole notion of the infallibility whicli we are discussing. 
The dogma of papal infallibility is in fact a very logical 
issue of any real and earnest insistance on the necessity 
for an infallible standard of truth. For no standard is 
an infallible rule in prac'tice, whatever it may be in 
theory, if it is open to various interpretations ; and, 
outside the range of mathematics, this is probably the 
case with every ])ro})osition ])ossible to human language, 
when the authoi' is not there to be cross-questioned. 


What is wanted therefore is a living voice which can 
give authoritative interpretation to the standards ; and 
that is precisely the office which an infallible living 
P()])e coidd discharge to perfection. There need be no 
amljiguity in such a case. If two bishops should differ 
about the decision of such a Pope, they could refer the 
matter to him, and ask him point blank did he mean 
this or that. This now would be sometldng like infalli- 
bility ; and every earnest and sincere insistance on the 
absolute necessity f:)r a ready and perfect criterion 
of truth ouo'ht looicallv to involve the need for an 
infallibility like this. 

But the history of infallibility diverged into a new 
direction at the Rel'ormation. Then it was declared 
that both Popes and Councils had eri-cd, indeed had 
been oftener wrong than right ; and no ecclesiastical 
tradition was allowed to have any weight, unless it 
could l)e shown that it was not merely primitive but 
ajiostolic. Then in the earthquake that shook down 
the old landmarks, when enquirers eagerly asked what 
guidance was left for them through the })crplexitics of 
their age, tluy were told that the Bible was anq)ly 
sufficient for them, ^s'ow this was very true ; and it was 
j)rccis(,'ly iJie truth which was ncicded in those times. 
Bui J very nnich <|uestion whether some zeahms Pro- 
testants of our time bear in mind ])recise]y liow that 
truth (perat(Hl on tlu! age of the Kefoi'ination. Ifw(^ 
would estim:it(! th(! j-eal value of that teaching, and 
would rightly judge the direction in wliieh it ])ointod. 


we ought to remember what a terrible shaking of the 
foundations seemed to be involved in the substitution 
of a difficult book for the plain assertions of Papal 
aixtliority. I suppose that at the end of the fifteenth 
century and in tlui begiuning of the sixteenth, not 
courts and cities only, but families and households were 
distracted and divided, somewhat as at the present day. 
'' "What I" asked the elders, " do you mean to set up 
your conceited judgment against the venerable authority 
of the Church and the Holy See ?" And doiibtless the 
earnest answer was often meekly given by the young 
who were thus rebuked, "No, not our judgment: we 
appeal to the Word of Grod in the Bible ; and that we 
must obey rather than any Pope." Then would come 
the rejoinder, "Biit you know that in the interpretation 
of the sacred Book many learned Fathers have differed 
much, and have submitted their differences to the deci- 
sion of the Catholic Clnu'ch : how can you pretend to 
distino-uish the true meanintr, where <xreat men have 
gone astray?" AVliat reply could be made but this? 
" We believe that the Spirit, wliich gave the Word, will 
enable us to interpret it to the salvation of our souls. 
Our prayer is like that of tlu; Psalmist, ' Lord, open 
thou mine ^^^(i^^ and I shall see wondrous things out 
of thy LaAv.' We may be mistaken in many things ; 
l)ut light enough will be given us to find our way to 
heaven." Every general reader knows that something 
like this was the effect of the displacement of ecclesias- 
tical authority by the Bible. It was a movement on 


the part of the reformers towards freedom, not into 
anotlier form of bondage ; and whatever value might 
l)e reverently attached to the Bible, it was in effect an 
appeal to the individual reason and conscience as 
illumined by the Spirit of God. How far this was the 
case may be illustrated l)y the well-know7i rashness of 
Luther ; who. because the Epistle of James did not seem 
to answer to his needs, or at least a]>])eared to contradict 
those Scriptures which did, rejected it as a thing of 
straw. We cannot help sometimes lamenting that the 
course of human affairs should so often have swept 
aside when approximating to an ideal goal. Like as the 
children of Israel, when in sight of the promised land, 
were diiven to march back again towards Lgy})t ; so, 
repeatedly, wlien in a happy hour some ideal goal of 
])rogniss was in view, uiaid<ind have turned aside, 
and jtrolonged their 7narch for a generation or an 
age. Lut there has ])een a meaniug and a necessity in 
it always. The Israelites raAV from Egy])t w(,Te hardly 
lit to encounter the fierce Anakim so soon. And the 
IJelbrmcd Church fresh from Home in Luther's days 
was liardiv fitted to gi-apple with the problems, that 
must inevitably present theu)selv(;s on the sittainmeut 
of ]erloct sj.iritual freedom. Hence men turned aside 
in their niarcli, :ind had lonif waTidei-ings in the wilder- 
ness wliir'l) wa>, nidther J'lii'vpt )ior Canaan, neither 
l?om(! ?ior the libertv of Christ. And only at the 
present (l;iv do W(; their children liegi'i to see some 
prospect, thouL;)) remote as yet, of the ])ur(? and unfet- 
t+;red lif(! whiili lives in th(^ S])irit of the Lord. 

120 ixFALLiiuLirr. 

The old cravinfj for infiiUibility !i"svokc again as tlie 
remodelled ehnrches sought to elaborate their formulas, 
and were startled by the rai)id growth of divergent 
I'eligious opiuions. Nor was that craving left unsatis- 
fied. Just as the Israelites longed for the flesh-pots of 
Egypt, and were answered by a surfeit of quails which 
fell in heaps till they bred a pestilence in the camp, 
so the Protestants, in their liomanist longing for 
infallibility, Avere answered by a surfeit of scripture- 
proved creeds and textual comments on the Bible, which 
from their day to ours have been at once a satire on 
infallibility and the source of needless sectarian bitter- 
ness. And still, doAvai to the present day, I suppose that 
a large proportion of the Protestant public would regard 
the infallibility of the Bible as the Shibboleth whicli 
distinguishes the believer from the infidel. It remains 
therefore that we should address ourselves to a consi- 
deration of this substitution of an Infallible Book for 
an Infallible Ecclesiastical Authority. That for my otnti 
part I do so with some trepidation I shall not affect to 
conceal : trepidation, not from any uncertainty as to the 
ultimate issue of the opinions I advocate ; but from fear 
lest my Avords should injure any who have not yet 
realized the significance of the religious revolution through 
which Ave are living ; and from a haunting doubt as to 
how iai- it is possible for any one, Avho has gradually 
grown into particular forms of faith, to help others in 
suddenly achieving them, Avithout doing violence to the 
religious life Avhich he only seeks to expand. God 
forbid that I should say one Avord to shake the true 


foundatioTis of any man's faitli in God's redeeming love 
as revealed in Jesus Christ. God forbid that I should 
in any wise depreciate the Bible as the best source, next 
to immediate communion with God's Spirit, of the 
pectdiar inspirations that come with Christian truth. 
But necessity is laid upon us ; and woe to those who in 
these times, through worldly expediency applied to 
heavenly tilings, keep back even the faintest glimmer 
of light which they think they can throw on the present 
perplexities of faith ! If then I speak at all, it is 
because of an overmastering sense of danger to the faith 
of the rising generation amongst us and, so far as they 
can affect it. to that of the coming age, if we obstinately 
cling to a solemn lorm of Avords wliich has no longer any 
soul or meaning in it. In this respect m\ imfortunate 
and calamitous example is set us by some generally 
noble leaders of thought, who make no scruple about a 
solemn declaration that they '^ unfeujncdhjheUeve allthe 
anioidcdl scriptures of the Old and New Testament;''^ to 
which Av<irds no granmiatical, comnum-sense, or real 
meaning can Ix- given, that is not habitually contradicted 
by the whole tendency of their influence. The levity of 
[)roi'e>sion and sid)scription, and the unreality in the iise 
of language, which ai'e unavoidably encouraged l)y this 
Cast and loose method ol' plaving with the Bible, must 
surely liave a deiuorah'zing influence which the noblest 
sentiments cniniot neutralize. It niav be, and indeed 
pi'objibly is true, that the formal nature of such 
subsci-iption> ;uid profl-ssions nudics tlu;m more strikingly 


obnoxious to animadversion ; while ten thonsand instances 
of more informal inconsistency escape our attention. 
But when, in li^htinfT for religious freedom in the open, 
we are taunted with the special difficulties sometimes 
found in the narrowness and exclusiveness of free 
churches difficulties often ridiculously exaf^gerated 
it is not in human nature to suppress a protest against 
the intrusion of legal fictions into the divine life in the 
supposed interests of a liberty which it is well able to 
assert for itself. Otherwise our protest would be out of 
place. We should have to search a long time before 
we found a man without sin in this matter to fling 
the first stone at the Broad Church Clergy. Many of 
us, who are bound by no formal pledges on the subject, 
have yet, in our legitimate anxiety to maintain the 
reality of God's inspirations and redeeming grace, 
thought it necessary to insist on the infallibility of the 
records which embody the history of God's brightest 
revelations. And under the stress of that supposed 
necessity we have done violence not only to our own 
mental faculties, but to the sacred volume itself. Is it 
not for instance violence which would not be tolerated 
in dealing with any other record, to import Satan into 
the narrative of the fall, when no mention is made of 
any agent but a subtle beast of the field ? And what 
compels us to do so, unless the notion that the comments 
of inspired men on this narrative give an infallibly 
true interpretation? Any one, who attends to the 
imity and internal connection of the sixteenth psalm, 


must surely feel that to preserve St. Peter's infallibility 
we do \iolence to David, when we try to conceive in 
that psahn any conscious reference to Christ. But 
if tlie views advocated in the previous lectures are 
in the main true, our confidence in God's inspira- 
tions and redeemino; OTace has no need of factitious 
support from a dogma that has become a mere form. 
In commencing these Lectures we mentioned, as one 
of the signs of the times, that it was impossible to 
stat any theory of the Bible's infallibility, without 
encumbering it with so many limitations as to amount 
virtually to its denial. But unfortunately A-ery few 
try to define to themselves what they mean by it. 
It is sufficient that a spurious peace and rest is given by 
the decisive ring of the word. Bear in mind what we 
should mean by it if we use the word in its fair and 
proper sense. Substantial ti'uth is one thing; infalli- 
bility is another and a very different thing. Now once 
more I repeat, I want to loosen no one's hold on the 
substantial truth of the Bible. Were there any prospect 
of that being seriously threatened, the future might seem 
black indeed. For that would mean that men w(Te going 
to lose their faith in the Heavenly Father, their hoi)cs 
of immortality, and therefore all the higher moral and 
social forces in wbich tluise are essential elements. But 
infalliliility, if it is to be taken in any strict and proper 
sense, mnst inean an entin;, unlimited, and tliercfon! 
rniraculons freedom from error. iS'ow I do contend that 
any one who jirofesses to attach this notion to the Bible 


uses a form of AvorJs without any definite meaning at all. 
For if you ask liim is the English version free from error, 
he Avill of course have to answer, no ; and therefore the 
infallibiHty for which he contends cannot reside in that. 
If farther you ask him does he loiow of any Greek or 
Hebrew text that is free from error, he nmst, at least if 
he understands what you are talking about, again answer, 
no. What then can he mean by insisting that the Bible 
is infallible ? What Bible ? He himself never saw a 
Bible free from error, that is, infallible ; nor has he heard 
of any one else who has. The only meaning then which 
he can possibly have is this ; that the first or autograph 
copy of each book now bound up in the canon was 
infallible as it issued from the hand of its particular 
author. But no one contends that the next scribes, who 
made copies from each autograph, were miraculously 
kept from making mistakes ; and the separate books were 
certainly copied out several times before they were 
feathered into the collection which we call the Bible. 
Hence it is perfectly clear that no such thing as a really 
infallible Bible, that is, a complete copy of the Scriptures 
entirely free from error, ever did or could exist. 

The usual answer made to this mode of dealing with 
the question is of course that it is hypercritical ; that it 
makes a mountain out of a mole-hill : that the mistakes of 
copyists and translators are altogether trifling, and do not 
affect any essential doctrine. But how arc we to know 
that ? Properly speaking, degrees of infallibility are just 
as impossible as degrees of parallelism or perpendicularity. 


You may say that one pair of lines is more nearly 
})arallel than another ; hut to say that it is more 
l)arallel Avoukl simply bo an incorrect use of language 
instinctively corrected in thought. But unless there are 
definite degrees of infallibility, some one of which can 
bo distinctly guaranteed, how are we to know that 
in any copy ot" the Scriptures, or in any Text, there are 
no mistakes above a certain magnitude ? The answer 
here airain is of course that the daufjer is exao:o:<'i"ated : 
that any serious undetected mistakes are very unlikely, 
and that an enlightened criticism shows this to Ix; the 
case. Precisely so, I reply ; but one indis})ensable 
element in criticism is the amomit of moral ])robability 
that this or that should l)e the original reading ; and 
thercfon; an infallible outward standard, tlumgli once 
established, la])ses after all into an a})])eal for judgment 
to ' tlu; verifying faculty" in man. Why, what then 
was the \i>^i of that hypothetical, momentary, ami 
miracidous s(;])arati()n of truth from error? We have 
to separate them as well as wo can now ; we have to 
d(!cide, by research and candid criticism, as to the 
amount (if ])i'()l)abiliry that any important eri'firs remain 
undisc()\ci'('(|. AVliat then is gained ])y tlu; dogma of 
infalliljijity, unless the satisfactioii of knowing that the 
trouble \\assa\'ed at did'ei'ent ])('i-iodsof liistory t( a poi'tion 
of sonic one generation ? See then to what an absurdity 
this Jiolion of infallihle writers with ei'i-ing copyists and 
transl;;lors reduces us. (rid wrought a niii'acle to 
secuiT in each casi; an aufoi;Ta:i!i infallible copv of each 


book, whicli none but a few scores of people ever saw ; 
but He did not sec fit to watch over the preservation of 
that copy ; while every scribe and every translator who 
afterwards meddled with it was suffered to fall into 
error. The notion is altogether abnormal, monstrous, 
incongruous, entirely unworthy of association with the 
noble history of inspiration. 

Thus even on the hypothesis that the writers of each 
separate book were infallible, to contend for the existence 
of an infallible Bible now is to iise words out of their 
natm-al meaning, and in the non-natural sense with 
which we are unfortunately too familiar. But perhaps 
it may be said that all our attempts hitherto to repre- 
sent the doctrine are mere caricature. It may be 
admitted that no one contends for the existence of any 
absolutely infallible copy or version of the Bible now. 
The real doctrine it may be said is this, that whatever 
statements we have reasonable ground for supposing 
to Ijelong to the original text we are bound to regard 
as infallibly true. This we may regard as a moderate 
statement of the doctrine; tiie most moderate in fact 
which is consistent with the retention of any substantial 
meaning in the phrase "infallible Bible." And in 
dealiiig with this we pass over the incongruity between 
'reasonable ground' and infallible certainty. When it 
is rememl)ercd what is meant by ' reasonable ground,' 
how entirely the arguments of textual and historical 
criticism lie within the compass of the earthly under- 
standing or the merelv loirical faculties ; it will be felt at 


once that the probahility meant by ' reasonable oround. ' 
in such a case is entirely incomniensiirable Avith tlie 
intaliil)]e certainty of a spiritual faith which is supposed 
to be Ijuilt upon it. But let that pass. We assume it 
as a fair description of Biblical infallibility, that whatever 
statements may rio-htly be regarded as part of the 
original documents must be acce])ted as infallibly true. 
Is it then infallibly true that the earth as it now 
stands, and the sun, moon and stars of heaven were all 
created in six days some five or six thousand years 
ago ? As surely as the first chapter of Genesis forms 
))art of the now existing Pentateuch, so certainly was 
that the simple burden of the writer's story. And the 
])rocesses of torture, by Avliich every fresh result of 
g^'ological science has im}>osed a new interpretation on 
one of the most umnistakeable and straightl'orward of 
narratives, are a striking illustration ol' the violence 
which the dogma of infallibility has done to the l)ook 
it ])rofesses to honour. AVith all the accumulating 
proofs we have of tlic wry gradual growth of ci\Ilizaiion ; 
with ()\\v ])rcsent certaintj' as to the enormous anti([uity 
ol' hiiii;'uag!-^ widely removed as tlie Sausci-it and (he 
IJasipic. touctlicr with the long ])i\"vi(i!is dc\c!.)piiifiit 
whicli they imply: with our knowledge tluit the Xegrf), 
the l\g\|iti;in, the Chinese, \W^ Ar\an e\i>!ed, in all 
theii' <li\ei-.>ity oC feature, ianguaire. and (i\ilizat ion at 
least two tlxdisand years Icfore Christ : is it po-sihle to 
regard it as inlallibly triu; that the \vhole ]io|iidatioii of 
the world had been reduced bv a delui''e t(^ one fami.N' 

128 IXFALLllilLlTY. 

some low hundred years before that date ? Is it infal- 
libly true that the Almighty Father of mankind made 
himself a sympathizing ])artizan in the savage and 
pitiless Avartare of the early Hebrews ? Is it infallibly 
true that He, who is the husbaml of the widow and the 
Father of the fatherless, looked on and ap})roved the base 
and cruel murder of the seven sons of Saul,* nay was 
appeased, and satisfied, and forewent his wrath when 
He saw their AVi'etched mother watching in her misery 
by their gibbeted corpses? " you must make allow- 
ance for the difference of the times," say some; "you 
must remember that God has been educating the race, 
and that all these records belong to the imperfect ages 
of childhood." Good ; but that is not the way to treat 
an infallible standard of historical and moral truth. 
Truly this would indeed be to play fast and loose with 
infallil)ility I Are we to understand that the difference 
of the times affected the essential nature of the truth, 
or only the character of the record ? If the latter, then 
this is only a I'ound-about way of saying that the 
difference of times })revented the record from being 
infallible. AVas it any more true when the Penta- 
teuch was -vM'itten than it is now, that the universe was 
made in six days? If that is not the allowance 
we are to make for difference of the times, the only 
alternative is that we are to make allowance for the 
inevitable scientific ignorance of the A\Titer ; and then 
of course infallibility is gone. Or if we are to a|)ply 
* 2 Sam. xxi. 1. kc. 


(lie remark to the moral diffieultv mentioned just now, 
since we know tliat difference of times cannot affect 
tJje nature of the Most Hio;h, the only other alternative 
which the difference of the times sufrgests is a duller 
perception of the supreme holiness of God. KxA here 
again the claim of infallibility is dropped. AVe are no 
doubt \ery rightly called upon to make allowance for 
the difference of the times. Indeed we ought always to 
l)e most anxious to do so ; because thus only can we 
come into sympathizing contact with the struggles of 
human souls in those days. Studied in this way, the 
l)Ooks of the Old Testament are most ])reci()us documents, 
])(,'aring indubital)le traces of the divine inspirations 
wliich lune Ix'cn the grand impulse of j)rogress. Ikit 
all that remains when the figment of infallibility is 
abandoned; and abandoned it really is even by those 
who nominally maintain it. 

There is how<'ver a notion that infalliljility may 
]ossi]jly be confined to moral and spiritual truth. And 
this Would pei'liaps be maintained l)y some, who, Avhen 
the ^allle limited iid'allibility is clainiecl for the I'ope. 
would detect the lalhuy in an instant. ]Moral and 
.-jiii-itiial truth thev would ure-e (h) not exi>t in aTiy 
abstract ^tate; tluy^ are oiiK' e.\|)ressions of relation 
belweeii mall, (jod, and creation : and whenev<'r any of 
the terni^ in\ol\c(| are mi^eonc( i\'ed, the relations will 
be inoi-e ()) !e-s mi.---tated. And heside,-, the method of 
Scri]>ture. \\iii<'h is like tlu't of rnation. conci'ele and 
objectisx', eon.-i>ting in (j\-olulion of the cunsciou.^-scif 


130 IXFA LLiniLITY. 

Ly contemplation of tlie not-self, is wholly inconsistent 
with any such separation of the two elements. The 
lesson, the power, the life are on the whole in the 
history ; and therefore must more or less share the 
defects of the history. The le<j:endary account of the 
ori^Lvin and fall of man naturally lead on to a legendary 
system of dogma concerning transmitted gviilt and the 
visitation of the parents' sins upon the children, such as 
will hardly he maintained now to he of perfect purity. 
Besides, as we cannot allow different degrees of infalli- 
bility, the Scriptures ought on such a view to exhibit 
one continuous level tone of feeling on moral and 
s})iritual life from Genesis to llevelation. But this is 
notoriously not the case ; and the instances already 
given are sufficient to ])rove it. Nay, while I gladly 
admit and earnestly maintain that the New Testament 
presents us with ;i most pure and lofty law of life; yet 
it c-amiot be denied that here and there notions of 
morality are taught, Avhich modern Christians ([uietly 
ignore as unsuited to tlu'ir times. Thus the A[)ostles, in 
the council at Jerusalem, insisted that abstinence from 
things strangled and from blood was as much a 
]);>rt of Christian law as purity i'rom foi'nication ; and 
the complete subjection of Avomen, suggested in the 
social and domestic ethics of the e[)istles, is either 
explained away or openly rej)udiated now. On the 
Avhole then, if the existence of an infallible standard be 
discussed as a question of fact, it can easily be shown 
that it is imjjossible to contend Ibr it as a practical 


issue at all ; that it is merely a sort of pass-word 
distinfruisliiiif^ rival camps of tlioiiglit. 

But the subject has yet one other aspect, justice 
to -which wt)uld require f^ir more time than we 
have at our disposal. For, as I hinted in my intro- 
ductory remarks, it is to many minds by no means 
sufficient to show what God lias done ; but they recpiire 
us also to show that He ounld to have done it, and that 
it is the best thing for us. Well then, if I might 
})resume to justify the ways of God to man, I slioidd 
urge that successive impulses of ins})iration apart from 
infallibility are best adapted to that gradual progress 
which God has ordained to be the history of man, 
Xcxt I would suggest, that reasonable historical certainty 
eonccruing th(; grealest crises of insj)iration is all th;it 
is needed lor the sj)iritual education of following ages. 
Tills <i\\ii> all the assistance and sufjo-esticm and con- 
finiiation that a liighly developed i'aith requires, without 
sutt'ering it to fall into that abject dependence u])on the 
past, which too often seeks the living God only amongst 
the dead. In su])])ort of this ])oint I would remind you. 
that the direct iiiHuonc(! of tlu; J)ivine S]>irit is as 
a<'ee->ible now as ever it was to every devout mind. 
And of course this is in some soi't admitt(.'d by all 
(,Mn-i-tians, though we carniot but b(^ ania/ed at the 
little signitieance they seem io attach to it. And finally 
I. would insist that our moral and sjiiritual sal\ation 
dejx'iuU. not on intelleclnal a]i|ii'ehension of dogma, but 
(;n that lovaltv of sold which is the esso.'ice of all true 


laitli. On caeli of these points I will say a word to 
indicate its hearings. 

On the wliole then we see in the history of mankind 
a gradual progress from a sim})ler to a more complex 
life, from ignorance to knowledge, from narrow super- 
stitions towards a universal n^ligion. Now if in the 
midst of this slowly growing dawn any sudden tiash of 
absolutely infallible knowledge had fallen on eyes 
unprepared for such a light, it must have made only a 
blinding glare, that could only confuse instead of 
cieai'ing })orce})tion. Suppose for instance that Moses, 
at the remote age when he lived, had been made 
conversant Avith the geological history of creation : 
imagine him to have been taught that the love of God 
embraces all men of every nation without partiality to 
any, and that His kingdom is not of this Avorld but 
s])iritual and universal ; would not such knowledge have 
tlirown the great ])rophet wholly oxit of sym})athy with 
his tim(\;, and made him inca])able of dealing with a 
stiff-necked and barbarous })eople? But feeling only 
a divine imjmlse in his soul to raise his people from 
bondage into frce(lom, to wean them i'rom idolatry, to 
inspire them with devotion to the supreme God, to 
educate them by the wisest laws, and to enrich their 
memories by the noblest traditions he could collect from 
tlie past, this enabled him to ser\-e his oAvn generation 
so that he becamci an midying jjower throughout the 
liistory of the Avoi'ld: an undying ])owcr, because his 
constitution and his laws generated spiritual results 


impossible for him to have foreseen; so that, as the Lord 
himself said, not one jot or tittle passed from Mosaism till 
all was fulfilled in a higher form. So is it in all instances 
of extraordinary influence over the progress of human 
affairs. That influence was exerted mider circumstances 
which would have made the exhibition of absolutely 
infallible knowledge an insuperable obstacle to success. 
Even Christ himself, though so consciously divine, 
claimed not on earth equality with God. He arrogated 
to himself no consciousness of omniscience ;* nor any 
supernatural knowledge, except what bore upon the 
mission He came to fulfil ; but meekly lived and died 
a,s a strictly Innnan incarnation of divine purity, love, 
self-sacrifice, in a Avord, of spiritual truth. 

If it b(' asked how we are to know what He vfas 
and did, without any infidlible witnesses, I answer that 
reasonable historical testimony is all Ave need; and this 
the Xew Testament gives us. The misfortune is that if 
a man denies the infallibility <jf the gospels, he is sup- 
posed to deny their authenticity as well; though there 
is no necessary connection whatever betAveen the tAvo 
positions. Their fallacious association in so many 
minds arises ]mrtly, I imagine, from the [)revalent 
exclusivencss of schools of thought, Avliich gather into 
SA'mmctrical glolniles like (piicksiKci' dropped upon a, 
tal)lc, and know of no comnninion but complete absorj)- 
tion. Thus it comes to jniss that if \vc adopt a suggestion 
from any one party, we arc .siij)[oscd to be identified 


Avitli it wholly. But the fallacious association referred 
to arises also froui another cause, and that is a distrust, 
on the j)art of spiritual conservatives theuiselves, of the 
strength of the critical e\idences for the authenticity 
of the gospels distrust sometimes merely ignorant^ 
sometimes only nervous but in either case leading to 
a rash determination to treat the scriptm-al books in a 
mode utterly unknown to scientific criticism. For 
practically it is because of their importance that the infal- 
libility of those books is assumed ; and the question of 
their authenticity is discussed only to give a show of sup- 
l)ort to this. If then any one abandons the one, he is 
supposed as a matter of course to surrender the other. 
At the same time, those who object to the infallibility 
of the books seem influenced by the same fallacious 
association to overlook the real strength of the external 
evidence for their apostolic origin. For my own part, 
I am strongly of opinion that there are not more than 
two or three books in the Kew Testament about the 
authorship of which there is any reasonable doubt. 
The (piotations in Irenanis, especially considering his 
connection with Polycarp; the references in Justin 
JMartyr; and the impression made by most writers, 
whether orthodox or heterodox, of the second century, 
that the church had grown uj) luidor the influence of 
])recisely such an apostolic legacy as we possess in the 
New Testament Canon, are it ap])ears to me decisive of 
the cpiestion ; or at least would Ix.' considered so in the 
case of any heathen philosophers or historians. Even 


making a larger allowance tlian I have done for cases 
of reasonable doubt, still the books* and the body of 
apostolic tradition, admitted by all but the wildest 
prophets of unbelief, form a very strong testimony to 
the chief events of the Gospel History, including of 
course the resurrection of Christ. It Avill be well under- 
stood that I am brino-ing no charo;e of hardness of 
heart or wilful l:)lindness ao-ainst those who think 
otherwise. I am so convinced of the possiljle inde- 
pendence of faith and ojjinion, that I trouble myself 
comparatively little about the latter. I am only con- 
tending that if the events of that wonderful divine 
sunrise are credible at all, we have evidence enough to 
pro\e them ; and that if they are altogether incredible, 
the claim of infallibility for the Book which reports 
them only recoils upon it, in the addition of undeserved 
hatred and })rejudice to mibelief. All that we need is 
a consensus of historical testimony strong in proportion 
to the greatness of the issue ; and that I maintain we 
have in the Xew Testament books. 

The reasonableness of such a position will be more 
a])pan'nt, if we remem])er that the inspirations of old 
times were not intended to rob the modern age of direct 
communion Avith God ; but rather to enrich the nature 
which makes it ])ossi])le. Thev suggest the tendei" yet 
soleiiui rcs])onsibi]ity and the immoi'tal significance 
which nmh^-lie tlie commonest life; and in awakening 

* Tlic E])i>tlcs to tlif ('(irititliiaii-. Ilmiuins, (ialatiiuis, and the 
Ileveliitinji of Si. .Juliu ^voul'l hardly be disputed by ujiy one. 


the conscienco tliey prove, not tlie possibility only, but 
the actniil reality of present communion with the 
Father. When once the reality of this is felt, then a 
criterion of truth is given better far, because more 
educational in its inflvience, than any outward infallible 
standard. For God must be better than the best that 
we can think ; juster and purer than our highest thoiights ; 
more loving, tender, and patient than our compassion's 
widest reach. Ask, therefore, when other certainties 
fail, does this or that view of religious truth most 
enlarge and deepen my love to God and man ? Do I 
feel more the embrace of a Divine Life, when I try to 
believe in everlasting damnation, or when I " faintly 
trust the larger hope?" What is most congruous with 
the most essential conditions of thought and s])rings of 
feeling within me, a universe of lifeless atoms, or a 
world that lives and moves and has its being in God ? 
How do I most worthily think of the Father of my 
Spirit as a nameless Abstraction, lonely and apart, or 
as the glory in the sun, the majesty in the sky, the 
warmth in the heart, the inspiration of apostles and 
prophets, " the love of Christ that passeth knowledge?" 
I know that questions like these may lead to different 
issiies in different men ; I know that they aftbrd no 
rule to ensure uniformity of theological o]>inion. But 
if that be made a reproach, it is ])recisely the difficulty 
which Homanists, quite as forcibly, make about the 
substitution of a Ik)ok for the autlioritative decisions of 
the Church. And farther, they who make this objection 


would for the most part tbemselves deny that any man 
can read the Bible aright without the help of the 
Holv Ghost. But if He is our teacher, He needs no 
infallible hook to help Him. Xor is it His method to 
dazzle us Avith unmixed truth at once. Amidst a world 
of distracting suggestions, He leads us on from step to 
step, though in obscurity yet always consciously higher. 
As when we climb a mountain in a mist, guided by the 
piercing glimmer of the snow that crowns the cloudless 
summit. He draws us by His " kindly light," Avhicli 
promises to every aroused and active soul a clearer day, 
a brighter experience, a higher truth. Keep your face 
toward the light in the direc-tion of purer feeling, 
larger charity, firmer self-control, profomider devotion 
keep }'our i'ace toward the light ; for then you are 
climbing towards God. 

Finally, the absence of any infallible measure of theo- 
logical correctness is Tiot, as some would urge that it is, 
the slightest derogation from the closely Avatchful pro- 
vidence; and earnest redeeming purpose of God ; nor 
Iocs it make any difticulty in access to His favour: 
because for this only is nuui res])onsible, not ibi- belief 
of this or that opinion, not for correctness oi' conclusion, 
but ibr keeping his face; toward tlie liglit ; that is, i'or 
lo}'ahy of soul. Jbit whenever men urge liiat (bxl must 
iiccmIs have given us some outward infalHl)!(! testimony 
to this or that doctrine becaux' it is so important, 
there al\\;iy> underlies this assei'tion an :i>>innption that 
the know lcdi:<; and l)elief of the doctrini; in (piesiiou is 


necessary to salvation. But against such an assumption, 
not the intellect only, but the heart and conscience of 
humanity increasingly rebel. Yet we i'reely grant that 
such a notion could hardly have taken so strong a 
hold of mankind as it has done, unless it had been a 
perversion of truth rather than entirely false. What is 
true in it I believe to be this ; that we always need in 
the future the growing light of some ideal, fairer than 
anything we have attained. But this ideal, by necessity 
of the case, just because it is higlier and better than any 
past attainment, is to that extent a revelation of God ; 
and therefore devotion to that is loyalty of soul and 
faith in God. So Abraham was saved, that is, delivered 
from base associations, piu'ified, exalted, and made a 
saint, not by faith in Christ, at least as that phrase is 
generally imderstood,* but by faith in the Providence that 
guided him away from an idolatrous house towards an 
indejiondent and more spiritual life. He followed an 
ideal higher than had been attained; and in this he 
showed the loyalty of soul, which is always in one way 
or other equivalent to faith in God. So David was 
saved, not by the meek virtues of a later age, but by 
truth to the kingly instincts which came as an inspiration 
from God. So Elijah ascended the heavens of sacred 
fame in a chariot of fire, not by a creed like that of 
Augustine or Calvin, but by the ardour with which he 
followed the high calling of God, iji protest against the 

* But if the words Lc taken as equivalent to faith in the Love of 
God, then it is veiy true that Abraham was saved by faith in Christ. 


baseness of the times. I^ow in the divine humanity of 
Christ the world received an ideal, which as we believe 
needs no renewal, save in '"the Christ that is to be," the 
ideal embodied in a race instead of in a man. He 
breathed upon the world and it arose from death. Since 
His day it lives a new life, because of the spirit with 
which He has inspired it. And if there is any failure 
in the force of our religious life now, it is not a new 
ideal that we want, but only an expansion of His spirit. 
Why should you be alarmed at the responsibility of 
living in the spirit instead of on the letter ? God is 
with you, God is in you ; and because He is with you 
He asks, " u-laj even of yourselves judge ye not that 
ichich is riylitf He Avill not condemn you ibr any 
intellectual mistake : but only for the disloyalty of soul, 
which will not follow the guidance of his Spirit towards 
a higher tone of life and a larger hearted faith. But 
he who in reverence, sincerity, and self-sacrifice follows 
the brightest shining of God's light, may feel assured 
th;it lik(i the sliip with its compass he carries a guide 
withi/i him, which shall bring him right at last. 



^' Search the scriptui'es, for in them ye thinh ye have ctcrnalWfe; 
and they are they which testify of vie. John v. 3'J. 

As tliis is our concluding lecture, it will be well to 
recall your attention to tlie chief points on which we have 
insisted in the preceding discourses ; because those points 
are directly suggestive of the remarks I have to offer on 
the final subject announced. In the first two lectures I 
asked your attention to certain admitted facts of Human 
Natin-e, which imply the absolute necessity of religion 
for all the ultimate aims of progress ; and at any rate 
make Atlu;ism impossible as the finality of human 
thought. The longing for a Final Cause, such as can 
give significance and rationality to the bewildering 
maze of forces around us, is so ineradicable a 
characteristic of mankind, that we mny well suppose 
it has some reason in the vdtimate reality of things. 
Some feeling of the Divinity about us is an element in 


tlie o;c'ieric consciousness of the race ; and tliis avo 
liavo maintained to involve a susce})tibility to direct 
])crceptions of God, and to personal comniimion with 
the Eternal Spirit. The instinctive reverence which is 
awakened in the heart by any enlarged view of Creation ; 
the warm loyalty with which the sonl recognizes universal 
law ; the feeling of a mystery in life ; the prophetic fore- 
caste that this must he nnfolded more and more, yet never 
can be wholly revealed all these are fornas of the God- 
consciousness in man ; nay, I believe its signs may be 
detected in the humblest emotions of wonder, faithful- 
ness, and even curiosity, which distinguisli the lowest 
barbarian from the beast. On the other hand, if the 
noblest historic experiences of the race, nay if our own 
hiii,he>t moments wiiich live in memory inean any- 
thing, this sensitiveness to the hHvinity which miderlies 
and o\'('r-i"iiles tiie w(jrld is capable of becoming a 
direct and personal comnumion Avith God. What tlien 
is the food in\ which tliis God-consciousness b^'cs and 
grows? ()Iod breathes upon it the breath of life;; and 
in pi'oportioii as it is awa.kened to a realization of its 
own iii>tincts, it c;in find (iod everywhere. Jhit in tin,' 
wealaie.'S and uiiceriiiinty oi' its youth A\hi(h is not 
V!'t ovci'passed, it uiosl, rea(ii]y and naturally s(!zes on 
the in-jiin.'d utt('i"ances of other men and olhci' ages. 
Vuv Niich ulicninees sum ujt and set in store tin; 
aecumulaled spiritual exjiei'ienees of diiys gone b\-, 
lhu> ein'ii-hing our souls witli the concehira^ed life ol" 
great crises in which the pr('gre.-.s oi' centui'io biU'c fruit. 


Pursuing this suLject in another lecture, we argued that 
to look for an infallible standard of truth, which can 
correct the notions of the God-consciousness as exactly 
as the standard imperial yard corrects the tradesman's 
measure, is to misunderstand the divine disci])line of 
our souls, and to misread all human history. In this 
course of thought we have made repeated and special 
reference to the Jewish and Christian Scriptm-os, and 
have endeavoured to show that the princi])les we have 
maintained are of necessity applicable to them. As 
regards their spiritual teaching, we have contended that 
these Scriptures are supreme but not alone in their 
inspiration ; Avliile we have also endeavoured to show 
that their infallibility is entirely untenable, and indeed 
is practically abandoned even by those who strive for 
the name. The question then naturally arises, what is 
the right use of the Bible in the cidtivation of our 
spiritual faculties ? At the same time the very necessity 
for asking the question suggests the j)Ossibility of abuse; 
and experience shows that abuse of the Bible has been 
far too connnon, with the most mischievous results, not 
only to religious ])hil(^sophy, but to J'iety and morality. 

In an attem])t to meet such questions, we cannot do 
better than follow out the suggesti(jns ai'ising out of 
the instructive and impressive words of our Lord which 
we have taken for our text. I venture to agree with 
those who would read those words thus : " Ye do search 
the Scr'n.tures, because in them ye think ije have eternal 
life ; and they are thcij ichich testify of me : and ye will 


not come unto ine that ye might have life.''' As it 
would be out of place to occupy much time now with a 
point of mere critical discussion, I will content myself 
with stating in a word or two my reasons for adopting 
tliis mode of reading the text. You are probably aware 
that the verb at tlie commencement may be taken either 
as imperative or as indicative. I will not conceal that 
there is a preponderance of critical authorities in favour 
of tlie im[)erative rendering. Their grammatical reasons 
for this how<iver are not decisive ; and I have a 
strong feeling that the context not only suggests, but 
almost re([nires the indicative. For there was no need 
to exliort the chiss of Jews witli whom our Lord was 
s])eak!ng to search the scri[)tures; ])ecause in truth they 
hardh' did anytln'ng else. Indeed tiie Lord himself 
recognizes tliis in tlui final verses of the chapter, wlien 
he njbiikes th(; hoUowness of their confidence in Closes. 
And when he sp.ys, "if ye bebeve not Moses, how sluill 
v<! bcHcve my words?'' the argument evidently is, "if 
vm arc unimpressed by the ])reliminary instnu-tion 
with W!ii<-!i voii ai'e so boastfully familiar, \u)\v is it 
likclv that \'i)U can understand niy mission?"" The 
indicati\(; would therefore Ije more coiisonajit with the 
(ircum>tun(('s and with tlu; ibliowing context. ]jut it 
is also more consist(!nt with tin; preci'ding context as 
well. J''or in the latt<.'r j)art of tlic cha])ter i\\v. Lord is 
rei'erriiig his o])])onents to certain t(.'slimonics, whicii they 
thi'msfl\-!'S jii-ofcss to acknowlcilg.". lie is not asking 
tlicii) to seek out new \vituess(,'S. lie is r;ither ui-ifiriii- 


tlicni to be consistent Avitli tlie resjieet or reverence 
wliicli they ])rofess for those whom they already recog- 
nize. He does not say, ' send to John's disciples and 
ask tliem what he said,' hut, ''ye sent unto John and 
he })are witness unto tlie truth. . . He was a 
burnino; and a shining liglit, and ye were willing for a 
season to rejoice in his light."' Now since they certainly 
thought much more of the Scriptures than of John, 
and were, in their own estimation, much more willing 
to rejoice in the light of the old prophets than in that of 
the ncAv, it a})i)ears only natural that Christ should add 
" you are also in the habit of searching the Scriptures ; you 
are confident you have eternal life in them ; and they 
are just God's inspired witnesses for me, to whom yon 
will not come." In that sense then I take the words. 
And the suggestions I get from them are these : that 
the use of the Bible is to lead us to Christ, the ideal 
]nanhood, the revealer of the Father, the atonement for 
sin ; while the germ of every abuse of the Bible lies in the 
superstitious attribution to it of any power or sanctity 
a])art from the inspired anci inspiring suggestiveness, 
Avhich is realized only by the Christ-seeking heart. For 
when the Lord says, " in them ye tldnh ye have eternal 
life," his woi'ds an; just as muc-h suggestive of a fallacy in 
the tliouglit, as when he says concerning the heathen '"'they 
think that tlicy shall be heard for their much speaking." 


in raking up the first part of our subject, which is 


the use suggested for the Bible, a preliminary observa- 
tion or two may be necessary, or at least oppoi'tune. 
For it might be asked, "why take so much trouble about 
the meaning of the text ? On your view of the authority 
of the Bible, what difference does it make whichever 
way the words are read?" I might be content with 
rej)lying, that but for the mode of reading which I have 
just recommended I should have lost what seem to me to 
be verv fruitful suo-cpestions. But I would rather make 
some observations here on the nature of the authority of 
Scripture in regard to moral and spiritual truth ; obser- 
vations, Avhich may supply a needful supplement to what 
ha.s been said on Inspiration and Inhillibility, while they 
will ])reparc the way for what must here follow. ^Miat 
I liMve said about Iufalli!)ility is in no Avay inconsistent 
witli the ascription of a very high authority to the Bible, 
or with the utmost anxiety for the right inter])retation of 
Scripture ; but the authority is necessarily linu"ted and 
modifi(.'d by the essential conditions of the case, that is, it 
is a moi'al and not a ])Ositive authority. In other words, 
as ill effect we said when s{)(^aking of Inspiration, there is 
as mucli autliority as the AVord has force enough to carry 
and as 1 have suscojjtibility enough to feel. The objc'ction 
fell to >u(h a view generally arises from the idea that they 
will) hold it arc so filled with carnal ])i-i(le, tliat on every 
possilile subject tluy Would maintain their own Ju<Iginent 
ag;iin>t tlu' authority of the iJihle. But this idea springs 
Ifoin a uii-'iake ;!s to the meaning of moi'al authority. H 
a man avIio has nitide frequent whaling voyages assures 



me that whales are often ninety feet long, I submit my 
OAvn judgnieut to his knowledge. Tiiere is no positive 
authority compelling me to do so ; but there is a moral 
authority which I have the sense to acknowledge. I 
may have been of opinion that they are never over fifty 
feet in length; but when a man whom I respect tells 
me he has seen them so, I give in at once. If however 
the same man should assure me that Avhales arc never 
so long as a hundred feet, because he has never seen 
one, I do not feel the authority to be so great ; and if 
I have a strong opinion on the point, I hesitate about 
mvino; u;) mv iudo-ment, imtil I know more of the rantje 
and lengtli of his experience. It does not follow then, 
because we ascribe only moral authority to the Bible, 
that therefore we shall never submit our judgment to it. 
My judgment, for instance, would naturally be that it 
is cpiite impossible for any dead man to come back to 
lii'e. But I give u]) my own judgment in deference to 
the moral authority of men, who certainly testified that 
they had seen this very thing happen, and whom I 
believe to have been cpiite incapable of telling a lie. 
On the other hand, if the writer of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews is rightly understood as saying that no Christian 
who relapsed into deadly sin had any chance of salvation,* 
I must certainly hesitate to submit my faith in God's 
love to his denial, because I am by no means sure what 
opportunities he had of knowing. Butthe v(;ry grounds 
on which I decline to submit my judgment in this case 
* Hcb. vi. ! S. 


seem to ine to involve submission in the former. Similarly 
it is a great tallaey to suppose tliat they ^vlio ascribe only 
a moral authority to the Biljle can never feel boimd to 
submit their feelings, or affections, or habitudes of mind 
to its rule. When a parent says to a young child, ' sit 
up straight ;' this is a case of positive authority, in 
which the judgment of the child has no place, and such 
an authority as this the Bible certainly cannot exert. 
But when the Methodist pitman stirred up the members 
of his little prayer meeting by shouting, '"'Now lads, 
shut your eyes and look straight to the Lord,"' there is 
no doubt that his exhortation would come with authority 
of a very different kind. They Avould feel in effect that 
this oiKjId to bo their desii'e ; audhoAvever their thoughts 
might have been wandering, tliey would realize in the 
words of their leader a moral authority constraining 
them to attention. In tlie same Avay a clever hasty 
youth will often feel debarred from rash conclusions about 
Hiligiou, ])y the moral authority of a spiritual veteran 
whom he respects and loves; and not only so, but he will 
lj(i promjjted to a desire for the same nobh; feelings 
which have moved his admiration. This is the kind of 
authority with which tlu; words of Scri])tiu-e often come 
home to (jur hearts, '' cnMliig domi ii)W(ji nations and 
evcrg li'uih. thing that e.ralfeih ifself (igaiusl the knoir- 
le(lg<i of (J(i(J, end bv'ingelli cvvrii llionght into the 
oliedhiK-i' of Chj-ist."' I hav(! lu'ard of a man whose 
scornful (li>bcli(,'f' of inunortality was overcome by the 
sim})le words '^ thon fool''' in St. Baiil's discourse on tlie 


resurrection. Nor is such a case at all beyond credi- 
bility or understanding. For there is a moral weight 
in St. Paul's ^yords, such as might very well produce a 
revulsion from materialistic sciolism. I repeat then, it 
is not true that we who deny the infallibility of the 
Bible necessarily refuse to submit our own judgment 
or feelings to its teaching. But in the absence of any 
positive authority attaching to the book, such submission 
is necessarily limited to those cases, in which a clearly 
proved su:periority of knowledge, or the home-thrust of 
some resistless spiritual energy gives a feeling of moral 
constraint to obey. 

Is not this really what is meant when it is said of 
the Lord Jesus that " lie spahe as one haviiig authority 
and not as the scribesf* There are those indeed who 
insist upon this passage as showing that even in the 
commencement of his ministry the Lord claimed a 
positive authority over men's faith, as God's vicegerent 
u]Jon earth. But the addition of the words, " not as the 
scribes^'' shows us clearly enough, by contrast, what Avas 
the real natm'e of the impression whicli Christ's method 
of teaching made upon the peo])le. For the scribes 
made their appeal constantly to the positive authority of 
sacred books or of tradition. But in the teaching of 
Christ no need of any such appeal was felt. The word 
came to their hearts carrying its own authority with it. 
The sense of an extraordinary vigoiu* and impressiveness, 
requiring no support from rul)binical traditions, woukl 
* Matt. vii. 28, 29. 


naturally astonisli people who "v^'ere accustomed to liear 
eveiy doctrine discussed as thougli it depended merely 
on the coni])aratiye Aveiglit of rival masters. And this 
astonishment would find most appropriate expression in 
the exclamation, that "his word was with power,"* or 
that " he taught them as one having authority and not 
as the scribes." I believe we are best able to appreciate 
the feelino; of the Lord's first hearers, when we our- 
selves realize how great is the contrast between the words 
of our text and the de<n'adinf uses to which the Bible 
is often put in our own times. It is in submission to 
this authority that we find, in the education of the Avorld 
and oiu- own souls up to the spirit of Christ, the sole 
mission of the Bible. I do not of course mean that wo 
take tin's view as we should accept a legal decision from 
the positive authority of some final court of appeal. 
The authority is soinething nobler in nature than that. 
Tii(3 Bei'son of Christ, associated as it is with every ])ure 
moral iin])idse Ave have known, with every joy of our 
di\iner life the Person of Christ, from whose feet every 
spring of uKxIei'n ])rogress seems to rise, in whose 
])red(-iiiinaiice e\'ery ho})e of the future seems to cuhni- 
nat(;, exercises over our hearts a power of which we are 
mon; or less intelligently conscious, and to which we 
cheerriilly submit. Tlu; Berson of ( 'hrist, elevated from 
age to ag<' by tin; grtnviug apprehension of his Sjiirit, 
al)Stracte(l fi-om s])e(;ial limitations of time and place 
witliout losin'f anvtliin"' of his human tenderness, 
* Luke iv, a.'. 


comniCTids itself to lis as the very soul of tlic divine 
liuinunity, the end and consnnnnation of all i)ro})hetic 
longings and apostolic y.eal. Hence it is tliat his word 
comes to iis with power in the ntterance of our text ; 
and we find in it a gcrniinant principle, which is capable 
of ever-widening aj)plication, in j)roportion to men's 
increasing knowledge of the Bible and their under- 
standing of the Spirit of Christ. The bearing of all this 
will be plainer as we proceed. 

AVhen our Lord uttered the words, or the sentiment, 
of our text, he was speaking to peo})le who may l)e said 
to have worshipped and served the Bible more than the 
Creator. And were it not for the use or rather abuse 
which is sometimes made of our Lord's occasional 
references to the Old Testament scriptures, it might be 
sufficient for us simply to insist on the office which our 
Lord assigns to the Bible, and to pass on. But in 
dealing with our text it is of the hi<xhest conse- 
qucnce to distinguish between the spirit and the letter. 
Those to whom the letter is dear will argue Avith 
gi'eat force, that in these words our Lord himself 
appears to acknowledge a certain positive authority in 
the ancient scriptures; and to sanction that sort of 
Messianic interpretation of ancient prophecy, which 
almost of necessity involves some infallible dictation 
from the Holy Ghost. Now as to the first point, the 
]iositiA'e authority supposed to be accorded here to the 
ancient scrij)tures, a reference to the Sermon on the Mount 
is sufficient to show that otir Lord did not recognize any 


authorit}', even in the most sacred words of the Old 
Testament, which could not be superseded by a fuller 
manifestation of divine ri^'hteousness. ''' Ye liave heard 
that it was said to them of old time* thou shalt not fore- 
swear thijself ; hut I say urdo you swear not at all.''' When 
it is remembered that the command is (juoted from 
Leviticus. f where the words bear the mystic seal of 
ancient sanctitv, in the ibrmula, '' I am the Lord," it 
^vill be felt that Christ here expressly claims a rio;ht to 
over-ride the positive aiithority of the Mosaic Law l)y a 
revelation of fuller riiditeousness. His uniform treat- 
ment of the institution of the Sabbath implies the same 
thinir. And if ho says that not one jot or tittle shall 
])ass from the law till all Ijc fulfilled, the very form of 
the utterance seems to involve the paradox of fulfilment 
])y altroirntioii. At tlie same time it can hardly be 
denied that the Lord Jesus does so far adopt the 
customs of the time as to speak in the ordinary manner 
of frencrally recoiruized ^L'ssianic predictions.^ Tlie 
measureless power of the Divine S})irit in him could 
not brook the limitations of ])Ositive laAV, wher(! the letter 
in any dciii-ee fettei'cd tluj lile ; but it would have been 
inc()nsi.-,tent witli the Loi'd's .-])eci!d mini-^try to a. 
])articular age and race, if he liad lieen unable to make 

'" Miif. V. :'.!).!'; t, 70/r (l/)Y<^i('mr cnillioi li'! C [ui V.'ilenf toArro run' an\(tiotv 

t 1m \. I'l nil,. 1,1' ilic i('ii ((iininuinlnicnt.- i-; tivatcl in ihr. saitit: way. 

X .)-;ii! V. l5-}7: viii. :,C,: Matt. xxii. 1 1 --(;. 

i; 'J'hat i-. <]M'i-ia! in urilcr that it ini'jlit 1)|'<'miiic '-'''i"''"'' ; l"'"il Ji'til 
nat'wiia! a- an iiiili-iii'ii-alili' cnriililii;!! "T :t> ln-dininir imiversaJ. S(,'c 
Miui. .XV. L't, X. } ; .\i:\~, ii. l'.",. l'i',. 


a free use of the forms in -which tlie people immediately 
aromid him were accustomed to express the spiritual 
hopes of their fathers and themselves. 

AVhile therefore Ave OAvn and how before the moral 
and spiritual supremacy of Christ with a reverence and 
love which no merely positive authority could command, 
I think we should totally misunderstand the mission of 
the Lord if we supposed that it involved the teaching 
of a scientific system of Liblical criticism, or a correct 
history of the Old Testament Canon. Devout Christians, 
who loioAv the unanswerable reasons which support, and 
who mark the resistless tendency of piTblic opinion to 
accept modern views on the gradual formation of the 
Pentateuch and the uuhistorical character of its account 
of human origins, must see with pain the practice of 
setting up incidental allusions in our Lord's discourses 
as a sv;fficient reply to the most im])regnable conclusions. 
But this practice is only one of many dangerous results, 
which spring from the assumption of a dogma usually 
undefined and never realized, in fact impossible of 
conception, inconsistent with any true incarnation, and 
expressly contradicted by the Saviour himself,* I mean 
the omniscience of Christ. I have always maintained, 
and I maintain now, that a hearty belief in the essential 
and conscious divinity of Christ does not at all involve 

* Mark xiii. 32 ; also, according to the Codex Sin., Matt. sxiv. 36- 
One such instance is enough to show that the limitation of his know- 
ledge was not, in the Lord's mind, inconsistent with his conscious 


the su}>p(i.<ition of liis omniscience when on earth. If it 
did, no real belief in the incarnation would be possible ; 
and we should have to fall back on the phantastic 
notions of the Doceta^, who regarded the Lord's body as 
a mere spectral illusion, the arbitrary and empty sign of 
the presence of a heavenly Spirit. For what the incarna- 
tion really means is that God was manifested, not in 
an abstraction of humanity, but in an individual man 
who ' was made of the seed of David according to the 
flesh,"' and therefore was subject in all things innocent 
to the mental associations of Jewish life. I say 'in all 
things iimocent,' for when the national traditions or 
institutions, such as ' Corl)an,' ablutions, or the Sabbath, 
would have limited the free action of his divine charity 
in word and deed, the measureless Spirit within him 
spurned such trammels with sacred indignation. That 
by a supernatural insight the Lord Jesus kncAV all that 
was neeckMl to establish in the world a imiversal religion, 
and to I'eveal the moral bases of divine and human 
rel;ition>hi]) in a ministry of divine life and sacriflcial 
death, is a belief that not oidy commends itself to the 
cTdiglitciicd sovd, but is very much a matter of I'act 
dfmoiisti'alilc by evidence. If however you sujipose 
this su])eniatural insight to involve a knowledge of 
everything that ever did lKip])en or will ha])])en in all 
the nni\ei's(! for omniscience; can in<'an notliing else 
and if you then tiw to imagine such a Being g<iiig 
about a-' a man aniong-t men, '* hearing them and 
asking them (|uesti(ns,"" jiassing through alternations of 


joj and sorrow, "tempted in all points like as we are," 
experieneinoj all om- infirmities so many of which spring 
from our io;noranee, expressing anxiety, snhjeet to 
paroxjms of s])iritual conflict, praying that the cup 
may pass from him, cryiiig in a horror of great dark- 
ness, "J/y God, my God, ivhj hast thou forsaken meV 
you will find not merely that there is a mystery 
involved, but that the one conception absolutely excludes 
the other, and that either the one or the other, the 
conscious omniscience or the real Innnanity, must be 
given up. The question is not usually faced by those 
who adore the divinity of Christ. Xor is this much 
to be wondered at. For the comfort, and strength, and 
love, the Avarm realization of our kinship to God, which 
comes with a sense of Christ's divinity, is not at all 
dependent on any metaphysical definition of what is 
meant by it. And when we reflect on the subject, any 
searching questions seem to touch so nearly all we hold 
most dear of God's redeeming grace, that we naturally 
hesitate to press them. I am not saying how far this is 
right, })articula]'ly in times when men are everywhere 
sinking shafts to examine primeval foundations, and 
when any prohibition of the search seems to imply a 
fear that there is no foundation there. But whether or 
not, the feeling is most natural and when unaccompanied 
by bigotry often even salutary. The point however on 
which I would insist is this, that before any one sets up 
incidental allusions in reported words of Christ as a 
contradiction to conclusions dependent on scientific or 


critical evidence, he is bound to face tliis question and 
tx) answer it. In fact in using siicli an aro-nnient he 
assumes an answer, the nature of which he lias pi'ohahly 
never defined, and the inevitable consequences of which 
he would certainly abjure. Was the Lord Jesus con- 
sciously omniscient or was he not? Sujjposing that we 
could so far i o-nore his O'wn words as to say that he was ; 
then Avhat is meant by callino; hi|n a man? L)r how 
could he be tempted in all points like as Ave are ? But 
if he was not; then how do we knoAV that biblical 
criticism and sacred arcluvology lay within those limits 
of consciousness Avhicli were amongst the inevitable 
conditions of his mission? There is nothing A\hatever 
in his ovrn descriptions of his earthly mission to involve 
the need for such knowledge ; and we have no authority 
either jiositive or moral for insisting on his possession, 
of it. There are I suppose those avIio attempt to meet 
the difficulty by asserting what in effect amounts to 
this, that though the Lord Avas not consciously omniscient, 
yet lie was vncoii.'^-loii-vlij so; that is, that ever\' thought 
as it prc-cntcd itscH' to his mind Av;is seen in it> abso- 
lute ti'iith, and tlieretbre that every \Mrd he uttered 
how.'vei- ineidemally, necessarily im])lie(l ficts in strict 
accordance ihei-ewith. ]>ut to sa\' nothing of the 
impossibility of knowin^j; anA'thing in it- abxihite truth 
unie>> it i.^ knou'ii in all its relations, that i>, unless it is 
Aicwi'd as coiHcious omniseieiice oidy can \ iew il ; ii 
littlf rcllcctioii would .-how that this is just as incon- 
si-ti'iii as the (.ther notion with participation iti liiimaa 


nature and its infirmities. On tliis theory, as well as 
on the other, there could he no suhstantial truth what- 
ever in the thouo^ht so dear to Christians that the Lord 
"was tempted in all points like as we are." For we 
all agree that he was not exposed to the temptations of 
a depraved disposition. Now if abstraction be made of 
this, it may fairly be contended that no point of tempta- 
tion remains which is not simply the result of our 
ignorance,* and in particular of our ignorance concerning 
some bearings of the matter in hand. By no possibility 
then can we consistently keep at once the human trials 
of the Saviour and his unlimited knowledge. Not 
without deep significance does St. John the Divine 
reiterate with so much emphasis that Jesus Christ 
came in the flesh. That glorious pathetic life was no 
mere simulation of our nature, no impossible picture 
in which practical conditions are ignored. He came in 
the flesh ; He was made under the law. And the veiled 
spiritual majesty which dwelt in him gives us no right 

* A depraved inclination being, ex IiT/pothcsi, eliminated, it is 
certain that if we could see things in all their relations as God does, 
we should choose what is best without any temptation to do other- 
wise. Our shortsightedness has to be supplemented by faith in God. 
Even apart from any depraved inclination, it requires a considerable 
effort of faith to keep on in the path of duty, when all foreseen conse- 
quences arc against us. Now if all ultimate consequences were seen, it 
would recjuire no faith to do what is right. It is therefore only through 
linuted knowledge that an innocent being can know temptation. But 
if at any single point the alternative presented is entirely and utterly 
known in the light of absolute trath, this limitation of knowledge is 
practically done away. 


whatever to expect, tliat in his forms of thought and 
speech he should wholly dissociate himself from the 
mental habits and traditions of his day. I repeat that 
God was manifested not in an abstraction of humanity, 
but in individual man, who did not disdain Jewish 
nationality and Galilean associations, even while con- 
sciously the Son of God. 

But now in pursuit of our subject, the sense in 
which the scriptures bear witness to Christ, I must 
remind you that one main object of the incarnation 
was to give a more definite idea of a universal 
Spirit. The words may be vague ; yet the signifi- 
cance is felt by all who have longed after a true 
catholicity of religion. It is to this that we are to look 
in our highest Christian aims, in accordance with the 
words of St. Paul to which we have so often referred, 
"the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the 
Lord is, there is liberty." I woidd apj)ly this principle 
to our text. The words of the Lord Jesus are often 
marvellously susceptil)le both to interpretation in the 
forms of thought familiar to his own age, and also to 
expansion ])y the growth of the S})irit Avhich he 1 reathed 
Ujton the world. I do not of course atti-ibute to liim, 
whose every utterance makes so deep an iin])r('ssiou of 
''truth ill the inward parts," any ciuijiiiig device of 
concealing impopular esoteric doctrine hy a disguise f)t 
popular exoteric language. Tin; characlei-istic to which 
I refer was simply an inevit.ibl*! incident of the inmrna- 
tion of a divine Spirit in a man of a particular ago and 


race. Even words of genius such as Sliakspeare's have 
au ever <T(>rniinant significance, and constantly find new 
apj^lications in modes of human life which Shakspeare 
could Ly no possibility have imagined. IMuch more 
might we look that the incarnate AVord of God, speaking 
in strict accordance with the national and temporal 
associations of liis earthly life, should aimounce principles 
whicli show themselves immortal, thou(Th their oriixinal 
associations are dead and huried beyond hope of revival. 
And so even should "it prove that the application which 
the Jews would make of Christ's words is hardly any 
longer tenable, it may very well be that there is in the 
words a wider truth which is imperishable. 

It was necessary, in speaking of the one use of the 
Bible which our text suggests, to premise these remarks, 
because the more we search the Scrij^tures, the more are 
we compelled to acknowledge, that as to the nature of 
the testimony rendered by the Old Testament the primi- 
tive church was very largely mistaken. There are 
indeed passages, such as the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, 
which answer marvellously to the character and work 
of Christ. Nor can a Christian be wrong in ever keeping 
tliat supreme a})plication in view as he reads them. But 
there is a well-known passage in one of Plato's dialogues, 
d(,'scriptive of the career which would be necessary to 
prove a love of virtue for its o^\'^l sake, and showing 
8uch a startling resemblance to the general outlines of 
the life of Clu'ist, nay so nearly suggesting the very 
mode of his death, that it is just as impossible for a 


Christian in reading it to keep sncli an api)licati()n out 
of view, as it is in reading the chapter I'roni. Isaiah. 
Both tliese voices from the past are in a very true sense 
prophecies of Christ ; that is, they sliow an inspired idea 
of what perfect purity, love and devotion must undergo 
in a world of sin. And in addition, Isaiah sees in this 
vision of goodness and self-sacrifice a Messenger of God, 
who may very well have been his divinely sugiiested 
conception of the Messiah. But it is as little likely of 
the one vrriter as of the other, that he coidd lia\e had 
any foresight of the actual and historical ministry of 
'' the 3Ian Christ Jesus." That the Jews had anticipa- 
tions of a ^lessiali, wliich grew more and more exalted 
as the de})ression of the nation increased, and as the 
needs of the spiritual nature were more ])]-ofoundly 
realized, no one can dispute. But with Aery f(;w ex- 
ceptions, the most startling of these anticipations are 
found in the post-canonical literatm'c of tlie Jews, and 
th(! number of passages in the Old Testament whicli can 
b(! lioncstly sup{)osed to have had originally a ]\l('ssianic 
be;u'iiig is very limited indeed. But tlu; Jews at the 
Chri>tian era did not think so. Their method of 
intcrpi'eiaticjn allowed them to catch a! any isolated 
cx))i'('s>ioiis, wiiich bv ignoring tlu; cr)n1c\t could bo 
forced into ^lessiauic, allusions; and if wc were to be 
b;iund l>y iIk; scns(! which we ha\e cNcry reason to believe 
ihe\- \Nould ])Ut u])on the words of our text, the only 
result Would be a jici'ilous liold on douhtiiil ])i'edictions, 
<iie nuiijlier oj' which seems contiinialK' to diminish as 


biblical criticism advances. Besides, the text refers 
only to the scriptures of the Old Testament ; but to us, 
who are seeking the Spirit of Christ, it suggests the 
study of the New Testament far more than of the Old. 
And this shows that as a matter of practice we are 
actually in the habit of looking at the general principle 
of the words, disentangled altogether from the imme- 
diate application which in the circumstances of that 
time they would inevitably receive. But the general 
principle is this, that the scriptures of both Testaments 
bear witness to Christ ; that their divinest meaninof is 
embodied in Christ; that their ultimate mission and 
the highest blessing they can confer upon us is to lead 
us to Christ. 

Now consider the needs of the God-consciousness, 
or if you like the phrase better, of our spiritual nature. 
Like all other attributes of humanity, it needs to be 
excited, called forth, enlarged by appropriate external 
objects. And amongst such external excitements 
nothing perhaps is more quickening than the powerful 
expression of exalted spiritual experience in others. 
The same principle is true of all artistic faculty. A 
sculptor, or a painter, or a poet finds everywhere in 
nature the objects which stimulate his genius ; but yet 
nature alone would never act intensely enough to educate 
his faculty, to anything like the extent of its capacity, 
within the short limit of his life. But from a study of 
tli<^ works of other artists he receives the general 
i!i(hieuces of nature in a concentrated form; and their 


action upon his o'wti imagination is correspondingly 
intense and sw-ift. He must not indeed abandon the 
contemplation of Nature ; but, consciously or imcon- 
sciously to himself, the works of art which he has seen 
are to him the interpreters of Xature ; and by their help 
he passes in the mere infancy of his genius through 
all past steps of progress, over which his art has pain- 
fully toiled diu'ing a hundred generations gone. So 
with regard to the religious faculty ; natural religion, 
as it is called, never yet made a saint. Its operation I 
suppose to have been slow and gradual, prolonging the 
evolution of the God-consciousness in man over unmea- 
sured ages of anti(piity. But any instance of exalted 
spiritual experience, especially when it reaches the 
height of inspiration, may sum up for us the whole 
divine education of the race. And as Christ is the 
ideal of divine manhood in this sta^i^e of our endless 
lite, e^'cry fragmentary inspinjd hint of that ideal leads 
to Him. 

Tliiis there is no better food of the God-consciousness 
in man than its exhibition in m(,'n of like ])assions with 
ourselves. And this is at least one im])ortant source 
of the f|uick(Miing influence exercised over us by the 
worshi]) of the (congregation. I'ut to give the whole 
human race, ])ast, ])r(;s('jit and to come, tiie solidarity 
of one religious life, the conscious imjndse of one 
religions growth, it was needful that there siumld 
be a sneec^sioii of insjiii-ed prophets, ])salniists, ])reaehers, 
morali-'t ;, wI:o,>e voices should ('elio and who-^e light 



should shine far beyond the bounds of their own 

horizon. And towards the aecomplislnnent of this the 

Bible has certainly done more than any other literature 

in the Avorld. When I read the words of Moses, " the 

eternal God is tloj refuge, and underneath are tlie 

everlasting arms ;^^ when I hear of Joshua's manly 

decision, " as for me and my house, ice ivill serve the 

LoBD;''^ when I catch the strains of David's harp, 

" thou icilt shoio me the path of Ife ; in thy presence 

is fulness of joy ;'' I have a feeling as of a river of 

life flowing through the heart ; a life Avhich is not mine, 

nor was it theirs ; a life too vast for any individual man 

or nation ; a life belonging to the Avhole race, as it lives, 

and moves, and has its being in God. This then I 

conceive to be one of the happiest uses of the Bible ; 

not to teach mere moral maxims which may be found 

equally well in Confucius or Seneca ; not to give an 

impossible interpretation to mysteries of the third 

heaven, unla^-ful to be uttered ; but to excite in the soul 

that sense of life, and love, and joy in God, from which 

the purest morality and the dee])est insight alike proceed. 

But just in pro})ortion as it docs this the Bible leads 

our souls to Christ. For in him the God-consciousness 

is deep beyond our soimding line, intense beyond our 

power of appreciation. And all life, love, joy in God 

kindle afresh our desires for the incarnate A\'ord who 

calls us to the bosom of the Father. 

Still farther, in these Christi'\n times not only do the 
scriptures exhibit tlicir highest influence in leading us 


to Christ, but the peculiar spiritual snn:gestiveness which 
has this effect arises to a larger extent than we are many 
of us aware from the reflected light of the Lord's divine 
life and death. Divine death ! Is that a discord ? 
Nay ; his death was, if possible, more divine than his 
life. The Grod-nature was never more supreme in him 
than when he hung fainting upon the cross. For that 
scene of wickedness, darkness, and horror, the centre 
of which was a loving broken heart, was surely an 
expression, so far as that can be given in forms of time 
and sense, of the mystery of sin's relationship to a 
righteous and loving Father. Tiu-ning from such a 
scene to the rude sim})licity which in the beginning of 
the Bible declares that in view of the corruptions of the 
world ^Ht repented the LoRD that lie had made man on the 
earth, and it grieved him at his lieart,''''* we can feel a 
signiflcance in these Avords Avhich their author could not 
know a whisper of a possible Divine Sorrow, of a 
mysterious burden in the Father's heart, such as to om' 
consciences condemns sin more than any flames of 
hell, while it makes us burn to ex[)end b'fe and all in 
championsliip of the cause of righteousness on earth. 
Thus the wildest dn.'ams of H(,>])rew h'geiid a])pear to 
strain towards Christ. And as in some well-ordered 
garden all flowers seem to nod with rcverencf; towards 
one central monarch, all lines to trend, all sc(mts to 
draw to one midmost mountain of bloom whicii ends 
every perspective and pervades the whole air with its 
* Gen. vi. 0. 


fragrance, so in tlio garden of the scriptures Christ 

stands in the midst, the tree of life, Avith healing leaves 

and resplendent bloom, dominating every avenue of 

thought. It is not too much to say that the Lord Jesus 

merely by breathing upon them lias re-written the whole 

Psalms of David. The words indeed remain the same ; 

but as in a piece of music, the whole strain of thought 

is raised to a higher pitch by the change of the key 

note. For tem2)oral dominion we now read spiritual 

power, for deliverance from enemies redemption from 

sin, for Mount Zion the Universal Church, for the 

anointed king of Israel the Christ of God. The very 

vocabulary is exalted in meaning ; the soul, salvation, 

life, glory, God's word, heaven and hell, all have a more 

spiritual and therefore an intenser meaning than they 

could have to David. And so it comes to pass in the 

providence of God that the Psalmist is the means of 

suggesting to us thoughts which, coidd we meet him 

as he was on earth, he would utterly fail to understand. 

For our ideal of life is higher, our conceptions of 

creative Majesty are larger, while at the same time 

our feeling of divine kinship is more tender and more 

close than his. It may be said that all this is only the 

inevitable result of the spiritual progress of maid^ind. 

Yes ; but wo must look at the means by which this 

progress has been effected ; and if avc do that candidly, 

I am ])ersuaded we shall feel that the one event in 

history which more than any or all others has purified 

our ideas of God and brouirht us into conscious nearness 


to Him is the ministry in life and death of Jesus 
Christ our Lord. For the gospel story is like a crystal 
lens amidst converging rays of light which passing 
through it immediately assume a nobler power. Or 
rather as, according to some recent astronomical specu- 
lations, certain stars drink up, to emit with brighter 
splendour the nebulous glory that surrounds them, so 
each dreamy touch of spiritual light and beauty from 
Genesis to Kevelation is first absorbed by Christ l^efore 
it cumes to us, and radiates from him with the power of 
the Avhole ideal divine life. And then only do we 
realize the full spiritual influence which the scriptures 
are now caj^able of exerting, when their utterances come 
to us animated and emjthasized by some reminiscence 
of the divine incarnation and perfect hiunan life Avhich 
we recognize in Him. 

Again, there is a meaning both prophetic and ])rofoimd 
in St. I'aul's words before Agri])pa aljout "the promise 
unto wliich tlu' twelv(,' tribes instantly serving God day 
and night liope to come." The Jews were but the 
proplicts of iiumanity. Tlieir longings were tlie sighs 
of the whole world's heart. For all aspirations after a 
])urer .spirituality, and all desires for a mon,' conscious 
neai'ne>s to God, h^ok towards an iileal of a (li\inely 
lumiaii lili -(iod in man and man in God the 
enibo(h'iii('nl of which in Chi'ist is the saKatioJi of the 
Avoi'Id. Think of Da\i(l's agonizing pi-ay<'rs j'or recon- 
ciliation: think of dob"s pei-plexit \- and horror at the 
a])pai'ent chaos uf sin and jow i'ighte(>u>iiess and stdfering. 


that seems to brand the constitution of the world 
with injustice ; tliink of the s})ccuhitions half expressed 
half implied in the early legends of Genesis; and the 
wonder of the prophets concerning the relation of this 
world's sorrowful and guilty burden to the power and 
love of God. ' The promise to Avhich all these hope to 
come' is not merely an ideal human life, but such a 
a manifestation of God as might make clearer the feel- 
ings of His heart towards the world, and especially the 
relation of His moral government to human sin. The 
occasional glimpses of some tenderness in this relation- 
ship, which flit amongst prophetic denunciations like 
the sweet sad light that hovers amongst the broken 
clouds of a gathering storm, are amongst the profoundest 
forecastings of the Spirit of Christ which the Old Testa- 
ment ever yields. " lliey say, If a man j^ut aicay his 
rvife and she go from him and become another mans, 
shall he return unto Iter again ? Shall not that land he 
greatly polluted^ But thou hast played the harlot with 
many lovers; yet return again to me saith the LOJW.^'* 
Surely this is an anticipation of a lament diviner still, 
through which a holy indignation passed into the 
silence of death ; " Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that 
killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto 
tJiee; how often icould I have gathered thy children together 
as a lien gatheretlt her chickens binder her wings; and 
ye ivould not!"' " Jliey shall look on me whom they have 
pnerccd, and shall mourn^'' says Zachariah in the name 
* Jcr. iii, 1. 


of God. And well might John call this to mind at 
Calvary when all was still. Indeed, apart from all 
controversy about special predictions, it is most signifi- 
cant that as anticipations of the Messiah grew in 
wistfid eagerness, so they were clothed more and more 
in the darkness of imaginative woe. In the doubtful 
touches of such anticipations which gleam here and 
there amongst the Psalms f the idea is for the most part 
bright and joyful ; the expectation of some king greater 
than David, under whom the sacred kingdom of Israel 
should attain all the glory of ancient promise. But 
Isaiah sees Jehovah's Servant as " a man of sorrows 
and acquainted with grief." According to Daniel 
Messiah shall be cut off amidst a sea of troubles. And 
the ])ictures of his advent as described in the post- 
canonical writings of the Jews are often still more gloomy 
and terrible. AVhen we feel the mystery of the iniipiity 
which abounds in the world, avc cannot think that this 
tendency is without a deep spiritual significance. It 
shows the God-consciou^ncss in humanity groping 
towards tlie truth so grandly expressed in the ])atheti(! 
and glorious self-sacrifice of Christ. It betrays a dim 
sus]icion that th(! vital relationship of (Jod and man 
must first Ix; realized amidst tlu^ very dcejx'st >iiadows 
of sin. '" If I uiake iny Led In hell.)"' sa}'S the I'saliiiist, 

f rn(l(:r lliis (lescrijition I iiH-lmli' siicli jisalnis nK ii, l.xxii. and ex., 

in wiiii'li -Dini; iTiirniuir kinir may lia\i' ln-in iilfalizrd as thr Anuinted 
of till' I.Mi'd. in such a way as ti; .~ii'_'':j'i'--1 in iniairinat ivc minds some 
fuliin; li^ipc <j\-i_:rpassjii<^' all pa.-t <ir jJixxjiil rcali/.aliuii. 


'"'heliold lliou art tlierer And we, who perhaps feel 
nearest of all to the suffering Christ when wo awake 
in a great horror of gnilt, cannot resist rising those 
words in a sense of Avhich the ^vlite^ could hardly have 
dreamt. For the one thinij above all others which 
makes Jesus Christ the power of God unto salvation is 
the conviction, which he begets in us, that the heavenly 
Father feels the burden of His children's sins, and that 
the one awful but most blessed spring of redemption 
is the self-sacrifice of God shared by His children ; or 
in other words, the cross of Christ taken up and borne 
by his members. To this all the Scriptures point. For 
this I prize them most of all ; perhaps in this only do 
they stand mirivaUed and alone in the monuments of 
ancient inspiration ; that they awaken our divinest life 
by giving us to feel that in all our moral conflict, 
whether for our own salvation or for that of others, we 
are only taking our part of the measureless burden 
which oppresses the sensitive love of God. If this then 
is the testimony to Christ which you value, if this is the 
inspiring influence which you prize, you may read on 
undisturbed by rival theories of inspiration ; you will 
bo preserved from any desire to make the Bible an 
armomy for sectarian passion : you may differ from 
what you think an idolatry of the letter ; but you will 
feel in spirit heartily at one with all past generations 
ol' (Jhristians in the love they cherished for the Book 
of hooks ; because your own soul's experience tells you 
that the secret of their fervour lay in no opinion that 


they held, but rather in their devout feeling of -whut 
no articles can define, no canons enforce, no intellectual 
error exclude '' the power of an endless life." 

It might be expected that I should here add some 
remarks on the use of the Bible in the Church, in 
schools, in the family, and in private meditaticm. That, 
however, scarcely comes within the scope of our pr(>sent 
purpose, which is rather the suggestion of general prin- 
ciples. But as regards the school and the family, I can 
scarcely resist the tcm[)tation of foUoAving iip these prin- 
ci])lcs into certain obvious deductions. If the great iise 
of the Bible were the inculcation of moral maxims, or 
the prescription of rules, which, like those of arithmetic, 
could easily be called to mind when the conditions of 
their a])]lication arose, then I coidd Avell tinderstand the 
determination with which some insist on making the 
.Scriptures a school-book. But if, as we have urged, the 
authority of the Bible is moral, not ])ositive ; if the ])ur- 
pos(.' of the Scri[)tures is tiie inspiration of a di\'ii)(' lil'e 
and tIk; excitement in the soul of a longing foi' tlie 
(.'lii'i>T of (jlod, then no iniiversal rule whatcxcr can be 
laid down about tli(; eni])lovment of the J'ook in schools, 
\'ery much must depend on the |)hice occu|iictl by the 
school instruc^tiou in the efhication of tlie chiKL Thus if 
the X hoo] he ibr ;i while the home ot'the cliilil, it must, 
so I'ar as pos.-ihle. fulfil the otlices of home, ami pro\ ide 
sea.-ons (dgc'iitle, symjiathet ic, inspicing inlhicnce, such 
as the IJilile, j-cad thi'ough the li\ing faith of a de\()ut 
teachc)-, can so well su|iply. But if the cliild goes only 


to spend four or five hours every day with some skilled 
instructor, for the purpose of acquiring special branches 
of secular knowledge, while the real process of education 
goes on at home, then surely it is better that the school 
should be content with doing one thing well, and should 
not lessen the time for its proper duties by attempting 
what it is qiute incapable of performing. Under such 
circumstances the cases are rare and exceptional in which 
the reading of the Bible is anything more than the 
mechanical recitation of a measured quantity of Scrip- 
ture ; a practice not only unlikely to have any inspiring 
influence in itself, but also exceedingly well-calculated 
to prevent that influence elsewhere. The associations, 
the sense of drill, the amomit of pressure and hurry, 
which are inevitable in any large day-school, may be 
perfectly consistent with a healthy moral tone, and with 
a reasonable amount of affection between teachers and 
taught ; but in most instances these inevitable incidents are 
totally incongruous with the kind of tone, and with the 
subtle spiritual sympathy required to enable the Bible 
to exert its distinctive power. The superstition of l)ibli- 
olatry is not found practically incoiisistent with great 
levity in the treatment of the Scriptures. And we can- 
not be far wronof in thinking that the sort of familiar 
lightness, alternating with conventional biit most unreal 
reverence, which is so very common a treatment of the 
Bible, is cviltivated far more than is generally supposed 
\)j turning it into a lesson-book for schools. " When 
we become men, we put away childish things." The 


arithmetical rules of the school-room are not those 
of the counting-house or the bank. The round childish 
hand, which was the pride of copy-books, is despised by 
the youth who cultivates the rushing style of a busy 
man. And when we abandon sum-book, copies, and 
pedantic grammars, there is great danger that the Bible, 
if associated distinctively with the class and school, may 
suffer from the general sense of stiffness and unpracti- 
cal theory which is connected with all the customs of 
school. There may be teachers here and there gifted 
with so fine a tact, and animated by so spiritual a life, 
that they can make to appear natural in a day-school 
what would seem absurd and out of place in a warehouse 
or shop ; but they are very few and far between. And 
till sucli teachers can be ensured, I am sure that Ave 
show the truest reverence for the Bible by leaving it to 
take its part in education through the family and the 

By (rod's ordination, the family is the true nursery of 
life. The bond of home is strongest and most sacred 
when it is not merely a fleshly tie, but a si)iritual com- 
munion ; and blessed is that household in wliich family 
affections are enriched by the inspirations wliicii hallow 
them in the love of God. l^ut if, as we l)clicv(^, the 
divine life is dcjK'ndent for its cultivatiDii on the use; of 
th(! means which God puts into our hands, it is difficult 
to overestimate the value of family worship in sanctify- 
ing the ndations (;f wliicii it e\]res>es the (livin(! ground. 
Xo doubt the superstition whieh I'l'gards each scriptural 


syllable as an infallible utterance of God, and wliich 
therefore in daily reading impartially plods tlirough 
dry chronicles and effete legislature, as well as the still 
living words of psalmists and evangelists, may here as 
everywhere else mar the inspiring power of the Bible. 
But the fiither or the mother who bears in mind the 
words of Christ, ''Hhey are they that testify of Me" will 
so read the scriptures that their undying music shall at 
every sunset mingle heaven with earth, and morning by 
morning brighten with the vision of the divine humanity 
the daily horizon of life. In after years when the chil- 
dren who knelt together are scattered over land and sea, 
the memory of those sacred moments will come back ; 
and familiar words on the sacred page will search the 
heart, and stir the soul, because they fall therein with 
the cadence of a revered but silent voice. Kor is it 
parents only who thus ensure an eternal commimion 
with their children. As river communication binds into 
one realm the snowy mountains and the sunny shore, 
so the tradition of a divine life is the livino- rill which 
most vitally joins "the generations each to each." 
Never is the gi'andsire's hoary head so truly a crown of 
glory as when in the children's memory it is associated 
with an impressive utterance of the words of eternal life. 
There are Avords of scriptiu'e which never meet my eyes 
without recalling the tones of a voice now heard only in 
heaven, but still echoing in grave musical cadence from 
the memories of childhood ; tones rich in venerable 
experience, in ripened charity, in all the dignity and 


tenderness that follow a good figlit well fought, and a 
life's work nobly done. If I refer to personal remini- 
scences, it is because I am sure I am not alone when 
I say that the scene which these words bring back is 
like the gates of the daAvn, which the traveller looking 
behind him beholds afar off amongst the beloved hills of 
home, if tender with regrets, yet bright with hope, and 
rich in the promise of life's day. Ah, who can doubt a 
genuine touch of inspiration in those well-known lines 
of Burns ? 

"Then kneeling down, to heaven's eternal king, 

The saint, the father, and the husband prays ; 
Hope 'sjjrings exulting on triumphant \ving,' 

Tliat thus they all shall meet in future days : 
There ever bask in increased rays, 

Xo more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear. 
Together hymning their Creator's praise, 

In such society, yet still more dear ; 
Wliilc circling time moves round in an eternal sphere. 

" Compar'd with tliis how poor lieligion's pride 

In all the pomp of method and of ait, 
When men dis])lay to congregations wide, 

Devotion's ev'ry grace, except the heart ! 
Tlie I'ow'r, incens'd, the pageant will desert, 

The ])ompous strain the sacerdotal stole ; 
But haply, in some cottage far a])art. 

May licar. well plcMsed, the language of the sou! ; 
And iu His book of life the inmates poor eimjl." 


It is more agreeable to sjieak of the use ilianoftlu^ 
abuse 1)1' llic 15ibl(\ A\ liciics (m* wr are driven to say 
anything about the abns(! or pci'versiou ol' holy things 


there is a natural disposition on the part of timid souls 
to take alarm, or at least to question Avhether it is safe. 
*' But lie that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds 
inan he made manifest, that they are tcrotcght in God/^* 
And " all things that are reproved are made manifest hy 
the light; for ichatsoever doth make manifest is light.''''] 
Brethren, all honest enquiry and all protest against 
error are safe so long as we loyally keep our f\ices 
towards the light. If there are errors in the Bible 
itself although its inspirations are so high, much more 
may we expect mistakes to be made about its right use. 
That we can infallibly rectify them of course we do not 
for one moment su.ppose. But that is no reason why 
we should withhold suo-o-estions which have even a 
probable or possible value. And there is great need 
for the most serious attention to this matter. For while 
the advance of biblical criticism is teaching the educated 
classes to value in the sacred volume mainly its power 
of attraction to " the foundation of apostles and prophets, 
Jesus Christ himself beinof the chief corner stone," still 
amono-st the less educated such are the absurd and 
grotesque perversions of the Bible, that we can only 
wonder how its more healthy influence has survived at 
all. Only the other day I noticed in a shop window 
amongst a number of publications calculated to tempt 
religious purchasers a pamphlet with this startling title; 
" the English Nation identified with the Lost House of 
Israel by seventeen identifications based upon Scripture." 
* John. iii. 21. f Ephes. v. 13. 


In the course of the argument we find that because 
Isaiah says, "listen 0-isles unto me," and much else to 
the same effect, therefore we are to look for Israel upon 
an island ; because Isaiah says, " keep silence before me 
islands, and let the people renew their strength," 
therefore we mav look for Israel amonrrst the ' Saxons' 
who have very much renewed their strength since they 
came to England ; because Balaam says, " his seed 
shall l^e in many waters," and because '' many are the 
references to her calkers and mariners " I quote the 
words of the ?nofZe?vi prophet "the identity can here 
be found in an old ballad sung for many years by 
British tars, to the effect that ' Britannia rules the 
waves/ " Impious nonsense of this kind impious not 
in intention but in effect may perhaps seem to be 
unworthy of notice in grave discourse. But it is only 
an extreme instance of a sort of production which is 
far to(j common, and which I suspect would not l)e so 
common imless it })aid. There seems to bo prevalent 
amongst a large section of the 'religious woi-ld' a 
morbid taste for turning the scriptures into Siln'lliiie 
leaves, and interrogating them about the ten lost trihes, 
the fall of the rai)acy, the conflagration of tlie world 
anything rather than the Divine Jlinnanity to which 
tluy point. The pro])h(,'ts sulfcr more cruelly from 
thfii' nioilern students than from their persecutors; for 
while some are bent upon sawing Isai;ih asunder once 
more, other-^ stretch him upon the rack of a perverse 
ingenuity and put him to the f|uestion hy torture, that 


they may learn wlietber tlie Jews are to go back to the 
Holy Land or not. It is a sign of a sickly spiritual 
life, it shows a sad want of any genuine interest in 
the true mission of the scriptures, when men think to 
stimulate piety by excitements more proper to the Black 
Art. Indeed grovelling necromancy of this kind must 
more or less withdraw the mind from the Bible's noblest 
influences, and by vain curiosity harden the heart 
against them. 

Perhaps this and most other abuses arise from some 
such misapprehension of the true place of Scripture 
as is involved in our text, to which we noAv revert. 
^^ Ye do search the scriptures ; for in them ye think ye 
have eternal life; and tliey are they that testify of me; 
and ye loill not come unto me that ye might have life^ 
Now let us see what is the difference between the man 
who seeks eternal life in the scriptures and the man Avho 
finds it in Christ. The man who thinks he has eternal 
life in the scriptures looks into the Bible mainly for 
infallible definitions of doctrine, acquaintance with 
which or acceptance of which is his salvation. Tims 
the Pharisaic Jews thougiit they had eternal life 
because letter by letter they stuck to the teaching of 
Moses. So too our Christian Jews appear to think 
that they arc sure of salvation if they can prove that 
their opinions are identical with those of St. Paul. 
But the man who looks into the Bible as a record more 
or loss im])('rfect of the inspirations which have given 
biiili to the divine humanity, seeks that Christ may be 


formed in his heart ; and this, the revelation of God's 
Son in us, is even now on earth the beginning of ever- 
lasting life. Or he who thinks that in the scriptures 
he has eternal life looks into the Bible for promises 
made to his o^vn nation, or sect, or opinions. Thus the 
Jew looked for the promise of a heavenly kingdom 
which should give tlie supremacy to his own race. 
And thus an argumentative Baptist, whom I met once 
in the street of course no fair representative of his 
sect, but indiscreetly zealous for the faith as it is 
received by them proclaimed most strenuously that 
he had sought and found in the Bible a salvation 
strictly private to the elect members of his own denomi- 
nation alone ; for said he, " it is written in this book, 
not 'he that bolieveth' only, but 'ho that believeth 
and is haptlzed shall be saved ;'* now you have no right 
to strike out the second condition any more than 
the first; the one is just as necessary as the other." J 
could not refrain Irom testing the extent to which it 
might be possible to carry a sectarian and exchisivc; 
appropriation of Heaven, and therefore 1 joined the 
wrangling theological circle. " Sir,*' I said, "you an; 
aware that the overwhelming majority oi' Christians 
have Ix'cu l^aptizcd in infancy; is this a sufficient 
conijtlian(:(; with the condition?" '' (A'rtaJnly not," lu; 
ro]lic(l. '" Do you mean to say then that \\wj cannot 
be saved?" I eiKiuircd, thinking that my friend would 

' Miuk .\vi. It^ 


surely be appalled at the tremendous consequences of 
his creed. " If they die in infancy," said he, as though 
making a liberal concession. " But," I lu-ged, " if they 
grow up, and live consistently with their Christian 
profession, will they not be saved?" "No," said he 
boldly, " not unless they are baptized again^ Now 
surely this man thought that in the scriptures in the 
chapters, and verses, and syllables, and letters he had 
eternal life. And whatever may have been his other 
estimable qualities I maintain that he was far more of 
a Jew than a Christian. 

But he who searches the scriptures for "springs 
of life" and "seeds of bliss"* will find by expe- 
rience of the inward growth of a Christlike na- 
ture that he has eternal life in Christ. To look 
for eternal Hfe in the scriptures themselves is to 
misapprehend the whole nature and purpose of the 
Bible. For it is not a voliune of sacred incantations, 
the mere utterance of which can cast out the Devil 
from the heart. It is not a '^schema defide,^^ which we 
are compelled to hold on pain of an anathema more 
terrible than the Pope's. It is avc repeat it for the 
last time a record of highest thoughts in days of old, 

* There is surely both truth and beauty in the lines of Dr. Watts 

" 'Tis a broad land of wealth vinknown, 
Where springs of life arise ; 
Seeds of immortal bliss are sown, 
And hidden glory lies." 


an eclio of holy voices reverberating in our souls, and 
renewing in us the aspirations which gave them utterance. 
Or it is like a constellation, each star comparatively 
meaningless, but all together marking on the sky of 
history the image of the Divine Humanity, the Christ 
of God. Or it is like the bright clouds of da^^n, a 
splendour most touching yet insufficient, strong only 
to awaken longings which are never appeased till the 
perfect orb of the Sun of Righteousness rises on the 
heart, and the Son of Grod is revealed within. The 
man, who loves the Bible because through it he meets 
with men of deep spiritual needs answered l)y a special 
inspiration, will be able to jndge the scriptures by sanc- 
tified reason Avithout the slightest danger of im})airing 
their informing, suggestive, quickening power. Such a 
man will leel the spiritual inspiration of Closes none the 
less 1 )ecause he finds the great prophet to have been ignorant 
of geological facts. Nor, should ho be convinced that 
St. Paul's ideas of biblical criticism fall short of modern 
requirements, will he any the less testify from his own 
expci-ionce that the Apostle's preaching is still "with 
demonstration of the Sj)irit and of jiowcr."' A\ liile 
acting boldly on the convicti(m that the Bible was made 
for man, and not man for the liible ; wliilc steadfastly 
refusing therefore to ignore any essential instinct 
oi" 7-ea>on f)r conscience out of deference to ancient 
inspii-ation : such a devout student will recogni/.e in 
the sci'i])lures, ])rol)ably with mon' real meaning 
ljecaus(; with fr{;er loyalty than tiiose who make larger 


professions, God's great charter of man's freedom 
from slavery to Natm-e, God's OAvn testimony to man's 
kinship with Himself; in a word, the legends, records, 
and prophecies of the very kingdom of heaven. 

In conclusion, I urge, as the one most practical issue 
of all our thoughts, that if we would find God our Father, 
we must not seek the living amongst the dead. We must 
look to present spiritual facts rather than to the ruins of 
a departed world. Art perishes when it ceases to believe 
in a still unerabodied still unattained ideal (jlimnierino: 
upon the future horizon. Even learning, which treasures 
up the memories of the past, sinks into a dusty pedantry 
when it neglects to enrich and inspire by those memories 
the immortal Humanity, of whose ever ripening expe- 
rience they are but half forgotten notes. The temples, 
the cathedrals, the pictures, and the statues of ancient 
or medioBval genius, are a most suggestive study for the 
artist now ; their office, however, is not to supersede, 
but to exalt the ideal proper to the present time. The 
scholar makes a strange use of his Demosthenes or his 
Cicero when, not content with infusing into English the 
classic spirit of purity and grace, he seeks to stilfon his 
native language into classic forms. And sutely religion 
is not less than art or knowledge a power of the present ; 
for it is our life, our deepest consciousness, our highest 
feeling, our strongest energy, the life which we and all 
mankind live, or may live, in God. When I say that 
religion is of the Present, of course I feel equally that it 
is of the Past, as art is of the past, and actual civilization 


is of the past. It is the now existent moral and spiritual 
life which has been evoked in the soul of man under the 
teaching of God's Spirit in manj forms. Even as 
regards the incarnation, I contend that its value to us is 
the definiteness it gives to an eternal Spirit, and the 
kinship it reveals between that Spirit and ourselves, 
oppressed though we are by sorrow and by sin. " God 
so loved the world;" that is the supremo testimony of 
Christianity ; and however different parties may insist on 
distinctive views of the atonement, all such views in 
the end come to this, that " God was in Christ reconciling 
the world to Himself," teaching men to cry Abba, Father, 
in the new spirit of sonship breathed on them by the 
Saviour. Not what once took place, but what now lives 
and breathes in us is the real work of Christianity for us. 
We have not denied, we do not deny the serious impor- 
tance of the relation between the records of inspiration 
and present spiritual experience. But we do maintain 
that the question as to the nature of that relation, 
whether it be one of suggestion or of direct authori- 
tative information, cannot or at least ouglit not to 
affect the reality of the life we live in God. At any 
rate our watchword should no longer b(>, like that 
of ancient and modern Jews, " to tlie Law and to 
the Testimony;" but rather "the Lord is the Sjjirit." 
"\V(; own with fervent gratitu(l(; and reverence the 
Go(l-S(,'nt gifts wliic^h have l)een handed down to us 
from ancient days ; tlie enlarged spiritual faculties 
that hav(,' been inherited hy us through the accumulated 


experience of af^es ; the still breathing inspirations that 
were sighed forth by broken hearts, or were sounded in 
trumpet tones by victorious faith. We bow down and 
worship before that Spirit ofpurity, love and self-sacrifice, 
which has verily proceeded from the Father and the Son, 
that Spirit which is the vital impulse of all true progress. 
We will study with eager delight, but with patient 
labour, the suggestive histories of God's prophets and 
apostles. Above all we will dwell, with a love wliich no 
familiarity can exhaust, upon the story of holy flesh and 
blood for ever luminous with divine truth. We believe 
the promise given by the Lord Jesus; '^wlien He, the 
spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.'''' 
But if we are exhorted to deny newly ascertained facts 
because they are incongruous with the forms in which 
ancient inspirations came, we answer, " the Lord is the 
Spirit" not the form. If we are urged to look suspici- 
ously upon Science because she cannot pronounce the 
Shibboleth of old church discipline, we say, she is the 
child of truth, therefore the sister of Religion ; her speech 
likewise has its inspiration as well as ours. We do not 
care for old cosmogonies, mythologies, or dogmas, save 
so far as they add their feeble refracted ray to the grow- 
ing brightness of God's own dawn. We do not care to 
stickle for the words and opinions of men, whose worth 
is measured only by the spiritual impulse which they 
give to our souls. Let us look to the Bible as God's 
bow in the clouds of mystery which hover over human 
life and progress, God's bow bright with broken 


splendours of revelation ; and generations to come shall 
find it the gateway of life under which they march to a 
fairer day and a brighter land, where they need no 
refracted light, because the Lord Grod Himself giveth 
them liorht for ever. 



On Buddhism as an Argument for the possibility of rest 
in Atlieism. 

In the '' Theological Review" for April of this year 
tliere was an interestinnr article, by Mr. 11. A. Armstrong, 
on " Buddhisin and Christianity," in which the writer 
seems to regard the former reliirion, with its long 
history and numerous adherents, as an overwhelming 
argument against the natural theism of man. He says 
(p. 197)- ^ 

" This I'liddliism exhibits to us not one, but innumerable commu- 
nities Ixirn, Ijred, dying, witliout thought or desire of (iod. It sliows 
us a stupendfjus power, -which has enchaiTied the dwellers over many 
myriads of leagues without God. It dis])lays a moral empire, wliich 
for three-and-twenty centuri(;s has grown and swelled with cvct- 
increasing might without (iod. It reveals a fortress of nick, against 
wliifli the waves of Islam and the waves of Christendom liave alike 
beaten uttei'ly in vain, though the foilrcss contains no wors!ii]iiiers of 
fiod. It manifests a cohesion and endurance wliicli. godless though 
it be, mo<'ks .and shames Christianity with her numy convulsions and 
her reiterated revolutions. 

' 'J'licrefore to insist that tiod is naturally revealed to .all meii, how- 
ever dimly, is to ignore tlie larircst fact in all hisloi-y. .and to jnig a 
e/diclusion wliich is destitute of prenii>es. It ni.ay lie iiiiite true, that 
wv have intuitive sense of DcmIv. but there are ;i(K).()(>0,(i(<) of hiniuin 
lieing^ in whom that sense is not to b<.' detected." 


On this passage I would remark that very much 
deiJends upon the sense in which the words "God" 
and "Deitj" are used. If they are used in tlie full 
Christian sense of "one God the Father Almighty, 
Maker of Heaven and earth, and of all thinfjs visible 
and invisible," no doubt the writer's observations are 
in that case perfectly correct. But then, mutatis mutandis^ 
almost the same observations might have been made in 
the beginning of the fourth century about Teutonic 
and Hellenic Polytheism. Whatever illustrious excep- 
tions they may have allowed, on the whole these 
systems showed great vitality, and even moral })ower, 
without any notion of God in the full Christian sense. 
But no one would think of adducing this as an argu- 
ment against the natural theism of man. If however 
the words "God" and "Deity" in the above extract 
stand for "object of worship," the observations are of 
course notoriously inconsistent with facts. But the 
writer does not think that worship necessarily involves 
" theism." Here again everything turns on the mean- 
ing of the word. In our sense of theism, it certainly 
is not necessarily involved in worship. But it by no 
means follows that worship is consistent with atheism at 
least if that word is contined, as it ought to be, to a 
denial of any universal, rational and sensitive Life 
or what is the same thing, an assertion of the deadness 
of the universe. If that is the meaning of atheism, I 
do not think that worship is reconcilable with it. The 
reason why the various deities of a polytheistic system 


give satisfaction to the instinct of -worship is that 
these deities are embraced by the heart as representa- 
tives or impersonations of overruling and abiding Power. 
This is also the reason why Comtist Avorship proved im- 
possible ; because, as the system ignored any over-ruling 
and abiding Power, of Avhich therefore collective kindred 
or humanity could not be taken as the representative, the 
instinct of worship was not and could not be satisfied. 
On the other hand, whatever may have been the case 
with Sakyamuni himself, I understand on the authority 
of friends born and brought up amongst them and in 
eveiy way qualified to form a judgment, that the actual 
religion of the Buddhists is practicalhj polytheistic. 

Again, if in the above extract the words " God" and 
"Deity*' stand for the Ultimate Mystery of Being, 
involving both the beginning and the end, the ol)serva- 
tions made are inconsistent with the traditions detailed 
in the article itself as to the orirrin of Buddhism. It 
was the ])ressure of the mystery of })ersonal existence 
which gave to Sackyamuni his first impulse towards 
the foundation of a now religicm. Xow what I contend 
against in Lecture I. is the notion that in delight at the 
clear and tangible results of })hysical science men can 
ever sit down iniconcernod about the world's mystery, 
wliich of course involves the Pinal Cause of Creation. 
It may be true that under tlie ])ressur(! of this mystery 
Buddhism at tlu; outset took tlu; desperati; (ours(! of 
ignorin;^' or even detying it. l)Ut tlie rapid and uni- 
versal devel<i[)m(;ut of its superstitious foi-nis of worship 


is as good an illustration as I need of the observation I 
have made that such a desperate course can only be 

The relation of Buddhism to the subject discussed 
in this Lecture may be suggested in one or two questions 
and observations. 

1. If Nirvana meant simply annihilation, why was not 
instant suicide conceived to be the nearest way to its attain- 
ment ? The answer may be that the notion of re-birth 
or transmigration was too deeply ingrained in the 
Indian mind to be easily shaken off. But a man who 
got rid of so much, could surely have found no diffi- 
culty in shaking off this. Is it not plain that Sakya- 
muni realized personality as too deep and intense to 
be necessarily dissolved wdth the body ? 

2. Why should personal existence be singled out as 
the germ or centre of all evil ? Is there not here a 
hint of the spiritual mysticism which finds in creature 
isolation from the Universal Good the essence of all 
sin and misery ? 

3. If Nirvana was to be attained by purity, self- 
denial and contem])lation, does it not look like absorption 
more than annihilation? Do not the means for its 
attainment suggest that originally it miist have been 
regarded as a dissolution of Subject in Object, of self in 
the Ultimate Good ? 

I have no knowledge of the sources of information, 
and therefore cannot pretend to answer such enquiries 
confidently. But so far as I have learned the facts from 


authority they seem to point to Pantheism rather than 
Atheism. In that case they do not necessarily invali- 
date the ])rinciples for which I contend in the Lecture. 
But such facts concern only Sakyamuni and a few 
exceptionally enlightened followers ; certainly not the 
300,000,000 to whom Mr. Armstrong ai)peals. And 
therefore I ask 

4. How many of the 300,000,000 differ at all from 
ordinary Polytheists, in whom superstition satisfies the 
stimted soul by pi-esenting a degrading object to a 
perverted instinct of worship ? 

5. Is not the perpetual succession of Buddhas very 
like an eternal series of incarnations of what ? 

I have been impelled to make these remarks, because 
I know that some who are interested in the publication 
of the present lectures are readers of the Theological 
Review. Those who like myself have to lament their 
want of information on one of the most stupc'udous 
phenomena of history must have felt grateful to 3Ir. 
Armstrong for the clear, succinct and candid manner in 
which he has arranged his facts. It is ])ossible I may 
be mistaken as to the inferences intended to lie drawn 
from them. At any rate I see nothing in the reecixed 
facts concerning Buddhism to invalitlate, but much to 
confirm the belief expiHjssed in j). 10 from which refer- 
ence was nia<l(! to this note. 

As 1 ha\(3 (piotcid llu! words, I must say 1 do not 
at a!] agree; with the scntiineiit, th;it 'Mhc ctphcsion 
and en(kn"ance " of Buddni^iii '" m<jcks and shauies 


Christianity Avith her many conATilsions and her 
reiterated revolutions." One might as well say that 
"the cohesion and endurance" of China " mocks and 
shames Europe with its convulsions and its reiterated 
revolutions." The higher the life, the more violent 
often are the crises of growth, and certainly the more 
extreme is the differentiation of parts. 

Note B. 

On the Development Theo7y in relation to the Soul and 

On p. 51 I have expressed my belief in the possibility 
of " a theory of man's spiritual nature, consistent with 
acloiowledged fjicts, and dependent on no contingencies 
of any controversy that may yet be undecided." 
Whether the development of species by some continuous 
law be an undecided question, I am ha])pily not called 
upon to determine. But I suppose that one great 
reason for the repiignance felt to it in years gone by 
has been the instinctive perception that if it were 
established as regards animals, it must inevitably be 
applied to man. And in such an application it is 
very generally thought that more is at stake tlian the 
historical value of Genesis. At the touch of such a theory, 
if it should be proved, the soul, religion, immortality, 
must, it is supposed, vanish like a dream. If man was 
born of a brute, it is insisted that he must of necessity 


be a brute still. But tbis of course assumes precisely 
what the theory in question rejects, namely the constant 
and insuperable resemblance of descendants to all past 
progenitors, however remote. For a moment conceive 
the theory to be limited only to the lower animals. Let 
us suppose some one to be contending that birds are 
remotely descended from some form of aquatic animals. 
"What would be thought of any one who insisted that if 
birds were born of fish, they must of necessity be fish 
still ? It would of coiu'se be said that he was talkino- 
nonsense. The object of the theory is not to deny or 
explain away any established facts as to the actual organi- 
zation of birds, such as the fourfold cavity of the lieart, 
their hot blood, their wings and feathers ; but to suggest 
how the origin of these distinctive phenomena may be 
accounted for without recourse to the A'iolent su})position 
of a little heap of dust being suddenly transformed into 
a full fledged bird. Siu'ely it is not less nonsensical to 
argue tliat if the theory of man's remote descent from 
an anthropoid ape be established, it will })rove him to be 
an a])(' still. Tlie theoiy uses the Avord 'man' in its 
])roper significance, involving intellect, moral nature, and 
affections, together with all the undeniabl(^ ])hen(imeiia 
which 1 have urged as implying a God-consciousness 
in oiii' race. As the doctrini; docs Tiot deny the 
p(!culiariti(!s of liuinan f'ct and hanils, nor tiic facial 
angle, bui onlv tries to account for theiu ; so it does not 
deny the mental, moral or spiritual attriltutes wliieli have 
given iJiankind su])reniacy on the earth, but only asserts 


that they may be accounted for on the hypothesis of 
development from a lower stage of existence. Whether 
the theory be adequate to the facts or not, is altogether 
another question. But if we could only see the theory 
in its true light, we should not impart so much heat into 
its discussion. 

Still some difficulties remain. One is merely a matter 
of sentiment. For at first sight it appears abhorrent to 
religious feelino:, that " man who is made in the imaije 
of God" should be for a moment conceived as possibly 
descended from an ape. But is there not something 
Manichean in such a sentiment ? For the lower animals 
are God's creatures, as w^ell as ourselves. We all feel 
the truth of the prophet's words to the Jews, " I say 
unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up 
children unto Abraham."* But surely a beast is higher 
in the scale of creation, and more likely material for such 
a transformation than a stone. Or the case may be put 
thus. Both the literal believers in Genesis and the 
adherents of the development hypothesis alike admit that 
a material basis was used by the Creator in the formation 
of man. The former think that " God formed man 
of the dust of the ground ; " the latter believe that the 
Creator formed him out of an anthropoid ape; or in 
other Avords, the former believe that the material basis 
in the first man, w^ho was " of the earth, earthy," was 
inorganic dust gathered from the groimd; the latter 
believe that the material basis was dust already organized 
* Mutt. iii. 9. 


in the form of one of tlio higher animals. Why the 
latter view should be more repulsi\'e to sentiment than 
the former, it woulcl not be easy to say. It is of no nse 
to urge that the material basis in the one case implies 
something more, viz., that " God breathed into man"s 
nostrils the breath of life." For I maintain that the 
material basis in the other case implies precisely the same 
thing, viz., that by ''inspiration of the Almighty" man 
has come to be what he is. It is of no use to reiterat<- 
ad nauseam that the scientific men who uphold the origin 
of man by development are all materialists and atheists. 
In the first })lace, it is not true ; in the next, I am not at 
all concerned with their individual o})inions, but oidy 
with the scientific theories which they seem in a f;iir 
way of ])roving by facts. 

AiK^thcr difficulty is one of more than sentiment, i 
may be asked how can we have soids if we are developed 
out of l)easts which had none? To Avhirh I should 
reply, I do not })retend to have a soul ; I on a soal. And 
the collection of ])henomena called my body is merely 
the aiTaiigement of i'orces necessary, in this present st;ig( 
ol' existence, to mark off and concentrate in Ihe tonn 
of ]ei-sonality that ]ortion of univer>al substance wliici, 
J call 'mysfif.' This arraiig<>iiieiit of (oives i> the i-sue 
of an indefinitely long process of creation pas.-ing tlii-ough 
innniiiei-;ible steps. How fai' the ]r;' links in ihe 
proee-^.> invohcd jiersonulit v, we have none ot ns any 
niean> of (Ictci'inining lv direct oliser\ at ion, excc])! lor 
on(j or two i'-('nei'ati(ns. .Dul on hi.-ioric te-t!H;ony we 



believe that tlio same arrangement of forces, called the 
human body, has for thousands of years been associated 
with personality ; and when historic testimony fails, we 
infer from the relics left us, and which bear tokens of 
})ersonal intelligence, that in pre-historic times this same 
association prevailed between a certain arrangement of 
forces and the definition of personal life. That is, every 
one of the innumerable beings of whom we thus find 
traces we do not say had, but 'Was a soul. But 
when we ask after the ultimate origin of this ever- 
renewed phenomenon of organic forces, the human body, 
we are led to believe that it was formed by gradual 
modifications in a pi^evious series of bodies which were 
no less than ours simply a certain arrangement of forces 
marking out and limitino; universal substance. As then 
we go back in imagination down the bewildering links 
of existence till they merge in forms utterly different 
from ours, we need not look to find the lines of continuity 
over broken or disturbed. At every stage creature 
existence may still be regarded as consisting of tAvo 
factors ; the substance, which is the life, and the defining 
forces wdiich make the phenomenon of an organic body. 
Does it then foUow that we carry the notion of soul with 
us into every stage ? Certainly not. What we mean 
by that if we can at all tell what we mean, which is 
not always the case is a certain sense of personality, 
individuality, more or less consciously distinguishing 
subject and object. Now it is of course common 
enough to suppose that this sent^e of personality is 


developed in the spiritual substance of our being by 
the education of the senses. 

" So rounds he to a separate mind 

From whence clear memory may begin, 
As thro' the frame that binds him in 
His isolation gi-ows defined." 

But it is not the senses only that are concerned in this 
definition. The senses of manv beasts are aniazinfjlv 
keener than ours; but no one supposes that they have 
any such feeling of individuality as we. If then the 
" frame that binds us in" "defines our isolation," we 
must take that frame as a whole, in nerve and brain 
and blood and muscle, as well as in the senses. It 
follows that supposing it possible by imagination or 
knowledge ever to trace the generations of mankind l)ack 
to a race with an entirely different form of body, or even 
of ])rain and nervous system, the attribution of a soul in 
the abo\'e meaning to such a race woidd be unnecessary 
and contrary to analogy. The lower animals contem- 
porary with us, quite as certainly as ourselves, consist 
of two factors, substantial life and ])henomenal body. 
For all the arguments which go to prove the ininia- 
t(;riality of human life are quite as ap]jh'cable to {\u\ case 
of animals. U the difference^ ])etwecn living and dead 
protoplasm involves a subtle; s]>iritiial entity present in 
the one, absent in the other, that spii-itiial entity is 
th(! essence of cwry animafs existence, as well :ik of 
man's. Nevertheless, the pojmlar unwillingness to 
attribute a soul to beasts is (luite iustified bv the 


absence of any tokens of that individtialitj and isolation 
which we instinctively associate with the word. The 
probable, or at any rate possible truth is, that the 
arrangement of forces constituting the body even of the 
highest animals is inadequate to give that intensity of 
detinition implied in a personal soul. And if the 
ascending stem of human genealogy blends at its roots 
with the horizontal stems of animal species, all we can 
say is, beyond that point we cease to attribute existence 
in the form of soul. The transition from the one form 
of existence to the other may be conceived as effected 
by the gradual perfection of the defining forces which 
make up the phenomenon of body. There is no need in 
this case to suppose that the transition must have been 
sudden. For if j^ersonality is the product of a certain 
intensity in the definition of a part of a universal sub- 
stance, it is just as capable of gradual development as is 
bodily form. This may be illustrated by our own per- 
sonal experience. There is ap])arently a good deal of truth 
in the idea, that as we sometimes see each passing Avave 
lined with ripple marks which mimic the surface of the 
whole ocean, so each individual history is marked by a 
summary of all the past progress of creation. Certainly 
there was a time with each one of us when in every 
respect except in latent power of growth we were mere 
animals. AVe have no memory of that time, either be- 
cause we had no sense of personality or not sufficiently 
clear ; but w^e know that having once dawned, this 
sense of personality grew more and more in intensity 


by action and re-action through means of the body 
between itself and the world. 

I will now try to show the bearing of these remarks 
on immortality. Here at least it may be thought is 
an aspect of the spiritual nature which is necessarily 
dependent on the contingencies of scientific controversy. 
Were all the lower progenitors of man immortal ? If 
not, when did they begin to be so ? And how is such 
a stupendous transition consistent with the continuity 
which science is seeking to associate with develo^mient? 
In attempting to suggest an answer to such questions it 
will of course be understood that I am not dealing with 
the question of immortality on its own groimds, but 
only with the relation of the development theory 
thereto. For tliose who attach no im})ort to the instinct 
of immortality within us what I have to say may have 
little force. But for those who, Avliile believing in 
immortality, are per[)lex('d Ijy what they think the 
threatening aspects of ])hysical enquiry, I trust my sug- 
gestions may not l)e altogether valueless. Immortality 
is one of those "truths Avhich never can be proNcd,' 
and ])('riia[)s pre-eminently rc(itiires "the iaith that 
comes of self-C(mtrol." AVe who on historical evidence 
believe in the historical resun-eetion of Christ may derive 
from that event great comfort, and confirniat ion oi" our 
faitli. r>ut we value it as a eonfinnation of arguments 
already existing in our own sr)uls, or i-athei- in the 
generic; consciuusnes> (jf the race: not as a lir>t i-(!\cla- 
tion, nor as an isolated ])ro(^f of immortality. I<' that 


as it may, the belief in a future life is one of the most 
remarkable and surely most significant characteristics 
of human nature. But now, say some, if the develop- 
ment theory is applied to mankind there is an end to 
our hope of immortality. I suppose if the precise diffi- 
culty is pressed for, it might be presented somewhat 
thus : 

" If we are immortal and our remote progenitors 
were not, there must have been a time when the tran- 
sition was made. That is, it came to pass at some 
period in the history of development that a mortal 
father begot an immortal son. There is no alternative. 
Either a creature is immortal, or he is not. Here is a 
transition which you cannot bridge over by any gra- 
duated process. Therefore you must believe that up to 
a certain point all the human or quasi-human race were 
annihilated when they died ; and then suddenly the next 
generation began to live for ever. Is not this on the 
face of it absurd ? Is it not quite as great a miracle 
as any act of instantaneous creation ? Is it not totally 
inconsistent with the boasted laAv of continuity ?" 

I hope I state fairly the difficulty which many may 
feel as to the bearing of the theory of development on 
the doctrine of immortality. That I can completely 
remove the difficulty I do not for a moment suppose ; 
for I believe it to be only one aspect of the one com- 
prehensive mystery involved in the relationship of finite 
self-conscious life to the Infinite One who is its only 
true Substance. But somethinjr is done if we show that 


no new difficulty is introduced ; that it is in fact very 
closely analogous to an old one which has never, so far 
as I am aware, seriously disturbed men's confidence in 
immortality. I spoke just now of the notion that each 
individual in his own life sums up the past progress of 
creatJon. It niay be of some assistance by way of 
analory here. Are all human offspring from the very 
moment of conception immortal ? I hardly think that 
any one, however zealous for the proper immortality of 
man, ,vould maintain this. Or at any rate it is a very 
exceptional opinion. The ordinary view certainly is 
tha: the first beginnings of the individual life do not 
involve immortality, and that when such an incij)ient, 
merely germinant life deceases, it perishes utterly. 
F(.r myself, I do not believe that it })erishes utterly : 
nothing does ; but let that pass for the present. Xow 
at what stage of growth, according to the ordinary 
view, does immortality begin to be a proper attribute of 
the individual ? Putting aside all old wives' fables, 
which imply tliat the soul is a sort of foreign entity 
inserted by a miracle into the Innuan creature after lie 
has begun to be, is it not felt to 1)0 an impossibility to 
assign any date to tliis momentous transition? Still if 
he is to Ix'coine immortal at all tlicrc must be sucii a 
period. That is, if he died one iiioincut b^'l'orc a certain 
time he would b(! annihilat(;d ; whereas if lie survives a 
moment longer he will live \\)V ever. Here you have 
in tlie individual history jirecisely the difliculty al)OV(; 
suggested in the relation ol" the develo])inent theory to 


iniiiiortality. Is not tins, it might be asked, absurd on 
the face of it ? Is it not totally inconsistent with that 
t!ontinnity of organic growth, upon which all common 
s(^nse doctrines concerning the nurture of the earHest 
springs of life are foimded ? Yet ordinary Christians, 
strong in the instinct of immortality, quietly ignore 
any such difficulty; or if they ever think of it are 
content with a confidence that there must be son.e way 
out of it. Far be it for me to say that they act 
unwisely ; but it is not open to the same nx-n on 
account of a precisely analogous difficulty to declare 
that the development theory is subversive of immortaity. 
But though the production of a parallel difficilty 
notoriously ignored may be a sufficient argument ad 
hominem, it is not sufficient ad rem. And if I left ^he 
matter here, I should have done little to show the bear- 
ing of the earlier part of this note upon the present 
suljject. Let me then recall the suggestion that every 
creature existence is made up of two factors, viz., a defi- 
nite portion of universal substance, and the arrangement 
of forces, i.e. the body, which marks out and limits that 
substance. If physical science has established any uni- 
versal doctrine at all, surely it has established the truth 
that nothing, whether it be substance or force, is 
ever anniliilated. Xeither then of the factors in animal 
(existence can utterly perish. The forces which have 
d(!fined its life return into nature's order, as the dis- 
tributed type of the printer returns to its fount ; but 
what of the substance which these forces isolated from 


the universe ? The view which regards it as " re-merging 
in the general Soul," has surely a great deal in its flivour, 
although such an opinion needs to be carefully guarded, 
lest it should degenerate into such a form of Pantheism 
as denies the Fatherhood of God. But it is sm-ely 
conceivable, that if the definition and isolation of creature 
individuality through bodily organization became suffi- 
ciently intense, it might survive the shock of death, 
and henceforward be sustained by more ethereal forces 
such as would be involved in St. PauFsidca of a celestial 
bodv. Here again we have a suggestion given us by 
the poet, who far more truly than the author of Sartor 
liosartus, has been the Prophet of his age. 

' Such use mny lie in blood and breath ; 
Which else were fruitless of their due, 
Had man to learn himself anew 
Beyond the second birth of death.'' 

Supposing such a speculation permissible, then the whole 
de\"elo])ment of the animal creation might be regarded 
as to speak hunumly a continued nisas to give j)er- 
manciice by definition to finite forms of Universal 
Substance. Xor though I do not (piote Scrij)turc in 
support of" such speculation can 1 furl)ear rccalHng in 
cxjnnoction with such a tliought, the words of St. Paul, 
''the t'jxrui'Ht ej'iicctailon of ike crenture v ait ell t for tlie 
manifesto I Ion of the so)is (f ijod. For the creature 
iras subject to vaii'dij, not trilluiglij, but by reason oj 
1 1 an 'u:ho hath salijected the siuite in hope; lieeause the 
creature itself also shall bt delicered front, the bonda<je of 


corruption into the glorious liberty/ of the children of God. 
For we knoio that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth 
in pain together until nowy* If then the whole progress 
of creation has been an effort in the direction of creature 
immortality, it is not by any means certain that so sharp 
a line as is sometimes assumed must necessarily be drawn 
between so-called annihilation and immortality. There 
is no such thing as annihilation properly so called. The 
nearest approach to it is absorption into the universe. 
But it may very fairly be questioned whether any- 
thing in the form of created life is ever so completely 
absorbed into the universe as to become as though it 
had never existed in that form. The very particles 
of the decaying body have a power surviving its 
death, and are richer in influence than they were 
when previously existing in an inorganic state. And 
though all scientific knowledge fails us in the attempt 
to follow the other factor of the creature life, the 
substance, which is if possible more indestructible than 
the forces which defined it, we cannot help imagining 
that it too, after passing through this stage, retains some 
sort of effect from the process. Where there has been 
no individuality in mortal life there can be no individual 
immortality ; but still, even while absorbed into the life 
of the universe, the immaterial principle of every beast 
may enrich or re-enforce that life as its decaying body 
fertilizes the ground. It is possible to conceive too 

* Rom. viii. 1922. 


that of a number of creatures making different approxi- 
mations to personality or soul, the function of the 
immaterial principle in the invisible Avorlcl of substance 
may be proportionably various. And only where the 
isolation has grown defined enough to give a strong 
sense, or at least a sufficiently determinate germinant 
sense of individuality and detachment from nature, may 
the creature life, still marked out and self-conscious, 
sur-vive the shock of death. The application of such 
speculations to the development theory will now I hope 
be obvious. It is not necessary to suppose that the 
anthropoid predecessors of mankind Avere all annihilated 
up to a certain generation, and then suddenly bloomed 
into immortality. There is no more reason against 
conceiving various kinds or degrees of inmiortality, from 
com])leto absorption to beatific contemplation, than there 
is against the acknowledgment of various degi'ces in 
the definition of creature existence, from the mere 
])assing bubble of miiversal life in the barnacle or 
lichen, to the mysterious microcosm of God and 
weature, heaven, self and nature; in man. As X\w 
agitated sea flings its bubbles up into the light, 
for the most part they do but s])arkl(' a moment and 
sink a<rain into the bosom of the; flood. Some liaiig 
together upon the crests of the billows, a mere white 
streak of foam. ]jut wJK^ro tin; ocean is iiioi-c power- 
fully movcMJ, tlie retiring tid(! olten lea\('s u]oii the shon; 
wreatiis of glassy dom<is shimiiieriiig in the sun with 
a richness of colour and a j)(;rfeet symmetry that long 


survive the struggle of water and air which gave them 

It' wc befool ourselves with fancies, the resistless 
temptation thereto is after all an indication of the 
strength of that faith which for ever fights with death. 
If I have stepped beyond the limit of justifiable 
speculation, it is in protest against the unjustifiable 
pressure of the dilemma which is too often pre- 
sented to us, a faith dej)cndent on contingencies of 
scientific research, or no faith at all. I repeat I can 
cx)nceive of no possible contingency which would 
absolutely exclude immortality. For the rest, the 
Bible is singularly reserved and certainly encourages 
no vain curiosity. " Brethren, ice hiow not ichat tee 
shall he.'''' Happy are we if we realize that divine 
communion is the power of an endless life ; happy if 
we know that we shall be like Him, because day by 
day seeing Him, the Divine Humanity, more nearly 
as He is I 

Note C. 
On Natural Process and Original Force. 

" Xo theory which touches tlie process implies any 
opinion one way or the other as to the original energy 
Ijy which the process is worked out." I sIkjuM have 
said " the process only," but by an oversight have 
omitted the latter word. This is the one point upon 
wliicli in the relations of science and reliixion all 


ultimate questions must turn. Yet this is just -u'hat 
extreme men on the one side or the other constantly 
refuse to see. And it is remarkable how at this point 
extremes meet. For men who in their superficial zeal 
for divine creation decline to recoirnise it in anvthino: 
but a sudden miraculous act, thereby iniply the ahseyice 
of creative energy from all the ordinary processes of 
the universe. According to them the first pair of each 
s}>ecies, and only the first pair, was the product of 
divine creation; but every successive generation tliat has 
come into the world since owes its lite entirely and 
solely to the working of natural laws. At least if this 
be not their view I am at a loss to imderstand why they 
should connect the development theory Avith atheism. 
The notion implied is, that wherever the ordinary laws of 
nature are in operation they are sufficient of themselves 
to account for everything, and leave no place ibr God. 
And thus the extreme advocates of sudden and instanta- 
neous creation agree in the main, whether they know it 
or not, with th(; extreme men on the other side, who 
when they have reduced a nundjcr of ])lienoincna to a 
general law, tliat is, have defined the procesn cr mode of 
crpertiiidii oljservable in all the cases, niainlain that n< 
fartliei- explanation is necessary or desirnl)Ie. 

Let us sup])()S<! that an inteliigenf ehilil who had 
never seen a steam engine, and has no notioii ol 
ma<-hinery, were on a visit to a niaiuil'actnring town, and 
were told that he shonid see cotton yarn made by steam. 
He knows what cf)ttoii varn is : he knows what steam 


is ; but he has no notion of the process by which tlie 
one is made to produce the other. He has a vague 
notion however that he is to see them evidently connected 
together in some surprising and startling manner. But 
when he is led into the carding room he sees no steam : 
amongst all the rows of spindles he sees no steam : 
the self-acting mules do their work like rational 
creatm'es, apparently without the slightest assistance from 
steam. " Why," says the child, " I thought you said 
the yarn was made by steam ; but now you show me 
how it is made by iron spindles and wheels and straps." 
" Certainly," answers the guide, " but that is only the 
process through which the steam works ; these are only 
the tools that steam uses ; come to the engine house 
and I will show you the power that moves it all." Yet 
even in the engine house, the child woidd have to take 
it on faith that inside the cylinder is an invisible vapour 
which is the secret source of every movement. He 
would also necessarily have very confused ideas as to 
the precise links of the mechanical process by which the 
cotton yarn is produced, ideas which it would require 
a good many visits to the mill to rectify. But however 
often his theory on this point required improvement, he 
need never feel it to affect his original faith as to the 
motive power of the jirocess. 

No doubt the analogy is imj)erfect. And I should 
be especially unwilling to coimtonance the notion that 
the Creator works upon creation by means of levers and 
jiulleys and cords, which put Him a long way off from 


it. Nevertheless such an illustration may help plain 
minds to separate theories as to the process from theories 
as to the efficient cause. 

Note D. 
071 the Metaphysical Issues of Physical Science. 

In explanation of my meaning in the passing reference 
to this subject on p. 77, I venture to append an extract 
from a paper read before the Leicester Literary and 
Philosophical Society in 1868. 

" I wish to say a few words on a third point on which I believe 
alarmists take a defective view of the facts. I have ventured the 
remark that they are blind to the metaphysical bearings of the most 
advanced physical researches. All things have their day in turn, 
and if we wait long enough their day comes over again. As in the 
time of iSocrates natural history was surrendered for wluit seemed 
the more tangible results of metaphysical ])hiloso[)hy : as in more 
recent times physics have had it all their own way, until pliilosophy 
lias been almost eager to declare itself materialistic ; sn hdw, para- 
doxical as it may sound to some, I am persuaded we may discern 
signs that the current will soon turn once again, andtliat the ultimate 
i.s.sues of all knowledge will be found to land us in iiiiiiKUerial suIh 
staiicc and 'the power of an endless life.' 'I'he bearing of these 
rcnnarks may be made clear by a brief reference t(^ some of the 
recent speculations on matter and force, 'ilie atomic theory of iniitKT 
is so highly ctmvenient for the purposes of quar.titative analy.-is. that 
it is often made to assume a delusive aiiix'ai'atico of a-;ci'rtaiiird I'l-a'ity. 
I5ut T imagine that very few, if any. jihiloxipluTs of the jircsi nt d;iy 
Ixjlieve in ultimate and indivisibh' innlcculr^. I u-cd to b(' told at 
s<'!iool that if we had instniinents fine enough, wr' might in j.roccss 
(if division come Upon these atoms and find tliry could no longer be 
divided. Just ;is a child might break up a conglom'-rat ion of pciiblcs, 
but could not divide the pebbles themselves, so we were told if 
we had the implements we could divide ;ind sulj-divide until we 


reached the little indivisible aud indestructible kernels that were 
called atoms. But since that day one instrument at least has been 
discovered of a keenness surpassing almost infinitely the subtlest 
analysis deemed possible in those by-gone days. And not many years 
ago I listened to a lecture on this discovery, given by an old school- 
fellow of mine, who sat once in the same class and learned the same 
doctrineof atoms, now an eminent Professor of Chemistry. The spectrum 
analysis was then recent, aud has made great progi'css since that 
time, but even then enough was shown to manifest an infinite subtlety 
in the constitution of matter. I remember the line of yellow light, 
which would intrude when least expected, and the explanation given 
that sodium is almost everywhere diffused, while the presence of one 
80,000th part of a grain will show itself in the spectrum. I remember 
also a little inch cube of a new metal coesium a substance unknown 
before the spectrum analysis. and when told that this minute quan- 
tity was the whole result after the evaporation of 40 tons of water, I 
did not much wonder that it had been hitherto concealed. In the 
course of the evening, conversing with a great man, too little known 
and now passed away. I ventured to suggest that this new mode of 
analysis appeared to refine matter away altogether, and at least to be 
inconsistent with the theory of ultimate atoms. To this he answered 
that it only confirmed the view he had held for years , he had long 
felt convinced that in the last result matter is nothing but conglom- 
erated centres of force, an opinion which, if I mistake not, is gaining 
ground, and likely to be universally adopted. If that is the tendency 
of modern science, to regard all matter as a form of force, then it is a 
tendency which brings the whole material universe into a closer 
relationship with our own consciousness of living energy, and at any 
rate draws it into the field of metajjhysical speculation. But force 
itself has been made the subject of striking experiment and startling 
hypothesis. And the results have been brought together in Mr. Geo. 
Grove's treatise on the " Correlation of Forces." The ujxshot of the 
whole subject as set forth there is this, that all force is ultimately 
and essentially one : that it is in fact a sort of Proteus capable of 
assuming endless phases, each of which is interchangeable with every 
other. Tlius gravity, or pressure, can be changed into heat, heat 
into chemical affinity, this again into electricity, electricity into light, 
light into organic action, and on and on through all the undulations 
of movement in the world. Not only so, but making allowance for 
dis-sipation through imperfection of instruments, it is found that each 
f ir'>e can be transmuted into an approximate equivalei^t of its corre- 
lative. Thus it is maintained that no force is annihilated, but onlv 


changed into equivalents in other forms. The expansive power of the 
gases in the exploded, cannon is not lost or destroyed when the ball 
falls to the ground. It is only transmuted into a variety of forms, 
partly into heat, partly into molecular alterations in the metal, partly 
into currents of air or vibrations through the earth ; and none of these 
are ever lost, but are diffused, or i-e-combined. and ever taken up 
again into the economy of iiniversal energy. For all force is one. 
though it may show itself in a myriad forms. Now put these two 
tendencies of physical research together, the disposition to regard all 
matter as simply a form of force, and all force as ultimately one. 
"WTiat is that One Power by which all things subsist I in which they 
literally 'live and move and have their being ?' It is a question too 
dread to be hastily answered here. But it docs seem to yield a point 
of \'iew from which all paths of knowledge, like lines of gloiy on the 
sea, appear converging towards one issue where we 'lose ourselves m 
light." ^\1lat that issue is of cottrse physical scietice cannot tell. It 
owns no speech that can express it, appeals to no faculty that can 
understand it ; Imt physical science may refine away the coarseness of 
sense. it 7uay make the material universe like to a transi)arent veil 
which dimly hides the shrine of an Eternal Being. it may bring us 
in high wrought tension of soul to the Ixjrders of that land where 

' on the glimmering limit far withdrawn, 
God makes Himself an awful rose of dawn.' "' 

Note E. 

On St. Paul's Revelations. 

In writing to the Galatians (i. 11, 12) St. I'aiil .'^ays, 
" / certifij ijou^ hretliren, that tlie cjospi'l vhicJi ir^is preached 
of me IS not after man. For I ne'iijier reec'ircd. tt of mini, 
neitlier teas I tjoujld it^ hit hij verelntnut of Jesus Christ. 
This ])assaii(^ and one or two otlicrs of similar import 
are sometimes insiste(l (n as a str<ini!-er proof than vwn 
1 Cor. ii. lo (( St. PauTs claim 1o l)e an amanuensis 
writinic from liea\cnly dictation. ]>ut it \\oul(l l)e 


difficult to maintain this. If we except the extraordinary 
event wliicli produced his conversion, and about which 
there are ditt'erences of opinion, no one contends that 
St. Paul received his revelations otherwise than in a 
state of trance or ecstatic vision.* That is, they were 
instances of pictorial inspiration, and like the visions of 
the ancient prophets, owed form and colourino; to the 
individuality of the apostle. I can well understand, 
and to a certain extent sympathize with, the first impulse 
of a simple faith when confronted with such an assertion, 
to deny it, and to maintain that in St. Paul's revelations 
every word was the direct and unrefracted utterance of 
a Divine Person. But on which side does the burden 
of proof lie? Surely with that view of the case in 
hand which is least natural. Now when we hear of 
visions and trances and dreams it is I hope not pre- 
suminfT too much to say, the more natural view is that 
they must have owed something to the nervous system 
and imagination and tendencies of the seer ; while the 
least natural view is that siich human elements had no 
])art in the matter. I am assmniiig all througli, that 
such visions and trances were a ])ossible medium of 
ins})iration. Whether they were actually so nmst be 
determined by the results ; and in St. Paul's case these 
are amply sufficient to determine it in the aflirmative. 
But a medium of ins})iration is one thing, and direct 
heavenly dictation is anotlier. And as I have suggested, 

* Acts xxii. 17. 2 Co;-, xii. 2. St. Panl ^ecins also to have Ij'jcii occa- 
slo'.iaUv directed bv dreams. Acts xvi. i) : xxvii. 23. 


the burdeu of proof lies -with those -vvlio maintain tljc 
latter in the present case. But how Avill they set about 
it ? So far as St. Paul gives any descri[)tion of his 
state of mind under " the abundance of revelations," 
his words rather confirm the more natural view than 
otherwise. In recalling one of the most remarkable of 
such experiences he says that whether he was at the 
time in the body or out of the body he cannot tell.* 
A fortiori then he Avould be incapable of determining 
whether the '"unspeakable words*' were heard outwardly 
or inwardly; whether they were entirely independent of 
his own sul)jectivity or not. On what then can those who 
adhere to the less natural view rely? St. Paul says thai 
he received certain things by revelation from he;iven 
irluit tJi'uigs Ave shall ])r('sently try to determine. A\ c 
I'uUy admit the reality and divin(.' source of lhe>e 
revelations: but Ave maintain that they came in the 
form of ])ictorial inspiration, and form no exception to 
the iLsual mingling of heavenly suggestions Avith human 
thoughts. If asked Avhy Ave believe the sugL^estioTis to 
have l)ei'n I'rom h(\aven ; we atisAver, because; of their 
fi-ult<. because; of their power over the (lod-conscionsness 
in humanity. If asked why Ave Ih^Hcvc these -;iig!ie>t ions 
t) have become mingled witli mistakes natural to the 
lime, or to ha\-(! been developed only inipcrf. diy in >ouie 
resjx'cts: avc answei-, been u-e !lio>e >un-:^-e-l ions, lio\ve\ci- 
])right, left St r.iul at liberty to -.wnu- (.cca^ii.nahy like 

'- -1 '<!?. xii. 1 1. Tliiit 1:1 ilii- ]Ki-^;i:/.' Si. I';-:! (! ~:-iil"> Ir^ ' .'.!) 
cxi'Ci'ivU''", i-^. .'t- I)cri:i Altni',1 njrii.-.rk/. cvi.lvil fi'-iii \ i-r. 7. 


:i Rabbi,* :ni(l to import meanings into the Old Testa- 
ment, \vbieli, witli all our veneration for his anthority, 
it is impossible for us to receive as really belongino; to 
it ;t because also his ideas about the near approach of 
Christ's second coming,:}: besides his constant adoption 
of current ideas about the unseen world, show that 
while the abimdance of the revelations gave him an 
extraordinary elevation of spiritual life, it did not give 
him any clear intormation as to the real bearing of 
Cinist's mission on the future, that is, its place in his- 
tory. But what reasons for their belief can be adduced 
by those who maintain that our Lord himself, or his 
angel, revealed the truth to St. Paul in articidately 
spoken language iniallibly distinguishable from his o^\ti 
thouo-hts ? Puttinof aside the manifestations of Christ 
ill Acts ix, in which so far as we know nothing new 
was revealed, the only reason for such a supposition 
ill regard to any of the revelations is the alleged 
confidence and assertion of St. Paul that so it was. 
But where is the assertion? To produce the above 
l)assage from Gahitians (i. 11, 12) is simply to beg the 
question. I have shown that it is susceptible of two 
ditierent interpretations, of which one is more, and the 
other less natural. The reason for adopting the less 
natural interpretation must surely be something outside 
tli(' passage itself. It may be said that in 1 Cor. xi. 23 
the apostle distinctly declares tliat he received by 

'^ r.cj. (!al. iii. K! f r.g. Acts xiii. 34 .TZ. 

X 1 TIicss. iv. 1517 ; 2 Thess, ii. G, 9. 2 Cor, xii. 2 ; Epli. vi. 12. 


revelation a fact of gospel history. But is it at all 
credible that even Saul the persecutor was ignorant of the 
Christian custom of the Eucharist, or of the accoiuit 
given of it bv the disciples ? The ab(ne passage must 
necessarily be interpreted in one of two modes, neither 
of which is opjjosed to the views here suggested on St. 
Paul's revelations. Either it means " I have received 
and delivered to you the sacred tradition which originated 
with the Lord himself;" or it means that a fact which 
the apostle already kncAv beforehand was sanctified antl 
raised to a hitxher sifjuificance bv the revelations with 
which he was favoured. There is in truth no assertion 
of the apostles to Ijo found, which is at all inconsistent 
with the idea that his revelations were, like prophetic 
visions, ordinaiy insjdration in a ])ictorial fo]"m. 

Xotwithstanding, however, the absence ol' any asser- 
tion Avliieh in\olves it, let us su])pose that St. Paul, by 
his general mode ol' speech, suggests a confidence on his 
part that his revelations were something essentially 
distinct from his ordinary inspiration, an assui'ance 
that unlike; the lattc^r, the former consisted in dii'eet, 
articulate, infallible eomniunications of unmingled truth. 
That his confideiU'e is of such a nature as would justify 
the i?ifei"eric(; oi' which I lia\"e spoken nbo\-e, L do not for 
a moment allow. To make such an infci-enee legitimate, 
we ought to have some ^ood gi-ound Ibi' belie\ing that 
tiie a|)o>t!e was in the habit <>\' distinguishing Ix'twcen 
the di\ine sugii-e.-tion.-, that kimlletl his >oul on the one 
haml, and the foi'm> ol' thouiiht natui'al to his own 


individual character on tlic otlioi" ; also that in his 
nn-elations ho arrived deliberately at the conclusion, thut 
his own mind and lieart had nothing whatever to do 
with the nature of the impressions he received. But 
no such indications exist.* On the contrary, in his 
most exalted trance he could not even tell whether he 
was in the body or out of it ; and in giving advice on a 
subject concerning which no decisive external authority 
coidd be quoted, he says, " I think also for my part that 
I have the spirit of God.^'''\ Still, for the sake of a 
farther point to which I would call attention, let it be 
allowed that the apostle was morally confident of the 
unmingled purity of the communications made to him in 
his visions. On what, then, did his confidence rest? 
In answering this question it is often quietly assumed 
that St. Paul realized the visit of an angel or a spirit 
in the same way in which we realize the entrance of a 
i'riend into our chamber, and that the comnmnications, 
of such visitants were made in an equally objective 
manner. But it need hardly be said that with tlie 
exex^ption of the appearance of the risen Lord described 
in Acts ix., an appearance which is iisually regarded as 
something more than spiritual, there is no gi'oimd 
whate\'cr for such an assumption. The eyes and ears, 
so far as they were concerned at all, Avere acted on not 
from without but from within ; and St. Paul's confidence 

* 1 Cor. vii. 10 12 lias quite a different bearing ; on which see 
Lectm'e iii. p. 'Jo. 

f coKw ci Kc'iyd) TTVivjia Gioii iyiLv 1 Cor. vii. 40. 


in such cases as his trance in the Temple* and the 
answer to his prayer for deliverance from the thorn in 
tlie flesh, f could not possibly depend on the evidence of 
his senses. On what then did it depend ? He himself 
believed that Satan might possibly appear as an angel 
of light.J He was looking for the revelation of " that 
Wicked . . whose comino; is after the working of 
Satan, W'ith all power and signs and lying wonders." 
Therefore he could not think that the miraculous nature 
of his visions was in itself any infallible guarantee of their 
unmingled divinity ; and the extraordinary character 
of his ex])erience could not be the ultimate foimdation 
of his confidence. Then what was that foundation? 
^\ e answer it was a moral and spiritual understanding 
of what was congruous with the majesty of God. " God 
u-lto commanded the light to sliirie orit of darkness hath 
sldned in our hearts to (jive the light of the knowledge of 
the glorij of God in the face of Jesus Christ.^'' \\ ^^ Now 
he that hath wrought xis for the self-same thing is God, 
who also hath given unto us the earnest of the spirit. 
Therefore we are always confident.''^^ " Jfe that is 
sjnritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no 
man.. For v)ho haih known the vdnd of the Lord, that he 
may in.strurt lam? But ice liaxe the mind (f Christ.''** 

* Acts xxii. 17. t -' *'"!. xii. S, '.). 

% 2 Cor. xi. 11. foiii]). I .Inliii iv. 1 :5. 

II 2 Cor. iv. 0. 2 Cur. v. n, i). 

** 1 Cor. ii. I."). K;, vo?]' i.e.ihc. rcnson, inirimsc. (.r s|jciikiii<^ rc- 
verontly cast, of tliouij-ht.' 'lli'- idea is tliat li;Lviiiu llic mind of 
(Jhri>t foniKMl witliiii us. \vc are aide tu discern the mind (jf (Jod. 


But if St. Paul's own confid(>ncG in the revelations 
vouchsafed to him was moral, not positive ; suhjcctive, 
not objective ; the perception of a divine glory, not 
blind submission to portents ; does it not follow that any 
confidence which he generates in us must be of the same 
kind ? The difference between this kind of confidence 
and that which by an abuse of the passage in Galatians 
(i. 11, 12) is demanded from us is plain. When St. 
Paid says concerning the risen Lord : " last of all he 
icas seen of me also f every one who believes the apostle 
to have been an honest man and to have uttered these 
words, takes his word for the fact, however it may be 
explained. We may not understand the precise nature 
of the manifestation, nor even try to explain it. All we 
know is that the form of the Lord Jesus was made 
visible to him, and we take his word for that. In this 
we allow him the authority which belongs to every 
honest witness who testifies of a matter which he 
alone knows. There is not necessarily required any 
sympathy with him, or agreement with his o]:)inions. All 
that such authority touches is the bare fact. Similarly 
when St. Paul speaks of his visions and revelations in 
a state of trance ; we believe that he had such expe- 
riences simply on his authority. But when we are 
commanded on this account to receive as infallible truth 
i)YQYj word he uttered, we ask how he distinguished 
heavenly suggestions from s])iritual delusicms or national 
and individual peculiarities? As we liave seen, the only 
])ossible answer is that he did so by spiritual discernment. 


a gift in which he insists that all Christians onirht to 
shai-e. Here, then, the simple and direct action of 
authority is out of place. Ho far as we really and 
heartily accept his revelations we can only do so becaiise 
we, like him, feel that thev are conofruous with ' the 
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."' This is the 
only acceptance that he cared for when on earth. Ami 
could he now speak from heaven he would not depart 
from the spirit in which he Avrote to the niili])])ians, 
" if hi anyth'uKj ye he otherwise minded^ God slwll reveal 
even this unto yon; nevertheless whereto we haxe nlreody 
attained let us icalk hy the same rule, let us mind the same 

In conclusion let mc say, what ought perhaps to have 
been said before, that tlie inferences from (ral. i. 11, 12, 
on whifh I have conuuented, are oljviously i'ounded on 
a total mismiderstandlng of the passage. For the sake 
of the argument, and to allow such inferences the 
strongest conceivable ground, I lune s])oken as though 
I acce])ted tin; inter[)retation. Jiut to any one who 
considers that the young innn Saul was no sti'aiiger in 
Jeiaisalem, and that he bad a jierscculor's inlci'i'st in 
making bimself acquainted with cxci-vtliing in Cliris- 
tiain'ty wliicb was repujsi\(' to tlic dews, that is, with all 
the salient points of its hi>torv and doctrine, it will be 
])erfectly plain that St. i'aul ilid not and cduld iint mean 
to tell the CJalatians that he liad received fi-oui heaven 
his inl'oi-mation of Cjn-i-tian fact-. \\'h:it then did lu; 


moan? In q\\^\>. ii. 2 he tells ns that in visiting; 
Jerusalem he communicated to the other apostles " that 
gospel" which he preached among the Gentiles. Now 
certainly he did not declare among the Gentiles any 
other facts than those preached at Jerusalem. What he 
means then by "that gospel" is that aspect of saving 
truth in its freedom from Mosaism, which was specially 
adapted to the Gentiles, and which he was divinely 
commissioned to preach to them. But whatever is 
meant by "that gospel" in chap. ii. is certainly also 
signified by " the gospel which was preached of me," 
(i. 11). And when he says that he " neither received 
it of man, neither was taught it, but by revelation of 
Jesus Christ," he clearly means that the free non-Mosaic 
Gos})el which he proclaimed came to him when he was 
in Arabia or Damascus, in solitary commmiion with 
tlie Spirit of the Lord Jesus ; while he maintains that 
his commission to declare it was quite as divine as that 
of Peter and James to preach a gospel suited to the 
circimicision. Farther, as St. Paid deeply felt how 
essential to the yet imdeveloped glory of "the ministra- 
tion of the Spirit" was this freedom from the letter, we 
can well understand the vehemence with which he 
denounced those who would have entangled the Galatians 
again in the yoke of bondage. On this certainly the 
more reasonable interpretation of the passage, its entire 
agreement with the purport of this note needs no farther 

appexdix. 219 

Note F. 

Eusehius on tlie Canoyi. 

To ri'aders not well ac([naiiited witli tlio ranire of 
t<'.stimony on which the existing; Canon of the New 
Testament depends, it mio-lit appear that what I have 
said on p. 113 abont Eusebius is scarcely consistent 
with what is afterwards asserted on p. 134 concerning 
tlie Christian Scriptures. But let i:s distino-uish clearly 
between two conceivable views of the New Testament, 
and the consistency of the tAvo ])assa^es Avill I hope be 
clear. (Jne view then tends to rei^ard the Canon as a 
standard clearly, nay even miraculously defined, from 
the time Avhen the latest book now found in it was 
c^>mpleted : and as containinii' the only law of the Church, 
I'rom the death of the last of the Apostles. Accordin<2: 
to this view, Christian traditioii and opinion ounht 
always to have been ruled by the Canon, and never the 
Canon by tradition oi' ojiinion. Ao-ainst such an idea 
tli(t words of Eusebius alone an; a very serious and even 
fatal olijection. Another ^iew holds that the hooks o{ 
i\\v. (Janon were i;-raduallv separate(l iVom a uiiinber of 
othei's throuLdi the opei'ation of Chi'istian tracbtion and 
opinion, i.e. tlie Aoice of the ('hurch: and wei'c lunioured 
in propoi'tion U) the inci'easinir i-everence feh for their 
a])ostoh'c or (pia>i-a[)ostoHe anthoi's. ( )n this \ie\vthc 
<Janon niav have remained eoniparativcly unsettled for 
ccntui'ies without anv i!;eneral douht beiiii: necessarily 

220 APrEXDix. 

thrown on the authorship of the collection ; and at the 
same time the question which should have most interest 
foi' us is not so much what authority belono^s to the 
Canon as a whole, but rather what evidence is there for 
the authorship of the diiierent books ? This is the view 
which is implied in the present Lectures. 

Premising these remarks, let me sum up the testimony 
of Eusebius,* and its bearino-. Amongst the acknow- 
ledged books he places the four Gospels, the Acts, the 
fourteen or to speak more exactly thirteen epistles of 
St. Paul, (mentioning a doubt only about that to the 
Hebrews,!) the first Epistles of Peter and of John. In 
the second class, or those doubtful, he places (the Epistle 
to the Hebrews,) the second of Peter, those of James, 
and Jude, and the second and third of John. About 
the Apocalypse he hesitates considerably : indeed the 
classification is altogether somewhat uncertain ; but 
after mentioning the lievelation doubtfully in the two 
former classes he seems finally inclined to resign it to 
the third, or that of the rejected and spurious. 

Such a passage serves very well to illustrate what has 
been said about the mode of regarding the scriptm-es in 
early Clnistian times. So far as it goes however it 
confirms oiu' belief in the apostolic authorship of the 

* H. E. iii. 3, 24, 25. 
f on yf /()))' riv'tc I'lOirijKarri ti)i> Trpoc 'E/^o(o?)f; ~puc rJ/c 'I'w^fli'wi' t/c 
KXyjGiag ojc ///) Ilai'Xor' ovaav avrijv dvTi\tyi(jOai (pi]navTiQ ov cikulov 
dyj'oi'ii'. ' That howerer some have rejected the ( Epistle) to the Hebrews, 
and have alleged an oLjeetion to it on the part of the I'oman Chtirch, as 
i:ut being written by Paul, it were not right to ignore.'' H. E. iii. 2. 


majority of the books. And as to tlie one Avhieh lie 
seems disposed to reject, viz., the Eevelation of St. 
John, it is in oiu' times precisely the com])arative 
e<!rtainty of its anthorshij) which is urged on many 
hands as an objection to the Johannine origin of the 
fom-th Gospel. The two books, it is said, are so ditfbrent 
that they could not have been written by the same man ; 
and we have much more e\'idenco for the authorship of 
tlie Apocalypse than for that of the Gospel. I do not 
agree in these assertions, particularly the last. I only 
adduce them now to show that a doubt cast upon a 
book in one or more early writers is not necessarily a 
very strong argument against it. Tliough perhaps 
nin(!-tcntlis or even more of the literature existing in 
the time of Eusebius has been destroyed, yet throno-h 
the advance (jf scholarship modern critics are able to 
make a nnich better use of what remains, than he could 
make of all the libraries at his service. And so it 
comes to ])ass that earlier references which he ignored or 
slighted are wrought out now into clear and ti'ustworthy 
evidence. Justin ^lartyr, writing in Ww middle of the 
s<K'ond century gives what is now considered miim- 
p(!acliabl(! testimony in favour of th(.' Apocalypse ; and 
though per]ui])s some of us luighi be glad to saci'ifice it 
iJ' we might tliere]y secui'e the foui'lh (losjx'j for St. 
Jolin clr;ir of all conti"(\('i'sy, such a course is not o])en 
to us. It should be renieuiliered lidwcNcr that the same 
.Justin has some preftv clear reiiiiniseenees of St. .lohrfs 
(iosj.'cl ; iliat Papias app(,'ars to take; iVoui il ids list of 


Apostles Avliose testimony lie loves to hear from surviving 
elders;* and that if the quotations in Hippolytus are to 
be trusted, the gospel was referred to in favour of their 
opinions by the earliest Gnostics of the second century. 
These illustrations may suggest to hasty readers the 
danger of any too rash conclusions about Xew Testament 
books from the doubts or the silence of early ecclesiastical 
writers. When once the notion of Biblical infallibility 
is imiversally and frankly surrendered, I am persuaded 
that not only will the real inspiration of the sacred 
writers be more genuinely a})preciated, but the (juestion 
of authorship will be discussed with less of passion and 
prejudice, and as I believe with the result of establishing 
sul)stantially the ecclesiastical tradition on which the 
present Canon is founded. 

* Andrew. Peter, rhilij"), Thomas, James. John, Matthew. See a 
masterly article by Steitz in Studien und Kritiken. 1868. Heft iii. Die 
Tradition von der Wirksamkeit des Apostels Johannes in Ephcsns. 
He urges with great force that leaving out Matthew, whose presence 
he accounts for by the fact of his being the only other evangelist among 
the Apostles, the remaining six appear precisely in the order in which 
they occur in St. John's narrative, an order entirely different from the 
classified lists in the synoptic gospels, with which alone it is said that 
Papias was acquainted. ITie two son.-: of Zebedee come last in the list, 
though among the greatest. But if the writer was running over in his 
mind the names of the Apostles as they occur in !St. John's Gospel, this 
is natural ; for they are not distinctly mentioned till the last chapter. 
"When it is remembered that John alone gives a character and a voice to 
three of the above mentioned, Andrew, Philip, and Tliomas ; when it 
is borne in mind that with the dubious exception of Nathanael, Papias 
mentions rtZ^ the A-postles appearing in St. John, an^l prccLfchj intJtc 
(rrdcr in irh'trh iliey appear, it will perhaps be acknowledged that a 
niiiro acute and discerning and suggestive critical observation has 
rnj'cly been made than this of Steitz on the well woi-n passage of 


Note Gt. 
On tlie Divinity of Christ. 

In reference to the assumption of our Lord's earthly 
omniscience I have not noticed the practically Corinthian 
theory which I suppose some would regard as satisflictory, 
I mean the notion that qua divine he was omniscient, but 
qua human he was not. I have not noticed it because, 
however stated, it is to me simply a collection of articu- 
late soimds without any meaning whatever. The nearest 
approach I can make to the attachment of any meaning 
to it is this, that the Divine and the Human wei'c in 
Christ so distinct, that the one could know what the 
other did not and could hide that meaning from the 
other. Ijut such a separation is evidently inconsistent 
with any genuine unity of person. For it would 
amount t(j the proposition that the; same Person knew 
and did )iot know the same thing, in the same sense, at 
the same moment. 

Il' any otk; j>r(d'ers to think that omniscience was 
latent in the veiled divinity of the Lord, and otiIv vnuw 
t/) the surface of ccmsciousness according to the needs 
of th(! hour, thm view is ))erfectly con.-i>tent with all 
that is advanced on tin's sid)ject in Leciure A . The 
ni'i'ds of the liour did not require ihat the* Son >houId 
know the xlnu; I'or the end of the world, ari'l mnch less 

* Mark x.ii. '.)-. 


did tlicy require that the Messiah should know the time 
when the Jewish canon began or c1os(hI. 

The only vital interest which such a question can 
have for ordinary Christians who are content with the 
practical power of godliness, arises from the svipposed 
relation of the subject to the divinity of Christ. This 
is of course much too large an issue to enter upon here. 
I only desire to record my conviction that the question 
does not at all necessarily affect the reality or essen- 
tiidity of the divinity of the Lord. Whatever be the 
original mystery of Christ's person (as to which, pro- 
bably a deeper philosophy of creation is needed before 
we get even the right point of view), we all believe that 
in respect to that mystery he em})tied or impoverished 
himself*, and " was found in fashion as a man." The 
more the correlation of limitation in knowledge with 
all other limitations of humanity is considered, the more 
will it be felt that this "emptying" or impoverishment 
must have included the former. And if a consciously 
divine life coiild not be limited in that way, then the 
incarnation or manifestation of God in humanity is 
impossible, because a contradiction in terms. But any 
one, who has reflected upon the nmltifarious divine 
self-limitations involved in Creation, will I am persuaded 
find no insuperable difficulty at all in the notion of a 
Being C(;nsciously consubstantial with God, yet limited 
in laiowledge. 

* Phil. ii. 7. tKivoxrev tavrov 

APPEyoix. 225 

After all. the aspects in which the divinity of Christ 
most directly and praeticallv affects our religious life 
are his intense unrivalled consciousness of God, and 
his oneness in feeling, disposition and will with the 
heavenly Father. By the first he raised our abjetst and 
despairing human life into the pleroma of the Divine 
Love; by the second he assures us that in his sym})athy, 
purity and self-sacrifice we have a true ex]:)ression of 
God's purpose towards the world. Though it is doubt- 
less true that we are embraced by God's everlasting 
arms even when we least know it, yet it is also true 
that the purifying influence of His love can only be 
realized in proportion as we are consciously its objects. 
And this is what Christ makes us to be by the light 
which his intense consciousiuss of God shed upon the 
God-consciousness in man. Through his infinitely strong 
and clear perce})tion of God as tSubject no less than 
Object, togetlicr with his marvelloiis power to propagate 
this sense in others, we couk; to have a feeling (piite 
as compi'ehensive and far more elevating than the Xatm-e- 
worshij) of tlu; Greeks, the feeling of a Divinity under- 
lying, jtcrvading, over-ruling, gloriiying all things. 
Again, the assurance that we have; "the kiiDwIedgc! of 
the glory of God in the i'ace of Jesus Christ," that the 
Lord's moral natiire and spiritual ininistry -dw an 
exj)ression of God's will towards tiie world, or in other 
words of the Final Clause of creation, this it is which 
satisfies the heart and cpiickens in the soul that faith 
which ])ractirany justifies by giving an adef|uat(' end 


in life. These two aspects of Christ's Being, his supreme 
consciousness of God, and that unity with the Father 
which is inconceivable apart from consubstantiality, 
make every word and deed of the Lord Jesus luminous 
with suggestive revelations of the divine background 
of existence, and confer an infinite preciousness upon 
His endurance and death, as an embodiment of the true 
relations between sinful man and God's loving vinre- 
vengeful goodness. I believe that these two aspects of 
the Lord's divine humanity are the one soiirce of all 
peculiarly evangelical power and fervour, from St. Paul's 
epistles, or the truly inspired letter to Diognetus, down 
to John Wesley, or the Ritualists and the Primitive 
Methodists, who at opposite })oles are Wesley's true 
successors. No revolutions of thought which leave any 
sort of practical reality to these aspects of Christ's Being 
will in the slightest degree imperil " the power of God 
unto salvation," which Christianity enshrines. Nor do 
I think that this vital essence of the Old Faith is 
even seriously threatened. Some one may ask, " is it 
possible you can be so blind as to suppose that the 
dogma of a Man's divinity is likely to survive the 
reduction of human nature to protoplasm?" If you 
mean the dogma of the Athanasian creed, I answer. No. 
But if you mean the direct intuitive consciousness of 
Christ that his deepest self was God, and his humanity 
a transparency through which God shone, I say, Yes. 
This transition period is but a sort of "blind man's 
holiday," and the blind often make a far better use of 


their other senses than do the keen-sighted. I may be 
blind, but I have a strong feeling that the divinity 
which has made Christ the Lord of modern history is 
losing none of its significance. The gospel of proto- 
plasm is very far from being opposed to the Gospel of 

" Not only cunuing casts in clay I 

Let science prove we are and then.'" 

But science cannot do it. The really projdietic signs of" 
the times point in a very difl'erent, indeed an opi)Osite 




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