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REV. E. F. BURR, D. D. 


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Aaol dTjfil^ovat- Qeog vv tlc harl kuI avr?/. 





No. 117 Washington Street. 

Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by 
Nichols and Noyes, 
the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Massachuseus. 







Efftsz Volumes, 








The First Series is now ready. Tinted paper. 300 pp. 12mo. 
Price, $1.50. Sent post-paid on receipt of the price, by 

117 Washington Street, Boston. 

The publishers of Ecce Ccelum now solicit the attention of 
scholars and of the public at large, to a still more important 
work by the same author. Fater Mundi is believed to meet a 
great need of the times. Men are busy, as never before, at taking 
away the ancient Jehovah in the name of Science. In books, in 
popular lectures, in journals having wide circulation and relig- 
ious pretensions, and even in colleges whose founders hoped and 
demanded better things from them, the public is being industri- 
ously persuaded that it is scientific as well as natural to be with- 
out God in the world. Let all who would see for themselves 
how little ground exists for such claims, read Pater Mundi ; and 
let all who wish well to the popular faith, to our holy religion, 
und to the safety of society, promote its circulation to the ut- 
most. It is a book for the times. Though in the form of col- 
lege lectures, and claiming scientific thoroughness, it is believed 
to be easy and luminous reading for all classes. 


From the Rev. W. A. Steams, D.D., L.L.D., President of Amherst College 
I have heard them with the deepest interest. They are so clear, so log 
ical, so rich in illustration, so unexceptionable and beautiful in style, ani 
60 conclusive in the argumpnt attempted, that I have profoundly ad- 
mired them. Those gentlemen who heard them when delivered here, 
would, I am sure, from the comments which they made upon them, agree 
with me entirely in the judgment I have expressed. May the Great Being 
whose existence these lectures so nobly defend from the attacks of the 
foolish, though calling themselves scientists and philosophers, spare the 
life of the author and enable him to complete the full course of thinking 
on which he has so triumphantly entered and advanced. 

From, Rev. Prof. C. S. Lyman, of Yale College. 
All whom I have heard speak of these lectures have expressed for them 
the highest admiration. In thought and diction they are worthy of 

From Prof. Julius H. Seelye, Professor of Mental and Moral Philoso- 
phy in Amherst College. 

It is with great delight that I have received the new book. I like, es- 
pecially, its whole attitude respecting the question discussed ; that it is so 
full of faith and so uncompromising. Atheism is as unworthy the intel- 
lect, as it is repugnant to the heart ; and I am tired of tame apologies 
from timid believers in a God. I like to see a book that has something 
of a clarion ring about it, and is not afraid to defy denial, when it speaks 
of the being and the glory of the Heavenly Father. 

I believe that Pater Mundi will do great good, and I thank the Lord 
for permitting the author to prepare and publish it. 

From Rev. A. P. Peahody, D.D. L.L.D., Preacher to Harvard Uni 
versity, and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals. 
I thank the author with all my heart for Pater Mundi. It is the most 
efficient work of its class which the present generation has produced ; 
and as the now existing scepticism is deeper, more [pseudo] scientific, 
more pretentious, than that of any preceding age; the book which, like 
Pater Mundi, is adapted to our times, must need be both broader and 
more profound than previous needs have elicited. Its treatment of the 
great theme is at once thoroughly philosophical and popular, both in 
style and in adaptation to the capacity of all readers of average intelli- 
gence. It was an unspeakable privilege to the students of Amherst Col- 
loge, to have heard the lectures; I trust that the same privilege will be 
<'xtendod through the press to thousands of our young men. While I 
Cud no fault nor deficiency in the treatment of any branch of the argu- 

ment, I am especially impressed by the Seventh Lecture, as the clearest, 
strongest, and most eloquent statement of the need of God, and of the 
demonstration thence resulting of His existence, in the plenitude of His 
attributes, that has come within the range of my reading. 

From Rev. Albert Barnes, 

I was so profoundly impressed, or, if I may say so, oppressed and ovor- 
wnelmed with the sublimity and grandeur of the truths presented in Ecce 
Coelum, and with the manner in which the author presented these great 
truths, that I am glad he has followed with another volume on the same 
general subject. I anticipate in the perusal of it great pleasure and 
profit, I think the author is doing great service to the cause of truth 
and I hope that God will spare him to complete his work. 

So far as I am able to judge, the greatest enemy which Christianity has 
to encounter now, is found in the oppositions of science, so-ealled. In 
fact, so far as I understand them, the aim and tend mcy of much of this 
science, are to blank Atheism ; and I think a man can do no better service 
in this age, than to meet and counteract this tendency. I rejoice that 
God raises up men who are qualified to do it. I believe that the author of 
Ecce Coelum is such a man. He has a noble work before him, and I hope 
he will be enabled to do it. 

From the Independent. 

We had not read Ecce Caelum, and imagined that the enconiums which 
we had seen pronounced upon it must be too high wrought for sober 
truth. But now that we have read Pater Mundi, by the same author, we 
are ready to believe every word of praise to have been within bounds* 
The present volume is no dry, didactic treatise. It is warm, alive, elo- 
quent. The author proves himself, in his freshness of thought and in the 
eloquence of his argument, inferior to no writer of the day. We find no 
slips in science, nor in his multiplied illustrations from ancient and mod 
ern literature. And we do find a grandeur of conception and a striking 
originality of conception, so audacious that scarcely any other writer wo 
know of would have ventured upon it. We see no reason why our au- 
thor's writings should not become classics in the language. Nothing can 
be more invigorating to the thoughtful reader. 

From the Congregationalist. 

We have read it with keen enjoyment, and are disposed to regard it as 
he most substantial and serviceable contribution to the natural theology 
of this generation, as it is the freshest and most popular. No better book 
none more entertaining, can be placed in the hands of inquisitive readers, 
especially bright minded young men and women* The author lays out his 
work with a singularly clear perception of the crepuscular skepticism 
which needs to be dissipated; and enters upon it with manly and gener- 

ous fairness of statement, vigor of argument, and amplitude of apposite 
and convincing illustration. His style is in the main so admirable, that 
it may seem ungenerous to take exceptions. Probably the excess of 
ornamentation, the overfulness of illustration, the easy aflluence of the 
most highly poetic diction, and the general gorgeousness of rhetoric will 
secure a hearing for the truth by persons whom it is desirable to influ- 
ence, who might not be attracted by an ordinary book. 

From the Hours at Home. 

The decidedly oratorical style will serve to make the essays, incisive — 
eloquent, and eminently philosophical as we acknowledge them to be — all 
the more widely popular and useful. 

From the Religious Herald, 
Cogent argument is so lighted up with brilliant illustration, as to make 
interesting the profoundest thoughts. 

From the Christian Union. Rev. H. W. Beecher. 

The author, who, in Ecce Caelum, established a reputation for that rare 
combination of excellencies— forvid rhetoric, scientific accuracy, and com- 
mon sense— has produced another book designed to defend and illustrate 
the doctrine of Theism. It is like breathing mountain air to feel this 
man's earnestness; it is a true mental tonic. One sees instantly that he 
is able-souled, that he can push and climb without getting short of 
breath ; and it is almost a foregone conclusion, after reading the first 
chapter, that one must either stride with him to his high conclusion, or 
part company before starting. This unequivocal earnestness and power 
display themselves at the outset; great heart is warmed up to begin with; 
60 that one is almost inclined to distrust a leader who has so much the air 
of a partisan. The face set like a flint does not wait to be struck to emit 
its sparks, but glows with a fiery zeal which inflames everything it looks 
upon. Yet, no candid reader will say that Dr. Burr is dogmatic; he 
only plies error with weapons for which infidelity has claimed a patent 
right. No one who reads this first volume, will wish that the author had 
written less or otherwise than he has. 

From the Advance. 

The previous work entitled Fcce Coelum, received the highest commend, 
ation from the most competent judges. The present volume will still fur- 
ther augment the reputation of the author as a thinker and writer. He 
puts the Atheistic hypothesis to severe and annihilating tests; fully meet- 
ing its objections and cavils. The arguments of this work are not only 
cogent, but are expressed in a lucid, glowing, and eloquent style; and the 
book entitles the writer to a position among our best religious authors. 

From Rev. Edwin Hall, D.D., President of Auburn Theological Seminary. 

I have read the work with constantly increasing satisfaction and delight 
It is entirely worthy of the author of Ecce Ccelum and of its subject. So 
far as my reading extends— and I have long endeavored to read in that de- 
partment whatever I could lay my hands on that promised to give me 
light— I regard it as the most original and valuable contribution to the 
subject, which the age has produced. I shall wait with longing for the 
second volume. In the meantime, I hope the work may have a circula- 
tion as extensive as its worth deserves. If it were left for me to fix that 
desert, there should not be a library or a family in the land without it. 
From the Watchman and Reflector. 

The thousands of readers of "Ecce Coelum" have not got fairly over the 
feeling of astonishment and admiration which the perusal of that remark- 
able book brought to them, before another of equal merit from the same 
author is announced. "Pater Mundi," we are confident, will lessen noth- 
ing of the high character which Dr. Burr has won as an acute and accu- 
rate thinker, an accomplished scholar, a brilliant rhetorician, and a 
humble, childlike believer in God and His revelation. The purpose of the 
author is to defend and illustrate Theism and Christianity from the side of 
Modern Science. There is a wonderful candor in the entire process of ar- 
gumentation. Nothing is assumed beyond what the eyes of man behold 
and his reason assents to. The conclusion, without being asserted, is irre- 
sistibly forced into one's own view, and wins acceptance from the thought- 
ful, reasonable soul. The eloquence of some of these passages respecting 
the fatherhood of God is overwhelming in effect. We earnestly com- 
mend the book to the careful study of our so-called scientific men who are 
trying hard to rule a personal God out of the universe. We wish, too, 
that every young man in the nation would read these pages. We are sure 
that nothing more fascinating in interest and really healthful and elevat- 
ing in influence can be found among all the books of the day. The book 
is handsomely printed by Nichols & Noyes of this city. 
From the Sunday School Times. 

This volume is an eloquent and unanswerable protest against modern 
atheism in all its forms. "Modern science testifying to the Heavenly 
Father," is the author's secondary title, and it describes accurately the 
course and object of his argument. His methods of presenting the sub- 
ject, however, are entirely original, and are wonderfully effective. The 
work is particularly opportune. There are in all our congregations 
thoughtful, cultivated, quiet men, whose faith has been shaken by the bold 
assumptions of infidel scientists. Dr. Burr's book is just suited to restore 
such persons to their equilibrium. It is written in a most attractive style* 

and shows a masculine vigor of thought that cannot fail to command re- 

From the Theological Eclectic. Professors Day, Schaff, etc. 

We have already spoken of the able work entitled Ecce Coelum, in terms 
of high commendation. The present work by the same author exhibits 
the same power of comprehensive grouping and vivid presentation, and 
abounds in great thoughts freshly put. 
From llev. Mark HoiJlcins, D.D.. L.L.D., President of Williams College. 

I am greatly indebted to the author of Pater Mundi. It is a fresh and 
powerful work. If any commendation from me will aid its circulation, 
it is freely given. 

From C. H. Balsbaugh, Pa. 

Certainly this is a book to stop the mouth of skeptics. It seems to me 
that never was atheism in its protean forms more squarely met on its own 
ground, and never more clearly discomfited with its own weapons. No 
two links of its argument are left together. The author has triumphantly 
vindicated the title of his book. Its matter and style appeal to both our 
innate susceptibility to truth, and our sense of the beautiful. In my view , 
never did logic and poetry more heartily embrace each other; never did 
beauty smile more divinely on the face of the sternest facts. 
From the New York Evening Post. 

The clear and beautiful logic, and the crystal style of Ecce Coelum, fas- 
cinated religious minds everywhere in this country. This book is written 
by the same perspicuous pen. That it is in the form of lectures, rather 
improves it than otherwise. The special aim of the author is to wrest 
from the wild materials of this day the powerful sceptre of science, which 
they have seemed to wield. All the teachings of science and nature 
point to the "Father of the "World." This book is one calculated to 
strengthen the faith of professors of religion, and to lead captive young 
minds straying into error. We ought to mention in closing, the beautiful 
typography of the book. Published by Nichols & Noyes. 
From the Evening Wisconsin, Milwaukee. 

The style is clear, and always strong and forcible in an unusual degree 
while many passages rise to great beauty and eloquence. Seldom have we 
read anything upon the subject of Christian evidence that was so enter- 
taining, so instructive, and so satisfactory as this book. It is the offspring, 
of a vigorous intellect, and it is a most valuable addition to religious cul- 

From the Christian Recorder, Philadelphia. 

So charmed are we with this magnificent production of Dr. Burr's, that 
really we scarce know where to begin its praise. Its excellence is uniform. 

Lecture first and lecture eighth equally demand admiration. So every i;art 
of each lecture. The chain of gold is not only complete, but every link is 
complete. The Colonnade is not only symmetrical, but its minute carv- 
ings are perfect. To quote from it to our own satisfaction, would be to 
quote the whole book, but we remember that Messrs. Kichols & Noyes, the 
pubiishors, have u copyright. 

How majestically does the author of Ecce Ccelum send forth his 
thoughts into the world ! In majesty do they stride forth either to con- 
quer, to convince, or to woo. Now as a mailed warrior are they seen, fully 
panopled from head to foot, and crushing by the strength ol his argu- 
ments every foe— crushing every atheistic shield, and helmet, and breast- 
plate. On almost every page of Pater Mundi, these all-crushing arguments 
are to be met— on almost every page we see victims lying mangled and 

We do not know that the author of Pater Mundi lays claim to the po- 
etic gift; and yet has he given us a sublime Didactic Poem. Not in verse, 
is it given; it is neither Dactylic, Anapaestic, Iambic, nor Trochaic. 
But poetic imagination shines on every page. Untrammeled by rule, 
and enjoying a freedom that the utmost poetic license could not allow, 
the author has given us a poem infinitely sublimer than could possibly 
have been done in any other form. Would that we could give our read- 
ers the concluding pages of Lecture VII. Such poetic thought! Such 
beauty of expression! Such smoothness! Such harmony! Words an- 
swer to words, and sentence to sentence, with such sweetness that one 
glides along to the conclusion, as smoothly as a New England sleigh, and 
as merrily as its ringing bells. 

From the Norivich Bulletin, 

It will be a great advantage to the reader of this work to have made the 
acquaintance of Dr. Burr's previous volume, "Ecce Ccelum," as thus many 
of the references in "Pater Mundi" will be the more intelligible and vivid. 
The quality of the new work is in all respects admirable. Dr. Burr has 
a wonderful enthusiasm, always fresh and intense. He is full of his sub- 
ject. He has the faculty of so treating profound and sublime themes, as 
to bring them easily to the comprehension of all. He has a fervid style, 
whose richness seems inexhaustible. He has great fertility in argument, 
and presents his suggestions with rare simplicity and force. The volume 
will go far to combat the sophistries of Atheism, both in uncultured minds 
and in those of strong logical powers. We cannot too highly commend 
it, and we predict that it will find a place in every well stocked religious 

From the Standard, Chicago, III. 

If any one should infer from the title of this book that it is a heavy and 
prosy dissertation, he would be astonished on looking over its pages 

Notliin^ could be further from the truth. The author is an enthusiast, one 
of those who have not "discovered that one must be indifferent in order to 
be fair." The book is fresh, earnest, and eloquent, and we felt its strong 
spell before reading a dozen pages. The statement of arguments is admira- 
bly clear, the development of them is natural and impressive, and there is 
displayed a wonderful power in massing facts so as to give their full and 
combined effect. 

From the Chicago Tribune. 
This work in some respects is very remarkable. It is not only compact 
in argument, and forcible and clear in statement, but it is also absolutely 
brilliant and sparkling in manner, and rich and copious in illustration. 
Judging only from the one volume before us, we should pronounce it as 
one of the most remarkable and fascinating books of the day. 
From the Orleans Republican, Albion, N. Y. 
The author's premises are bold, and his line of argument clear, forcible 
and persuasive; shirking nothing, anticipating, and answering objec- 
tions with equal fairness. Tlie work is calm, liberal, and large thoughted ; 
full of admirable logic, and profound reasoning; and the last three lec- 
tures, especially, are grand with beautiful and terrible imagery, exquisite 
poetry, and striking allusions to those mysterious facts and forces of na- 
ture which startle and awe believer and unbeliever alike ; and his conclu- 
sion is singularly suggestive and powerful. 

From the Daily Chronicle, Rochester, N. Y. 
That this book is by the Rev. E. F. Burr, D.D., author of "Ecce Cce- 
lum," is sufficient to commend it to the reading and thinking public, and 
to insure what is generally considered success: a large sale and many 
editions. It is, in some measure a supplement to the great work which 
brought the hitherto obscure Connecticut pastor into such enviable noto- 
riety. It is written in a more dignified and less conversational style than 
"Ecce Coelum," and would be remarkable as a speci men of elegant Eng- 
lish, even without the aid of the interest attaching to the subject and to 
the author. One of its minor, though not wholly unimportant excellen- 
cies is the beautiful manner in which the book is issued from the press. 
From the American Baptist. 
Tlie author has a strong and vigorous style, and a power of grasping 
and grouping great truths, which make all that he utters luminous and 
convincing. Though prepared specially for educated men, they are adapts 
ed to all readers, have no abstniseness of diction, no intricate, far-fetched 
or dubious arguments. The author will impart no small measure of the 
indignation he feels towards atheism, concealing itself under the name of 
science, to those who read his book, and we trust it may have a very wide 


The whole plan of the author looks beyond the 
present volumes. It proposes to defend and illus- 
trate both Theism and Christianity from the side of 
Modern Science. This accounts for the structure 
of the first two lectures. 

In the second volume the appeals to the Sciences 
will be found more direct and full than even in 
this — especially as negativing that Law Scheme 
which is the only present competitor of Theism as 
an explanation of Nature. 

These lectures were designed to be spoken to 
College Classes on the eve of graduation. Hence 
some peculiarities. They speak to the ear. They 
speak to the young. They speak to educated young 
men who may be presumed familiar with general 
classical as well as scientific knowledge ; and whom 
it is of the last importance to have go forth into 
the world richly assured of the exceeding breadth 
of the Christian Foundations, and richly prepared to 
manifest them to all unbelievers. So the lectures 
Are zealous for a side. They are anxious to carry 


a point. They appear not to have discovered that 
one must be indifferent in order to be fair. They 
affect no philosophic impartiahty ; but speak as a 
Christian beHever, to the sons of Christian parents, 
and within a Christian college which has not yet 
thought it necessary to teach neutrality (or worse) 
between Christianity and Buddhism, from chairs rest- 
ing on Christian endowments. 

The author states some things very strongly. But 
he does not suppose himself to have stated them 
more strongly than facts warrant. He feels very hos- 
tile to Atheism. He holds it the worst enemy of 
mankind. Its recent attempts to shelter itself under 
the great name of Science greatly move his indig- 
nation. He is amazed at its effrontery in claiming 
that a single true science looks on it with favor. 
At the same time he aims to be just, even to 
Satan. What he would gladly destroy in the inter- 
est of humanity, he would only destroy by the lawful 
use of lawful weapons. 

The larger part of the sixth lecture has been pub- 
lished before. But as it properly belongs to this 
course of lectures, and as the omission of it would, 
in the author's view, mar the symmetry of his gen- 
eral plan, he has thought best to insert it in its 
proper place. 

Lyme, Conn,, Nov. 30, 1869. 


I. Experimental Method. 



3. RELIGIOUS VALUE . . . ... . . .19 

II. Argumentative Method. 


a. propriety . . • 35 

3. profit .38 

III. Application of the Argumentative Method. 


2. THESIS 59 



IV. Macule. 





5. LAW OF PATERNITY .... . . . . .103 





V. In Tenebris. 








VI. Harmonies with Nature. 

1. vASTNESS ^57 


3. FINISH OF MINIMA .... .... 166 

4. WISDOM ^^ 

5. DYNAMICS ^75 



8. MYSTERY ^9^ 


VII. Need of God. 





VIII. Theism as a Scientific Hypothesis. 

1. perfectly sufficient 257 


3. SIMPLEST 261 

4. SUREST . 268 

5. SAFEST 271 







^rjXacfirjaaTe /xe ^ai iSerc. 

KaXois av aoi o ©cos Airos $v\Xafij3dvoL. — Plato, 

I. Experimental Method. 






THERE are two ways in which men assure them- 
selves of the qualities of material objects. One 
is the way of argument : the other is that of direct 
personal experiment. A man of reputation tells 
me that a certain sort of wood is tough, flexible, and 
hard ; or I see it extensively used for purposes to 
which these qualities are essential ; or the general 
appearance and arrangement of the fiber, I find, 
are the same as in other woods known to have these 
qualities — these are so many arguments from 
which in a way of inference my mind reaches a 
belief in the toughness, flexibility, and hardness of 
that wood. But, if I choose, I may reach the same 
belief in another way. I may strike my own ham- 
mer on that wood, and see what resistance it makes 
to indentation. I may take it into my own hands 
and try to bend it. I may with my own fingers or 
wedges attempt to tear it asunder. Thus by a 
direct personal trial, and not at all in the way of 


argumentative inference, I may convince myself 
that the wood is what it is claimed to be. 

In the same twofold way we may satisfy our- 
selves of the existence of certain spiritual qualities. 
Is your acquaintance generous, is he honest, is he 
capable ? You may argue out an answer for your- 
self, or you may obtain it by the personal applica- 
tion of certain practical tests. Honest ? Yes, you 
may sa}^ for it is an honest family to which he be- 
longs, and I know that from childhood he has had 
instruction and training fitted to make an honest 
man. Besides, he bears a good reputation for hon- 
esty. Those with whom he has had dealings speak 
well of him. This is argument. A judgment is 
reached inferentially from other judgments or facts. 
But there is such a thing as your making a direct 
experiment on the man which will settle the ques- 
tion of his honesty to your mind w^ithout help from 
any other quarter. Put in his way an opportunity 
of taking some small unfair advantage of you with 
apparently entire safety, and see what he will do 
with it. Try him again and again at a variety of 
points, and watch how he carries himself under 
the temptation. This will finally show you what 
the man is — perhaps will show you that his 
word is as good as a bond, and that you might ven- 
ture to trust him with every dollar you are worth. 
You have personally experimented upon him in true 
Baconian and scientific way, and found him trusts 
worthy in the last degree. With your own hands 


you have applied the acid to what men call gold, 
and have found that gold it really is. See how the 
metal shines under the nitric drop ! 

Suppose, now, that our inquiries, instead of relat- 
ing to attributes of matter or attributes of the 
human soul, relate to that still higher plane of 
thought, the attributes of God and His Word — 
say the reality of the Christian God and the divinity 
of the Christian Scriptures. Have we still the 
same two ways of information that are universally 
allowed in dealing with those questions of the lower 
order ? Can we properly argue, and can we prop- 
erly experiment also ? The first question I re- 
serve to be answered in the next lecture : the sec- 
ond I propose to answer now, because I regard it as 
primary in its character. I repeat, can we and 
may we put things of such great names and au- 
gust claims as the Christian God and the Christian 
Scriptures under substantially just such direct prac- 
tical tests as show us that a given wood is hard, 
and a given man honest ? This question is an in- 
teresting one — for the reasons that the radical ex- 
perimental method is found so enormously powerful 
and fruitful in the lower fields of inquiry, that we 
need all the light on the alleged God and Revela- 
tion we can possibly obtain, and that there is more 
or less current the idea that it is not possible, or at 
least lawful, to deal with such great spiritual mat- 
ters in the way of critical experiment. The great 
questions that stand before the world from age to 


acre, and which make all others almost invisible, are 
these. Is God real ? Are the Christian Scriptures 
His message ? There are some in the world — we 
suppose an ever-decreasing number — who to these 
questions are prepared to say, " No,'' or are not pre- 
pared to say, " Yes " — disbelievers or unbelievers. 
Then there is another class who truly believe in 
God and Scripture ; but their faith is far from be- 
ing as large-limbed, and muscular, and majestic of 
mien as they could desire. Lastly, there are those 
who themselves believe almost as though they saw, 
but who would like to communicate something of 
their own full assurance of faith to the many around 
whose condition is less happy, and on whom mere 
argument seems so largely spent in vain. To all 
these classes it is a question of very great moment 
whether the field of religion, like every other field, 
is open to the double-handed exploration of argu- 
ment and personal experiment — whether, after 
having exhausted or, what is much better, before 
touching the system of premises and inferences, they 
may not bare their arms and go forth on the sub- 
jects of God and Scripture with such practical 
tests as shall be to them what the hammer is to the 
wood that asks to be considered hard, and actual 
opportunities of safe cheating to the man who asks 
to be considered honest. The idea of experiment- 
ing on God and His Word may have at first quite 
an objectionable look. It looks, perhaps, like irrev- 
erence and audacity and desecration. One gets his 


mind filled with the idea of coarse mechanical ex- 
periments and of the harsh, irreverent ways in 
which they are sometimes played off on creature- 
natures ; and when mention is made of religious 
experiments, the gross old ideas still cling about the 
new thought. It seems as if nothing of the kind 
would be allowable out of the low realm of the 
commonplace and profane world. How it sounds 
to talk of trying experiments on God and Religion ! 
In answering this current, or at least not unfre- 
quent, feeling, it must be admitted at the outset that 
there are experiments on these objects of which we 
may not entertain thought for a moment. They 
would be extreme presumption and sacrilege. Our 
instinctive sense of propriety would revolt from 
them as putting dishonor on the conception of a 
God and a Relio-ion. When the Jews came to Jesus 
on a certain occasion, saying, " Master, we would 
see a sign from thee," what they proposed to do 
was then and there to try a direct experiment on 
His miraculous power. The proposal met a severe 
rebuff. If one of you should rise in his place and 
say, " If there is a God, let Him immediately show 
Himself by casting yonder hill into the river," his 
experiment would be a very wrong one. If one of 
you should take it on himself to cry out towards the 
heavens, " If the religion of Jesus is divine, let 
rain this moment fall from a clear sky," his experi- 
ment would be a very wrong one. If he should 
put Liberalism to a similar test, saying, " If it is 


really Scripture that God is Trinity and future 
punishment everlasting, let a plumed angel at once 
appear in that door-way, and say so," his experi- 
ment would be a very wrong one. All such tests 
are plain irreverence and presumption. They set 
up our wisdom as supreme, and presume to dictate 
terms and methods to God. This will never do. 
Let the rash man take the shoes from his feet as he 
nears the place where perchance God is concealed : 
why must a voice smite him with the information 
that all such places are holy ? 

Yes, there are many experiments on God and 
the Scriptures which would be highly improper — 
say, if you please, intolerable. But it would be a 
great misfortune if, on glancing at some of these, 
we should hastily conclude that everything of the 
sort is contraband. You cannot properly put it 
upon God, supposed real, to prove Himself, His 
"Word, or any of its doctrines by any given species 
or form of argument, arbitrarily selected. We have 
no right to instance Ontology, or Physiology, or His- 
tory, or Astronomy, and insist upon it that God 
shall prove Himself by means of our favorite science 
and under our favorite forms of reason. A God is 
Himself best judge of what arguments it will be 
best for us to have — assuming it best for us to have 
some — and He is entitled to choose His own. It 
would be quite as presumptuous for us to dictate to 
Him in this matter, as it would be to dictate to Him 
what experiments he must submit to for the in- 


crease cf our faith. But because it would be im- 
proper for us to demand that God should prove Him- 
self to us by certain arguments of a class chosen 
by ourselves^ we do not conclude that all arguments 
for that object are unlawful. We may be author- 
ized to desire arguments in favor of what we are 
called on to believe ; if so, we are authorized to 
ask that they be sound and sufficient — only we are 
not allowed to require that they be of this or that 
sort, or that they come to us in this or that way. 
So with these experiments. We cannot appoint to 
God what arguments for Himself He shall allow us , 
nor can we appoint to Him what experiments He 
shall allow us. Nevertheless, there may be good 
and lawful arguing in that quarter to be done ; and 
there may be equally good and lawful experiment- 
ing. There are direct practical trials of God and 
Scripture which we can make for the benefit of 
faith, which are no setting up of our own wisdom, 
no presumptuous dictations to Him who may prove 
to be the Most High, no familiar and irreverent ap- 
plications of as it were hammer and acid to the 
Holy of Holies, to the ark of the covenant, and 
even to Him who sitteth between the cherubim. 
But they are such as Faraday and Brewster, rever- 
ent interpreters of nature, seemed to be making 
when from a distance some disciple watched them 
poring with shaded eyes and shrinking, half-re- 
treating attitude over a beam of light fresh from the 
sun, or the keen elemental fire that leaps from the 


batteries of galvanism. And the doings may all be 
in the manner of yon uncovered and hushed physi- 
cian. Is not that sick man of monarchs the great- 
est and best ? Is he not the great v^^arrior and 
statesman and father of his people ; and does not 
his empire kiss at once sunrising and sunsetting, 
sweep the breadth of three continents, swelter under 
the golden suns of the Bosphorus and glisten in 
perpetual whiteness beneath the frozen pole ? But 
now he is prostrate ; and that medical adviser 
enters with bare brow and muffled step. He places 
his finger on that pulse as if rose and sank with it 
the majesty of a nation's life, and of a dynasty 
awful with the glory of a thousand years. In the 
same spirit may we and should we deal with these 
imperial questions relating to august God and Reve- 

The God and Revelation of Christendom have 
furnished their own practical tests. They have 
shown us what experiments they are willing to 
have us make on them. We are not to make arbi- 
trary and unauthorized experiments ; none what- 
ever in a spirit of lightness or audacity ; but such 
as are actually furnished in the Scriptures we may 
freely use, minding to do all with a modesty befit- 
ting the great conceptions with which we deal. 

Among these lawful and actually furnished ex- 
periments are the following— which I offer, not in 
the name of practical religion, but in the name of 
Modern Science. The Scriptures make many, 


clear, and striking promises to liberality. Thus ; 
" The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that 
wattreth shall be watered also himself. Honor the 
Lord with thy substance and with the first-fruits of 
all thine increase ; so shall thy barns be filled with 
plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new 
wine." " Give, and it shall be given you ; good 
measure, pressed down, and shaken together and 
running over, shall men give into your bosom." 
And so on in wonderful profusion. Now, unbeliever 
or weak believer, make an experiment. Be liberal, 
and see whether these promises are not fulfilled to 
you. See whether the property, or what you are 
disposed to accept as its full equivalent, does not 
accumulate. Then you will have put to a direct 
practical test both God and the Scriptures — the 
reality of the one and the divinity of the other. — 
Again, it is written that if we pray for the Holy 
Spirit and religious blessings in general with sin- 
cerity and earnestness, they shall without fail be 
given. For blessings of this sort the language is, 
*' Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall 
find ; knock, and it shall be opened to you : for every 
one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh 
findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be 
opened." Now, unbeliever or weak believer, make 
an experiment. Perseveringly put your heart into 
prayer for these blessings, and see whether they do 
not come. So will you put the alleged revelation 
to a searching practical test, and, as it were, bring 


the reality of its God and of its inspiration within 
reach of tlie senses. — Again, it is written that they 
who follow conscience faithfully shall in so doing 
come to something better than the light of nature, 
namely, a written revelation — come to an assured 
faith in Jesus and His doctrine. " If any man will 
do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it 
be of God or whether I speak of myself." Now, 
unbeliever or weak believer, make an experiment. 
Go to walking most carefully according to the light 
you have on matters of duty, and see whether faith 
in the Scripture and a scriptural God does not shake 
a freer wing, and soar nearer the sun, than ever 
before. So will you bring religion out of the hands 
of Plato into the hands of Bacon ; will transfer it 
from the dry world of tradition or logic into the 
green world of actual personal experiment ; will, as it 
were, put it where your hands can feel it, and where, 
like the unbelieving apostle, you can even put your 
finger into the print of the nails, and thrust your 
hand into the side of both natural and revealed the- 
ology. Act on the Bible itself carefully as a rule of 
life, and see whether it does not most palpably agree 
with your constitution, as much so as delicious 
water and bread do with your body — so showing 
by a personal trial of your own that the two were 
made for each other by the author of both. You 
can safely make these practical trials. They are 
not of your selecting and dictating. They are 
furnished ready to your hand by the parties who 


are to be tested by them. These parties not only 
consent, but urgently request to be tested by them. 
If tills fair offer and manifold urgency be successful 
— if you conduct the experiment with fitting rever- 
ence, gazing with shaded eyes, and stretching out 
trembling, half-retreating hand toward the possible 
Uncreated Light and Celestial Fire that condescend 
to offer themselves to the criticism of your experi- 
ence — you can, so says the alleged and alleging 
Religion, if you are without faith, get it ; if you 
have small faith, you can increase it ; if your own 
faith is strong like sight and you wish to impart the 
like to the weak and the doubting and the disbeliev- 
ing around you, you can powerfully say to them, 
'" Sirs, the truth and excellenc}^ of the fundamental 
religious doctrine, of the Theism and the Christi- 
anity, are to me not mere matters of tradition or 
logic, but matters of direct personal experiment. I 
have, so to speak, ' tasted and seen ' that God is, 
is what the Christian Scriptures represent Him, is 
the author of those Scriptures. Take my testi- 
mony, as you would if I should say that I have 
smitten on this wood and found it to be hard, or 
have put a drop of nitric acid on this metal and 
found it to be gold." 

This method is strictly scientific. It is just as 
Baconian as the process that has built up our 
chemistry and our other natural sciences into 
such admirable splendor. It is the eldest-born of 
the Inductive Philosophy ; and if any claim that 


its accent is that of the pulpit, I answer that it is 
equally that of the laboratory. In my opinion, any 
scheme for promoting an intellectual faith in God 
and the Scriptures that does not include this Ex- 
perimental Method, is as much against the true 
modern philosophy as against religion. More than 
this — any scheme that does not place this method 
in the foreground, as having supreme rank and as 
vastly better than any argumentative method can 
possibly be by itself, is a failure. What is com- 
monly called arguing, namely, the establishing and 
putting together certain propositions, and then draw- 
ins a conclusion from them, is, no doubt, a very 
useful thing — nowhere, as we have in due time to 
make evident, more useful than in the field of 
fundamental religious doctrine. At the same time 
it ought to be distinctly professed that in this field 
no possible argumentative proof can equal in some 
main respects its elder sister, the experimental ; and 
that no actual logic has equalled it in point of suc- 
cess. Such practical experiments as I have men- 
tioned can readily be made by men of the narrowest 
leisure, capacity, and knowledge: their ordinary 
pursuits need not be interfered with in the slightest. 
Not so with a large portion of arguments on the 
same theme. To be properly estimated, these re- 
quire talent, education, and studious leisure in no 
small degree. But who cannot put God and the 
Scriptures on the test of this actual experiment ? 
Who so poor, so weak, so ill informed, so uncultured, 


so busy that he cannot try these things by his Hberal- 
ity, by his prayer, by his conscientious living? Such 
a variety of easy practical methods enables all the 
world to become critics in religion. And, in point 
of fact, many thnes as many converts from unbeHef 
have been made by them as by all tlie exertions of 
logic. I do not as yet say that logic lias any proper 
place within this field ; but it lias been widely sup- 
posed to have, and so has been sent out in vast 
masses and in every style of armament to conquer 
the unbeliefs and disbeliefs of the world. It has had 
its successes. Spolia opima have been won. Tri- 
umphs have been decreed. But never such tri- 
umphs as have been granted to the Experimental 
Method — triumphs of the first order — not ova- 
tions, but triumphs — triumphs in which laurels 
have waved like a forest, and in which chained 
champions and monarchs have gone in long pro- 
cession after the captive wealth of empires and 
races. The great body of Christian believers in all 
ao-es have had no other rational faith than such as 
they obtained and maintained by actually puttmg 
the Christian Religion, with its God and inspired 
Bible, to the test of practice : thus verifying in 
their experience its adaptation to the human nature 
and condition, its transforming power, and the 
faithfulness of its promises. Moreover, an argu- 
mentative faith, as well as a traditional one, is 
observed to have always a certain deadness about it 
till it is supplemented and inspired by the faith that 


comes from direct personal experiment. The lattesr, 
when acquired, becomes a soul to the former. It 
paints its clayey cheek with speaking vermilion. It 
lights up its lack-luster eye with the beautiful fires 
of thought, and feeling, and force. Oh, how that 
poor mass of flesh and blood, by courtesy called 
man, and which yesterday could not stand on its 
feet or even scarcely fetch a breath as it lay with 
glassy eyes by the wayside — how strongly to-day 
heave the arches of its breast ; how buoyantly it 
springs to its feet, and, with head upHft to heaven, 
plants itself like a pyramid ; how swiftly now and 
strongly it marches hither and thither, with every 
feature alive, and every muscle strung for doing and 
daring ! A soul has entered the clay. The form 
now tabernacles a power. Welcome, O great, 
beautiful, glorious Transformer ! No vinous life 
art thou, no life galvanic, but true Divine Breath, 
the mighty afflatus of actual personal experience 
in religion : lo, thou hast wrought that wondrous 
change, and made of the mock man a real one ! — 
The proof of God and the Scriptures by personal 
experiment has also this advantage over any possible 
proof by argument ; namely, that it has an intrinsic 
value of its own, apart from its character as a means 
of faith. In general, an argument is worth nothing 
beyond its tendency to produce faith. But the 
course of beneficence, of prayer, of conscientious 
living, is in itself always a mighty blessing, even 
were no religious faith to result. 


According to the Christian system of reh'gion, 
everything depends on possessing faith. We must 
believe in God, in the Scriptures, and in their princi- 
pal doctrines ; and the broader and deeper our belief 
is, the better it will be for us. If we have a sincere 
faith, then we need to make it great ; if it is great, 
we need to make it royal ; if it is royal, we need to 
make it perfect ; if we could say it is perfect in our- 
selves, we should still need to originate or improve 
it in a host of others as being the greatest favor we 
can confer upon them. So that to all of us this 
broad method, this scientific method, of faith by 
means of personal experiment and induction, is a 
matter of high moment. A plentiful use of it is 
the great want of the times. And we may be sure 
that quite too little account is made of it, even 
among most of those who have been most indebted 
to it for such measures of faith as they have. Even 
these too often assume that all improvement in this 
foundation grace must proceed in the way of argu- 
ment. If themselves need to be stronger believers, 
they do not think of experimenting : it is either 
waiting for what the winds will bring them, or it is 
arguing. If others are to be rid of their doubts, 
they are, primarily and perhaps solely, to be argued 
with. Here is a profound mistake. What at the 
most is secondary, is made primary. It is not the 
reason that is so much at fault in cases of deficient 
faith : it is the practical part of us. The remedy 
.s not so much syllogizing as it is doing. It is not 


argument and experiment that is wanted : at the 
most it is experiment and argument. The one is 
the lightning that unsolders and seams the masonry 
of Doubting Castle : the other is more like the bil- 
lowy and thunderous air that rolls in afterward, 
wave upon wave, to help in shaking the ugly 
structure to pieces. The foremost great thing to be 
done for our weak-faithed selves and our weak- 
faithed neiohbors is to send them to school in the 
first department of the Inductive Philosophy. 
They must be put up to that which in religion an- 
swers to the hammer of the geologist, the acid of the 
chemist, and the prism of the optician. -They 
must personally try practical tests on God and 
Scripture. They must take such tests as the Chris- 
tian Deity and Scriptures offer to be tried by, and 
faithfully and reverently go into a sacred experi- 
ment. This I have felt bound to put forward as 
the leadino; work to be done in favor of faith. Let 
these men of scant faith all around us try God and 
the Bible by their promises. Let them test these 
great allegations by generous beneficence, by hearty 
persevering prayer for spiritual blessings, by non- 
estly endeavoring to go by the obviously just rules 
of the Scriptures in all the every-day walks of life. 
This will do more for them than libraries of argu- 
ment could do without it. It is a means universally 
accessible, has done wonders in its day, and is wait- 
ing at the gate of every man who needs more faith 
than he has, to do them airain for his benefit. It 


may not do them at once ; it may render its proofs 
somewhat tardily and amid some discouragements ; 
but it is according to experience that for any 
given man this method will accomplish a quicker as 
well as a stronger faith in God and the Sci'iptures 
than any other method by itself could have done 
for him. If the man is such in his natural turn of 
mind and habits that it will take years at the Ex- 
perimental Method to convince him, he is such a 
man as would hardly be convinced by a lifetime at 
any other school. But the crowning thing is that 
the experimentalist is sure of great success in the 
end. Whatever the adverse appearances and long 
delays, the promise that he shall " know of the doc- 
trine," will at last come to fulfillment. He shall 
not die till his faith lives. And though, in some 
rare instance, he should be tried with as much de- 
lay and as great seeming adversities as Joseph had 
while on his way to the fulfillment of his dreams 
and the premiership of Egypt, still, the faith which 
he shall surely reach at last shall be of that royal 
kind that will plenarily pay for all. As with the 
Hebrew, his De Profundis shall full surely become 
his In Excelsis. 

To the pit- bottom he sank, 

That poor Hebrew lad, 
And the thirsty darkness drank 

The light within him. 

" Now all things go against me," 

Said that poor sunk lad, 
Earth-eaten, waiting to be 
Eaten of famine. 


Up through the earth-pit dreary, 

Swung that poor sold lad 
Into worse pit of slavery, 

Arab, Egyptian. 

•* Still all things go against me," 
Said that poor slave lad, 
As sun-scorched, thought-scorched, through sea 
Of sand he falters 

To Misraim — to be bought, 

(Ah, poor chattel lad!) 
And wrought with the lash for nought, 

Like soulless cattle. 

emir-sprung and petted. 

Now sunk, sold, slave lad I 
How is thy poor heart fretted 

To cry, " Against me! " 

" Against me ! yes, against me ! " 
Not so poor blind lad ! 
Where pain plies red beak on thee, 
Thy kingdom enters. 

Fell pit and master anoint 

Thee Pharaoh, lad! 
Fell pit and master appoint 

Thee chief sheaf— star prince 

To sun, moon, and brother stars, 

(0 true dreamer lad!) 
And brighter stars whose rays are bars. 

Ruling Osiris. 

So judge not by the seeming, 

Faithward fighting heart! 
The rod that leaves thee streaming, 

Will turn thy scepter. 

If thou for true faith equipt, 

Meet pit and master, 
It shall sure crown thy Egypt, 

Here and hereafter. 


"Eroifx.oL Be act irpbs airoXoylav, 

*Ek TOtavn^s, apa, 'Ap;(i}s ^prryrat -^^ cf)vai<s. — A.risiotU> 

II. Argumentative Method. 



J. PROFIT ... . 3« 



I HAVE spoken of the Experimental Method of 
proving the Christian God and Scriptures — of 
ts nature, mode of use, strictly scientific character, 
and paramount place in a wise scheme of religious 

We come now to the Argumentative Method. 
I ask your attention to remarks on its Possibility, its 
Propriety, and its Possible Profit. 

The possibility of logically proving God and 
Scripture has sometimes been questioned on a pri- 
ori grounds. On such grounds some persons have 
questioned the possibility of proving anything by 
argument — skeptics, who have doubted not only 
that anything can be proved, but that anything can 
be known, even the fact that we can know noth- 
ing. The critical philosophers, so called, with Kant 
at their head, without going so far as this, are still 
decided that there can be no argumentative proof 
of supersensible objects — that is, of objects not 
directly cognizable by the senses, such as God 


and religion — and of course no logical proof of 
the Christian Scriptures as being God's message. 
Still others, bearing such names as Fichte, Shelling, 
Hegel — the Anti-criticalists, Idealists, and Pan- 
theists, especially of Germany and France — declare 
that there may be arguments to prove a God, but 
none to prove such a God as the Christian Scrip- 
tures teach, namely, a personal God external to the 
human mind and distinct from Nature. Well, a 
God who is a mere idea, or the moral order of the 
world, or the sum total of Nature, is no God at all 
to a truly English mind, and can issue no message. 

It would be impracticable. In such a course of lec- 
tures as I propose, to examine the grounds on which 
these men rest their conclusions. Fortunately It is 
not necessary. If a man should deny the possibility 
of a good watch on abstract considerations, our 
best method of dealing with him would be to show 
him such a watch. If some Dr. Lardner should 
deny the possibility of crossing the Atlantic by 
steam, the most satisfactory^ reply possible would be 
to embark him In one of the hundred steamers 
plying between the two hemispheres, and actually 
transmit him to England by the Impossible method. 
So the best way of dealing with such speculations 
as deny or doubt the possibility of good arguments 
for God and Scripture is actually to produce such 
arguments. This is the way In which the Baco- 
nians effectively answered the old philosophy. Said 
that philosophy, " A true science cannot be built 


up by experiment and induction : it must be done 
by reasoning from general intuitions, and, " as some 
said, " other general truths forming the original furni- 
ture of the mind." This doctrine stood unfalteringly 
against ages of skillful dialectics. And it was not 
till the true philosophers turned from wasting time 
and strength in logically combating this position, to 
the task of actually building up the natural sci- 
ences in the way pronounced impossible, that those 
Platonists met their silencing refutation. What 
could a Ptolemist say, with his eye at one end of 
Galileo's tube and the phases of Venus at the 
other? What could any philosopher of the old 
stamp say, in the presence of the actual Astronomy 
or Chemistry ; which, rooted in observation and ex- 
periment, had risen in the course of a few years, by 
mingled induction and mathematics, into such lofty 
and wide-branching majesty of stature and fruit- 
fulness as the old system had for some thousands of 
years been always promising, and never even begin- 
ning to accomplish ? There was no resisting the 
eloquence of such examples. Yes, experimental 
and inductive sciences doubtless can be, because 
they are ; and so the Platonists amended their doc- 
trine of the impossibility of such sciences into the 
doctrine that they are a less noble and fruitful kind 
of science than the German metaphysics. Let us 
try to walk in the steps of those fathers of the In- 
ductive Philosophy. Let us attempt no answer to 
those who deny or doubt the possibility of good 


arguments for God and Scripture, save the actual 
presentation of such arguments. If from the be- 
ginning, and under the ablest hands, no such argu- 
ment has ever been constructed, it would do little 
good at this late day to establish its abstract possi- 
bility ; if one such argument can be actually shown, 
all the cloudy speculation against its possibility will 
meet the most evident and signal annihilation pos- 

Besides these professional metaphysicians — as 
they were for the most part — some eminent Chris- 
tian theologians have denied the possibility of a log- 
ical basis for religion. Their ground has been two- 
fold. Some have said that God and His written 
message are as plain facts as any of our first princi- 
ples, and consequently, according to well-known 
law, can only be darkened by questioning and rea- 
soning about their reality. Others state themselves 
in this manner. Reason in man is a shattered in- 
strument in shattered circumstances. It is so shat- 
tered within and around that no reliance can be 
placed on its verdicts on fundamental religious ques- 
tions. Look at that seething chaos of opinions and 
reasonings which from the earliest times has borne 
the proud name of philosophy, and in which many a 
great logician, '' floating many a rood," has lain be- 
wildered — the puerile conceits, the muddy obscu- 
rities, the gross contradictions and self-contradic- 
ti(ms, the stark absurdities, the terrible heresies, on 
uhose windy and yeasty bosom reputations and 


schools and systems have tossed, and collided, and 
p;one to pieces! The adventurous voyager, " through 
the shock of fighting elements, on all sides round 
environed, wins his way ; harder beset and more 
endangered than when Argo passed through Bos- 
phorus, betwixt the justling rocks, or when Ulys- 
ses on the larboard shunned Charybdis, and by the 
other whirlpool steered." Behold what the boasted 
reason can do for the world — especially in radical 
discussions ! See — its very name has fallen into 
contempt ! Is such a guide to have our confidence ? 
No ! say these theologians emphatically ; and they 
feel themselves confirmed in their strong negative by 
the manner in which the Scriptures speak of cer- 
tain things called philosophies and wisdoms — de- 
claring that the world by wisdom knows not God ; 
that the faith of christians stands not in the wisdom 
of men, but by the power of God ; that men may 
be spoiled by philosophy, and should avoid opposi- 
tions of science falsely so-called. Their conclusion 
is that the reason which some men deify is at best 
but a fetich — that the true guide within the field 
of fundamental religious doctrine is faith ; mean- 
ing, not a belief in God and Scripture resting on 
logical evidence, but one independent of such evi- 
dence and supernaturally given to those to whom 
it is appointed, or who pray for it and honestly en- 
deavor to follow conscience. This faith carries 
men to the Bible and to prayer for that guidance 


in opinions and practice which their dilapidated rea- 
son is not quahfied to give. 

Men professing such views have not been ver\ 
numerous among Protestants. Once in a while, 
however, they make their appearance. And in al- 
most all our communities there is, I imagine, some 
such vein of thought silently underlying a portion 
of the casual reflection on this subject. But the 
answer is easy. It is true that human reason is in 
a fallen state, that it gives no absolute demonstra- 
tions in questions not mathematical, that many of 
those who have worn its uniform and carried its 
banners have left a very humiliating history, and 
that some of even its most gifted sons have in its 
name played off most extravagant quixotism and 
errantry of speculation. But how does one know 
that this mortifying exhibition is not due, partly to 
the impracticable nature of some of the questions 
discussed, and partly to the improper method and 
spirit in which most of them were examined ? Is 
not the cause adequate to account for the result ? 
But these impugners of reason, as employed on the 
fundamental religious theory, have their positive 
refutation in the examples and precepts of the Book 
which they acknowledge as the final arbiter of 
every question on which it pronounces. The Chris- 
tian apostles argued freely with men in behalf of 
both God and Christianity. Their habit was to go 
into the temples, the markets, the synagogues, and 
there argue for their cause with Gentile and Jew, 


with atheist and infidel. Especially was this the 
habit of that princely logician Paul, who, wherever 
he went, plied the sharp edge of his remorseless 
loffic ; now in cavilino; Jerusalem on the scholars 
of Gamaliel, and now in sneering Athens on the 
scholars of Epicurus and Zeno. Who instructed 
Christians in the midst of a Godless and Christless 
age to be always ready to give a reason of the hope 
that was in them — also to prove all things, hold- 
ing fast that which is good ? The doctrine of the 
first teachers of Christianity evidently was that 
there is both a need and a reliable way of employ- 
ing reason for establishing the reality of God and 
His messao;e, and that the eo;remous follies and 
blunders that sometimes occur in the course of the 
logical process are to be set down, not against rea- 
son itself, but against its mismanagement. 

Among some who allow the possibiHty of an 
argumentative method, it is still a question whether 
such a method can properly be attempted in behalf 
of faith. Many plain Christians are of this class. 
They have a strong feeling against any logical re- 
ligion. The sight of such a great body of it as 
some European libraries show — thousands of vol- 
umes from Plato downward, and displaying an 
amount of genius, culture, and research vastly 
more considerable than their number — such a sight 
would make on their minds an impression of prodig- 
ious waste, to say the least ; waste of time, money, 
pains, faculty. They have never felt the need of 


such books. They are strong in faitli — thanks to 
early training and the experimental method — 
without any help from such a quarter ; and it is 
hard for them, with their very limited acquaintance 
with the nature and extent of the attacks made on 
Theism and Christianity, to realize that any persons 
can require such help, or be at all the better for it. 
Especially is their feeling strong against logical 
Theism. They say that the Scriptures assume the 
being of a God, and so should we ; that at heart 
His reality is doubted by none, all show to the con- 
trary notw^ithstanding ; that, if there is any such 
thing as sincere atheism in the world, it uniformly 
began and solely rests in a bad state of the heart, 
and so will not be reached b}^ any mere logic, how- 
ever conclusive and abundant. The same things, 
mutatis mutandis, are alleged against logical Chris- 
tianity, though with somewhat less emphasis and 

Do the Scriptures assume a God, and their own 
binding authority as His message — at least so far 
as argument is concerned ? In one sense, yes — 
in another sense, no. It is not necessary to an 
argument that it take the form of a syllogism, with 
its major and minor and formally drawn conclusion. 
It is enough that such facts and principles are 
placed before the mind as seem to authorize, and 
naturally lead the reason to make, the desired in- 
ference for itself. This much the Scriptures do — 
in behalf at once of both God and Revelation. They 


attempt to show in themselves prophecies, miracles, 
and supernatural adaptations of various kinds, from 
which, if real, both Theism and Christianity are 
directly inferable in one breath. In such informal 
logic as this they may be said to abound. Further, 
the Scriptures claim that Theism is sincerely re- 
jected by " fools who say in their heart that there is 
no God " — also, that Christianity is sincerely re- 
jected by such men as Paul, who " verily thought 
he ought to do many things contrary to the name 
of Jesus of Nazareth." Indeed, if any reliance can 
be placed on testimony and observation and the 
ordinary laws of evidence, the cases of real unbelief 
and even disbelief in a God, as well as in the Scrip- 
tures, are by no means few. Many say they doubt 
or disbelieve ; they do it witli all facial show of 
sincerity and self-knowledge ; above all, they act as 
if they disbelieved. What better proof could we 
have ? As to such doubt and disbelief, supposed 
real, always finding its origin and support solely in 
a bad state of the heart, this may be admitted 
without admitting the inability of logical religion. 
The guilty heart must operate to produce and sus- 
tain the atheism and the infidehty by perverting and 
blinding the intellect ; and all the light and just 
impulses we give the intellect are so much natural 
opposition to this effect, and may even work back- 
ward toward reclaiming the guilty heart itself. 
Thus the oarsman works his way up the river 
against the current ; thus some potent essence, or 


heat, or sound creeps backward through the atmos- 
phere against the wind ; thus summer, beginning 
at the lowest edge of the glacier, steals drippingly 
and destructively upward till it reaches and melts 
the very fount of the icy cataract and sows flowers 
and perfumes around it. 

Among those who admit the propriety of argu- 
ment in behalf of Theism and Christianity, there is 
great difference of opinion as to the amount and 
kind of advantage possible from it. The expecta- 
tions of some are enormous : the argumentative 
method is both the " irov o-tC) " and the lever which 
can move the world. The expectations of otliers 
are exceedingly moderate ; indeed, so very moder- 
ate that they hardly find sufficient motive to give 
any thorough attention to the believing logic, from 
whatever source it may come. I have thought it 
desirable at this stage to state my own views on 
this point — partly as a key to my method of treat- 
ing my subject, and partly because I should deem 
it equally unfortunate for any of you to come to the 
actual arguments with expectations either extrava- 
gantly large or extravagantly small, as to the ad- 
vantages that may accrue from them. In the one 
case you would be disappointed into discouragement 
and an undervaluing of such utilities as may be 
found belonging to the argumentative method; 
in the other you would enter on the subject with 
too little interest to give it proper treatment. 

I am disposed to claim great utility for the argu- 


mentative method. But I do not suppose this 
utiKty to lie mainly in quarters where many would 
naturally first look for it. It does not lie mainly in 
its power by itself to convert atheists and infidels 
into believers. Nor can any stress be laid on its 
value as a means of weakening the unbelief of such 
persons in the way of disputation with them. We 
cannot even claim for it that it is the leading means 
of sustaining and strengthening faith in God and 
the Scriptures where such faith exists. We have 
large admissions to make ao^ainst logical religion 
at all these points. It is found in experience that 
religion is seldom proved to the satisfaction of men 
by any merely logical argument whatever. When 
men become theists, they not only generally become 
such by a sort of proof that accredits to them Jesus 
and the Bible at the same time, but this compre- 
hensive proof itself is generally something besides 
syllogisms, or what can be resolved into such. It 
is the proof by the experimental method. It is 
the proof by the experimental and argumentative 
methods combined and interleaved — that com- 
posite method, like the student's classic, whose alter- 
nate leaves of a richer texture than the rest and left 
blank for that purpose, give in his own hand his own 
personal thoughts and results ; that composite 
method, like the illuminated missal, whose every 
other leaf is pictured in silver and gold with the 
thoughts and feelings more dimly expressed in the 
neighboring words. The man feels that his wants 


are not met, that his nature is not fed, by infidelity 
and atheism. He knows it safe and reasonable and 
hopeful to renounce his sins. He begins to read 
and act on the Scriptures as being a practical sys- 
tem in at least general accord with his conscience. 
He thus finds his way to prayer to a possible God. 
And the result of all is that at leno-th he discovers 
himself to be in possession of a measure of faith. 
Very likely he himself hardly knows how his mind 
has reached this point ; very likely he has at- 
tempted no formal study of Theistic and Christian 
evidences — nor even consciously given them any 
attention at all ; but in some way, certainly not 
purely argumentative nor even chiefly so, his diffi- 
culties and doubts have noiselessly thinned away 
like the fogs and chills from some morning land- 
scape. It is in some such way as this that unbeliev- 
ers usually become theists and christians. — And 
it is the great way, too, of preserving and increasing 
faith where it exists. The believer always intensi- 
fies himself far more by conscientious acting than 
by logical arguing. A day's careful discharge of 
duty will do far more to heighten his sense of the 
reality of God and of a Divine Scripture than will 
many a day's study of Paley, or any other writer on 
evidences. Instead of being the great means of 
producing, supporting, and increasing religious 
faith of any kind, mere argument deserves no no- 
tice in comparison with the easier and universally 
applicable practical method. And. further, we must 


confess that the mere argumentative method, when 
apphed in the way of disputation, not only seldom 
removes, but generally strengthens unbelief in our 
opponent. Gladiators may conquer, but must not be 
expected to convince. A blow from a steel-glove 
rarely makes a man feel more amiably toward 
either the person or principles of his antagonist. 
The breaking of lances may be a very fine thing 
to lookers-on and the victorious champion : but it 
is a very uncomfortable and wrathful thing to the 
Templar, as he rolls in the dust amid the blare of 
trumpets and the swarming glances of tier upon tier 
of the valiant, the noble, and the fair. Will he 
ever feel kindly toward the Disinherited Knight or 
any of his belongings ? Do not expect it. Rather 
expect to find him a more bitter Templar than ever. 
And disputation with lips, no less than with lances, 
whatever it may do for silent observers, may be 
expected to confirm our opponent in his views, by 
enlisting self-love and ambition and the passions 
of conflict in their support — leading him to give 
specially favorable attention to the plausibilities on 
his own side, and specially prejudiced and carping 
attention to the plausibilities on the other side. 

These admissions must be made. But they are 
by no means an admission of the small utility of 
the argumentative method. Its uses are real and 
great, though not such in kind or degree as some 
claim. Granted that there are such things as 
sound scientific arguments in favor of God and the 


Scriptures, there is a strong presumption, certainly, 
that they can be made to serve some very valuable 
purpose ; and something of a presumption, too, that 
what so many great and good men — bearing such 
names as Newton, Locke, Clarke, Berkeley, Whate- 
ly, Miller — have deemed greatly useful, not to say 
necessary, and on which they have expended such a 
wealth of toil and culture and genius as likens them 
to that Jupiter who is said to have once showered 
himself on the world in the form of gold, is far from 
being a vain thing. And the presumption should 
become a certaint}^ to the christian when he finds 
that his Scriptures teach him, both by apostolic ex- 
ample and by precept, to be " ready always to give 
an answer to every man that asketh a reason for 
the hope that is in him." But multitudes of chris- 
tians have very little faculty for suitably bringing 
up from the depths of their own minds the reasons 
for believing which they actually possess. They 
sit on the well ; there is water enough in it to sup- 
ply Jacob, his children, and his cattle ; but they 
have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. 
And it is very desirable that science and scholar- 
ship should come forward to put them into connec- 
tion with their own abundant waters ; so that they 
may pour them out freely at the curb-stone to re- 
fresh, not merely themselves, but the weary and 
thirsty men who are continually passing. 

One use of the argumentative method is that it 
will serve in many cases to withstand the decay and 


fall of faith, especially in the young. Ingenious 
men have started numerous objections and woven 
numerous sophisms against the Christian Scriptures 
and their God. Many of these are well adapted to 
perplex and deceive the young and incautious mind. 
They are perpetually turning up, covertly or openly, 
in books, magazines, newspapers, popular lectures, 
conversation. Almost every community, even in 
New England, has some one or more, who, to the 
extent of their influence, are confessed perverters 
of the opinions of the young ; and pride themselves 
on retailing wherever opportunity offers, the sneers 
and arguments of prominent infidels and atheists. 
No guardians, however careful, can prevent their 
wards, as they come forward in life, from meeting 
with these anthropophagi. And it is very desirable 
that what cannot be prevented, should be prepared 
for ; that the faith which tradition, aided by in- 
stincts and casual observation and a certain uncon- 
scious logic, has already established in multitudes of 
the young, should be fortified in advance with well- 
considered grounds of reason against the sophistries 
they will have to encounter ; certainly, that there 
should be within their reach at the time of danger 
the natural antidote to the poisonous error in the 
shape of its logical refutation. Of course the pre- 
cautionary instruction is the best. And here that 
great body of logical religion which scholars have 
carefully digested and published to the world, com- 
prising reasonings of all sorts and in all the moods 


and tenses of thought and expression, will serve a 
most valuable purpose. The Mentor of Telemachus 
can go to this roomy Panoplon of all the Greeks, 
and obtain from its endless variety just the argu- 
ment adapted to the capacity and way of thinking 
peculiar to his ward. And it will be received with 
great freedom and held with great pertinacity; 
for, as yet, the young man is a believer. The 
consequence will be that when in course of life he 
falls in with the cavils and sophistries of unbelief, 
however ingenious, his mind will suffer no per- 
plexity and his faith receive no shock. It will not 
become a leaning tower of Pisa. He will not be 
the soldier brought to his knee by severe wounds 
and loss of blood. His friends will have the satis- 
faction of seeing the assailing darts, however deftly 
and forcibly flung, rebound harmlessly from the 
armor of proof provided in anticipation of such at- 
tacks. Without such forearming they would have 
seen him, not only in great risk, but actually 
wounded, prostrate, and dead. 

Moreover, it may properly be claimed that the 
argumentative method will almost uniformly do 
something to strengthen the Theism and Chris- 
tianity of practical believers who will give it suita- 
ble attention, especially those of the more intellect- 
ual cast ; and such will be likely to give it attention. 
No christian, however brawny his faith, can say 
that it is as strong as it is desirable it should be, and 
as it might be. He has merely a good beginning 


of what admits and calls for indefinite improve- 
ment. The more nearly his faith likens itself to 
sight, and the Christian God and Revelation stand 
forth to his mind as do the oceans and mountains 
and stars, in their massive and inexorable reality, 
the purer will be the heart he will bear and the 
life he will lead. How shall his faith receive this 
needed enlargement ? I have repeatedly spoken 
of the great method, that practical method, in com- 
parison with which no other deserves a thought. 
But there is another, of considerable independent 
value in its place ; that of familiarizing the mind 
with that wide variety of logic in behalf of the 
fundamental religion on which have been expended 
so much of the best thinking and expression of the 
world. If one is already a believer, there is noth- 
ing to prevent this sound argument from taking its 
natural effect upon him ; he is predisposed to wel- 
come it, and to give it due weight. Under these 
circumstances, especially if his mind is of the more 
thoughtful and investigating character, he will find 
his study of the logical evidences giving his faith 
new outspread and foundation. The Thesaurus 
of logical religion has become an exceeding great 
Nineveh, of three days' journey — has become hun- 
dred-gated Thebes, able to send forth a myriad war- 
riors from each gate. One is sure to find, somewhere 
w^ithin its wide precincts and amid its metropolitan 
resources w^iat is suited to his peculiarity of habit 
fts a thinker and as a christian. Who has the free- 


dom of the national Commissariat will be sure to 
find, among the prodigious stores of necessaries and 
luxuries that crowd its roomy depots, something to 
suit his peculiarity of appetite and constitution ; 
who has the freedom of the national Mint, where 
are piled up, in glittering stacks, tons of coins of 
every precious metal and every denomination, can 
surely find both change and capital enough for any 
personal expense or reasonable business crisis that 
has come upon him ; who has the freedom of the 
national Arsenal, and looks around on the weapons 
offensive and defensive, ancient and modern, foreign 
and domestic, for siege and battle, for land and sea, 
for officer and private, whose burnished steel and 
brass — not to say silver and gold — mix their terri- 
ble sheen from floor to ceiling, will surely be able to 
generously accommodate his own idiosyncrasies of 
enemy and campaign and strength and stature 
and skill, whatever these may be. 

It can also be said of the argumentative method 
that, by itself, it may often weaken and occasionally 
overthrow atheism and infidelity. I say occasion- 
ally. Observation seems to show that, while the 
great experimental method must be chiefly relied 
on to do this work, now and then a case of conver- 
sion to intellectual Theism and Christianity occurs 
under the mere pressure of argument. Such were 
the cases of Galen, Thorpe, and Nelson ; and the 
latter, in his " Cause and Cure of Infidelity," gives 
several instances additional. It is well known that 


the almost universal unbelief in Yale College at 
the beginning of the present century was com- 
pletely overturned by the reasonings of its eloquent 
president. So long as the unbeliever is disputa- 
tious, so long as the spirit of prejudice and rancor 
is active, the soundest and most victorious of argu- 
ments will not take effect on him : but there are 
certain opportune and critical moments, certain 
Thermopylae-passages in his life, when conscience 
and Providence have spurred up the mind to some 
measure of candid thoughtfalness ; and, occasion- 
ally, at such times the religious logic succeeds in 
getting such a firm hold of the roots of unbehef as 
enables it to dislodge the evil upas finally from the 
mind. It does not take many such achievements 
as this to pay for all the labor that has been ex- 
pended in rearing and equipping the argumentative 

These several uses will be served by that method 
considered as an independent agency. But its 
great use is rendered, not as an independent agency, 
but as an auxiliary to the practical method. It is 
true that in order to the success, in a very consid- 
erable degree, of this primary method, not a single 
formal argument in behalf of God and Scripture 
needs to be constructed. Every man is already, 
informally, in possession of as much light from that 
•juarter as is necessary to the successful working of 
the test by experiment. At the same time the 
operation of this method will be greatly facilitated, 


and carried forward to much larger degrees of suc- 
cess than it could otherwise reach, if combined with 
a patient attention to those arguments in which 
many of the ablest thinkers of the world have given 
the most apt and forcible expression to the rational 
grounds of faith. Men generally need to be stimu- 
lated to the faithful and. persevering use of the ex- 
perimental method. They are very reluctant, espe- 
cially atheists, to put themselves on a strict course 
of conscientious living. But an increase of their 
suspicion that they are in error will help them to- 
ward overcoming this reluctance ; and this increase, 
as we have seen, a just consideration of the ample 
logic is likely to give — a logic already ample, 
but which may be made as much ampler as the 
strata of Geology are ampler than your geological 
cabinet. In the case of the atheist such just con- 
sideration will, in general, only be obtained in part 
and w^ith difficulty. But, if his well-wishers watch 
their opportunity, they can find some time when the 
spirit of prejudice and cavil is sufficiently inactive 
in him to allow of his looking at the Theistic argu- 
ment with enough candor to greatly increase his 
uneasiness and latent Theistic suspicions. And this 
will be so much increase of pressure toward that 
practical method with the aid of which, in all prob- 
abihty, his atheism must ultimately be overthrown. 
Judiciously handled, our logical religion may be 
made the great dynamical feeder to that experi- 
mental method which is the world's main reliance 


for faith. It is worth far more in this capacity than 
as an independent agent. It will serve religion 
much better by recruiting forces for another gen- 
eral than by attempting to lead them itself. 

The argumentative may also minister to the ex- 
perimental method in another way. Besides fur- 
nishing stimulus to use that method, it furnishes a 
better measure of the material used in working it. 
The conscientious acting goes to remove prejudice, 
balance the judgment, rectify the purpose, suggest 
love of the truth, and bring Divine assistance ; and 
thus prepares the mind to take just and clear views 
of certain facts and principles which are the ra- 
tional grounds of faith. A certain amount of these 
facts and principles must be had under even the 
experimental method ; and this amount will get 
supplied in connection with it without any con- 
scious investigation. But it is desirable to have as 
large an amount as possible : because the magnifi- 
cence of the faith, if not its existence, depends on 
the extent of the material as well as on its quality. 
A tithe of the shapely blocks of white marble that 
make up the cathedral of Milan would make a 
very solid and beautiful structure ; but still nothing 
to compare with that august temple whose pinna- 
cled and massive amplitudes now bear up three 
thousand statues to gaze across the pictured plains 
of Lombardy, up the white slopes of the everlasting 
Alps. By means of the argumentative method, 
ministering to the experimental abundant material, 


every one may have a templed faith like the Duomo 
of Milan. Whoever faithfully uses the method by 
experiment shall surely have a solid and beautiful 
sanctuary : but whoever, in addition to this, takes 
pains to put into the hands of this first of builders 
such precious and profuse material as the argu- 
mentative method can quarry and hew from out its 
vast Paros and Carrara, shall have a metropolitan 
temple for his faith, a Te Deum in stone to which 
angels shall delight to become pilgrims ; within 
whose mountain of marble and beneath whose 
dome sweeping grandly heavenward, he shall find 
all climates equalized, and a secure and joyful home 
as long as he lives. 




Kat Sevre SLeXey^^Swfxcv. 

2c Tov AvTO(fivrjy Tov 'jrdvTwv <f>V(TLV iiMTrXi^avO* . 


III. Application of the Argumentative Method. 
I principles s-» 

2. thesis 59 





TN the last Lecture I called your attention to the 
J- Argumentative Method of proving the Christian 
God and Scriptures — to its possibility, propriety, 
and possible profit. I now propose to begin the 
application of the method. 

Its successful application depends on the recog- 
nition of certain principles, which, however plain 
and however generally acted on in other fields of 
moral inquiry, are very largely treated with neglect 
in this whole religious field on which we are now 
entering. I shall therefore devote a small space to 
their consideration. 

What purports to be a moral truth presents itself 
at our gate, and asks for admission. Of course we 
have a right to ask for credentials. What sort and 
degree of credentials ought we to be satisfied with 
— at least so far as to grant the admission ? In 
the first place, it is very plain that if we proceed to 
demand anything of the nature of mathematical 


demonstration, a demonstration involving the Im- 
possibility of tlie opposite of the thing demonstrated, 
we shall demand too much. Proof of this kind is 
not possible in moral fields. We have not a single 
moral conviction that rests on such evidence, and 
never will have. We are now dealing with a class 
of ideas contradistinguished from those of quantity. 
And yet almost every man who holds out against 
a God — as well Indeed as almost every man who 
holds out against Christianity, or who, admitting 
Christianity, holds out against any of the doctrines 
commonly ascribed to it, or who, admitting these 
doctrines, holds out against any of the duties it is 
commonly supposed to enjoin — will insist on hav- 
Ino- It proved to him, not that he is probably in the 
wrong, but that it is impossible he is in the right. 
" Prove to me," he says, " that antitheism cannot 
be true." " Prove to me," he says, " that anti- 
christianity is necessarily false." " You say this 
is my duty: prove now," says he, " that the con- 
trary is impossible in the nature of things." The 
demand is preposterous. No moral truth can have 
mathematical credentials. 

Moreover, it Is very plain that if we require in 
behalf of such truth evidence that carries with It 
moral certainty, we require altogether too much. 
Not that such evidence Is impossible or undesirable 
within this field. Still it is too much for us to re- 
quire as tlie condition of believing. Has any master 
of sentences, anv standard of the art of reasoning. 


laid it down as a maxim that we are at liberty to re- 
fuse belief whenever we can avoid believing ? Did 
Newton, or Locke, or any other honest great thinker 
since the world began, carry on his investigations 
of a moral kind under such a rule ? Does any one 
do it — save when he seems in danger of finding an 
unpalatable truth ? Is this the rule men carry with 
them into their politics and their business — reso- 
lutely refusing faith in anything till they have been 
allowed to put their fingers into the print of the 
nails, and to thrust their hand into its side ? By no 
means. Their politics and business would hastily 
come to an end if they did ; and their whole neigh- 
borhood would sneer at the impracticable men who 
are forever insisting on moral certainties and dem- 
onstrations, and will yield assent to nothing till 
absolutely compelled by Hercules and his club — 
that is to say, by an overpowering stress of argu- 
ment. And yet almost every man who holds out 
against a God, or against the Christian Scriptures as 
His message — as well indeed as almost every man 
who, admitting these, holds out against any of the 
unpalatable doctrines or duties commonly ascribed 
to them — will insist on its being proved to him, if 
not that it is impossible he is in the right, at least 
that it is certain he is in the wrong. When 
reminded that there are no mathematics in any 
part of the moral field, he feels entitled to remem- 
ber that there are moral certainties. These are 
what he wants. *' Prove to me," he says, " that 


antitheism is surely false." "Prove to me," he 
says, " that the Bible is surely true." " You say," 
says he, " that this is a scriptural doctrine, duty : 
prove it beyond a doubt, and I will accept it as 
such." This man, perhaps, is not to be blamed for 
desiring evidence of the most convincing kind ; his 
fault is that he must have this or none — that he 
■will only begin to believe at the point where he 
should end, where faith, full-grown and fledged 
like an angel, is in the act of becoming sight. It 
would, undoubtedly, have been very pleasant to 
the man who, for a mere trifle, had just purchased 
an immense property in one of our Southern States, 
if he could have had, in additioii to the deed of the 
recent owner, the fairly engrossed and broad-sealed 
deed of the United States of America, flanked by 
a certain constitutional amendment. But as he 
could not have this, he was glad to take up with a 
great deal less. He paid his half of one per cent, 
on the value of that Chatsworth, and joyfully took 
possession with nothing but that private deed in his 
hand — hoping in time to have something better. 

Further, it is plain that if we require for the 
admission of a moral truth anything more than a 
preponderance of evidence, we require too much. 
What amount of evidence would be pleasing is one 
thing: what amount puts us under obligation to 
believe is another. Just as soon as, upon honest 
inquiry, there appear more probabilities for than 
against, then the foundation and obligation of faith 


are laid. We have no right to delay believing one 
single moment. No matter how small the apparent 
balance of likelihood is — though the equipoise of 
the scale is disturbed by only a single grain — we 
must yield our assent just as truly as though that 
grain were a mountain. We are not, indeed, bound 
to exercise the strongest kind of faith on such a 
basis ; but real faith, proportioned to the balance of 
probability, we are bound to exercise. This is the 
indisputable and undisputed scientific law of reason- 
ing — statute and common law. Logic is bottomed 
on this. It is both the soil that feeds its root and 
the air that waves its branches. It is that which 
men universally act on in affairs of business and 
all secular life. It is what we must act on in our 
religious inquiries, if we would treat religion and 
the mental laws fairly. When a man declares that 
he does not regard Theism and Christianity as suf- 
ficiently substantiated, I say to him, " What is it 
you mean ? Do you mean that they do not fairly 
bristle with impossibilities of the opposite, Hke the 
Principia of Newton and the M^canique Celeste 
of La Place ? " " Oh no," perhaps he replies, " I do 
not suppose religion to be a science of magnitude, 
and that souls operate and moral ideas stand related 
according to the laws of quantity." " Do you mean 
that they do not stand forth to view and assent like 
the solar orb in a cloudless day, so that none but 
.he stone-blind will fail to see the glory?" "Oh 
no," perhaps he answers. " T am no^" io-norant that 


blank certainties are the exception under the pres- 
ent scheme of hfe, that they properly end the 
faith rather than begin it, that to make them its 
Indispensable conditions would ruin my present life, 
and so might ruin my next, if there is such. No, I 
am not so unreasonable as that. But this much I 
do mean: I must have a broad, heaped, mass of 
evidence ; the scale on the side of God and the 
Bible must come down with a rapid and decisive 
stroke ; my judgment must not be embarrassed 
with a large array of counter-plausibilities. Is not 
this reasonable ? " It would be reasonable for you 
to be glad should moral truth happen to come to 
you with such heavy and shining credentials — 
broad-shouldered as an Atlas, and able on occasion 
to bear up the A^ery heavens ; but to say that it 
must come thus or come in vain is playing the 
tyrant with the first principles of a rational logic. 
You may ask a preponderance of probabilities in 
favor of God and His message as a prerequisite to 
faith : this may be your due from scientific religion. 
But if you insist on a jot more, you are unreason- 
able. And yet almost every man who holds out 
acrainst God and His messao;e will insist on havino; 
it proved to him, if not that it is impossible that he 
is in the right, if not that it is certain that he is in 
the wrong, at least that he is in the wrong by a 
manifold and overawing balance of probability. 
" Prove," he says, " that the plausibilities of the 
atheist and the infidel, though accumulated and 


spread out to the utmost, can be covered and buried 
fathoms deep by the plausibilities of the theist and 
the cliristian — that while the idea of No-God and 
No-Kevelation has merely a hand-breadth of base, 
that which underlies our current religion stretches 
away over the whole rocky foundations of an empire 
— and I will believe." It can be done ; but shall 
one who knows what scientific logic means presume 
to demand so much as the condition of believino;? 

Such are the principles with which one ought to 
approach the application of the argumentative 
method. I have asked you to recollect them — not 
because I wish to make the most of a little evidence, 
but because I wish to make the most of a great 
deal ; or, rather, because I wish you to do simple 
justice to those Alps and Andes of evidence which, 
almost uncounteracted, have, in connection with 
the experimental method, bowed to the simple yet 
majestic faith of children such minds as Boyle, and 
Locke, and Newton. 

Our first concern is with the doctrine 
OF God. And, by the term God, let us mean 
SIMPLY AN Eternal Being possessing powder 


Such a Being I affirm to exist. At present 
nothing is claimed about His unity, or character, or 
government. Nor is it claimed that His power and 
knowledge are absolutely infinite ; only that they 


are practically shoreless to our thought. This nar- 
rowness of thesis, while it simplifies the discussion 
to be undertaken, sacrifices nothing of result. The 
man who gets convinced that there is an Eternal 
Person who towers above men in might and wis- 
dom further than thought itself can soar, passes easily 
forward to a conviction of the Divine unity, the 
Divine goodness, the Divine government, and the 
strict illimitability of all the Divine attributes. 
Enough momentum is acquired in going so far to 
carry him much further. Really the battle is 
gained for the entire Natural Theology. No in- 
telligent man of these days and countries would 
think of making a stand at any other point after 
this keep of his castle has been yielded. That high 
central tower commands all the outworks. You 
can sling a stone from it into every square foot of 
the fortress. This is instinctively felt by the broad 
intelligence of the nineteenth century. Accordingly, 
there is not a theist in all Christendom who believes 
in more than one God, or in a wicked God, or 
in an ungoverning God, or in One whose natural 
attributes are not substantially infinite. Whoever 
believes in Him at all, confesses Him to be the one 
infinitely great and good Author and Ruler of 
Nature. It was not always so. There was a time 
when theists were pluralists. There was a time 
when men believed in Ahriman — nay, in both Ahri- 
man and Ormuzd. There was a time when men 
supposed that God wrapped Himself in His august 


infinity, and stood contemptuously aloof from all the 
affairs of men. But that time has long since passed. 
Epicurus is dead. The Magians, and Manichees, 
and Gnostics are all dead. To attack their opinions 
is to attack corpses. To prove to a theist of this 
late day that God is one, or good, or infinite, or 
sceptered, is lost labor — save as it freshens an old 
truth. The man admits it already. He is, at least, 
" a modern deist." Whatever practical ignoring 
of the leadino; Divine attributes as tauo-ht in the 
Scriptures he may display, they are fully admitted 
theoretically. So the task before us is simple. All 
vfQ have to do is to show that there is an Eternal 
Person whose wisdom and power are indefinitely 
greater than the human. Having this, as human 
thinking now stands, we have all — we have the 
unity, the goodness, the infinity, and the government 
of God. Still it may be necessary to notice some 
objections to these, as being in effect objections to 
the Divine existence. 

At the outset it is plain that God is intrinsically 
possible. Personal beings are common objects : so 
that if there is any insuperable intrinsic difficulty 
in the way of the existence of a God, it lies in the 
attributes of eternity and comparative infinitude of 
power and knowledge which are ascribed to Him. 
But at least one eternal and absolutely infinite 
thing is known to exist, namely, space ; and there is 
no more difficulty in conceiving of an eternal and 
infinite Person as being actual than of eternal anj 


infinite space as being so. Also, if there is no God, 
there must be eternal matter with its eternal laws 
— just as hard a conception as an eternal mind. 
Also, on looking on one side of us down the long 
line of animated nature, we find it occupied with 
beings in perpetually descending and mutually 
approximating types till we come to such as are 
infinitesimally small and rude — mere monads trem- 
bling on the border land contested between the or- 
ganic and the inorganic, between something and 
nothing: shall any say it is impossible that the 
line extends on the other side of us upward and 
away among perpetually ascending and mutually 
receding types of being, till, at last, by one pro- 
digious leap, the geometrical series ends in a Being 
inconceivably great and glorious? Who has the 
right to say that, of necessity, himself is the last 
term of the series, or even the middle of it — that 
it does not go on expanding above him like an 
inverted pyramid of Cheops till the base of all is 
reached in infinite God and heaven? What if 
some rooted gelatinous polyp should assume to 
pronounce in this manner — as it looks around the 
mud-hole where it stands facile prineeps, and as it 
follows downward with its nascent vision the graded 
life that swarms through its sphere till it reaches 
that infusorial mote which the microscope magnify- 
ing sixteen millions of times has only just brought 
to light — what if that polyp should assume to pro- 
Qounce in this manner ? 

THESIS. 6 a 

Next, I proceed to say that the God who is In- 
trinsically possible is on the whole probable. This, 
according to the logical principles just stated, means 
that whatever objections to the Divine existence 
may be found are outweighed by the arguments for 
it ; perhaps means that the arguments in the one 
scale are zero, while those in the other are the entire 
multiplication table. Let us see. 

By fir the greater part of atheists do not claim 
that there is any positive evidence against a God ; 
they only maintain the insufficiency of the evidence 
for Him. Their attitude is that of doubters, not 
disbelievers. Nor am I able to find that any ob- 
jections deserving of notice, besides the three follow- 
ing, are ever alleged or felt against the Divine ex- 
istence, as admitted to be intrinsically possible. 

The objections are these. 

Firsts The miseries and moral disorders of the 
world, together with such natural objects as go to 
promote these. 

Second^ The absence of all overpowering mani- 
festation of God in Nature and the government of 
the world : or, at least, the absence of an irresistibly 
universal faith in Him. " If there were a God," 
says or feels the objector, '' He would so clearly 
manifest Himself, or otherwise summon faith, as to 
make doubt of His existence universally impossible. 
But, instead of this, all is silence, invisibility, and 
undemonstrativeness on the part of any such Be- 
ing ; and while some disbelieve His existence, more 


doubt it, and great multitudes have a faith trouble- 
somely weak and unimpressive." 

Thirds The alleged fact that all things which 
need to be accounted for can be accounted for as 
surely and well by purely natural principles as on 
the supposition of a God ; in which case we are 
positively required by reason and all scientific usage 
to ascribe the facts to Nature rather than to the 
supernatural as their probable cause. 

Here we have three objections. The last objec- 
tion, however, should be thrown out for the pres- 
ent. It really lies not against the existence of a 
God — at the most only against a certain class of 
evidences in His favor. What it means is that 
certain material atoms, with their properties and 
laws, will just as well explain the existence of, say 
natural organisms, as will the hypothesis of a God. 
In another place I shall formally deny this. At 
present I have only to point out to you that were 
the alleged fact incontestable, it would not lie against 
the existence of a God — at the most, only against 
a certain class of evidences in His favor, namely, 
that from natural organisms. Allowing that these 
organisms can be produced with perfect ease by the 
economies wrapped up in certain natural elements, 
it follows, if you please, that organic Nature cannot 
be appealed to as direct proof of the Divine exist- 
ence ; but it does not follow that there is no other 
proof to which we can successfully appeal — does 
not follow, either surely or probably, that God does 


not exist, or even that He did not actually produce 
Nature in all its glorious outspread. You, with 
your young muscles and hearts, are perfectly com- 
petent to ascend Mont Blanc, and place your feet 
on the very crown of that Alpine monarch ; but 
this fact does not even make it probable that you 
were ever in his neig-hborhood even. You have 
never set eyes on his mighty slopes. You have 
never even dreamed of doing so. And even if it 
could be proved that at some time you have really 
done feats fully equal to scaling that snowy miracle 

— have really ascended mountains as arduous — 
this would have no tendency to prove that you 
have ever struggled up those formidable Savoy an 
steeps. Even so, were certain natural elements quite 
competent to produce the noblest organic wonders 
that ever took the name of solar system or of man, 
it would be no probability that they were actually 
produced by these elements. But suppose it were 

— suppose it abundantly proved not only that cer- 
tain material elements are competent to organize 
Nature as we find it organized, but that they ac- 
tually did thus organize it — what then ? Does it 
follow that there is no God? At most, it only 
follows that the organisms of Nature are not avail- 
able as proof of Him. We are cut off from a cer- 
tain class of evidences that have been much relied 
on : that is all. Other evidences may exist. What 
hinders that a God should make one of the coeter- 
nities of Nature ; and, though not the author of its 



organisms, nor even of the primal elements from 
which they proceed, stand among them and over 
them from everlasting to everlasting as absolute 
sovereign? Nay, what hinders Him from being the 
author of those very material elements whose won- 
drous properties for combination and organization 
have naturally peopled the heavens w^ith sidereal 
systems and the earth with the glories of vegetable 
and animal Hfe ? Absolutely nothing. We are 
perfectly free to suppose that the whole verdant 
tree of Nature roots itself ultimately in God — that 
the famous questions of the origin of species and 
spontaneous generation, of which unbelief in these 
days is trying to make so much, are really but 
questions as to modes and times of a Divine oper- 
ation. Does God ororanize Nature with His own 
hand through all these years and countries and 
spaces, or did He, vast periods agone, launch into 
beino; certain atoms dowered with all those subtle 
affinities and laws which in process of time would 
of themselves issue naturally in all the wondrous 
mechanisms of nature — behold here the true di- 
lemma with which the Darwins and the Lamarcks 
threaten us ! This the chief of them profess. They 
profess that their views are perfectly consistent 
with Theism. They shoot not a single arrow any- 
where in the direction of a God. Every shaft flies 
exactly a quadrant away — neither for nor against. 
Grant them all they ask, and it still remains perfectly 
open to proof that a God exists, and even that He 


created and governs the whole august total of 

Setting aside, therefore, the last of the three 
objections, as having no claim to be considered at 
this part of our discussion, liowever much it may 
have at another part, let us revert to the first ob- 
jection, that from the miseries and moral disorders 
of the v^rorld. 

Now, in regard to this objection, it ought to be 
plain that, if it has any validity, it is not against 
the existence of such a God as I now affirm, namely, 
an Eternal Being of power and intelligence incon- 
ceivably beyond the human. At the most, it is 
only vaHd against a good God. A state of the world 
checkered by sin and sorrow and deformity, is 
surely not inconsistent with the existence of a 
wicked Deity. It would not be out of character 
for such a being to neglect us, to afflict us, to abuse 
us to any extent or in any manner. Were the 
world one vast torture-house and pandemonium, it 
would still agree perfectly well with the presidency 
of one who hates, or cares not for the holiness and 
happiness of his creatures. Looking around the 
dungeons of the Inquisition has no tendency to 
draw into doubt the reality of the Inquisitor-Gen- 
eral, whatever conclusions it may warrant as to 
his sweetness and mercifulness. Looking around 
on the debris of worn and crushed geologic peri- 
ods never induces geologists to think of calling in 
question the presence among them of some enor- 


mous force : they only are put upon considering 
whether that force is Plutonian or Neptunian. 

This is my first answer to the objection from the 
sins and sorrows and other maculae observable in 
Nature. If it has any force at all, it is, at the most, 
only against the goodness of God, not against His 
existence. But really it has no force even against 
His goodness. God may not only exist, but clothe 
Himself with goodness as the sun does itself with 
rays, notwithstanding the earth is confessedly 
scorched and scarred with physical and moral evil. 
I wish to show this for several reasons. It is well 
to push the objection which has been so great a 
trial to many still further from our thesis — so to 
speak, out of sight of it as well as out of hearing — 
and, as it were, make assurance of its invalidity 
doubly sure. Does the son content himself with 
merely turning off by the smallest possible angle 
the arrow aimed at his sire ? Does he not rather 
with forceful and indignant blow smite it a whole 
semicircle away ? 

It may also be well to show the invalidity of the 
objection as against Divine goodness, in order to 
forestall a prejudice against accepting any God that 
naturally arises from supposing, or at least fearing, 
that the God, when accepted, will have to be ad- 
mitted to be a bad one. We all had rather have 
no God than one destitute of goodness ; and this 
feeling naturally stands in the way of the reception 
of any logic, however conclusive, in behalf of a 


God which may have this enormous want. Another 
reason, perhaps the most important of all. There 
are many to whom it seems that an Eternal Being 
of inconceivably great intelligence and power log- 
ically implies a good God and abundant evidences 
of Him, and that, consequently, any objection valid 
against His goodness is really valid against His ex- 
istence. For the sake of such persons also — some 
of them believers of the choicest kind — I desire 
to go further, and show that the various evils, nat- 
ural and moral, of the world are not against even 
the Divine goodness ; are not, under the circum- 
stances of the case, even the smallest presumption 
on the whole that among the existences of the uni- 
verse there is not One whose eternal years of 
might and wisdom are auroral with the glories of 
a perfect virtue. 

Notice the following things. First, if God were 
not strictly almighty, the limitation of His power 
would sufficiently account for the evil observable 
about us ; we should be quite at liberty to suppose 
Him perfectly good. Second, if He were not 
strictly omniscient, the limitation of His knowledge 
would sufficiently account for the evil around us ; 
and we should be quite at liberty to suppose Him 
perfectly good still. Third, if these two limitations 
were existing too^ether — and our thesis does not 
assume the contrary — they would furnish us with 
double the explanation required to meet the objec- 
tion without giving up one jot from a perfect Divine 


goodness. By giving up either the strict almighti- 
ness or the strict omniscience, we can surely save 
the goodness in all its entirety : by giving up both, 
we can double, so to speak, the assurance of our 
position. For my part, if compelled to choose, I 
should prefer to allow that God is not quite meta- 
physically almighty, or all-wise, or even neither ; 
that although powerful and intelligent beyond all 
human standard and thought, better equipped in 
these respects than Zeus or Brahma was ever fa- 
bled to be, His oceans of might and knowledge fall 
somewhat short of being absolutely shoreless. But 
this sacrifice is not necessary. A perfect Divine 
goodness can be saved without it. And it seems 
to me not hard to do it — especially in view of the 
peculiar 7iature of virtue^ and of the manifest fitness 
of an outward condition of imperfection and sorrow 
to a race of sinners. I ask you to emphasize this 
last thought. Let it be the background on which 
you project such facts as the following — not for the 
purpose of exaggerating them, but for the purpose 
of setting them forth in all the truthfulness of na- 

Notice what the aspect of the world really is. 
We do not see exclusively sorrows, and sins, and 
shadows. By no means. We see, besides, a vast 
deal of enjoyment — from mere comfort to rap- 
ture ; from the obvious gayety of the mote in his 
sunbeam, up the long line of gamboling and singing 
and smiling Nature, with its hundreds of thousands 


of known species, to the mighty joy of a man who 
at least thinks he has gained the prize of eternal 
life. In addition, we see an incalculable amount 
of things fitted to give enjoyment — useful things, 
delicious things, beautiful things, sublime things ; 
things grateful to the touch, to the taste, to the smell, 
to the ear, to the sight, to the soul ; pleasant lights 
and shadows ; sweet perfumes and sounds ; golden 
grains and fruits ; lovely features, forms, flowers, 
gems, landscapes, motions ; glorious rivers and 
cataracts and mountains and oceans and skies — 
in thronging hosts which no arithmetic can com- 
pute. Further, mixed up with this natural good is 
a great amount of such as is of a still higher na- 
ture. No one is warranted in saying or believing 
that there is a particle of sin in any of the animal 
races below man. But there are many fair and 
noble spiritual qualities revealing themselves in 
numberless ways through these humbler but wide 
domains — fair instincts, affections, gratitudes ; no- 
ble endurance, courage, skill. And altogether, 
within historic and our daily observation, tliere are 
— generously sown through the world like star- 
dust, and lighting up our atmosphere with all man- 
ner of lights, from the atomic phosphorescence of 
the fire-fly to the gayest November star-rain — 
comely orders and proprieties, generous impulses, 
charming amiabilities, graceful affections ; beauteous 
industries, usefulnesses, purities, aspirations, hopes ; 
exalted patiences, fortitudes, heroisms, loves, mag- 


nanimities, moralities, consciences — above all, pure 
solid Christian virtue in very many incontestable and 
even glorious instances, the record of which thrills 
us as we read ; also, in the case of every human 
being, capabilities of a virtue of the most magnifi- 
cent description, and far loftier than any that ever 
actually pictured and glorified the historic page. 
Further, it is observed that virtue has in its favor 
the suffrages of all consciences, and, confessedly, 
the general current of natural laws and events. 

Now, this I say, that if you hold God responsible 
for the sorrows, moral disorders, and other disad- 
vantages of the world, it is but fair to give Him 
credit for the happiness and virtue, and manifold 
advantages of all sorts, that exist. If you debit 
Him with those dark things, you should credit 
Him with these bright things. If the one class of 
facts is allowed to argue against a good God, then 
the other class must be allowed to argue in His favor. 
And it is simply a question which party argues 
loudest — the Red Roses or the White, the Guelphs 
or the Ghibellines, the noes or the ayes. Who 
is warranted in pronouncing that the noes have it ? 
My ears have not discovered it, nor have yours, 
nor yours; least of all — those of the objecting 
atheist. Confessedly, the happiness of the world 
is far greater than its sorrow : almost every living 
creature has a thousand moments of comfort to one 
moment of pain. Existence, as it is, is almost uni- 
Ycrsally considered a blessing, and so much of a 


blessing that not one in a thousand but would a 
thousand times prefer hving on, with his average 
lot as to happiness, to being dismissed into annihila- 
tion painlessly, or even by way of paradise. Con- 
fessedly, the noxious things, the deformed things, 
the things that wound the senses and the aesthetical 
nature, bear no sensible proportion to the useful, the 
comely, the gratifying things that be-green and 
be-blossom this beautiful world. Let every man 
look about and judge for himself. Atheists not 
only confess, but profess it. They are forward to 
claim great things for Nature : she is to them the 
one worshipful Alma Mater : they practically deify 
her and lier laws. Confessedly, there are through 
the multitudinous races below man more orders 
than disorders, more proprieties than improprieties, 
more things that are comely and useful in disposi- 
tion and instinct and habit than there are things of 
apparently the opposite character. I suppose no 
naturalist of standing, whatever his religious views, 
would for one moment think of callingr this in 
question. An open profession of it, on the con- 
trary, in terms enthusiastic and almost poetical, dis- 
tinguishes the chieftains of natural history. It is 
true that when we come to man — if we take the 
Bible-microscope and the Bible-micrometer for in- 
specting and judging the hearts of men, and not 
otherwise — we find more sin than holiness ; but 
then we find by the side of what goodness does ex- 
ist, and assisting most heavily to bear down its 


scale, this more tlian fairly oiFsettiiig great fact, 
namely, that the general constitution of Nature, 
and all human consciences without exception the 
world over, are founded and immovably continued 
from age to age in the interests of virtue. I say 
this more than fairly offsetting fact, especially in 
view of the essentially free nature of virtue. But 
from the stand-point of the objecting atheists the 
case is still clearer. These are the men who have 
never accepted the Christian view of the corruption 
of human nature, nor the Christian view of the 
nature of virtue. These are the men who have 
constituted themselves professors of the dignity of 
human nature and of the innocence of childhood 
— men with whom every amiable instinct and 
graceful propriety and pleasing amenity passes for 
solid holiness — or rather, men with most of whom 
there is no such thing as sin, only misfortune or 
contrariety to public opinion ; that is to say, no sin 
but pain, and no holiness but pleasure. According 
to these views, the world is just as fair morally as it 
is physically and in its relation to happiness. 

This, then, is the state of the case, especially ac- 
cording to the objector's own showing : on the one 
side much, on the other side more — on the one 
side ten suffrages, on the other ten thousand — on 
the one side a good God negatived by a chorus of 
tears and sighs from the night, on the other 
affirmed by a much grander chorus of smiles and 
songs from the day. What right has any man to 


favor the vanqiiislied night-side of Nature ; ana 
record judgment, not only in defiance of charity, but 
in defiance of the loffic of testimony ? What rio;ht 
has he to balance the books ao;ainst a ffood God, 
when really there is a large balance to His credit, 
according to the observation of all discerning men ? 
He has none, and stands by the side of the man 
who hearkens more to the spots on the sun than to 
the sun itself. 

Now, suppose a mind brought to this stage should 
suddenly become clairvoyant as to the future of this 
world, and discover a little in advance a golden 
age unfolding itself in every land and among every 
race of creatures — the new reign of Saturn, the 
sabbath of geologic periods, the tenth avatar of 
Brahma, and the millennium of Christ — say, if 
you please, a thousand years whose every day is a 
year, 365,000 years : and through all this mighty 
era those three matchless graces, holiness, happi- 
ness, and beauty triumphantly and universally 
reigning, and even the entire menagerie of Nature 
bathing itself in the mellow glory. Suppose, still 
further, that after he has sufficiently familiarized 
himself with the vision of this earthly elysium, 
and has just passed to and mastered the fact that, 
with a slight and relatively altogether insignificant 
break, this happy period shall everlastingly con- 
tinue — suppose that another and still higher clair- 
voyance succeeds. His view is no longer confined 
-o this earth. His eye has the freedom of the 


starry spaces. It sends glance outward and out- 
ward to find the voids peopled with worlds in such 
prodigious numbers and magnitudes that, in com- 
parison, the great outspread of earth is but a 
point. What unspeakable legions, all cased in 
golden mail, go wheeling and charging and storm- 
ing through the routed empires of Night and Notli- 
ino-ness! What infinite, infinite armadas, with 
flashing banners, bear down the reaches of that 
endless ocean — and behold all, with scarcely an 
exception, freighted to overflowing with beauty and 
goodness and bliss, as some gushing sunset cloud is 
freighted with the dolphin hues of the dying day I 
And he sees that the whole area flecked with sin 
and pain and various evils is comparatively but a 
fluxion of the last order, a microscopic dot on the 
white page of universal Nature. I say, suppose 
some second-sight could discover to him all this — 
should become the successful whipper-in of all its 
roving members to that august natural parliament 
in which the question of a good God is just now 
pending — bringing up substantially all space and 
all duration to add their voices to that large ma- 
jority which on the earth utter affirmative suffrage 
— what would be the result ? Would not the seven 
thunders of the ayes completely drown the noes 
in his ear ? Ought they not ? 

Now, who is authorized to say that an actual can- 
vassing of duration and space would not discover 
substantially all this ? Not a man. Traditions favor 


a golden age to come as well as a golden age past. 
" Jam redit et virgo, redeimt Satarnia regna." The 
rapidly advancing sciences and arts and comforts 
of men point in the same direction. The magnifi- 
cent faculties for virtue and happiness which every 
man consciously possesses — also actual examples, 
sometimes found, of individuals, families, and com- 
munities already well-nigh bright enough in every 
respect to enter into the composition of a paradise — 
look the same way with still greater steadiness and 
majesty. And then, what means the far superior 
aspect of most of those foreign worlds which sail 
so brightly and joyfully, and, many of them, with 
such marvelous glory, through the field of the tel- 
escope ? Does that rainbow-bouquet of orbs in the 
Southern Cross, or that great cluster in Her- 
cules which sails in such heavenly pomp across the 
field of our telescopes, positively discourage you and 
bid you think of abodes of sin and sorrow ? Oh, 
no. They are a positive encouragement. They 
suo-D-est a fairer state of things than we have here. 
They assert a possibihty, they venture a prediction, 
they turn their faces hopefully toward the sun-ris- 
ing ; and, as we dimly look upon them, we imagine 
we see their fe^atures already beginning to light up 
with the flush of coming day. It is not from such 
facts that a Baconian infers discouragement. If he 
does it at all, it is from the evils seen in this world. 
But would a savage on the most barbarous South 
Sea island, after looking about his narrow home and 


observing what obtains there, be warranted in say- 
ing that, on the whole, probably all the rest of man- 
kind are savages and cannibals, or that any of 
them are ? Would a child living in the most dilap 
idated hut in Ireland, after looking about on its 
ruins and its rags, be warranted in saying that it is 
more likely than not that all the other dwellings of 
the Avorld are as poor as his own, or that any of 
them are ? Would a trilobite, after looking about 
his native marsh, be entitled to say that, more 
likely than not, nothing better than trilobites would 
ever appear in the world, or even that a single true 
trilobite would ever exist out of the Silurian ? 

If I have accomplished what I attempted, I have 
shown that the objection from the sins and sorrows 
and other shadows of the world does not lie ao-ainst 
my thesis at all ; that it is at a threefold remove 
from being pertinent even against the doctrine of 
a good God ; that if it were intrinsically available 
for this purpose, it would still be balanced, heavily 
overborne, and, not improbably, completely sunk 
below the horizon by the actual state of facts in 
this beautiful and even gorgeous universe that sur- 
rounds us. 



Hocru) fxaXXov 6 UaTtjp 6 ii ovpavov. 

Os ToXX* ttTravra Scvrep* rjyeiTai liaTrjp Zcvs^ 












TN the present state of religious thought, all ob- 
^ jections to the goodness of God make directly 
against His existence. On this account I have 
taken pains to show that the maculas of various 
kinds observable in Nature, are very far removed 
from being a valid objection to the Divine goodness. 

This subject is so extremely important — the idea 
of possible malevolence in a Being of substantially 
infinite powers operates so powerfully to prejudice 
tlie mind against admitting His existence — that I 
propose to enlarge my answer still further. I pro- 
pose to show that, despite all stumbling-blocks, the 
state of facts is such that, if we assume God to 
exist as the Author and Ruler of Nature, we are 
bound by Baconian science to admit not only His 
lovino:-kindness but a lovinor-kindness that is in the 
highest degree paternal. If He is at all. He is 
tenderness itself. If He is at all, never did sire so 
yearn over son as God yearns ov^er all His crea- 

Let us, then, temporarily assume a God who is 


the source of being to all other beings. Lo, the 
All-Father ; lo, the Pater Mmidi ! More broadly 
and fundamentally than ever was man the father 
of a human child, is God the Father of all things, 
small and great, unintelligent and intelligent, life- 
less and living, that people with their countless 
swarms the universal round of space — Father of 
the very primary elements, and basal substance of 
all thinsis — Father of all natural chemical and me- 
chanical combinations of these — Father of all Jiat- 
ural structures ; of the man ; of the brute ; of the 
plant ; of the stone, Avhether as a jewel, a stratum, 
or a world. Everything in Nature belongs to His 
family. Stars and souls are His children ; the 
veriest insects and motes as well. You are His son, 
and so is the worm under your feet, as well as that 
atom of dust which the worm crawls over. There 
is not a thing which has not occasion to send 
heavenward its Pater Noster. 

Let this be admitted. Then you are to observe 
that human beings are mere infants relative to this 
Heavenly Father. The greatest specimens of 
adult human nature ever seen ; the men of broad- 
est faculties, of widest information, of highest cul- 
ture ; the most famous scholars, statesmen, philos- 
ophers, geniuses — even such men as these are 
merest infants relatively to their Infinite Father. 
Compared with His faculties, what are those of a 
Newton or a Pascal ! Compared with His knowl- 
edge, what is that of a Leibnitz or a Humboldt ! 


Compared with His accomplishments and feats of 
many names, what are those of admirable Crichtons 
and Sidneys and Cids ! Mere nothings, surely. 
When I say that they are infantile, when I liken 
these so-called great men to the little children that 
creep and totter about our human homes, I cer- 
tainly may be considered to speak with great mod- 
eration. We all know it an under-statement of the 
truth. So far from being hyperbole, it falls wonder- 
fully short of expressing the actual facts. 

Men are God's infants. And we ought not to be 
stumbled at finding them receiving from their Great 
Father what is found in our common household 
experience to be wise treatment for little children. 
I mean that such treatment as a wise human father 
finds necessary for or adapted to his very dear ht- 
tle children, it should not stumble us to find allotted 
by God to these very httle children of His, adult 

See how He treats us ! 

See, first, that we do not have all our wishes 
granted. How well do we know this ! Why, it is 
only here and there one, among the multitude of 
our cravings, that God suffers to be gratified. Man 
is " a bundle of wishes," but he neither receives 
nor expects the fulfillment of the thousandth part 
of them. Let us confess it ; had a chronicle been 
carefully kept of all the crude wishes that have 
flitted through our minds from day to day, we should 
not only be mortified at the quality of many of 


them and astonished at then' number, but we should 
also be both mortified and astonished at the very 
small proportion of these blossoms which have 
ripened into fruit. — Well, it is but the case of the 
very httle child in the hands of a wise and tender 
earthly father. Does he give his children every- 
thing they want — the little tottering, unreasoning, 
inexperienced, visionary things ! He knows better 
than to do that. He has too much good sense and 
regard for his children to do that. He allows them 
to wish in vain for many a pernicious indulgence 
which he could easily give them if he thought best ; 
even stoutly withholds such things from their tears 
and prayers. And when they have grown up they 
will be thankful to him for his wise and kind ob- 
stinacy. Is not God wise and kind after the same 
manner ? Though we are men as compared with 
children, we are children, infant children, as com- 
pared with God. And not one in a thousand of 
our crude fancies as to what would be good for 
us is He disposed to fulfill. Perhaps He loves us 
too well. Perhaps He is too wise to do so foolish 
a thing, though our hearts cry bitterly unto Him 
for it. 

See, second, that we are positively strieken as ivell 
as denied. Not only do we fail of having all that 
we wish — we also receive positive correction, chas- 
tisement, stripes. What man that fives is without 
his trials ? What man that lives does not die — such 
Is the hard word we use — driven out very painfully, 


perhaps, into the cold and dark ? Losses, crosses — 
who has not looked many forms of such things in 
the face ; nay, taken them firmly by the hand ; 
nay, most reluctantly embraced them as men em- 
braced the thorny Mater Dolorosa of the Inquisi- 
tion? Is God therefore unpaternal? Is our case, 
after all, so very unlike that of other children ? 
What son is he whom the judicious father chas- 
tenetli not ? Does any wise parent neglect to 
act on that old-world injunction, " Correct thy son 
while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his 
crying ? " Nay, the rod is not spared in any well- 
ordered household, in order that the child may not 
be spoiled. Sometimes, even his home is broken 
up, and he is sent out, sorely against his will, into 
what he considers the stormy cold and dark. He 
weeps, he wails, he suffers — suffers apparently as 
much as the man with his manly troubles. It is 
most touching, those distressful tones and features 
and contortions with which the little one shrinks 
back from what the parent decides must be done. 
" Poor child ! " says the heart of the bystander. 
" Poor child ! " say much more the softer hearts of 
sisters and mothers ; and the moisture gathers fast 
in their eyes as they look on. It would be hard 
to show that yon yearling, drenched in tears and 
piteous exclamations, is not suffering as much as 
most dying men. Yet his father is firm. He carries 
through his plans as a business man, his plans as a 
household providence, his plans for training that 


particular child, without bating one jot. jle trans- 
fers him from one school to another, from one physi- 
cian to another, from one home to another ; albeit 
it must be through a night of lowering looks, a sharp 
east wind of expostulations, and a free rain of tears. 
Is this treatment anything against the affection of 
the parent ? Does any reasonable person conclude 
that firm father to be either cruel or injudicious ? 
Perhaps every sensible, experienced man would 
think him cruel and injudicious if he should neglect 
that, for the present, painful discipline. — Now what 
are these grown-up men about us but merest chil- 
dren before God ? And when we find the Heavenly 
Father correcting them after the manner of earthly 
fathers — a manner that we justify and even confess 
to be required by an enlightened and wise tender- 
ness — why do we lift our eyebrows with complain- 
ing wonder ? Is it any more than the usual treat- 
ment of well-loved and wisely managed little ones ? 
See, third, that we have tasks and burdens put 
upon us which, doubtless, God could spare us, so far 
as mere power is concerned. Cares, watchfulness, 
painful inquiries, various true work of body and 
mind, personal sacrifices of strength and time and 
property for the good of others — such things are 
imposed, sometimes very largely, on all our men 
and women by the present scheme of Divine Provi- 
dence. — Well, is not this the way little children 
are accustomed to be treated by wise and tender 
fathers ? Do not such fathers aim to accustom their 


children gradually to effort of body and mind — 
to think, plan, take care, conquer obstacles, bind 
themselves to diligence and order, task themselves 
at schools, ply various odds and ends of manual 
work about the house or the farm or the shop 
— true tasks and burdens, all of them, to child- 
hood ? These little burden-bearers are warmly 
loved. Pecuniarily, perhaps, their parents could 
afford to allow perpetual holiday. But they are 
too sensible and experienced and intelligently 
affectionate to do any such thing. Those children 
must have character. They must be prepared for 
a useful and honorable maturity. So they must 
bear the yoke in their youth. And those kind 
parents, without hesitation and with the high ap- 
proval of all experienced lookers-on, proceed by de- 
grees to impose that yoke according to the day and 
the strength of the little children. — Now, what 
are these grown-up people about us but so many 
merest children before God ? And when we find 
their Heavenly Father laying upon them — laying 
upon us — tasks to do and burdens to bear which 
His almightiness could well spare us, in case it 
were good for us to be spared, shall we behave as 
though we have fallen on a very mysterious and 
stumbling state of things, a state of things that must 
be laboriously cleared up by besoms of both logic 
and faith before we can admit our God to be wise 
and kind ? He, too, has the character of His chil- 
dren to look after. He, too, has their honorable 


and useful and happy future to provide for. Are 
we any better than httle children in His presence ? 
Why should He not give us the usual treatment of 
well-loved and wisely managed little ones ? 

See, fourth, that we are always required to ohey^ 
often without reasons assigned. Persons of ripe and 
even hoary years are not allowed to have their own 
way. The laws of the land say. No. Above all, the 
laws of God say, No. Bearing down most compre- 
hensively on the lives and even the thoughts and 
feelings of the oldest and best developed among us, 
the laws of Nature, with their penalties, bring us the 
Divine washes in unmistakable accent of command. 
Ye shall — ye shall not. No matter if we are 
kings, we must obey. No matter if we are sages, 
■vfQ must obey. No matter if we are venerable 
patriarchs, we must obey. Nor are reasons in full 
always given us for these commands. Sometimes 
there is only the simple expression of the sovereign 
Divine will. It is purely a case of unexplained 
and unexplainable authority. We cannot see why 
the law w^as established. So God has chosen ; this 
is all we can say of the matter. — Well, in this re- 
spect we are treated like little children ; as w^e are, 
before God, though our locks are silvered with age 
and wisdom. Are not wise and kind parents wont 
to insist on obedience from their little ones ? Are 
they always careful to give intelligible reasons for 
their biddings ? Obedience is the fundamental 
principle of all thrifty rising households. Rever- 


ence for parental authority, as such, is required. 
The narrow intelligence and experience of child- 
hood cannot always have matters explained to them, 
but must learn to do things simply because the 
parent wills them. Do I bring certain strano-e 
things to your ears? On the contrary, are they 
not things that have been generally understood 
among thoughtful persons from the foundation of 
the human world? Do we blame these parents 
who insist on being obeyed ? Do we pity these lit- 
tle children who must submit to authority ? Not 
at all. We blame the parents and pity the chil- 
dren if other principles are allowed. We know 
that both parties are in a fair way to ruin. And 
when God, our Heavenly Father, puts us who are 
called adults, but who are nothing more than little 
children before Him, upon a regimen of obedience, 
and strenuously insists upon it that, instead of doing 
as we please, we shall go by rules of His providing 
— sometimes unexplained rules — shall we wonder 
as if we had never heard of such things being done 
before by the kindest and wisest of parents ? Shall 
we feel aggrieved and sore as to rights and liberties, 
as though we have not been heartily approving and 
commending, every day of our lives, just the same 
treatment of other little children by their earthly 
parents ? What are we, grown up-men and women 
as we are — what are we but merest children before 

See, fifth, that ive are kept in a state of close cte- 


pendence on God, and under a necessity for daily 
appealing to Him for support, information, and guid- 
ance. You know how the Christian Scriptures put 
our case. It is God who really provides for us 
everything we have. He gives us our daily bread. 
He clothes us, as well as the grass of the field. 
Our education, our substance, our enjoyments, our 
honors ; in short every good and perfect gift, is from 
above, from the Father of lights. What have we 
that we did not receive ? All things come of Thee, 
and Thou givest meat unto all : and unto Thee 
shall all flesh come ! So we are to go to Him for 
everything we want — for the daily bread, the wis- 
dom that we lack, guidance in the path we tread ; for, 
O Lord, it is not in man that walketh to direct his 
steps ! Absolute and perpetual dependence on the 
Heavenly Father for everything, and a daily look- 
ing to Him for everything — this is the law of life 
to all of us, even the strongest and highest and 
proudest and most self-contained of our men and 
women. Now suppose this Bible account of our 
dependence to be the true account. What then ? 
Is it a very stumbling matter, even to freedom- 
idolizing Americans? See how the little child 
hangs on his father's hand for everything ! Every- 
thing is provided for him. Hector takes care in 
all directions ; and whether the puny Astyanax is 
to be fed or clothed or instructed, it is the parental 
forethought and busy ministering hand that oppor- 
tunely meet the needs of every passing day. The 


child has nothing that is strictly his own. For what- 
ever he wants he has to go to another. So from 
morning to night he is saying in fatherly ears, "I 
am hungry ; I am thirsty — what is it ; may I have 
this or that ; may I not do this or that ? " In short, 
the father is the treasury to which the child looks 
and from which he draws, under such limitations as 
that father chooses to impose, every hour of the day. 
No property in stock is put into his hands from 
which to supply himself. From hour to hour he 
must appeal to the judgment and bounty of the sire. 
This is the law of our households, of the wisest 
and kindest of them. Is there any thing unreason- 
able in this, considering what little children are? 
Anything oppressive, harsh, unduly exacting, unnat- 
ural, considering what little children are ? To be 
sure, there is not very much liberty, independence 
— as men sometimes use these words — in it ; not 
very much of the principle expressed in such words 
as, '-'• I do not care for you," " I am as good as any- 
body : " but there is fitness, order, safety, and a 
chance for happiness, usefulness, and religion in it. 
Who thinks the worse of a father for binding up 
his ignorant, inexperienced, incautious, and way- 
ward child in such a system of daily dependence 
and appeal ? You think the better of him for it. 
You would heartily condemn his lack of judgment, 
were he to take a different course. Is the man in- 
sane? Does he know anything whatever of the 
nature, tendencies, and interests of little children -^ 


— Well, what are we, grown-up people, but little 
children Godward ? And why is it not in the 
highest degree reasonable that our Heavenly Father 
should make our narrowness and inexperience hang 
daily and hourly on His wisdom and goodness for 
supplies, and should require us to go to Him with 
our askincr for whatever we want ? If this is a 
bondage, it is such a bondage as sensible men know 
is natural and necessary to the condition of little 
children. Little children cannot do without it. 
Their liberty has to be sacrificed to their safety. 

See, sixth, that we are not told of all the Divine 
affairs ; that those we are told of are often allotued 
to seem inexplicable., unwise., and even unrighteous^ 
especially to first glances. Men sometimes complain 
because the Christian Scriptures are so silent on 
many points of curious and interesting inquiry. 
Much more show of reason have they to complain 
of the silence of Nature. Well, it is true that God 
does not see fit to answer all our questions, even all 
our theological questions. Some of His matters He 
keeps wholly to Himself. Others, of which we 
are allowed glimpses, are far from being well 
cleared up as to either the meaning, the wisdom, or 
even the righteousness of them. And many of 
His dealings and statements — for natural laws and 
providences are His statements — we are obliged to 
take altogether on trust. Does not the explanation, 
in part, lie in the fact that we are little children — 
our old men, our great men, our statesmen, our phi- 


losophers, and all — merest infants relative to the 
Heavenly Father ? We are treated as all earthly 
fathers of averao;e discretion are in the habit of 
treating their offspring during their tender years. 
Wliich of them tells himself and his affairs to the 
child of four or even twelve years, absolutely with- 
out reserve ? Some things he keeps back because 
they cannot be understood, some because they 
vv^ould be misunderstood, some because they would 
be flagrantly hurtful to that early age. And 
such thincrs as he does talk freelv about — does he 
undertake the hopeless task of clearing up their 
every aspect to that as yet scanty intelligence ? 
When it fails to see, as It often does, the full mean- 
ing of his conduct, or the good judgment of it, 
or the right of it, does he foolishly consume his 
time and strength on the impossible task of ex- 
plaining and justifying his comprehensive and far 
reaching plans and movements to that glow-worm 
Understandino;? He knows better. How^ever affec- 
tionate, he declines to do so fooHsh a thing. And 
may not God, though tenderness itself, decline to do 
the like ? What are our maturest understandings 
in the presence of His great plans ? What living 
man has breadth of view enough to take in any- 
thing more than the smallest ancrle of those Divine 
schemes and movements all of which embrace the 
universe and fill eternity ? It is a matter of invin- 
cible necessity that sometimes Divine conduct, which 
really is fair and glorious as the day, should bear to 


US as mere gazers a very different aspect : it is only 
as believers that eitlier the children man ward or the 
children Godward can do full justice to their father, 
human or Divine. The man-father accordingly 
asks and expects his children to trust him where 
from the nature of the case they cannot judge of 
his conduct ; and everybody says the demand is 
reasonable. And may not the God-Father also 
put His children on trusting Him in similar cases ; 
and everybody be bound to say and feel that His 
demand is reasonable ? 

Such are sample maculae. They fully represent 
the scope and weight of the whole class of nat- 
ural shadows, umbrae and penumbrse, human and 
extra-human, for which God may be thought re- 
sponsible. He is not to be thought responsible for 
the sad moral condition of mankind — as I shall, 
almost immediately, attempt to show. Assumino- 
this for the moment, we have in those stern-featured 
ways of Divine Providence just cited the gist and 
essential variety of all those maculae in Nature 
which seem to cast interrogation points toward 
Heaven. They are the gravest of all. In their 
scope they sweep the whole field of natural evil — 
at least this side of the essential constitution of 
man. If these do not mean anything as against 
even a paternal regard in God for all His creatures, 
there is nothing in the whole night-side of Nature 
that does. But they do not mean any such thing. 
See how much they are like the shadows of oui 


childhood. The kindest of fathers make these : 
why may not a Kindest of Fathers make those ? 
Surely we ought not to lift our eyebrows in com- 
plaining wonder, when, being little children God- 
ward, we find ourselves treated as little children by 
Him ; treated as wise and loving earthly fathers are 
wont to treat their children with the general ap- 
proval of mankind. Even the children themselves 
do not, m general, suspect either want of judgment 
or of knowledge or of love to themselves in such 
treatment. They may do it for a moment in a pet ; 
but in general they possess that instinctive sense of 
their own narrowness as to faculty and experience 
which forbids their concludino; ao;ainst the father on 
such grounds. They trust and love him notwith- 
standing. They mutely say to themselves, " He 
knows best." They silently hearken to the filial 
instinct of trust within them which says, " He 
means it for good ; it is the best that can be done 
under the circumstances." If a little child should 
be found habitually suspicious and sour toward his 
father on such grounds, every beholder would con- 
demn the Phenomenon, and would not hesitate to 
pronounce him very unreasonable, very foolish, 
very unamiable, and very unnatural. It is felt at 
once that such conduct is the fault of a perverse, 
unfilial heart, rather than of a stumbled under- 
standing. And why should not we condemn our- 
selves — we adult persons, and yet mere children be- 
fore God — and say it is the fault of our wayward 


hearts, if we look with coldness and distrust on oii^^ 
Heavenly Father on account of such treatment as 
He gives us in common with all wisest and best of 
this world's fathers ? We ouo-ht to know better. 
The consciousness of the mere nothingness of our 
powers, of our stark childhood and even infancy, as 
ofFsetted to the Divine plans and ways, should make 
these adverse seemings go for nothing. Shall we 
presume to be stumbled at the Heavenly Father for 
doing what is specially characteristic of the best 
class of earthly fathers, in proportion to their wise 
affection and solid greatness ? Indeed, the maculae 
are really faculae ; torches to illustrate the true 
paternal character of God. The harmonies, induc- 
tions, and Baconics of Nature interpret its shadows 
into lights. 

But, thinks one, there is this great difference 
between the case of the earthly father and that of 
the Heavenly. The one has to accept and deal 
with human nature and its fundamental conditions 
as he finds them : the other had the making of this 
nature and its conditions. The human father is 
himself a creature, with very limited powers : the 
Heavenly Father is the Almighty Creator, to whose 
greatness nothing is impossible nor hard. That 
great Father could, with the greatest ease, have 
prevented the necessity for such unpleasant deal- 
ings by giving us a different nature, or by omnipo- 
tently manipulating that nature at the promptings 
of an infinite wisdom. Would anv wise and kind 


earthly father subject his children to such unpleas- 
ant features of treatment unless he were compelled 
to do so ? Is the Infinite Father compelled ? 

My friend, do you know what the word "Al- 
mighty '' means ? Do you not know that it means 
physical power? Compelled — yes, I reverently 
answer, compelled, in a sense and under the cir- 
cumstances ; compelled by His own wise and right- 
eous heart. For, just consider. The nature which 
God has given man is the noblest style of nature 
known. It is even the noblest conceivable. It is 
a moral nature ; capable of knowing, admiring, lov- 
ing, freely choosing, and magnificently possessing 
and enjoying God and virtue in apparently ever- 
increasing degrees. No other nature is capable of 
so high an order of enjoyment as this. No other 
can glorify the Maker so much. The intelligent 
appreciation and voluntary homage of such a being 
must be the most precious and dear thing on which 
the Eternal Father looks down. What is the music 
of the spheres compared with that of a free, intel- 
ligent, loving soul ! What are the glories of the 
day or of the night compared with the beauties and 
majesties of virtue ! No, O Pyrrho, there is no 
kind of created nature so noble as that we possess. 
You cannot conceive of another as noble — with 
such glorious possibilities. Where is the man who 
is prepared to come forward and prove, I do not 
say to a demonstration, but to a probability, that 
God could have done a wiser and better thing than 


give us such a nature as this? Who knows it? 
Who will presume to say it ? Indeed, are not the 
probabilities all the other way ? — Well, if we are 
to have a moral nature, it must receive from the 
Creator a treatment in harmony with that kind of 
nature — must it not ? It must have moral treat- 
ment ; it cannot consistently be treated as a stone 
on a system of pure physical force. To what ex- 
tent physical power can enter into the best system 
of moral treatment is evidently no easy problem. 
Where is the reasonable man who will pretend that 
the problem is easy, and is ready with his proof that 
probably physical omnipotence can enter that best 
system so largely as to make the case of the Heav- 
enly Father with His children essentially unlike 
that of earthly fathers with their children? On 
the contrary, the cases must be essentially alike ; 
because both contemplate moral beings under what 
is essentially moral treatment. Whatever minor 
differences exist, the treatment must in either case 
be, in the main, suited to the nature acted on. It 
must be genuinely moral. 

So it appears that there is nothing in the Heav- 
enly Father's way of dealing with His children but 
what should be allowed consistent with the lariiest 
measure of tenderness on His part toward them. 
Iniieed, this way of dealing is, under the circum- 
stances, a positive evidence of such tenderness. 

This on the one side. On the other, behold, bed- 
ded in the constitution and course of Nature and 


as solid as any science that ever was studied, five 
Great Laws, which we have only to set in the light 
and breathe upon, in order to bring out on each in 
lustrous characters these words hidden in them 
from the beginning : Sacred to the fatherly 
LOVE OF God. Laus Deo. 

The Law of the Infinite. We reverently ap- 
proach the Divine Nature. We look at its knowl- 
edge, and lo, it is omniscience. We look at its 
power, and lo, it is almightiness. We look at its 
duration, and lo, it is eternity. If we proceed to 
look at its moral character, shall we not continue 
this finding of immensities — shall we not find its 
moral traits laid out on the same grand scale as its 
natural ? It is to be presumed. Proportionateness 
and equilibrium are the habit of Nature. 

The Divine Nature is eternal. This means an 
eternity of moral practice — good or bad. And 
this, according to the way of all the moral natures 
we happen to know, means in God a present good- 
ness or badness as colossal as that Past throuo-h 
which it has been exercising. It has acquired an 
infinite momentum in moving down that long and 
mighty slope. It has the habit, the inveteracy, the 
solidarity, the amplitude of innumerable chronolo- 
gies. And, to-day, by virtue of that amazing prac- 
tice, God stands at the head of the universe, either 
the best Beino; in it or the worst. He burns toward 
His creatures with an awful malevolence or with 
a benevolence more glorious than the brightest of 
His myriad suns. 


His infinite reason and conscience imply the 
same thing. He sees with unbounded clearness 
the unbounded beauty and majesty of virtue, and 
its unbounded importance in a Being clothed with 
such powers and occupying such a position as Him- 
self. It is in the very focus of His omniscience 
that He is under infinite obligation to gloriously 
love His creatures and do for them according to 
His splendid opportunities. Their very helpless- 
ness in His hands is itself a piteous appeal for gen- 
tleness and tenderness. He meets that appeal and 
fulfills that obligation, or He does not. If He does 
not — if in this blaze of manifestation He neglects 
to play His magnificent role in all its entirety, not- 
withstanding it involves not the slightest difficulty 
to Himself — He incurs an infinite guilt. To perse- 
vere in this course, on through the measureless 
stretches of Forever, despite the beseechings of 
such an intelligence and of a universe whose every 
need is always before Him — what a stress and 
audacity of depravity it requires ! From the na- 
ture of the case it must be stupendous ; from the 
nature of the case it must be incalculable. Such 
another sinner the universe does not hold. He 
deliberately sacrifices, age after age, in the face of 
infinite light, an infinite good in virtue itself and in 
all the glorious results which perfect virtue, armed 
with omnipotence and omniscience, could secure. 
So He is infinitely righteous or infinitely unright- 
eous, infinitely benevolent or infinitely malevolent. 


Which is it ? This moral character which, what- 
ever it may be, harmonizes in its proportions with 
the other parts of His nature — is it that glorious 
goodness which insures toward all His creatures a 
grand paternal tenderness, or is it that appalling 
badness which insures to them the government of 
an infinite demon ? Look about you. Is it such a 
government you and I are living under ? Is the 
state of this world as bad as almighty malevolence 
could make it ? Suppose a fiend, panoplied in om- 
nipotence and omnipotent subtlety, to set himself 
to make the universe as corrupt and miserable as 
he could ; would he get no nearer his object than 
such majestic heavens as those, and such fair and 
on the whole, happy world as this ? Preposterous. 
So we must take the golden horn of the dilemma. 
God is as much the best as He is the greatest. 
The Father is the best of fathers. He is tender- 
ness itself toward His children : and all His shaded 
measures with us are as truly conceived in an ex- 
quisitely benignant spirit as are those other meas- 
ures whose radiant faces pour delight on all eyes. 

The Law of Conscience. One part of the 
law^ of conscience is that pain shall follow conscious 
wrong-doing, and pleasure conscious right- doing. 
A^nother part is that the father who hates or is 
uidiflPerent to his little children shall be deemed 
cruel and monstrous. The pressure of this law is 
universally felt. The Maker has evidently framed 
•t into the constitution of mankind. Make your 


inductions; you shall, in the regular way, find it 
as much a law of Nature as is the law of gravita- 
tion. You can overcome gravitation and go away 
aeronautically from the earth, instead of going to- 
ward it. So you can overcome remorse for known 
sin and make it a remorse for holiness ; so you can 
overcome your horror of the man who hates and 
tortures his own little children and perhaps con- 
vert that horror into a liking. But, for all that, the 
horror is as natural to man as gravity is to matter. 
So is the connection of pain with conscious wrong- 
doing. Both are cosmopolitan. Both belong to 
human nature. No clime nor country nor class 
nor culture nor capacity nor condition where they 
are not at home. How came this ? Did God give 
these things to human nature because He could not 
help it ; because He could not have a human nature 
without it ? Nay ; there are just enough triumphs 
over the law to show well the possibility of dispens- 
ing with it. Men do sometimes succeed in revers- 
ing the poles of conscience, and come to feel only 
pleasure in vice and pain in courses that look 
toward virtue. What individual men do for them- 
selves sometimes, God might have done for the 
race always. He might have set the needle of the 
entire human conscience astray fi'om the begin- 
ning. Had He so chosen, He might have made 
the universal moral sense of the world sing jubi- 
lees over sin and dirges over holiness. Why did 
He not? Doubtless because He wanted to have 


men virtuous. Natural laws tell God's wishes as 
plainly as any speech can do. When we are 
benevolent, He says sweetly in our ear, "Well 
done" — more sweetly than Orpheus or Apollo 
ever sang. When we are malevolent. He says bit- 
terly in our ear, "111 done" — more bitterly than 
ever rue or wormwood spake to the tongue. It is 
because He greatly wants men the world over to 
love rather than hate. This shows what He is. 
Of course His own character is congruous with His 
wishes. He who profoundly wishes all men to 
love each other. Himself profoundly loves all men. 
He has Himself the virtue which He so earnestly, 
persistently, and universally wishes others to pos- 
sess. He loves it, after the fashion of a Divine 
Nature. He lays Himself out for it and its affili- 
ated felicities, in all this human domain, after the 
fashion of a Divine life. He is a true Father. His 
good-will to men is splendidly paternal. 

The Law of Paternity. Look about you 
among human parents. Do they not, almost with- 
out exception, tenderly love their little, dependent, 
helpless children ? Is not that person considered 
almost a monster who approaches a state of heart- 
lessness toward those who lisp toward him the 
name, father? Is not parental love an instinct 
through all the graded parentage of the brute king- 
doms? The birds, the quadrupeds, the fishes — 
animals, domestic or wild — how the feeblest and 
most timid of them will flame forth in reckless self- 


exposure to defend tlieir young ! Even the philos- 
opher who is parent of an ingenious theory, the 
author who is parent of a creditable book, the 
inventor who is parent of a useful machine, the dis- 
coverer who is parent of an important science or 
fraction of a science, the artist who is parent of an 
excellent statue or painting, the statesman who is 
parent of a wise measure of national policy, the 
mechanic who is parent of a beautiful ship or 
house or watcli — all such persons find themselves 
having an affection for the things toward which 
they sustain this relation of paternity. They are 
the root from which that beautiful greenness has 
come : their image is on it ; their life is in it ; their 
body, their soul, their genius, their patience, their 
knowledge, their character, is diffiised through it ; 
in short, they have in all those green leaves and 
yelloAV fruits so many promising little children of 
their own. And they almost invariably conceive 
an affection for them as such. The abuse of them 
is the abuse of themselves ; the praise and beauty 
of them are the praise and beauty of themselves. 
Such is the law of paternity everywhere within 
the range of our observation — the parent loving 
its offspring. Among all the animal tribes, in earth 
and air and sea — whether the child be flesh and 
blood ; or only the cell of the bee, the nest of the 
bird, the dam of the beaver, or the hand-work, 
mind-work of the ingenious man — it is loved by 
'ts author. And now we have to ask. Is God the 


sole exception to this sweeping law of paternity ? 
Is the Being who established this law, and armed it 
with flails of remorse — is He Himself out of har- 
mony with it ? Does He, too, not love His chil- 
dren, whether their name be men or oxen or 
birds or flowers or oceans or stars ? The induc- 
tion, the science, is overwhelmingly against it. It 
is, in fact, against much more than this ; against 
that parental regard in God being anything short 
of a most exalted and permanent principle. For, 
looking around, you observe that in all cases such 
a principle lasts as long as there is occasion for it; 
as long as the care of the parent can really be of 
service to the child. How long, pray, can the care 
of eternal and almighty God be of service to man 
and the other creatures ! Looking around, you ob- 
serve that the higher the grade of the parent, the 
more elevated and enduring his attachment to his 
offspring. In man it shows its noblest quality, and 
in man it lasts indefinitely. Surely, in the supreme 
God we should look to see the principlt3 shine di- 
vinely and shine eternally. Looking around, we 
observe that the higher the grade of the offspring, 
and the more completely it springs from and de- 
pends on the parent, the greater the affection 
which that parent expends upon it. The more 
valuable the discovery which a man has made, or 
the machine which he has invented, and the less 
lie is indebted to other sources than himself in the 
production of it, the stronger his regai'd for it. 


Well, we should accordingly expect that man, who 
is chief of God's works and children in this world, 
so far as they are visible, and whose whole nature, 
body and soul, substance and organization of sub- 
stance, had its origin solely in Him, and hangs 
totally on His hand — we should expect that man 
would be favored above all the other visible chil- 
dren of God with His fatherly regard. It is, in 
fact, but another example of the use of that famous 
Baconian induction which has built up our modern 
sciences. Are these sciences good for anything ? 

The Lav7 of Charity. This law is. As- 
sume a person innocent till he is proved guilty. 
For example, assume a man honest till you have 
positive evidence that he is dishonest ; assume that 
a man is not a murderer till you have positive 
ground for believing that he is a murderer ; assume 
that a father is paternal in his feelings, till some 
positive reason is found for believing him unpater- 

It would be monstrous to go on the principle of 
treating a man as guilty till he is proved innocent ; 
to treat him as possessed of all the vices till he has 
proved himself possessed of all the virtues. It would 
be bare justice to withhold positive condemnation, 
and treatment to match, from the man till he is 
proved guilty. It would be charity to consider and 
treat him as innocent till he is proved otherwise. 
On the one hand, till such proof is brought, justice 
requires us not to decide against him ; on the other 


hand, till such proof is brought, charity requires us 
to decide for him. Where conduct is equally well 
explained by two hypotheses, we are to take the 
most charitable one, instead of taking the least 
charitable, or instead of holding ourselves neutral 
between the two. We are to do as the spirit of 
kindness would prompt. 

Such is the law of charity — a law that has 
forced itself into recognition and supremacy in all 
decent judicial proceedings the world over ; a law 
on which the theory of social intercourse has come 
to found itself without contradiction in all well-or- 
dered and enlightened countries ; a law which the 
humblest among us knows of, and, on occasion, 
claims the benefit of as a matter of commonest 
right rather than of charity ; a law which is the 
natural prompting of a kind and friendly heart : 
a law born of the Golden Rule, Do to others as 
ye would that others should do to you ; a law found 
in practice most convenient, safe, fruitful, necessary 

— saving a world of vexation, mischief, and cruelty 

— in fine, a law which, while not against justice, is 
sublimely beyond it ; something gloriously higher 
and completer ; in fact, righteousness. 

Now this great law requires us to postulate the 
paternal love of God. We are not to withhold 
from Him the benefit of that generous principle 
which we concede, at least in theory, to all our fel- 
low-men. We are to give Him credit for being 
oaternal in His feelings till He is proved unpa- 


ternal. Can He be proved so? The attempt 
has been made ; but we have seen that the most 
unpleasant features of His deahng with us, so far 
from being: of the nature of an attack on His char- 
acter as a Father, are not only perfectly consistent 
with but even suggestive of a wise tenderness on 
His part. Under these circumstances, the law of 
charity steps in and demands of us that we put a 
favorable construction on appearances ; that we 
take a friendly and generous view of the case ; that 
instead of judging our Maker and Father from the 
side of harshness, or from the side of indifference, 
we judge Him from the side of good- will ; that we 
say to ourselves, " He shall be esteemed innocent 
till He is proved guilty." " He shall not be sus- 
pected even, till there is made out positive ground 
for suspicion." " We will do to Him as we would 
that others should do to us." If this is more than 
just, it is not more than righteous. 

The Law of the General Rule. A child is 
in such close and constant dealing with his earthly 
father that he cannot well hold himself in a state 
of suspended judgment as to whether his father 
loves him. He must decide. Well, if he must 
decide, a very natural consideration to present 
itself is, Does he treat me as if he loves me ? And, 
in case some facts apparently look one way and 
some the other, it is very plain that he ought to 
decide the case, not according to the exceptions of 
treatment, but according to the general rule. It 


would be plain absurdity, if a decision must be come 
to, not to base it on the general tenor of the treat- 
ment received. If this is found to be as if his 
father loved him — if he finds that, in general, his 
father treats him as though he were a dear son — 
he ought to admit that such is really the fact, 
though he cannot explain in consistency with it a 
few facts that have a contrary look. He is to go 
by the rule, not by the exceptions. Suppose, then, 
he finds this to be the state of facts. He hears his 
father say that he loves him — not unfrequently. 
Not unfrequently he finds the parent directing to- 
wards him kindly and tender looks, smiling upon 
him, and even embracing him. He looks around 
and finds himself sheltered in a beautiful home, and 
sees specially assigned to him his own beautiful 
rooms filled with conveniences and beauties. He 
finds himself wisely and abundantly fed and clothed 
and instructed by his father ; especially finds him- 
self taught by him carefully and well on moral and 
religious matters, including the reciprocal duties of 
parents and children ; finds that his father tries to 
keep him from all evil ways, and to give him those 
principles and habits which are fitted to secure him 
a happy, useful, and prosperous manhood ; finds 
that he so deals with him that he is actually, on the 
whole, happy, and would be vastly more happy if 
he conformed as carefully as he might to all his 
father's laws and hints — indeed in such a case 
would surely become a most happy, useful, and no- 


ble man ; in addition, as I have already partly said, 
finds him from time to time calling him by every 
manner of endearing name and epithet, nursing his 
sickness, comforting his sadness, saying that he 
loves him, assuring him that on occasion he could 
and would freely die for him, promising him that if 
he will try to do well the abundant ancestral riches 
shall provide more magnificently for his mature 
life than he can now possibly imagine ; finds that 
such things express the general drift of his experi- 
ence as a child. Ought he to be at a loss how to 
decide his problem, though he is at a loss how to 
explain occasional severities of dealing on the part 
of liis father ? But if he is at no such loss — if he 
plainly sees that these things of exceptional aspect 
are or may be, after all, but the natural expression 
either of an invincible necessity or of a \v\sq tender- 
ness in the father — much more readily should he 
accept a conviction of that tenderness. Under 
such circumstances the child always does accept it; 
indeed, always does so with merely a vague notion 
and instinct of these facts. Does he not do rightly ? 
Would he not be universally condemned were he 
to do otherwise ? 

To apply the illustration. Situated as we are, we 
cannot avoid taking up some positive attitude as to 
the question. What is the feeling toward us of God 
our Heavenly Father ? We must make a judgment. 
And, in order to do it, a natural question is, How 
does He treat us, in the main — is the general drift 


of His dealing with us kind and tender ? Allow- 
ing that, here and there, unexplainable facts of ad- 
verse appearance exist, it were monstrous to decide 
according to these in defiance of the mighty ma- 
jority. Better to defy the pitiful minority. Dark- 
browed and resolute as these exceptions may seem, 
if we go against anything, let us go against these in 
their weakness and scantiness. These are a few- 
stragglers ; the others a compact and disciplined 
host. For, look at them ! First, the Great 
Father professes to love us. To lay no stress on 
hundreds of written declarations, " I love you, I 
love you," professing to come from Him ; the flow- 
ers, the songs, the golden light, the precious per- 
fumes, the delicious tastes, all grace and beauty of 
form and feature and motion abroad in Nature — 
these are so many loving words, smiles, caresses of 
the All-Maker and All-Father toward the intelli- 
gent creatures who are aware of them. Who does 
not know it — vocal speech is not the only language, 
the lighting up and wreathing of a face is not the 
only smile, the pressure of an arm of flesh is not 
the only embracing ! O bright-faced sky, O smil- 
ing earth, O scented and singing and festival springs 
and summers, O innumerable anthems and poetries 
of delightful Nature — ye also are God's tender 
looks and words and sacred kisses to us ! Next, 
see what a beautiful home He has fitted up for 
us ; ceiled with sapphire, floored w^ith emerald, 
walled and curtained with sunsets and sunrises, 


upholstered and garnislied superbly and almost 
unboundedly for our shelter, our convenience, our 
dignity, and our delight. Then see what stores of 
lieathful and pleasant food he provides for us in the 
manifold grains and fruits ; of suitable and comely 
clothing in the bolls of cotton, the fleeces of flocks, 
the moils and spoils of the silk-worm ; of useful and 
exalting knowledge in the eyes and ears and other 
organs by which He puts us in communication with 
the wonders of this wonderful universe. Espe- 
ciall}^, see how careful He has been to furnish every 
man with a conscience to inform him and reform 
him on matters of right and wrong ; and even to as- 
sure him that the Creator ought to love, and would 
be greatly guilty were He not to love, and, to the 
extent of His power, bless His creatures. See how, 
by means of conscience, and the laws of Nature, and 
the general strain of providence — to lay no stress 
on the written laws with their impressive sanctions 
which claim to have come from Him — He seeks to 
influence us virtue-ward and shape us to good 
principles and habits ; for, let it not be forgotten, all 
intellio;ent observers admit that the o;eneral flow and 
pressure of nature and experience are in favor of 
goodness. See you that most men are actually 
secured by His care so much happiness that they 
had greatly rather continue to be than cease to be, 
though annihilation were made painless or even 
pleasurable. See you, also, that it is consciously iri 
the power of every man to be vastly more happy 


and useful and noble than he is, by carefully im- 
proving the opportunities furnished him and care- 
fully conforming to such Divine laws as he can dis- 
cover ; indeed, in his power to be gloriously happy 
and noble. See the Great Father dowerino^ us 
with imagination and hope that kindle and expand 
in a course of well-doing, and — while conscience 
says, " Dear one," and sacredly fondles you in God's 
name ; and the Scriptures say, " He has loved you 
enough to die for you " — see how that wonderful 
fancy and hope, conscience - prompted, begin to 
prophesy in vaguely magnificent speech of unspeak- 
able glories that flush and span with their triumph- 
ant arches your ascending way. See such things 
making up the general rule of treatment from our 
Heavenlv Father. Oh, if we could sav nothino; in 
explanation of the occasional somberness of the pa- 
ternal Heaven that bends over us — if it were thick- 
ly beclouded beyond all falcon glances of our wisest 
and best — still our judgment should refuse to be 
ruled by the poor and scanty exceptions, and should 
bow instead to that kingly rule whose crowded con- 
gregation of voices proclaim in sonorous harmony a 
loving Father in heaven ! But since these excep- 
tions are explainable and explained — since it ap- 
pears that they only show a dealing common to and 
characteristic of a wise and tender human father- 
hood over moral beings — we yield ourselves with 
redoubled cordiality to the law of the general rule, 



and say fervently, God our Father does love His 
little children. 

Altogether and law upon law, I discern an Un- 
limited Love and Righteousness outbeaming from the 
heavens. An unlimited righteousness ! This attri- 
bute completes in God a perfect and glorious com- 
petency to govern. Wisdom, power, and duration 
without measure — surmount this cathedral struc- 
ture with the superb roofing and dome of a perfect 
goodness, and you have a wondrous palace from 
whose golden gates may fitly issue the edicts of a 
universal monarchy. Behold a God who is abun- 
dantly able to manage the affairs of a universe, and 
fill its august throne to infinite advantage ! That a 
system of things made up of blind matter and fallible 
intelligences and depraved hearts should go on as 
well, or a millionth part as well, by itself, as under 
the scepter of such a complete Being, is incredible 
and impossible. So He ought to govern. So it 
would be an unspeakable wrong to His creatures 
should He neglect to govern. So, gloriously per- 
fect Being as He is. He surely occupies the supreme 
throne over all, as His magnificent duty and their 
magnificent necessity ; giving to the different sorts 
of things in the universe the kind of government 
suited to each ; giving to blind matter the govern- 
ment of physical omnipotence, and to moral beings, 
with their mixed constitution, a mixed government 
of physical force and moral law. In which case 
the actual state of the world, with its lights and 


shadows, its smiles and its tears as well, is through- 
out the expression of a grand Divine love. 

This on the supposition that God exists and is the 
Author of Nature. The scientific corollary of this 
supposition we find to be a fatherly love of Divine 
proportions beaming on the world. And the maculaB 
of all sorts, properly attributable to God, so far 
from making against His goodness, are themselves 
parts of a broad and consummate scheme of love 
by which the Heavenly Father ministers to His 
great family. 



ApMTTcpa Kol ov Karia-^ov, Se^ta koX ovk oif/ofxai. 
UoCrja-ov 8' atOpyjv, Bos S' oKJiOaXfioia-Lv iSea-Oac. — Homer 

V. In Tenebris. 



3. FRAIL BODY 121 







ANOTHER objection to the existence of God 
is drawn from His Obscurity. 

It is claimed that a God would have made Him- 
self more apparent to men than He seems to be. 
He would have so manifested Himself as to make 
it impossible for men to doubt or to neglect His 
existence. At least He would have done more in 
this direction than is observed. A lar^e class of 
men find small difficulty in living with little or no 
veneration for such a Being, or even thought of 
Him ; the faith of many in His existence is trouble- 
somely weak ; some have no faith whatever ; while 
others positively disbelieve. 

In gradual answer to this objection, I submit the 
following considerations : — 

1. A perfect revelation of G-od to human intelli- 
gence would he impossible. 

Of course, a finite being cannot fully understand 
one who, relatively to himself, is infinite. Were God 
to undertake the task of revealing Himself to me 
in all His completeness, in order to succeed, He 


would be obliged by the nature of things to ex- 
pand my intelligence into dimensions like His own. 
Even as only a philosopher can well understand a 
philosopher, so only a God can fully understand 
God. There is no help for it — to beings so narrow 
as men, God must be, in large part, shrouded in 
impenetrable obscurity. 

This ftict, of necessity, precludes men from the 
most impressive view of God ; namely, that of His 
whole nature, with its entire wealth of resources — 
a view, of course, infinitely more magnificent and 
memorable than that fractional view that is possible 
to us. It also, of necessity, precludes men from the 
best class of natural evidences and illustrations of 
the Divine existence; that is, those broader and 
more complex plans and works on which He has 
laid out the most wisdom and power. A perfect 
Framer of the universe must have one plan that is 
all-embracing ; in which each thing is so delicately 
framed into every other thing throughout space 
and duration as to make of the whole mighty com- 
plexity a glorious unit. Who but a God could 
master such a scheme as this ? The problem of 
the two bodies mathematicans have solved ; that of 
three bodies yet bids defiance to analysis ; that of 
the solar system, much more that of our galaxy, 
much more still that of the stratum of nebulae in 
Virgo, is one which we never expect to solve. But 
how much further beyond us still is that universe- 
s' stem, in which every atom is to be considered a 


world, and every world is to be considered, not 
merely in its mechanics, but in its metaphysics and 
its morals ! But if we only could grasp this all- 
comprehending system in all its detail of harmonies 
and wisdoms, we should, no doubt, have sucli a 
regal evidence of the existence of a Divine Mind as 
would dwarf into invisibility any natural proof of 
Him which may now be within our reach. Our 
narrowness cuts us oiF completely from this grandest 
proof. It can even make that proof seem in parts 
positively ill proportioned, incongruous, empty, and 
even noxious. We are like the little child of a 
statesman. Some of that father's smaller domestic 
arrangements he understands — perceives them to 
be right and wise. But those great national and 
international schemes and movements are all nebu- 
lous and confused to the unfledged thinker. They 
look inexplicable. He sees no wisdom in them. He 
sees here and there things of apparently an oppo- 
site character. And yet this is the man with the 
fame of whose statesmanship the country is ringing; 
and these the very works of his which shall entitle 
him to his historic place among the astutest man- 
agers of empires. The child, because he is a child, 
is compelled to miss what is really the best illustra- 
tion of his father's greatness. 

Thus the very finiteness of our faculties suspends 
a veil between us and God. 

2. A revelation of God much short of what our 
intelligence could grasp would consume us. 


Suppose God should take as much of His nature 
as we can understand, and bring it to us in the way 
of adequate personal manifestation to the senses. 
Could we endure the exhibition ? Why, we can 
hardly bear such sights and sounds as we ourselves 
can produce. We ourselves can kindle such glory 
of conflagration, can detonate such might and maj- 
esty of sound, as shall destroy sight and hearing, 
and even shock the weakly out of life. And surely 
if God should come upon our senses with such im- 
perialism of sights and sounds as would appropri- 
ately represent the utmost power and knowledge 
we can conceive — as would worthily express our 
ideas of Eternity and Almightiness and Omnis- 
cience — that moment would be our last. Appropri- 
ate to the utmost power we can conceive — why, 
we can conceive of a power that can take up the 
isles as a very little thing, poise a planet in its hand, 
launch forth a nebula on the void as if it were an 
atom, crush together instantly into one palpitating 
pulp all known sidereal systems with as much ease 
as you do the beaded cobweb of a summer's morn- 
ing ! We could, if need were, imagine a power 
equal to still greater feats than this ; one, with 
reference to our powers, properly called infinite. 
And I say what a show it would have to be to 
worthily express, not merely such a power as that, 
but also a virtual Omniscience and an absolute 
Eternity ! Could our senses or even our lives en- 
dure it? Even now, when the common lightning 


shoots before our eyes, how they quiver back from 
the bHiiding flame ; and when the common thunder 
comes upon us in some great crash, how our ears 
and liearts quail under the terrible bass ! And 
were God Himself to come flashing and pealing on 
the world in all that outward majesty that rightfully 
belongs to Him, and fitly signifies to sense the pres- 
ence of a virtually Infinite Being, who of us would 
see another moment in the body ? We should 
straightway be dazzled out of life. Our frighted 
senses and hearts would give one leap, and then be- 
come motionless forever — and this though they 
were a thousand-fold stronger than they are. The 
men who ask that God should personally manifest 
Himself to their senses as God, know not what 
they ask. Do they want to be driven out of the 
body by the fire and sword of intolerable discover- 
ies ? — After our finiteness has hung one veil be- 
tween us and God, our safety as embodied beings 
would compel Him to interpose another. 

3. A revelation of God such as would not consume 
us, would yet so shake and derange the mental facul- 
ties as to prevent dua use of the revelation. 

Scenes not sufficiently rousing and awful to 
shock men out of life, are often enough to shock 
them out of reason. How many have been made 
idiotic or insane by appearances which took fierce 
hold of their imaginations and astonishments, and 
by them so shook the soul that it fell into drear}' 
ruin ! That terrible fire ; that fearful explosion 


that awful storm or battle ; even that strange flight 
of meteors ; that portentous comet ; that bloody sun ; 
that crude marvel of the Spiritualist or expected 
marvel of the Millerite ; that apparition of some sort, 
from the airy colossus of the Brocken to the ghostly 
form in the weird moonlight — how it shattered the 
man ! His body survived, his senses escaped w^ith- 
out harm, but the more delicate system of nerve 
and brain and rational thought could not endure 
the strain, and became a melancholy wreck. And 
so we see that it is not enough for God to abstain 
from such manifestations of Himself as would de- 
stroy the body. He must also abstain from that 
lower manifestation that would break down the 
stamina of the soul, confound the power of rational 
judgment, and paralyze our faculty for using a man- 
ifestation. Should a being of virtually infinite glory 
and majesty come on our senses, or our thoughts, 
with any but the most inconsiderable fraction of 
His greatness, our feeble souls would infallibly go 
into unhingement. I am now speaking of the most 
compact and stoutly built souls. I would not have 
trusted a single one of them, though bearing a 
supreme name among hero-worshippers, in the 
midst of even such phenomena as belonged to the 
breaking up of the Paleozoic or Mesozoic Period. 
Such outpour from above ; such heaving from be- 
low ; such rendings of the caves of Eolus and of 
Neptune ; such tourneys and concussions of the 
Bnfranchised winds and waves ; such thunderous 


Marseillaise of the wrathful mob of volcanoes, earth- 
quakes, tornadoes, and oceans ; such an awful mael- 
strom of blackness, blaze, sound, and death ; such 
wars of the Titans with the Gods — must have 
twice exterminated every overt species of hearing 
and seeing animal life ; first by affright, and then by 
direct violence. Had man been there, though his 
soul had been boned and the wed like Alcldes, 
he would have lost his reason. These delicate 
nerves and brains of ours, that so bow and break at 
the approach of what, after all, is mere Nature — 
what would they not do at the approach of the Great 
Supernatural in any fitting circumstance ! But 
care must be taken not only for these few heroic 
souls, but for the much larger number who are no 
heroes — for the many frail ; the many sick ; the 
many excessively timid, nervous, superstitious ; the 
many ignorant, weak-minded, ill-balanced persons 
scattered everywhere through the world. For the 
sake of these — for the sake of those hundred neigh- 
bors of yours whose souls are greatly less firm in 
texture — God must still further limit the pubhc 
manifestation of Himself to the senses. He does not 
want to turn the world into a Mad-house any more 
than into a Morgue. There are already enough 
lunacies and unsoundnesses of mind in human 
society. • — So another veil must be interposed be- 
tween man and God. The man who asks that there 
should be made to us a full discovery of God, knows 
not what he asks. Does he want the world peopled 


with Gods instead of men ? Does he want to be- 
come a handful of ashes, or at least to be dazzled intc 
corpsehood, by an insufferable brightness ? Does 
he even want his reason and nervous system to fall 
to pieces under a manifestation of the Eternal ? 
If not, he must be content to have at least three 
veils hang between him and God. 

4. Such a revelation of God as ivould not derange 
our minds, would speedily benumb the faculty of 
astonish77ient and general sensibility, and so would 
soon cease to be specially impressive, and could only 
be resorted to occasionally. 

If Deity is local — if His personality is not uni- 
versally diffused, but occupies a limited district, 
such as Christians call heaven — then He could not 
make a permanent personal manifestation of Himself 
here without permanently depriving other parts of 
the universe of a manifestation. The most He 
could do would be to supply some standing substi- 
tute for Himself ; perchance some astonishing Form 
to lighten through the sky and personate that Divin- 
ity which for the greater part of the time it does 
not include. A sincere being cannot be supposed 
to do this. The best He could do would be to make 
an occasional personal appearance among us ; and 
for the rest of the time supply such august messen- 
gers and other miracles as should testify of God to 
human senses without purporting to be God, or to 
include His actual presence. This is really the 
best that could be done. But, if you please, we 


will suppose it is not — we will suppose that both 
of these modes of revelation are permanently open 
to Him : every day a mighty Form that really in- 
cludes God can send its dazzling pageant on our 
sight, and every day the angels can fly and the 
dead rise and Nature tremble in awful testimonial 
to His being and greatness. How would such a 
system as this work ? 

As we have seen, the grandeur of the exhibition 
must be greatly moderated, to make it safe for either 
the senses or the intellects of men. But, within 
the limits of safety, a very grand exhibition might, 
doubtless, be made. We can be greatly moved and 
astonished without any danger to reason. But we 
cannot remain greatly astonished for any length of 
time, especially by the same thing, not even by any 
variety of things. As men now are, a permanent 
astonishment is impossible. No wonder can con- 
tinue a wonder save for a very brief period : and 
the greater the first effect the sooner it will be over. 
Can Niagara astonish and awe you indefinitely 
long? Ask those who have lived out years by 
the side of it. Try it yourself. As soon as you 
perceive the effect decaying, pass to the ocean, and 
you may in a degree renew your feeling ; but how 
many months or even weeks will it be before the 
sonorous majesty of the Atlantic itself will abate on 
the familiarized senses ! Then take the traveler's 
privilege, and go on as swiftly as steam can carry 
you to another wonder, and then another. By a 


timely passing from the cataract to the mam, from 
the main to the Alps, from the Alps to Latin mu- 
seum and palace and cathedral, plethoric with the 
glories of genius and antiquity ; from these to the 
astonishment of the Pyramids and Carnac and Lux- 
or, you may protract the interest very considerably ; 
but at last, and that after no long time, the faculty 
of wonder will become so numb that you can witness 
the most remarkable object with as little movement 
of soul as any commonplace object is wont to inspire. 
You will turn your face homeward. Why should you 
go on when your heart has become a mere clod — 
when you would hardly turn a corner to see Ther- 
mopylae, or climb a hill to find Olympus in session ! 
Such is the common history of sight-seeing. And 
I make no doubt that, were God to appeal to the 
senses of men daily by astonishing revelations, it 
would not be long before we would be as little im- 
pressed by them as we are now by the daily sun or 
nightly dome of stars ; as the men were who once 
actually supposed the sun to be God, and in many 
a Heliopolis thought every thunder to be his voice, 
every whirhvind his breath, and every earthquake 
his movement ; as we theists are now by the con- 
stant advent of bodies and souls into the world 
without any apparent cause that does not seem to 
us infinitely inadequate. Variety in the form of 
revelation would protract the first astonishment and 
awe ; but despite everything they would speedily 
come to an end. Those born and bred to such dis* 


plavs — and such should we all have been had the 
principle of a permanent dis})lay been acted on — 
would never have any special impression at all from 
the daily grandeur, any more than those who have 
always lived at Chamouni or Eddystone, in daily 
view of the highest majesty of the Alps or the high- 
est majesty of ocean. In order that any safe aston- 
ishing display in behalf of God may have the maxi- 
mum of effect, it must be only occasional. 

As to just how frequent the exhibition could be 
with the best advantage, it would be hard to say. 
No theory of maxima and minima with which I 
am acquainted solves the problem. But I am in- 
clined to think that the man who made the round 
of the seven ancient wonders of the world once in 
twenty years, got more impression from them than 
he would have done by seeing them once in five. 
And I know that the friend who made one voyage 
on the ocean and saw it in all its moods, and then 
was ever after left to his memory and imagination, 
carried with him to his grave a grander sense of 
the huge flood than his companion of equal native 
sensibility to such things, whose whole after-life 
was spent upon it ; or than that other equal com- 
panion who made his second and third voyage. 
And what right have I, as a logician, to venture on 
the affirmation that a single astonishing exhibition 
in favor of God would not do as much with most 
men toward placing Him in an impressive light as 
uny larger number of such exhibitions? Indeed, 


as facts stand, I would not like to affirm that with 
most a mere tradition of such an exhibition, well 
told and well believed, and then committed to that 
wondrous painter, the Imagination, would not, on 
the whole, be more impressive and just and dura- 
bly influential than sight itself. Never such an 
Apelles as the Imagination. She has colors on her 
palette, and models in her eye, such as never enter 
into pictures on the retina. She habitually out- 
paints all the galleries. And she can, out of her 
own resources, give a brighter picture of God and 
miracles than could possibly, with any safety, burn 
its way through the lenses of the eye and the laby- 
rinths of the ear. And let this picture have the 
prestige of reality — let it be fully believed in as 
expressing substantial fact — and it will surpass all 
other pictures in impressiveness as well as bright- 
ness. It will also surpass all others in general 
truthfulness — provided its outline is really fact. 
No doubt sight is the truest painter of common 
objects ; but not of such as have immeasurable 
greatness and excellence. We cannot get too im- 
pressive a conception of these. The nobler the 
conception, the truer. Let that supreme colorist, 
the Imagination, lay out all her power and dip her 
pencil in the sun ; it will be an incomparable pic- 
ture of God and astonishing miracle that she will 
give, and as much juster than all others as it sur- 
passes all others as a mere picture. And, further, 
a picture by the Imagination does not lose its im- 


pressiveness by repetition, as do the pictures of 
sight. One hundred sights of Niagara will practi- 
cally abolish the wonder ; a hundred sights of a mir- 
acle would practically make it no miracle ; but not 
so a hundred imaginations of these things. For, 
unlike the senses and the nerves, the Fancy gets 
more skill and power with every picture she makes. 
Now, this greatest of painters, whose canvas is 
so impressive, so true, and so durably efficient, can 
only work to advantage under certain conditions. 
A flood of light on an object, of course, takes it 
completely out of her hands. Sight, in any of its 
degrees, restricts the freedom of her pencil. It is 
only when an object is given in mere outline to 
faith — and sight never gives an object in mere 
outhne — that she has the fullest scope and motive 
for all the wealth and witchery of her art. She 
then has the inspiration of faith stimulating the 
hio-hest freedom of invention. No, indeed — I would 
not venture to say that the credited tradition of a 
Divine manifestation would not, with most persons, 
be better than the sight of it ; that, for most, to 
read of Divine manifestations and miracles in per- 
haps distant times and countries, and believe in 
them, and then to leave them in the M^onder- 
working hands of that faculty that has built up the 
world's great epics, would not fasten on the mind 
the justest as well as the grandest sense of them, 
and warrant the saying, ''Blessed are they whc 
have not seen, and yet have believed!" — Evi«- 


dently, we must consent to have another veil hang 
between us and God. He neither wants to turn 
the world into an Olympus, nor into a Necropolis, 
nor into a Bedlam, nor into a Boeotia. Shall He 
make men stare till they are stupid — make won- 
ders so famihar to them that they must cease to be 
wonders ? Whoever asks for an unstinted revela- 
tion of God, knows not what he asks. Does he 
insist on being himself a Divinity ? Does he want 
his senses and his life to shrivel up before an intol- 
erable glory ? Does he want his frighted soul to 
leap into the abysses of distraction or idiocy ? Does 
he even want prodigies wasted by a vulgar fre- 
quency ; or by acting on the principle that, for 
most, the great spiritual powers. Faith and Fancy, 
with their sunset pencil and immeasurable canvas, 
have less power to render the Infinite to the soul 
than has the gross bodily sight with at least three 
dense curtains before it ? If not, he must be con- 
tent to have four veils hang between him and God. 

5. Such a revelation of God as could he perma- 
nent without benumbing our sensibility/, must be still 
further limited by our depravity. 

If men were perfect in point of moral condition, 
the preceding causes of obscurity would still act. 
But men are not morally perfect; they are very 
far from it ; their moral natures are universally and 
wretchedly broken down and corrupted. And this 
fact cannot do otherwise than heavily becloud the 
Supreme Being. Who expects a sick body to do 


bodily work as well as a sound one can do? Who 
expects a muddy pool to reflect the sky as well as 
the fountam of Helicon ? Who expects the astron- 
omer gazing at a heavenly body through a cracked 
and unhomogeneous lens to see It as well as through 
a Clarke or a Frauenhofer? It Is not possible. 
Nor is It possible for a sick, turbid, broken soul 
to give as clear and just views of God as would 
be natural to an unfallen being. Sinners can 
see trees as well as if they were no sinners: 
doubtless can see outward prodigies expressing God 
just as well as they could with perfectly pure 
hearts. But as to seeing God In these things — 
this Is quite another matter; and It Is just here 
where sin acts as an obstruction. Sin is naturally 
averse to and afraid of a perfect Deity, naturally 
unwilling to recognize Him, naturally glad to find 
pretexts against the validity of any evidence of 
Himself which He may furnish. It Is disposed to 
shut the eye and ear on such evidences, to look for 
them anywhere but In the right place, to see what 
it must see with the dead eyes of statues or with 
the dwarfing eyes of insects. In the presence of 
such a disposition no Theistic Illustration, nor argu- 
ment, nor even ocular demonstration, can pass for 
what it Is worth. In the presence of the higher 
degrees of such a disposition the brightest Divine 
credential — though its name be Alcyone, central 
sun of the whole system of evidence — must be sad- 
ly blurred, and may be totally suppressed ; Indeed, 


is not unlikely to be totally suppressed. Why, the 
man has only to say, " Beelzebub," " magic," " op- 
tical illusion," to set aside any miracle ! Why, the 
man has only to say, " Nature," " law," " develop- 
ment," " endless series," ''spontaneous generation" 
— such high-sounding words, liberally and discreetly 
used, are enough to explain away from such a man 
the finest natural proof of God that could possibly 
amaze a philosopher. Who needs be told it — while 
it is notorious that men can doubt anything they 
choose, and on occasion can persuade themselves 
that fields and floods, hills and heavens, are nothing 
but fictions of the brain ! Yes, there must always 
be more or less haze between the sun and a marsh. 
If the marsh is sulphurous and hot, the haze will 
be a cloud through which shall not struggle the 
faintest outline of an orb, or even of a halo. 

But this is, possibly and not improbably, but one 
fold of the veil which sin hangs between us and 
God. Were God from a certain point to increase 
the general evidence of Himself, He would be sure 
to increase the responsibility of every human being. 
But He would not be sure to increase the aggre- 
gate faith and virtue of the world. Indeed, would 
He not be sure to do the contrary ? In some cases 
a change for the better would be produced : as cer- 
tainly in many other instances the change would 
be for the worse. The increased light would be 
resisted — sometimes by unbelief and sometimes by 
believing unrighteousness — and consequently more 


guilt incurred and more damage sustained than 
under the old state of things. That there would 
be many on whom this sad effect would display 
itself, no one familiar with life will doubt : that the 
number of such persons would not be so great as 
to outweigh with their disasters all the good done, 
who has a right to affirm ? Just bethink your- 
selves what multitudes daily manage to resist any 
amount of evidence when their inchnations, preju- 
dices, habits, are against it! Just bethink your- 
selves what multitudes fail to walk by the evidence 
they accept; though accepted as proving at least 
the possible truth of so heavily sanctioned a system 
as the Christian rehgion ! Beyond a certain point 
in the accumulation of evidence for a God, the 
damaged multitude would surely become a damaged 
majority. For, after a certain stage of revelation 
has been reached, it is no longer want of evidence 
that prevents faith, or want of motive that prevents 
virtue ; it is disinclination and frowardness of heart. 
Increasing the amount of proof does not touch the 
seat of the trouble. Double the proof, treble it — 
it makes no difference; the men are unbelievers 
still. With the mind made up, it* is just as easy to 
shut the eyes on a mountain as on a mote ; just as 
easy to turn back on the north when it is flaming 
with ruined rainbows as when bare of a single ray. 
So there must be a point in the accumulation of 
evidence for a God, when, while increasing as fast 
as ever the responsibility of a wicked world, it 


ceases to increase its faith and virtue. Here a per- 
fect God must break off His proofs. Sin has added 
another fold to its veil. 

' But is there not yet another fold from this source ? 
The necessity of not doing more harm than good 
would limit the revelation to sinners : would not 
the necessity of doing them as much good as possible 
limit it still further ? It was once said of a certain 
text-book in science that it was too simple and ex- 
planatory for the use of students in a college ; it did 
not tax and discipline their minds sufficiently. No 
one would have denied that the book was a good one ; 
that a very valuable culture was derived from the 
study of it ; that its advantages greatly outweighed 
its disadvantages. But these facts did not establish 
the propriety of holding the algebra to its place in 
the college. The question to be answered was, 
not whether the treatise was on the whole useful, 
but whether it was as useful as some other would 
be that should throw the students more on their 
own resources. And this question was answered 
in the negative. It was decided that a less explan- 
atory book would serve the purpose of mental edu- 
cation better. So''Stanley was substituted for Day, 
as perhaps Day had been substituted for Euler. 
Now, is any one competent to say that God has not 
seen reason to make a similar decision in regard to 
what is the best mode of teaching men theology, 
the science of God ? As a good Being, His object 
in revealing Himself to the world would not be 


merely a good moral discipline and culture, but the 
best f)ossIble. And it Is conceivable that even as 
the obscurer manifestation of algebra may do the 
most for the crude and wayward intellect, so the 
obscurer manifestation of God may do the most for 
the crude and wayward heart. May it not be a 
noble discipHne of character to inquire after God 
humbly, patiently, fervently, in the face of some 
difficulties ? May it not be a noble discipline to 
practice carefulness, love of truth, fairness of mind, 
prayer for Divine guidance, as a requisite to suc- 
cess? And when success comes in this travailing 
way, would not It and its results be all the more 
highly prized for the pains taken ? These are sug- 
gestive queries. And they make it unsafe for any 
one to declare it improbable that the veil which sin 
hangs between us and God is not thick with the 
necessity of securing the best as well as a good 
moral training for a depraved world. 

So add a threefold veil of sin to those four veils 
which, from the nature of the case, must interpose 
obscurity between us and God. He neither wants 
to turn the world into an Olympus, nor into a Ne- 
cropolis, nor into a Bedlam, nor into a Boeotia, nor 
into a Stonehenge, nor into a Pandemonium. An 
unstinted revelation of God — the man who asks It 
knows not what he asks ! Does he want the crea- 
ture to take on the full stature of the Creator? 
Does he want such an exhibition as, with its ter- 
rible sheen and trumpet, shall blast his life away ? 


Does he want Reason to start headlong from hei 
throne, and maunder out of the dust? Dc^s he 
want the faculty of astonishment calloused by daily 
violence into an Ironsides which no marvel, though 
catapult-hurled, can impress ? Does he want men 
made with stocks and stones for souls, instead of 
free moral natures ; or that God should content 
Himself with something less than the good, or even 
the best, in His method of dealing with sinners? 
If not, he must be content to have the world look 
toward God with at least five veils dimming His 
majesty and existence. 

At least this number of veils may or must de- 
pend between a God and this sinful world. And 
now the question is, whether they will account for 
as much obscurity on the Divine existence and 
majesty as an objector may properly assume to 
exist. How much obscurity is that ? How much 
will intelligent theists admit? They will admit 
that some persons have no faith in God ; that mul- 
titudes have far less faith than would be desirable ; 
that still greater multitudes have an idea of God 
that is troublesomely weak, unimpressive, and unin- 
fluential. This is the obscurity we confess to exist 
within men. As to the obscurity without them, 
we confess something and claim more. We con- 
fess, of course, that the revelation of God is not 
overwhelming in the amount and quality of its 
evidence, so as to make unbelief and negligence im- 
possible to such beings as men ; nor do we know of 


any evidence in earth or heaven, within the whole 
realm of even ocular and mathematical demonstra 
tion, that does possess such a character. We con- 
fess that the evidence is not such as to totally 
exempt men from care and pains in order to receive 
and retain its full force ; and we have yet to learn 
that it would be desirable to have it so. Thus far 
we confess. On the other hand we claim, and hold 
ourselves ready to prove, that the existence and 
majesty of God are supported by evidence that is 
decisive ; evidence that is sufficient ; evidence that is 
very great ; evidence that is greater by far than 
upholds any other moral thing; evidence fully as 
great as men seem disposed to improve ; evidence 
great enough to secure, in every age, almost uni- 
versal faith in at least one Worshipful Intelligence 
indefinitely superior to man in wisdom and power, 
and quite universal conviction of the possibility of 
such a Being (which, so far as the practical guid- 
ance of life is concerned, is almost as exacting a 
principle as faith itself) ; indeed, evidence great 
enough to give moral certainty and a renovated 
character to every person from sunrising to sunris- 
ing who will use it faithfully. We claim, and hold 
ourselves ready to prove, that Nature and the Su- 
pernatural have not spared themselves ; that they 
are generous witnesses for God ; that they vie with 
each other in the richness of their testimony ; that 
God has a shrine in every history, a temple in every 
science, a stoled priest with his Novum Organon 


in every bosom ; that the wide campus of matter 
swept by microscope and telescope as far as yonder 
picket nebula is everywhere covered with hiero- 
glyphics of Him which no Champollion is needed 
to decipher, everywhere hung with His cartouches 
and coats of arms which no college of heralds is 
needed to explain, everywhere tracked with His 
giant foot-prints vastly more scientifically intelligible 
than any of these fossil scriptures of the Connect- 
icut which so nobly enrich your museum — further 
and chiefly, that the supernatural evidence carries 
itself still more regally in a God who has often 
spoken audibly with men ; has often stood among 
them in visible personal forms ; has dwelt for thirty- 
three years on the amazed and panting planet in a 
human body ; has maintained for ages an oracle 
whose Delphos and Dodona shone with miraculous 
Shekinahs and infalhble Urim and Thummim ; has 
made the future visible, the dead to live, the earth 
to tremble, the heavens to blaze, the angels to fly 
singly or in armies along the sky in attestation of 
Himself; indeed, has even personally come down 
in presence of forewarned and expecting hosts, em- 
bosomed in a storm of miracles and with ineffable 
pomp, as if to silence, once for all, the clamors of 
such men as say, " Nay, father Abraham, but if one 
went to them from the dead, they would repent ; " 
and, finally, has scattered these direct manifesta- 
tions and these attesting miracles, with their diac- 
onate of special providences, through the ages as 


liberally as can be shown consistent with their best 
effect, briclo-ino; the intervals between them with 
wt'll-accredited and well-believed traditions from 
amid whose mighty arches and colonnades and pic- 
turing perspectives they can, not improbably, be 
seen to better advantage by the majority of man- 
kind than from the portico itself. 

Lo a Man of whom I have great things to say ! 
He had profound faith in God. He not only be- 
lieved in the Divine existence and perfection and 
government ; but that glorious idea seemed to him 
very much as did the ground which sustained him, 
the air which he breathed, and the heaven which 
rained on him from its azure cope the glory of sun 
and stars. — Is God all about me? Does He look 
and work on my right hand and on my left, upon me 
and within me ? Do I never go abroad but that His 
providence paces along; never rest at home but 
that His sleepless sovereignty watches at my bed- 
side ? While I am thinking, is He busy among the 
thickly coming fancies and arguments ; prompting, 
repressing, proportioning with a tireless hand? 
While I am speaking, is there no slightest tone that 
does not reach His quick ear ; and no hearer's 
heart into which He is not looking, and where He 
is not working in behalf of the truth ? The wind 
that sighs under these eaves — is it true that the 
pulse of almighty powder is in it ? The cloud that 
sails yonder — is it so that an omniscient thought 
is riding on it, hither and thither, for its secret mis- 


sion ? Each ray of light that makes Its way through 
these windows — is it feathered with a Divine pur- 
pose, and is every minute reflection from wall and 
seat and dust-particle presided over and governed 
by a single personal agency as real as that which 
turns over the leaves of this manuscript ? — So 
thought that man of faith. So was he convinced. 
So, indeed, he almost seemed to see. Other eyes 
than those of his body seemed to dwell behind and 
look through those grosser orbs, and to see things 
too subtle and essential for them. The common 
world lay insphered in a supernatural. All things 
w^ere " living and moving and having their being in 
God" — as says Euripides, n y^s ^XW^^ '^^'^^^ 7^5 
Ixcoi/ thpav — Chariot of the world and having 
His throne above it. In the greatest national af- 
fairs, and in the obscurest domestic history as well, 
played a Divine hand. Whatever befell, whether 
sad or glad, was the providence of God. The 
fields of earth and air and sea, instead of appearing 
as so many platforms on which the machinery of 
natural causes was millino; out science and inevitable 
results, seemed so many Fields of the Cloth of 
Gold on which the Great Supernatural was accom- 
plishing in his own proper person the grand part of 
King of Nature. As to him of Patmos, a shinin|^ 
Infinite Presence seemed movinor about amono; aL 
those ages and empires and ecclesiasticisms and 
homes and individual joys, sorrows, virtues, sins — 
above all, mingling freely with all his own affairs, 


and pacing with unwearied step throughout body 
and soul and all personal mysteries. Not more real 
was yon mountain that half shuts out the day. Not 
more real was yon ocean that awes so many lands 
with its lordly voice. So temptations were cobwebs 
to him. So dangers were no dangers. So trials 
were a heavenly discipline. So life and death were 
only different ways of spelling the same word. Re- 
proaches, ill-fame, martyrdoms — what recked he 
even for these ? He endured as seeing Him who is 
invisible. And all skepticisms, and philosophies 
falsely so called, though pretentious and crested as 
ever were ocean waves, broke harmlessly upon him. 
If at some point that rooted continent occasionally 
seemed to lose a few" grains of its rocky substance, 
it was only to more than add them to some other 
part of its great coast. So all the while the Terra 
Firma rose and grew and peopled itself — as Amer- 
ica is now doing amid the buffets of two oceans. 
It was a grand sight to see — that great, immov- 
able, progressive faith ; and the profuse billows of 
French unbelief breaking into smoke or ever they 
touched its mighty sides ! 

How came this ? Was the man intelligent ? He 
was a philosopher by nature and training, and such 
an effulgent thinker had not been seen for many 
a day. Was he practical ? No man managed his 
common affairs with more sobriety and discretion. 
Was he a victim of the unaccountable phantasms 
of youth or of age ? He was at the noon of his 


great and well-balanced faculties. And yet what 
a triumphant believer ! How shall we account 
for him ? I will tell you. Years ago that man was 
wholly without faith. Somehow his skeptical read- 
ing and his puzzling speculation had by degrees 
taken away the God of his fathers. Look where 
he might, there were no satisfactory signs of the 
supernatural. He could see nothing but great 
Nature. And from out his lomcal fo^s he looked 
with mingled pity and contempt on men simple 
enough to l)elieve. But, as said Plato, without 
a God no man is at rest. So one day he caught 
the light from a new angle. He was startled. 
An immense Perhaps stared him in the face. He 
became at once an earnest inquirer. He set him- 
self to examine the fundamental religious question 
with as much pains as reasonable men use in their 
very important secular concerns. He thought that 
much was plainly reasonable. He also thought it 
reasonable to invoke the God who might be, and 
who, if real, could easily and abundantly help. So 
he called freely on the possible Divinity — as a 
man lost in the forest will sometimes lift up his 
voice in loud calls for helpers whom he can neither 
see nor hear, but who, for all that, may be near 
at hand. — Another thing he did meanwhile. He 
freely consulted that Book which above all others 
credibly purported to be a Divine message. He 
found its aroma very peculiar. It was not that of 
materialism. He found its ways not like those of 


man. Nothing like them in science or history or 
business. Every verse had its face turned God- 
ward. Every chapter stood gazing upward, like 
the Christian apostles on Olivet. Every section 
cried God — "Him first, Him last. Him middle, 
Him without end." The whole credible messao-e 
gravitated, pointed, and prayed toward this great 
Center. Gradually the habit of the Book became 
the habit of the man. Gradually, as he read, he 
felt himself lifted into purer airs and clearer pros- 
pects. Gradually, as he read, he felt a new sight 
quickening and reaching forth from the depths of 
the old — especially as he went on to test the mes- 
sage, according to its own invitation, by a personal 
experiment on its adaptations to human wants and 
the faithfulness of its promises. — And so he began 
to live in such a way as made the thought of a right- 
eous God full pleasant. Then his faith ripened fast. 
The vintage grew heavy and purple every day be- 
neath beams so bright and genial. And at last 
the man came to have, if not a Divinity, at least 
a Divine work going forward bravely within him. 
Great reforms took place. Great reconstructions of 
character occurred. A ^ructure far nobler than 
the proud baronial halls in which he dwelt, arose 
within him. And, withal, his soul with its real 
though spiritual ear caught the sound of great spirit- 
ual processes of rectification and repair and cleans- 
ing and enlargement going on within its chambers, 
and became conscious of beinff touched and lifted 



and wrought by a wondrous agency not of this 
world. — When the builder is doing little or no 
work in my house, I may sit quietly, and quietly 
look out of the window, and scarcely ever think of 
there being such a person, though he is busy 
through the village from morning to night. But 
let him come into my own dwelling, and begin ex- 
tensive repairs — let him drive the axe and the 
plane and the hammer with the energy of a strong 
man in the very room I occupy — let him lever 
and screw up the wdiole building to rest on a 
new and higher foundation — let him take out old 
and decayed timbers and replace them by new 
ones, dig down my walls of plaster and panel 
others for me in immortal oak, put up addition 
after addition, and so go on with infinite hewing 
and carving and beating to transform my hut 
into a palace — can I help realizing that builder 
then ! He will scarcely ever be out of my thoughts. 
When my eye does not actually rest upon him, 
there will still be in my mind a vivid picture of 
his doings, as matters very real and very near — 
especially if they are never carried on independ- 
ently of me, but with* hourly reference to my 
judgment and assent. — So it was wdth that great 
believer. As soon as a thorough moral transfor- 
mation came to be fully in process within him, he 
became aware of a Divine Builder as never be- 
fore. Spiritual senses asserted themselves. There 
were spiritual sounds and motions and touches 


and thrills which could not be mistaken. The 
chambers were perfumed with a heavenly breath. 
The corridors echoed to a heavenly step. A 
heavenly voice sweetly rang through the vaulted 
halls. He felt that he was experiencing God. 
Communion with God was established — lo, it had 
been said, " We will come unto him and make our 
abode with him." So while God was building up 
the character, He was just as fast building up 
the faith, and fulfilling the promise that whoever 
does His will shall know of the doctrine. Thus 
it was the man became continental in faith. Thus 
did he reach moral certainty. Thus did he see 
his cornucopia filled to overflowing, and passed 
almost beyond the power of understanding how 
men could think of complaining of the obscurity 
of God. And thus it came to pass that w^hen he 
died, it was with a far more confident expecta- 
tion of waking on God than he ever had, when 
falling asleep, of opening his eyes the next morning 
on his own ducal domains of Broglie. 

Such was the method by which a seeing faith 
came to him. And it has come in the same way 
to many another. I take it on me to affirm that 
it might come in the same way to all — to all 
these men who are complaining of the scant light. 
Let them try this specific. Let them try it, if 
they would have moral certainty on the most im- 
oortant of all questions. They cannot claim that 
the method is not reasonable, i)lausible, and essen- 


tially philosophic — if there is a God. It is such 
as a God would not be unlikely to put men upon. 
And it is fortified by an experience that deserves 
to be called scientific. It is a principle of science, 
carrying with it the universal suffrage of modern 
scientific practice, that any objection to an hypothe- 
sis is sufficiently met when a simple, natural, and 
perfectly credible way of solving it, in consistency 
with that hypothesis, can be stated. But in this 
case we have more than such a natural statement. 
We have that supported by a wide experience and 
induction. Let every believer in experimental and 
inductive science take notice — until he also is able 
to join that unsandaled and elect company which 
in every age has not failed to look upward and 
around with awe-stricken faces, and to softly say 
with the supreme confidence of sight these purifying 
words, " Thou compassest my path. Thou besettest 
me behind and before. Whither shall I go from 
Thy Spirit!" 

Does any one imagine that such obscurity on the 
being and majesty of God as may belong to such a 
system of revelation as this, is not sufficiently 
accounted for by our five veils — one of them, at 
least, of indefinite thickness ? I hold that the situ- 
ation of mankind in respect to Theistic light is very 
like our situation in respect to sunlight on some fair 
day of summer. There are floods of rays abroad. 
High hill-top and profound valley shine. But some 
men are in less sunny places than others, some look 


forth from northern aspects, some live in smoky 
Birminghams, some are inclosed in curtained and 
shuttered houses, some are busy in sewers and 
pits and coal-caves, and some are blind. " Why 
is it so dark ? " say some of these men. " What 
darkness do you mean ? " I ask. '' Do you mean 
the darkness in your cloistered houses, your fum- 
ing furnaces, your subterranean dens ? Why, your 
sluitters and smoke and ceiling of opaque earth- 
strata sufficiently account for that. Ascend from 
your pit ; go forth a few miles from your smoky 
Birmingham ; make your shutters and curtains de- 
scribe a full semicircle in favor of the day, and you 
will find a wonderful improvement in the bright- 
ness and salubrity of your surroundings. No Les- 
lian nor Wollaston gauge will be needed to ascer- 
tain it. But perhaps you mean a darkness on the 
general face of Nature ? If so, then I have to say 
that I have not discovered any particular scarcity 
of light there — there seems to me enough for all 
practical purposes ; indeed, it seems to me that 
the amount of light is exceedingly great. Still I 
am willing to admit that it is not as great as might 
be. Were the earth to cease reeking its vapors ; 
were the cloddy fields to change into pure and bur- 
nished gold ; were each slant ray to become a per- 
petual perpendicular ; especially were the sun itself 
to draw nigh till all heliometers are abashed and 
the whole sky is filled with its flaming disk, we 
should have still more lio-ht; the want of these 


things is so many veils before the majesty of the 
sun, and all the dimness — if you please to call it 
such — which you perceive they will sufficiently 
account for. Would you have these veils removed ? 
Then prepare to perish in the blaze ; or to part 
with senses and reason in the appalling effulgence ; 
or to have all objects reduced to the same dead 
level of commonness by the undiscriminating and 
perpetual dazzle ; or, finally, to become less vigor- 
ous, manly, virtuous persons than you now are — 
perhaps like yonder enervate and voluptuous trop- 
ical Asiatic, sweltering alike in his sun and his sin 
— do this, or totally change your natures. With 
such natures and tendencies as you have, I think 
that this bright temperate zone and this golden sun 
of a half-degree diameter is the very best thing for 
you — wonderfully better than a sun whose fiery 
shield fills the whole astonished one hundred and 
eighty degrees. Who has a right to deny it? 
And pray, who has a right to deny that this bright 
though tempered revelation of God which theists 
claim, with men only held responsible for such 
measure of light as they have, is the very best 
revelation which could possibly be furnished to 
fallen beings ! 



Apare els rbv ovpavov tov<s ocfidaXfxovs, kol ifx^Xiij/aTC d<s 
TTjv yrjv Kara). 

Zevs, HvOfXTjv yaCrjs re koX ovpavov dcrTepoevTos. 


VI. Harmonies with Nature. 

1. VASTNESS 157 



4. WISDOM 169 

5. DYNAMICS 17s 








IN the last lecture I mentioned some sources of 
obscurity which must embarrass a manifestation 
of God ; namely, the narrowness of our intelligence, 
the frailty of our bodies, the frailty of our reasons, 
the frailty of our sensibility, and the sinfulness of 
our hearts ; and then endeavored to show that 
these will easily account for all the dimness of 
Divine manifestation that intelligent theists will 
admit to exist. Their admissions will be scanty. 
It seems to them that the light is that of broad 
summer day — admirably broad and brilliant, 
though capable of being suppressed to any extent 
by the personal habits of mankind. 

This concludes what I have to say in answer to 
objections to the doctrine of a God. These objec- 
tions are few. Atheists are more accustomed to as- 
sail the proof of the doctrine than the doctrine itself. 

In coming to the positive evidences for the 
Divine existence, we are met by the fact that 
theists and atheists agree as to the advantage 
of approaching the question of a Divine Being 


with a mind freshly steeped in the leading facts 
and conrses of nature. The atheist claims that 
nature makes on minds thoroughly imbued with 
her spirit an impression adverse to faith ; and 
points in evidence to some eminent cultivators 
of the physical sciences who have been as skep- 
tical as they have been scientific. So he is in 
favor of the study of nature. On the other hand, 
the theist is in favor of it for the very oppo- 
site reason. He denies the atheism of science. 
He refuses to infer it from the unbelief of some 
French and German philosopliers — with here and 
there a second-rate English disciple — whose 
minds from childhood have been poisoned with 
the writings of Voltaire and his school, who have 
seen around them only a grotesquely corrupted 
form of religion, and whose private lives for the 
most part were such as to make it greatly for 
their interest to have no God. To him the case 
of such exceptional men only shows the exceed- 
ing force of native depravity, evil training, evil 
surroundings, and evil habits, at withstanding 
the natural tendency of their pursuits. This 
tendency he regards as strongly theistic. He 
thinks he sees premonitions, prophecies, presump- 
tions, and even proofs of Divinity in the great 
universe that expands around him ; and believes 
that, other things being equal, the more fully 
one comes under the influence of the astronomy, 
the geology, and the otlier branches of natural 


science whose findings have amazed mankind, 
the more easily he will admit and the more 
strongly he will hold, the doctrine of a Divine 

What all classes think it well to do, let us at- 
tempt. We will attempt to place our hearts still 
more fully en rapport with nature. We will, if 
possible, get them into yet closer communication 
and sympathy with its great leading facts and 
courses. These are chiefly astronomical. Yet I 
shall not restrict myself to astronomical facts, 
technically so called, but shall allow myself to 
gather from the whole of that broad field of 
science of which astronomy is the undisputed 
and all-comprehending Chief. And I can not but 
think that the effect will be to preclude objec- 
tions, to furnish presumptions, and generally to 
dispose the mind to a mighty faith in God. I 
am persuaded that any man who can be fairly 
set down in the midst of nature, and thrown 
honestly open to all its subtle inductions, mag- 
netisms, inspirations, will silently drink in theism, 
as a fleece spread out under the stars drinks in 
the dew. 

Suppose it claimed that a certain veiled paint- 
ing is the work of Titian. If, on gradually lifting 
the veil, we find exclusively trait after trait such 
as might have been expected in a work by that 
great master, our disposition to think favorably of 
the claim increases with every step : and if, when 


the canvas is entirely exposed, every leading fea- 
ture seems Titian ic and the whole worthy of 
such an author, our minds are far advanced 
toward faith — they are in a state of high prep- 
aration for any ulterior evidence, and only com- 
paratively little of it will be required to secure 
full conviction. And this is reasonable. Pre- 
vious to examination, how could we be sure that 
there were not lurking under that veil incompat- 
ibilities, or at least disagreements ? Now our 
uncertainty is removed. We have found positive 
harmonies. The facts match the claim. The 
picture is such as might have been expected from 
Titian — such indeed as he would surely have 
painted. His great characteristics are strikingly 
here. And these are so many verisimilitudes, so 
many presumptions in favor of the claim : and, in 
the absence of all evidence to the contrary, at 
least authorize the critic to stand at the very 
verge of assent, facing it kindly and with foot 
uplifted, ready to cross the border at the first 
competent invitation. Let such an invitation 
come in the shape of an assurance that the paint- 
ing is almost universally accepted as the work of 
Titian, especially among the most intelligent and 
fair-minded judges ; further, that the hypothesis 
which ascribes the work to him is, as compared 
with other hypotheses, altogether the simplest, 
ihe least embarrassed, tlie most useful, as well as 
the most historical — this would and should plant 
his fQQt in the verv center of faith. 


Now it is claimed that nature is the work of 
God. Let us, step by step, unveil its leading 
features and see if they do not strikingly harmo- 
nize with the claim : and, as they may be found 
to do so, let unbelief approach its frontier ; and, 
when at last the general scheme of nature appears 
characteristic and worthy of God, let the traveler 
at least stand on the last boundary of his chill 
and somber territory, all ready to cross with de- 
cisive and ringing step into a brighter land at 
the first summons of the positive evidence. 

What I propose, theit, in the present lecture, is 
to illustrate the general harmony between nature 
and the doctrine of a God. Of course, a few 
specimen illustrations are all that can be offered. 
One will do well to feel the pulse of nature still 
more fully in the works of Ray and Good and 
Paley, in the Bridge water Treatises, and in later 
works of the same character. 

One of the most striking features of what we 
call Nature is its vastness. 

I do not forget that I am speaking to those who 
have become familiar with the wonders of physical 
science. But neither do I forget that even the 
scholar must refresh his impressions of things in 
very much the same way with other men. So I ask 
you to think of plains stretching to the horizon ; 
of mountains piercing the clouds ; of roomy con- 
tinents anchored in roomier oceans ; of this whole 
earth-sphere, with its huge baldric of twenty-five 


thousand miles, covered with innumerable ve- 
getable products, peopled with men to the poten- 
tial figure of a thousand millions, swarming still 
more potentially with the lower animals, and so 
flooded with microscopic life that almost every 
cubic inch of air and water and soil is panting 
with an incalculable population, — some of whose 
smaller individuals multiply themselves into 
one hundred and seventy billions in four days ; 
gather their five hundred millions in a single 
drop of water ; and yet make up, with the stony 
cerements of the merest fraction of their fossil 
ancestry, whole mountains and geologic beds. 
Such is our world. Out in yonder vault, find 
that millionfold world which we call the sun, 
with its invisible retinue of a hundred earths j 
out in yonder vault, when night falls, find a 
thousand suns similarly attended ; with tube 
Galilean, thousands more; with tube Herschel- 
ian, millions more ; with tube Rossian, billions 
more. Is this the end ? What astronomer for 
one moment imagines that another enlargement 
of the great speculum at Parsonstown would 
show our vision to be already hard up against 
the frontiers of nature ? Not even Darwin doubts 
that successive improvements in the space-pene- 
trating power of our instruments would go on 
indefinitely opening up firmaments at every step. 
Where is the verge of the universe ? Who would 
undertake the roll-call of its orbs ? Who dares 


to say that he could count through the grand 
total of its firmaments, even though he should 
count a thousand years ? Figures go but a small 
way toward expressing the dimensions of such a 
universe — whether one considers the number of 
its worlds, or the expanse of space through which 
they are distributed. Our world spins round its 
ellipse, of well-nigh two hundred million axis, 
without ever having a neighbor nearer than 
thirty millions of miles, save its own moon. 
The interval between our sun and the nearest 
star of the same galactic nebula is twelve hun- 
dred thousand times this distance. And then 
the distance from nebula to nebula — it is abso- 
lutely awful. Our telescopes sweep a sphere of 
stars whose diameter is seven milhons of years, as 
light travels. Calculation covers its abashed face 
with its great wings in the presence of these over- 
whelming amplitudes. And such is nature ! 

Certainly such a universe as this does not cry 
out against the existence of a God whose essen- 
tial attribute is immensity. On the contrary, it 
is just such a universe as one would have eo>- 
pected to come from such a being. Nay, given a 
Deity who is practically at home in every point 
of space, whose attributes are laid out on a scale 
of unbounded vastness, to whom it is just as easy 
to make and govern a trillion of worlds as it is a 
grain of sand, and the imperial fitness of things 
would demand that hs people vaconoy with very 


much that profusion and breadth .'vf being that 
we actually see. The work ought to express and 
honor the workman. And when I am told of an 
autlior of nature who is immense with a three- 
fold boundlessness of intelligence, might, and 
years ; so that to him our great and small, our 
far and near, our center and circumference — 
though that circumference sweep around all the 
expanses of modern astronomy — are practically 
the same ; so that he can properly challenge, "Do 
not I fill heaven and earth ? " — when I am told 
of this, and I then place myself out under the 
open dome of nature, amid its exuberant objects 
and marvelous stretches, I feel myself silently 
drinking in predispositions to faith as the fleece 
spread out under the open heaven drinks in the 
dew. I feel that the doctrine matches facts ; that 
the theory has in its favor a comprehensive veri- 
similitude and presumption ; that Nature, instead 
of saying, " There is no immense God," signifi- 
cantly asks, in a tone of encouragement and with 
a look of incipient expectation, "Is there not such 
a Being ? " In fine, I feel that our slight lifting 
of the veil from the painting has disclosed a fea- 
ture strikingly characteristic of the great master 
to whom the work is attributed — a feature which, 
in the absence of all counter-evidence, naturally 
sets our faces faith ward — one, of several har- 
monies whicli, as successively presented, will war- 
rant us in looking faithward with evergrowing 
kindliness of aspect. 


Notice with me the variety in tmity that char- 
acterizes Nature. 

Some hundreds of millions of creatures on our 
earth are so much alike tliat we put them into a 
class by themselves and call them men. They are 
all alike in certain fundamental features ; and yet 
each man differs materially, both in body and soul, 
from every other man. So of every other class 
of things — animal, vegetable, inorganic ; while 
there is a sub-stratum of unity among the mem- 
bers of each, on account of which they are 
classed together, there is not one which is not 
very unlike, in many respects, all its fellows. All 
animals have great points in common : but how 
many, many sorts of animals ; and how great the 
difference between the eagle and the microscopic 
mote, between the cetus and the polyp, between 
the most perfect man (body and soul) and the 
rudest of the polypi ! All vegetables are similar- 
ly constituted : but whose memory can master all 
the distinct kinds of vegetables in the wide inter- 
val between the spire of grass and the huge tree 
that wrestles victoriously with stormy centuries ; 
and reckon up the great differences that exist, as 
to shape and size and color and flavor and odor, 
among fruits and flowers and leaves and grasses 
and shrubs and trees. Great threads of \mity 
obviously connect all the forms of terrestrial 
being, organic and inorganic ; but this we know, 
that, if only single specimens of all the plainly 


separated species were attempted to be brought 
together into one Crystal Palace of a museum, we 
should have to roof in empires, instead of acres, 
in order to accommodate their mighty array: and as 
our eye would run over the whole superb collec- 
tion, and at last bring together the two termini — 
viz., the material man and the material stone 
just crumbling into dust — our sense would be 
that of a miraculous diversity efflorescing out of 
the unity of our world. So with those other 
worlds that shine or hide in the vault above. 
They are all spheres, all have orbitual and prob- 
ably axial motions, all are governed by the same 
principle and law of gravitation, all are lighted 
and colored and warmed by the same mysterious 
element or impulse ; but on such basal unity is 
superimposed an almost infinite variety. Observe 
our solar system. One member of it is self-lu- 
minous, and, relatively to the other members, a 
nearly stationary body ; the others are dark, and 
far-wandering planets. One is one hundred miles 
in diameter, another nearly one hundred thou- 
sand, while still another contains more than 
eight hundred times as much matter as all the 
remainder of the system can boast. Some have 
atmospheres and seas, others have neither. Some 
have moons, others have none. Saturn rides 
forth in the pomp of three great equatorial rings, 
as well as of eight moons ; no other planet is simi- 
larly furnished. These orbs of our system differ 


greatly in density — one is as lead, another as 
cork, another still is mere vapor. One receives 
seven times as much light from the sun as 
we, another only a three hundred and sixtieth 
part of as much. Neptune's year is equal to 
one hundred and sixty-five of our years. Saturn's 
day is only one-half of our day. Of course 
the products and ijcenery of these worlds, as 
well as the constitution of their inhabitants, 
must differ exceedingly. But pass we on to 
the region of the fixed stars. Have we es- 
caped into immeasurable uniformity out of im- 
measurable variety ? Lo ! we skirt systems, clus- 
ters, firmaments, and never two alike, while some 
stand apart by whole universes of difference ! 
Lo, systems with several suns each, from one to a 
hundred ! Lo, systems lighted, some with white 
suns, some with ruby, some with emerald, and 
some with suns of many different colors ! Lo, 
suns difiering exceedingly in size and amount of 
light they shed : Jfor the great Sirius that flashes 
first magnitudes on all our charts as well as on 
the dazzled retina of the savage, is not as near 
to us as the little 61 Cygni, and its light must 
be equal to that of two hundred and fifty suns 
like our own ! Alcyone shines with a force 
of twelve thousand suns. And then we have 
suns themselves combined into systems of all 
sizes and shapes — systems of two, of three, 
of many, of millions, — firmaments which, uu- 


der the name of nebulae, are the last gen- 
eralization and most stupendous variety of mod- 
ern discovery : sometimes rolled up into spheres : 
sometimes gatliered into circular or elliptic rings; 
now fan-shaped ; now like an hour-glass ; now 
broad wheels of compacted suns, large, glitter- 
ing, and sublime enough to under-roll the chariot 
of immeasurable God. There are not two leaves 
or grass-blades perfectly alike in all this verdant 
world ; not two worlds, nor systems of worlds, 
accurately alike in all the prodigious realms of 

Now no one, to say the least, can claim that this 
vast variety imbosomed in unity makes positively 
against the idea of one Creator of boundless in- 
vention and executive faculty. On the contrary, 
it is just what we should have expected from such 
a being. Given just such a many-sided, versatile, 
complete Deity as is affirmed — we should say 
that, in case he should set himself to produce a 
vast universe, he would be likely to produce one 
in which great outlines of unity would be steeped 
in immeasurable variation ; one in which resem- 
blance and diversity, both robed and featured like 
goddesses, would hold each other by the hand 
and go treading with wedded and festival step up 
and down the whole quickened area. Nay, this 
sort of universe one would make sure of finding ; 
would be greatly disappointed if he should not 
find. The eternal laws of his own nature would 


demand it of the Great Builder. The invin- 
cible beauty and fitness of things would de- 
mand it. Perfect uniformity, however piled up 
in magnificent magnitudes — even a uniformity 
only varied after so cramped and frugal a fashion 
as would be perpetually suggesthig poverty of re- 
sources — would belie the inexhaustible Divinity. 
If he build at all, he must not misrepresent and 
disparage himself in his work ; his fruitful na- 
ture, teeming with all imaginable fertilities and 
seeds, must surely blossom into very much that 
marvelous fruitfulness of product and pattern 
which we observe. And when I am told of an 
author of nature whose being swarms in resistless 
force toward every point of the compass, nay of the 
sphere ; who is both a unit and a polygon, facing 
every desideratum and possibility with a flashing 
side, both of thought and action, that out-dazzles 
the sun — when I am told that such a being is 
the author of nature, and I then put myself 
forth under the open dome amid the glorious di- 
versities that root themselves in the glorious 
unity of nature, and open myself freely to all 
their subtle suggestions and magnetisms, I feel 
myself drinking in predispositions to faith, as the 
exposed fleece drinks in the dew. I feel that 
again the doctrine matches facts, that again the 
theory has a comprehensive verisimilitude and pre- 
sumption, that Nature instead of sayhig that 
there is no God whose unity is arborescent 


with endless varieties of beauty and power, sig- 
nificantly asks, "Is there not such a Being? In 
fine, I feel that our continued lifting of the veil 
from the painting has disclosed a second trait 
strikingly characteristic of the Great Master to 
whom the work is attributed ; a trait which, added 
to the first, warrants our faithward look in taking 
on new kindliness of aspect. 

Another characteristic of nature deserving of 
notice is the perfection of its details. 

The exquisite finish of nature in its minutest 
parts is about as wonderful as its vastness and va- 
riety. Scan that leaf. Examine the wing of that 
butterfly. Let the tinted and polished antennae 
of that moth glitter in the focus of your instru- 
ment. Subject to the skilfullest notice of science 
and art the smallest veins of any animal or vege- 
table. Push the analysis just as far as possible, 
and submit that last visible minimum of organi- 
zationin the crystalline lens of the cod, with its five 
millions of muscles and sixty thousand millions 
of teeth, to the most searching criticism of the su- 
perbest microscope. What exquisite details ! 
What elaborate refinement of workmanship ! It 
is not as with some master-piece of human paint- 
ing — the main points only cared for, while all 
the subordinate are too rude to bear close inspec- 
tion. Titian painted this landscape. Well, it is 
wortliy of him — the general effect is beautiful. 
Yet, if you approacli, and closely examine the fo- 


liage of the trees, the grass with which the can- 
vas is green, or even the limbs and features of 
the animals, they will be found very coarsely and 
incorrectly executed. The microscope turns the 
most finished work of man into coarseness and 
clumsiness — indeed, almost immediately carries 
the sight where traces of skill have totally disap- 
peared. Not so with the works of nature. A 
real landscape you may analyze to your heart's 
content, and inspect its details as critically as 
eye armored with lens can do, without finding 
the workmanship growing less exquisite the fur- 
ther you push inquiry. A real man — you may 
descend to the minutest particulars of his organi- 
zation, and get as near its primary elements as 
an Ehrenberg with his superb instruments and 
practiced vision can carry you, without finding 
the least falling off from that delicacy of execu- 
tion which appears on the larger masses and out- 
lines of the body. So everywhere among natural 
objects — the great and the small, the outlines 
and the minute filling-up, as far as utmost optical 
resources can carry our observation, are wrought 
with apparently the same overflowing outlay of 
attention and skill. It is not so in a few instances 
merely, nor in a thousand — it is so universally. 

That there are any so preposterous as to think 
that this feature of nature makes positively 
ag-ainst the idea of a sparrow-watching, hair-num- 
bering, and thought-weighing God is, of course, 


not to be imagined. Of course, it is a feature 
that fully harmonizes with such an idea. A na- 
ture finished exquisitely down to the most infinites- 
imal of its details is just what one would have 
predicted from a God of this description. An- 
nounced the fact that He was about to create, 
and expectation would have stood on tiptoe to look 
for just such a nature as we see. A God for whose 
vision nothing is too small, who necessarily gives 
as complete attention to the affairs of an atom as 
to those of an empire, who can concentrate his 
almightiness with as much freedom and accuracy 
on a mathematical pohit as on a world, who is 
embarrassed no more by unlimited multiplicity 
than by unlimited minuteness of details, who can 
with equal ease paint a landscape on the point of 
a needle — say, if you please, forty thousand of 
such landscapes at once, with all their innumera- 
ble and minima particulars, back of the reticu- 
lated eyes of a single butterfly — can with equal 
ease do this, and roll a solar system on its tri- 
umphant path about the Pleiades ; do I not know 
that a being with such a striking attribute as this 
would surely give it expression in his works ? Do 
I not know that he who is equally at home in 
maxima and minima, and to whom beauties and 
glories in the world of infinitesimals would be just 
as apparent and practicable as they are in the 
world of infinites, would lay himself out on the 
one very much as on the other — would effulge 


himself into the microcosmos very much as into 
the cosmos ? When, then, I am told that such a 
being is the author of nature, and I proceed to 
place myself out under the open dome amid the 
exquisite elaborations that swarm on every hand 
down through the veriest miracles of littleness 
and detail, and to uncover myself candidly to all 
their subtle whisperings and magnetisms, I feel 
myself softly drinking in predispositions to faith, 
as the exposed fleece drinks in the dew, I so feel 
the force of a doctrine matching facts, and but- 
tressing itself again and again with comprehen- 
sive verisimilitudes and presumptions, that to 
me nature becomes articulate, and, instead of 
swearing with uplifted hand that there is no 
wondrous God, significantly points upward, and, 
with bated breath and expectant look, asks, " Is 
there not such a Being ? " — in fine, I feel tliat 
our continued lifting of the veil from the paint- 
ing has disclosed another characteristic of the 
Great Master to whom the work is attributed, the 
third of those several harmonies which, as suc- 
cessively presented, warrant us in looking faith- 
ward with ever-growing kindliness of aspect. 

Another feature of Nature is what I shall call 
its ivisdom. 

The world is full of what, if accepted as the 
work of an intelligent being, would be called con- 
trivances — adaptations of means to ends — often 
of the most complex and elaborate description. 


For example, the birds — how admirably adapted 
to flying ; in shape, feathers, bones, wings I The 
fishes — how adapted to swimming and life in the 
water ; witness their shape, their smooth and 
unctuous scales, their pairs of fins, their tails and 
gills ! The land-animals — how adapted to walk- 
ing and running and feeding on the earth's sur- 
face ; to eat the grass or catch their special prey I 
The trees — how adapted to stand firmly ; by their 
roots, their perpendicularity, their balanced 
branches, their moderate flexibility — how adapt- 
ed for shade, for abating the violence of winds, 
for fuel ! Or, if you will consider particular or- 
gans of the organic tribes, look at the bark of 
trees as related to their nourishment, at the web- 
foot in its double relation to land and water, at 
the teeth and other preparers of food for the 
stomach, at the stomach as a preparer of food for 
the blood, at the lungs as purifiers of the blood, 
at the heart as the engine for forcing the blood to 
all parts of the system, at the hand as the general 
servant of the whole body ; in short, at almost any 
organ of either animal or vegetable structures. 
The adaptations are wonderful. They are physi- 
cal miracles — the means are shaped and applied 
to the ends so exactly, beautifully, triumphantly. 
For example, no work of human ingenuity that 
ever you saw is equal to that natural marvel, the 
human eye — an organ having reference to an 
element quite external to itself, whose chief source 


is millions of leagues distant ; and also to millions 
of external objects which compose our scenery of 
earth and sky — an organ placed in the most ele- 
vated part of the body so as to command the most 
extensive prospect ; placed in the front so as most 
readily to preside over the direction in which we 
habitually move ; placed in a strong bony socket 
which defends it from the heavier external in 
juries ; imbedded in a soft cushion, so tliat its del 
icate texture can not be hurt by the bony walls 
around it, as it rests on them, and turns swiftly 
hither and thither at the bidding of the will ; 
furnished with lids, like curtains, to close over it 
in sleep, to wipe it, to cut off the outer rays of 
light that would confuse vision, to protect it by 
their involuntary and instantaneous shutting 
against the lighter kind of injuries ; furnished 
with an apparatus of muscles by which it can be 
rapidly turned at choice in any direction, so as to 
vary the field of vision as the needs of life may 
suggest ; furnished with a self-acting system of 
appliances by which the ball is kept lubricated for 
easy movement; furnished with a conduit to 
carry off the superfluous moisture ; furnished 
with just that shape, out of ten thousand possible 
shapes, which mathematicians have demonstrated 
to be the only one which can refract all the rays 
of light to a single surface, and thus afford dis- 
tinct vision, viz., that of an ellipsoid of revolu- 
tion ; furnished witli a retina or natural canvas 


on which its pictures of external objects can be 
formed, of just tlie right size, and at just the right 
distance behind the lenses of the eye ; furnished 
with lenses of different substances having differ- 
ent refractive powers, thereby preventing the light 
from being resolved into the prismatic colors, and 
thus misrepresenting and uniforming objects ; fur- 
nished in front with a perforated membrane that 
by self-adjustment adapts it to different degrees 
of light, also with a system of pulleys and liga- 
ments that at a moment's warning alter its con- 
vexity and the relative position of parts so as 
to adapt it to objects at different distances and, 
what is more wonderful than all, provided in 
some inscrutable manner with the means of ex- 
pressing the mind itself, so that one may look into 
its crystal depths and see intellectuality and scorn 
and wrath and love, and almost every spiritual 
state and action. Now, if this is not an amazing 
congeries of adaptations, there is and can be noth- 
ing amazing. If found to be the work of a human 
artist, it would be called a perfect marvel of in- 
genuity and wisdom. And yet some insects have 
twenty thousand such eyes combined into one. 
But the eye is only one among an infinity of 
natural contrivances. Animate and inanimate 
nature is mountainous and glittering with them. 
Down into the regions of the infinitely small, 
whither only the most searching microscopes car- 
ry the sight ; up into the regions of the infinitely 


large and far, whither only mightiest telescopes 
lift our struggling knowledge ; among tlie mech- 
anisms of the atomic nations that people a sin- 
gle leaf, and among the mechanisms of those 
swarming celestial empires whose starry banners 
sweep our nightly skies — it is everywhere the 
same ; exquisite adaptations crowding exquisite 
adaptations, profound contrivances (so inven- 
tors and mechanicians would be tempted to call 
them) heaped on profound contrivances, in such 
endless amounts and varieties of wise structure, 
as exhausts all human understanding and dwarfs 
into nothingness all the products of human in- 

Does such a nature as this swear against a 
Divine Contriver. Does it protest against him, or 
testify against him, or breathe even a suspicion 
against him ? Many absurd things are done in the 
world : but it will be hard to find the man who will 
care to deny the positive and emphatic harmony 
between the doctrine of an omniscient and omnip- 
otent God and a universe crowded with such 
splendors of natural mechanics. A God of end- 
less invention, and whose powerful and skilled 
hands can magnificently realize all that he has 
magnificently planned — we should expect that 
such a being, in case he should create a nature, 
would set it all ablaze with the monuments of 
his supreme intelligence and power — should be 
disappointed to find no such monuments, but, in 


their stead, mere stupidity or tameness of work. 
We should call the work unworthy of the work- 
man. Nay, we should hasten to say to ourselves 
that we must have mistaken him — He could 
really be nothing more than such a petty divinity 
as the poor heathen have fabled to themselves. 
For we should be sure that one having unlimited 
command of ways and means, both as a knower 
and worker, would display it in his works. It 
being just as easy for him to have exquisite 
adaptations, and a gloriously endless variety of 
them, as to have no adaptations at all — it is 
plain what sort of nature he ought to make and 
would make. Now let me be told of a framer of 
nature in whom are hid all the treasures of wis- 
dom and knowledge, whose light has in it no dark- 
ness at all, whose smallest deeds have from the 
hoary everlasting been, pavilioned and charioted 
toward being amid the glories of Almighty Om- 
niscience ; and I then place myself out under 
the open dome mid the wilderness of wonderful 
constructions and chemistries, and candidly un- 
cover myself to all their subtle sympathies and 
magnetisms — I feel myself, all silently, drinking 
in predispositions to faith, as the exposed fleece 
drinks in the dew. I feel that the God who is af- 
firmed is just the God to match the nature which 
I see — here the ball and there the socket, here 
the foot Titanic and there its footprint, here the 
shapely hand and there its glove, here the sover- 


eign sword and there the golden scabbard that just 
fits it — that these noble adaptations and mechan- 
isms, spangling and blazoning all the fields of 
matter, are in rejoicing sympathy with the idea 
of a Creator who is wonderful in counsel and ex- 
cellent in working ; that the alabaster-box of 
precious wisdom that has been emptied, not only 
on the queenly head and shining tresses of Na- 
ture but on her very feet, scents bravely of One 
who is himself a " mountain of such spikenard ; '* 
that, in fact, the theory is again smiled upon 
by a comprehensive verisimilitude and presump- 
tion ; that Nature, instead of swearing - with 
uplifted hand that there is no All-wise Creator, 
with flushed cheek and upward-glancing eye of 
expectation, significantly asks, " Is there not such 
a Being ? " In fine, I feel that our continued 
lifting of the veil from the painting has disclosed 
still another characteristic of the Great Master 
to whom the work is attributed ; has cleared up 
another stretch of that vista at the end of which 
is Titian at his easel — the fourth of those several 
harmonies, which, as successively presented, war- 
rant us in looking faithward with ever-growing 
kindliness of aspect. 

Another striking feature of Nature is its power. 

No contemptible degree of force resides in the 
aauscles of some men — the Samsons and Milos 
of their time. Huge rocks are lifted, tough oaks 
are riven, great structures are shaken down by 


their hands. Many brute animals display still 
greater muscular strength ; witness the elephant, 
and those gigantic mammals which towered 
and ruled over the post-tertiary savannas. A 
combination of animal forces with what are called 
the mechanical powers often generates measures 
of force more striking still ; and when men stand 
by such piles as the Egyptian pyramids, they are 
deeply impressed with the prodigious uplift that 
must have put those mighty blocks in their high 
places. But it is to inanimate nature that we 
must go for our most brilliant examples of phys- 
ical force. What power in the wind, when, as a 
tornado, it sweeps along at more than one hun- 
dred miles an hour ; demolishing mansions, up- 
rooting forests, and lifting ponderous ships far in- 
land on their eddies ! What power in the ocean- 
swell as it tosses an entire navy to tlie skies with 
apparently as much ease as if it were a single 
cockle-shell ! — What is this that comes rushing 
through tlie landscape with smoky breath and 
thunderous step, dragging thousands of tons at 
the pace of winds ? Within that flying iron cra- 
ter is imprisoned one of nature's brawniest forces, 
steam — throwing off feats of toil with its vaporous 
arms, which arms of flesh and blood have never 
even been fabled to do. — What have we here ? A 
few barrels filled with very simple black grains. 
One has but to drop a spark among them to wit- 
ness a sudden development of power that shall 


deafen earth and heaven with its voice, and lift a 
city into mid-air. — Would you see a mightier 
energy still ? It is the year 1755. An unwonted 
trembling stirs the air and ground of Lisbon. In 
a few moments the broad city is in heaps. The 
plain around runs in waves, like the sea when 
lashed by a tempest. See — the distant moun- 
tain-ranges themselves impetuously shake and 
rend and topple ; Europe, to the Highlands of 
Scotland, heaves ; heaves Africa ; heaves the 
whole broad Atlantic, with all its huge gravi- 
ties, from the Pillars of Hercules to the New 
World ! When oceans and continents are so 
tossed and shot aloft, what stalwart shoulders of 
gas and steam and fire are heaving at the mighty 
burden ! Other forces among us are not small ; but 
this of the earthquake is easy king over all these 
terrestrial children of pride. Terrestrial, I say : 
but there are forces not terrestrial which are of a 
still huger and loftier pattern — celestial forces, 
to which those of our earth are what the bubble- 
globules of the children are to the globed worlds 
of space. When such a planet as Jupiter is 
moving at the rate of some thirty thousand miles 
an hour ; when such a sun as ours is moving at 
the rate of some three thousand miles a minute ; 
when such a nebula as our Milky Way, with its 
eighteen millions of suns, goes wheeling at the 
same average speed about its center of gravity 
— there is a momentum for you, a magazine 


of force by the side of which earthquakes are 
puny, and ail tlie stormy winds that ever blus- 
tered and fought in their fabled caves mere zeros ! 
Some say that there is but one force in all nature 
— none perhaps more apt to say it than the 
rejecters of the supernatural — that the forces 
which pump and assimilate and reject in every 
blade of grass and leaf and animal fiber ; the 
forces that throb in every ray of light and heat 
and electricity and magnetism, the forces that 
swell and toil in every atom of matter, the me- 
chanical forces, the chemical forces, the spiritual 
forces, the forces here and the forces yonder to 
the universe's last suburb — that all these forces, 
with their incomprehensible sum-total of simul- 
taneous impulses, are, after all, but branches of 
one great central force pushing outward in an in- 
finite variety of directions and forms. If tliis is 
so — and who is competent to positively deny it — 
what a single force that is which can diffuse itself 
over so immense an area, and divide itself so in- 
finitely, and yet thunder away at special points 
with such marvelous and terrible energy! If 
this is not so, still what a wondrous hive of 
swarming and independent dynamics in this wide 
uature of ours ! 

Of course, no one could have the hardihood to 
say that a nature stocked with such energies as 
these makes positively against the doctrine of a 
Creator who is himself an Almighty Force. On 


the contrary, there is a friendly harmony between 
the doctrine and the fact. Were we to find in 
actual existence a Personal Power to whom noth- 
ing is impossible, and learn that he is about to 
produce a universe, we should expect to see pro- 
duced just such a wonderfully strong nature as we 
actually have — a nature peopled with strengths, 
momenta, brawny agencies of most imposing forms 
and magnitudes. A weak system, a system that 
is puny in its operations and trifling in its effects, 
would misrepresent him — shall I not say, would 
be unworthy of him ? Most persons would cer- 
tainly call it unsuitable ; would say that his 
very nature as an Infinite Power would demand 
of him that he should produce a system that 
would be continually turning out the greatest re- 
sults, and so must include forces of the greatest 
efiiciency. When, then, I am told that a Sublime 
Force, who has Almighty for his name, is the au- 
thor of nature ; and I then proceed to place my- 
self out under the open dome amid the pulsings 
and tossings of innumerable and sometimes im- 
measurable momenta, and so lay myself honestly 
open to all their subtle hints and magnetisms; I 
feel myself silently drinking in predispositions to 
^aith as the exposed fleece drinks in the dew — I 
feel that the doctrine matches facts ; that the as- 
serted creator and creation fit each other as do 
the die and the face of the coin which it has 
stamped ; that the theory has at least the bene- 


diction of yet another verisimilitude and presump- 
tion ; that Nature, instead of making oath with se- 
rene brow and uplifted hand, that there is no won- 
drous God, significantly asks, witli abashed voice, 
"Is there not such a Being?" — in fine, I feel 
that, as the veil continues to rise from the face of 
the painting, it reveals still another characteristic 
of the Great Master, clears up another stretch of 
that vista which conducts the sight toward Titian 
bending over his canvas — the fifth of those sever- 
al harmonies which, as successively presented, 
warrant us in looking faithward with ever-grow- 
ing kindliness of aspect. 

Another feature of Nature is its remarkable re- 
lation to law. 

Notice law and its exceptions — the general 
steadfastness of modes of being and action in na- 
ture, and the occasional breaches in that stead- 

On the earth's surface, in its dark interior, in 
the air and vault above, in the instant present and 
the ancient past — everywhere, law waves its 
mighty scepter. Atoms and masses, the ponder- 
ables and inponderables, the organic and inor- 
ganic, the living and dead — all are evidently 
subjected in their modes of being and action to 
certain fixed rules, sometimes particular, but 
more often covering whole classes of objects. 
Not a particle floats at random or as a unit : not 
a leaf grows or falls save according to rigid gene- 


ral principles uf science. All chenaical elements 
have their modes and measures of combination to 
which they steadfastly adhere. All heat, electri- 
city, magnetism, gravity, act according to abiding 
methods which philosophers have gradually dis- 
covered and arranged into the sciences of natural 
philosophy. The great processes of vegetable and 
animal life proceed after the same forms and steps, 
from age to age. The stone beds of the world are 
formed and modified in certain set ways which 
are the same now as in the periods anterior to 
man. Even the weather, so often called fickle, 
has its stable methods ; almost every year bring- 
ing to light some new general fact in meteorology, 
or extending the application of an old one. Day 
and night succeed each other, every twenty-four 
hours, without variation. The seasons do not 
change their order or general character. All of 
Kepler's and Newton's laws are as operative to- 
day as they ever have been since their discovery. 
The planets shoot round the sun and are circled 
by their own moons, on substantially the same 
elliptical orbits, in the same times, and with the 
same principles of alternate retardation and accel- 
eration as of old. All known changes in the plan- 
etary orbits have been found to be bound in a 
law of periodicity which is apparently invariable. 
So beyond the solar system. Law still ; nothing 
but law ; law everywhere on ten thousand bla- 
zing thrones ; largely the same laws that prevail 


in our own system ! As far as we can observe— 
and it is no little that has been observed — those 
distant orbs reverence the various principles of 
gravitation and mechanics, and keep as rigidly to 
their behests, as when the earliest astronomy gazed 
at them from its rude Uraniberg of a hill-top. 
And every man of science is well persuaded that, 
could his observation alight on particular orbs of 
those remote and twinkling hosts, he would find 
their minutest details bound up in the chains of 
the same adamantine regularity that rules our 
own globe. 

So in general we speak. But we must not be 
understood to speak with absolute precision of 
language. In this wide scene of steadfast ar- 
rangements, there are outbreaks of anomaly — 
ruptures and rents and dislocations in the habits 
and ongoings of nature, like those in the strata 
of the earth. It is a settled law of nature that 
like shall produce like ; yet from perfect animals 
and vegetables occur occasional monstrosities of 
organization. It is a settled course of nature 
that certain substances, called poisons, if freely 
introduced into animal systems, destroy life ; yet 
now and then a man is found who is even nour- 
ished by these agents of destruction. It is a fixed 
mode of nature that frost withers flat foliage ; yet 
the flat leaves of the wild laurel flourish out our 
i\ardest winters. It is a fixed way of nature that 
the heavenly bodies move in ellipses ; yet there 


is reason to believe that some comets have been 
found moving on the curve called a parabola. 
The steadfast habit of nature is against a general 
planetary deluge, or conflagration, or glacier- 
period, or destructive convulsion ; yet such disas- 
ters, if geology may be trusted, have several times 
occurred, at immense intervals, in the history of 
our own planet. Great exceptional events ; 
phenomena without fellows through an astonish- 
ing stretch of ages ; what have the appearance 
of broad fractures and dislocations of nature, 
though in reality they may be the rare resultants 
and accumulations of innumerable natural forces 
and laws crossing each other in all directions ; 
the entire destruction and rehabilitation of animal 
and vegetable species — such events have taken 
place on this globe again and again. Repeatedly 
has the earth been drowned and torn in pieces. 
It has been piled with snow and ice from pole to 
pole. It has been all ablaze and fused. And is 
it not on the idea of such a cpnflagration that we 
can best account for the new stars that have some- 
times flashed suddenly on the sight with all the 
splendor of Venus at its brightest, and, after a 
few months of changing color and gradual decay, 
finally disappeared ? Thus in the bosom of a 
general steadfastness are found occasional out- 
breaks of anomaly. It is as among the geologic 
strata — where are found faults, dislocations, fis- 
sures, and even reversions of those great rock- 


beds which in general are laid down on a plan of 
utmost regularity. The course of nature is like 
some great thoroughfare, which advances through 
great distances without the slightest solution of 
its continuity, but at last finds a great river thrust 
squarely across its track. On this side the thor- 
oughfare, on that side the thoroughfare, and here 
the broad, deep flow of the bridgeless river — 
a river worth to the public, it may be, many 
times what the perfect continuity of the road 
would be. 

Now this much is certain. No one can say that 
this characteristic of nature makes positively 
against such a steadfast and yet miracle-working 
God as is affirmed in the Christian Scriptures. 
Instead of opposition, there is positive harmony 
between the fact and the doctrine. Indeed, such 
a nature as is observed is just what one would 
have expected to come from such a Creator as is 
taught. Nay, as general laws are necessary to 
make science possible, to enable men to forecast 
and profit by experience, to serve as a basis for all 
comprehensive business and for all civil govern- 
ment — as the broader and profounder the intel- 
ligence, the more it is pleased with and tends to 
work by general principles, we may say that the 
very nature and circumstances of Deity would de- 
mand of him, in case he should create, to create a 
generally steadfast, law-abiding universe. At the 
same time, a miracle-worker — one who sees acer- 


tain essential imperfection and intractability in causes, preventing their matching on all 
occasions the perfection of his ideas ; who, more- 
over, sees it undesirable to allow mere nature to 
hide its Maker altogether behind its swarming 
screen, and give to the ideas of necessity and fatal- 
ity full sweep in human minds — I say, such a 
being would be under a loud call to provide in the 
constitution and course of nature such sugges- 
tions and prophecies of miracles as would gradu- 
ally, though perhaps unconsciously to them, pre- 
pare the minds of men for those crowning 
abnormals of the system. He must have the 
glory of his personal agency glimmer through 
occasional rents in the uniformity of nature. 
An anomaly-sprinkled, miracle-suggesting, as well 
as stable, universe must proceed from his won- 
drous hand. He would be in conflict with 
himself were he to produce any other. And 
when I am told of one who is actually just 
this sort of divinity — both law and miracle : 
both giver and keeper to an almost infinite 
extent of moral laws which shall not pass away ; 
while his iron will, throned as supremely in 
the realm of matter as of morals, yet launches 
forth into special providences and miracles on 
extraordinary occasions — when I am told of 
him, and I then place myself out under the 
open dome amid the massive but occasionally 
rifted uniformities, and open myself freely to all 


their subtle hints and magnetisms, I feel myself 
softly drinking in predispositions to faith, as the 
exposed fleece drinks in the dew. I feel that the 
doctrine and the facts are at one ; that the asserted 
Creator and the observed creation fit each other 
as do the signet and the seal just stamped ; that 
another verisimilitude spreads blessing, if trem- 
ulous, hand over the theory ; that Nature in- 
stead of sonorously swearing that there is no 
Divine Being whose double name is Law and Mira- 
cle, significantly asks, with abaslied and startled 
tones, " Is there not such a Being ? " In fine, I 
feel that, as the veil continues to rise from the face 
of the painting, it reveals still another character- 
istic of the Great Master, clears up another stretch 
of that vista which conducts the sight toward 
Titian bending over his canvas — the sixth of 
those several harmonies which, as successively pre- 
sented, warrant us in looking faithward with ever- 
growing kindliness of aspect. 

Another feature of Nature is its wonderful re- 
lation to time and motion. 

How long has our race existed ? The infidel 
may choose to say a hundred thousand years ; 
none will say less than six thousand. How long 
has the earth itself existed ? The atheist may 
choose to say. Forever. The geologist, thinking 
of his coal beds and deltas and rocky strata sown 
with the bones of extinct species, and of the time 
requisite for their formation, is sure of several 


hundred thousand years. How long are the 
earth and its confederates in the solar system 
calculated to endure ? Geometry declares that 
no element of decay within endangers the sta- 
bility of the system of the world. That year 
which circumscribes our seasons is only three 
hundred and sixty-five days ; but the earth has 
another year to which this is a mere point — its 
pole goes nodding through space in a circle which 
it takes twenty-five thousand years to traverse. 
What think you of a planet whose winter is more 
than forty of our years, of a comet whose year is 
more than thirty of our centuries, of a sun whose 
year is more than eighteen thousand of our mil- 
lenniums? All the planetary orbits pass through 
cycles of changes varying in length from a few 
centuries to nine thousand, to seventy thousand, 
to even many million years ; but the greatest of 
these planetary cycles are as nothing compared 
with those enormous periods which bound the 
perturbations and express the secular equations 
of the sun and fixed stars — periods including 
more years than imagination has ever succeeded 
in realizing to itself. What amazing longevities ! 
What portentous numerals ! They are hiero- 
glyphics of the everlasting. They lift us among 
the dizziest peaks of the sublime. 

These immense periods, interspersed with others 
exceedingly small, sometimes express an exceed- 
ingly slow movement among the powers of nature. 


In other cases, the movement with which they 
are connected is exceedingly rapid. The times 
consumed in the formation of the coal-beds and 
rock-strata, and in the long perturbations of the 
planetary and stellar orbits, are examples of the 
first class of periods ; the years of the planets and 
stars in their orbits are examples of the second. 
In the first class, natural forces creep along to 
their objects with miraculous slowness ; in the 
other, they flash along with swiftness equally 
astounding. Some orbits gradually lengthen 
themselves, say an inch in a thousand years. 
Some of the stars dart along their year of one 
hundred and eighty thousand centuries at the in- 
comprehensible rate of one hundred and eighty 
thousand miles an hour. Could we plant our- 
selves immovably at a certain point in the celes- 
tial spaces, and see our sun go sailing by with all 
its glorious squadrons of planets and moons — 
sailing down the abyss as if driven by ten thou- 
sand hurricanes — would not the sight of such 
celerity almost irrecoverably daze both senses and 
spirit ? 

If, now, one should start up to say that these 
great cycles, imbosoming unutterable extremes 
of movement, makes positively against an Eter- 
nal God who is able to move to his purpose like 
the light or at a rate so trifling as to be quite im- 
perceptible by human senses, we should laugh his 
logic to scorn. We know better. These are facts 


that palpably agree with such a theism. Instead 
of contradicting it, they express a state of things 
that might have been expected from a being who 
has both unlimited time and unlimited speed at 
his disposal — who, if he chooses to wait, has 
never occasion to haste ; or, if he chooses to haste, 
has never occasion to wait — who is alike able to 
dart on his purpose as if infinite whirlwinds were in 
his wings, or to approacli it at a rate so minute that 
no human sense can discern the movement in the 
lapse of generations. Suppose such a God to be 
about to create a nature, could you not confidently 
predict after this manner — " This Being of mighty 
periods will establish mighty periods : this Being 
who can readily proceed on his endlessly varied de- 
signs, at all imaginable and unimaginable rates of 
speed, will diversify his works with all the veloci- 
ties." A God who himself has no duration to speak 
of — if there may be such a God — would never 
have stored his nature with such mighty cycles ; a 
God who himself never did a swift thing would 
never have set his laws to spurring on planets and 
suns so astoundingly ; a God who himself never 
did a slow thing would never have yoked such 
slow-footed forces to events, as we observe actually 
dragging at some of them. It is only a God who 
has substantial forevers on his hands, and who on 
occasion can lighten and on occasion can linger 
ineffably along the highway of his purposes, who 
is properly represented by such a nature. In case 


he gives any nature at all, his character demands 
of him to give just this — one expressing his own 
attributes. So when I am told of one whose lon- 
gevity is eternity, whose orbit of existence has an 
infinite axis, who reaches an Atonement after 
slowly beating toward it for forty centuries, who 
is ages and dispensations in establishing his king- 
dom in the world, who commonly approaches the 
punishment of sinners with steps lingering through 
numberless delays and forbearances, and who yet 
sometimes yokes steeds of wind and fire and foam 
to his car — as when some Korah and his com- 
pany go down quick into the pit ; or some Uzziah, 
profanely grasping an ark, falls dead ; or some 
Ananias and Sapphira, lying to the Holy Ghost, are 
rushed to judgment in an instant's brief space — 
when I am told of such a Grod creating nature ; 
and I then betake myself abroad under the open 
dome amid those swarming and wondrous orbits 
of time, now scarred and smoking with the hot 
hoofs of electric forces, and now pressed by the 
velvety and trackless feet of forces born of the 
snail ; and frankly lay myself open to all their 
subtle hints and magnetisms — I feel myself silent- 
ly drinking in faith, as the exposed fleece drinks 
in the dew — I feel that there is a significant 
matching of what we are taught with what we 
observe ; that such theism is on most excellent and 
embracing terms with Nature, whicli, so far from 
saying with uplifted, oath-making hand, ' that 


there is no Eternal God who, as an agent, is equally 
at home in an instant and an age,' at least stands 
tremulously querying, " Is there not such a Be- 
ii^g ? " — ill fine, I feel that, as the veil continues to 
rise from the face of the painting, it reveals still 
another characteristic of the Great Master, clears 
up another stretch of that vista which conducts 
the sight on Titian painting away sublimely at his 
glowing and glorified landscape — the seventh of 
those several harmonies which, as successively 
presented, warrant vis in looking faithward with 
ever-growing kindliness of aspect. 

Another feature — the mysteriousness of Na- 

Who does not know it? — terrestrial nature 
is one huge sphinx. She vomits enigmas on us 
in seas. Riddles too profound for the highest 
science yet in our possession lurk in every ray 
of light, in every blade of grass, in every rudest 
stone. Only some of the coarser facts in rela- 
tian to a few things here and there, have been 
picked up and systematized ; and these are what 
compose our boasted sciences. From surface to 
center, the earth is choked with mysteries whose 
stony rind has never yet received a blow, much 
less a fracture, from the mallet of investigation. 
Come now, ye great Computers, compute for us 
how long it will be before the science, which loses 
itself at the very threshold of the complexities 
of this world, will be able to swoop down with 


triumphant wing upon the surfaces and to the 
fiery centers of those fellow planets that myste- 
riously weave and interweave paths across the 
concave, and thoroughly solve the problem of all 
their swarming contents! A disorderly maze 
are the apparent paths of the members of our 
solar system ! But you say that the real paths 
are not as intricate as the apparent. Take your 
stand, then, at the sun, and observe planets and 
comets going and coming at all distances and 
rates of velocity and directions ; while around 
most of the larger planets are similarly moving, 
other systems of satellites — is it not an intricate 
as well as a brave sight ? Can you see through 
the mazy plan ? But you say that it has been 
seen through, and planetariums have been made 
that clearly represent the whole thing to us with- 
in a few feet of space. How many centuries 
and philosophers, Copernicus — Copernicus, I 
say, away yonder in the depths of four hundred 
years ago — did it take to make that orrery and 
solve that riddle of the system of the world ? 
Indeed, it is yet very far from solution. Astron- 
omers can only completely account for the move- 
ments of a system of two bodies. A system of 
three is quite beyond them ; one of a hundred 
and more bodies, like our solar system, immeasur- 
ably beyond them. There is not even a hope 
tliat science, with all its dynamical calculuses, 
will ever overtake this higher problem. But 


there is a higher problem still. Solar system 
revolves around solar system; a group of such 
systems around a similar group ; a cluster of 
such groups around a similar cluster; a firma- 
ment of such clusters around a similar firmament. 
Indeed, as we have seen, the whole universe of 
stars, with all the countless fleets of planets and 
moons which they represent, must, according to 
the law of gravity, revolve about a last center of 
centers. Let us go to it. Standing at this 
Heaven — for is not this the dazzling metropolis 
where dwells the sublime Cesar of the creation — 
standing at this wondrous point, and looking 
forth on the countless nebulae coming and going 
at all imaginable distances, speeds, and direc- 
tions — lo, what a glorious scene of bewilder- 
ment and unsearchable complexity ! It fairly 
takes away our breath to look. There is no 
more spirit left in us. If a system of three 
bodies is too much for the most subtle and com- 
prehensive science yet known, what can ever be 
done by all coming generations and geniuses, 
however imperial, toward mastering such laby- 
rinthian immensity of involved orbs ? 

Now hearken to the Christian Scriptures — 
affirming a Maker of nature who is himself the 
mightiest of all enigmas. " Yerily, thou art a 
God that hidest thyself — Canst thou by searching 
find out God ; canst thou find out the Almighty 
to perfection — It is high as heaven ; what canst 


thou do : deep as hell ; what canst thou know ? " 
Does the aspect of nature contradict this doc- 
trine? Who will presume to deny that the in- 
comprehensible materialism about us, to say 
nothing of the more incomprehensible spiritual- 
ism within us, is just what one would expect to 
find issuing from the hands of an incomprehensi- 
ble Creator — a being mysteriously without a 
beginning, mysteriously self-existent, mysteriously 
able to make the greatest and noblest things out 
of nothing by simple volition, mysteriously all- 
knowing, mysteriously unfettered in the appli- 
cation of his power and knowledge by all con- 
ditions of space and duration and personal 
presence, mysteriously Three in One — in short, 
a being enveloped in a terrible pomp and majesty 
of sunset-clouds, whose broken lines never per- 
mit the orb that glorifies them to appear, even 
for a moment, in clear and golden contour on 
our rapt sight. Such a being, setting out to 
create, would be likely to give us the present 
enigmatic universe, nay — for why state the mat- 
ter so feebly — would be sure to give it. Like 
every other copious author, he would reproduce 
his own traits. An unutterable sphinx himself, 
his creatures would be sphinxes. A nature from 
the hands of God that I can comprehend, or 
make any approach to comprehending — prepos- 
terous ! A creation that to me, with my low 
place and filmy vision and narrow orbit, is not 


steeped in seas of mystery — preposterous ! If a 
Jehovah build the temple of nature at all, he will 
found it on mysteries, frame it with mysteries, 
cover and dome it with mysteries, pillar and 
ballast it with mysteries, pave and ceil it with 
a mosaic of mysteries — surely he will. And 
when I am told of a being whose own nature is 
an overwhelming problem ; whose attributes have 
no horizon, no zenith, and no nadir; whose ends 
respect all possible objects and interests, and 
spread themselves out in plans of boundless vast- 
ness whose merest corners and differentials only 
are visible to men of the widest scope : when I 
am told of him, and I then place myself out un- 
der nature's open dome, amid its Protean inscru- 
tableness of leaf and star, of whole crowded earth 
and circumventing heavens — the peopled heavens 
where sweep in inextricable maze the hurricane 
hosts of advancing and retreating orbs ; and open 
my soul candidly to all their silent suggestions 
and magnetisms — I feel myself drinking in faith, 
as the fleece spread out under the stars drinks in 
the dew — I feel that the facts give embracing 
arms to the doctrine ; that the actual universe, 
instead of swearing with decisive voice and hand 
uplift to heaven that there is no inscrutable God, 
significantly asks with panting whisper and color 
that comes and goes, " Is there not such a Being ? " 
In fine, I feel that our continued lifting of the 
veil from the painting has disclosed another char- 


acteristic of the great master to whom the work 
is attributed ; has cleared up another stretch of 
that vista which conducts the sight to Titian in 
the act of glorifying his canvas into the Milanese 
Coronation-Christ — another of those many har- 
monies which, as successively presented, warrant 
us in looking faithward with ever-growing kindli- 
ness of aspect. 

Such are the facts. I do not say, " Ex uno disce 
omnes " — as does the naturahst sometimes when 
he finds a bone. But I say, " Ex multis et maximis 
disce omnes " — as does a Cuvier when he enthusi- 
astically discovers nearly a complete skeleton. The 
vestiges we have been viewing are no scant minims. 
They are no few, narrow, disconnected particulars. 
On the contrary, they are great genera — the con- 
trolling outlines of the picture, the massive frame 
of the edifice, the sovereign characteristics, the 
leading facts and courses of Nature. As such they 
give us, so to speak, an extensive taste of Nature. 
They show us the grand whole, with what is a car- 
dinal, and seems to be an essential, flavor. But we 
are entitled to assume the self-consistency of Nature, 
especially in regard to leading features. None so 
forward to insist on this self-consistency as the 
modern opponents of our natural theology. Indeed, 
we only do what is the habit, and the unrebuked 
habit, and, as we well know, the wondrously suc- 
cessful habit of all Baconian philosophers, when we 
boldly proceed on the ground tliat Nature is one, 


and that according to what has been discovered 
of her features is what remains to be discovered. 
So we are allowed to make broad our conclusions. 
So we are allowed to say of the integer what we 
have said of the fraction. Instead of contentino- 
ourselves with affirming that her wisdom, and her 
vastness, and her power, and many another trait 
sympathizes with the doctrine of a God, we may 
go on to say that Nature herself sympathizes with 
the doctrine. She smiles upon it. She smiles, not 
as a multum, nor as a majority, but as a total. 
The whole picture is Titianic. The whole Cos- 
mos is just as if made by God. We might go 
on lifting the curtain from before her face ten, 
twenty, never so many times, and always with 
the same result. Never a break in the verdict. 
Never a rise of the veil that says, " Lo, here the 
facts are out of sympathy with the doctrine." 
Never a trait of that queenly face comes drift- 
ing into view to say, " Lo, here is something that 
looks as if there were no God." For now some 
thousands of years our natural knowledge has 
been advancing, and the envious curtain has been 
rising, step by step ; and never yet, I am bold 
to say, has the observer, after carefully looking 
on the picture without and carefully listening to 
the voice within, ever heard any other words than 
these : " Just as if made by God — Just as if made 
by God ! " Should we go on lifting the curtain 
till it is looped up to the very ceiling of the utter- 


most heaven, we should find all things in harmony 
with that sonorous verdict that has already come 
surging in upon us from the four cardinals, hke so 
many trade-winds : " Just as if — Just as if." Oh be 
sure we may go on from speaking of the attitude of 
parts of Nature to speaking of the attitude of Nature 
herself! She, this modern goddess, is no enraged. 
Bellona, shaking her spear in the face of the doc- 
trine. She is not even adverse after the softest 
and sweetest-tempered Cyprian fashion. Her ways 
are most kindly and cordial. She embraces the 
doctrine. As we see ourselves pictured in the 
glad, beaming eyes of the long-lost friend whom 
we hold in our arms, so the Theism sees itself pic- 
tured in the cordial eyes of embracing Nature. 
Their voices chord. They are phone and anti- 
phone. They are parts in the same rich chorus. 
The doctrine is merely the shadow which Nature 
casts on a book. And I think I am modest in my 
asking when I ask that so many and great verisimil- 
itudes be considered as completely clearing the 
ground for faith, and as standing at the open gate 
of the judgment with bright and welcoming faces, 
ready to grant possession at the first summons of 
the positive evidence. I think I might reasonably 
ask much more. I might lay stress on a great 
difference between our case and that of the sup- 
posed painting by Titian ; might point you to the 
fact that whatever traits of that master are found in 
that picture, are obviously such in nature and degree 


as lie fully within the power of many a human na- 
ture ; whereas many of those traits of Nature which 
we have just come from viewing are presumptively 
and enormously impossible to any agency short of a 
Divine. But let this be waived. Let me only claim 
that with every new harmony which the rising 
curtain has discovered, my mind has rationally 
moved faith ward : and that now, when these har- 
monies have been found many and potential enough 
to give character to the whole magnificent Out- 
spread, my fleece, exposed through the long night 
till full break of day, is rationally wringing wet 
with the dew of predispositions to faith; and that, 
at least just as soon as the positive evidence pushes 
its orb above the horizon, I may hold it fair and 
scientific to allow each tiny drop to be trans- 
figured from the silver of a predisposition to faith 
into the gold of faith itself — making, as I think, 
the true golden fleece of Colchis for modern times, 
for which all Argos should sail and all heroes strive. 



To, ®€fX€X.La Tov ovpavov i(nrapdxOr](rav. 
IlaKra Be Aios Ki^^pTuxeOa ^avrcs. — Araius* 

VII. Need of God. 







WE are not only beckoned toward Theism by 
the harmonies between it and Nature, but 
we are beckoned toward it even more strongly by 
that crying Need of God which a little examina- 
tion will discover. 

It is a very striking thing — the general wish for 
a God that exists among virtuous men. We seem 
to see that, from the beginning till now, there never 
has been a person who has honestly tried to follow 
his conscience who has not honestly desired to find 
Him a reality. And, the more conscientious and 
exemplary the man has grov»'n, the more unwilling 
has he become to part with the idea of such a 
Being with His universal and glorious providence. 
There are persons who would as soon be without 
God as not ; nay, there are those who could hardly 
hear pleasanter news than that the whole Theistic 
argument has been fairly overturned from the 
foundation, and the impossibility of a God proved 
beyond all possibility of denial. Oh, how scoffing 


Voltaire and licentious Rousseau and bloated Paine 
would have clapped their hands and shouted, could 
they have fallen on some wonderful geometry 
which by its rigid demonstrations could compel 
even the most unwilling to give up their last plea 
for Deity I Oh, how the high-handed evil-doers 
of every name, sinning and impetuously bent on 
sinning, would congratulate themselves, could it be 
made as plain as day that such a machine as a 
thinking, embodied man was created by chance; 
that chance fitted np the earth as his convenient 
home, and hung out the heavens above him with 
the blazon of stars and suns ! But as soon as a 
sinner has made up his mind conclusively against 
sin, and has fully committed himself for endless 
war upon it in all its forms, then he ceases to be 
averse or indifferent to the Divine existence ; then 
he begins to positively like the idea, as including 
that of a righteous Divine government ; then he 
begins to cling to it, to bless it, to feel that he 
cannot do without it ; and as he goes on to higher 
and higher grades of virtue, the feehng in behalf of 
God gradually deepens into a profound hunger and 
thirst. He says, " My soul thirsts for God, for the 
living God." To him an offer to disprove God 
would be an offer to make the universe an awful 
solitude and desert. 

For, he looks around and sees all things waver- 
ing and changing like the baseless fabric of a vision ; 
and even those thino-s which seemed most solid and 


stable, and to which muhltudes had ventured to 
anchor themselves as to so much eternity, quietly 
or violently slip away and dissolve and leave not a 
rack behind. And is there nothing stable in- this 
shiftino; scene ? Is there no rock that lifts its head 
high above the fluctuations, and shakes not, trem- 
bles not, for aye, though all things rock and break 
and die around ? Is there no one point of stability 
around which poor man may gather his affections 
and trusts and reverences and hopes without being 
liable every moment to see his center vanish into 
thin air? At such a moment it is a great comfort 
for him to look up and see, or think he sees, a God 
of infinite goodness standing fast forever in the 
wide sea of change — a still, green continent amid 
the tossing ocean, under the lee of which the ship 
may pass the night without fear of finding its shel- 
ter gone in the morning, like a bank of clouds — -a 
pole-star that is always there, though every other 
orb at least rises and sets. Here at last is repose — 
here at length something to build upon. Here is a 
friend who will never die — here a glorious provi- 
dence that will never have done reigning — here an 
unspeakable lover who will never grow cold — here 
the perpetual overruler of his mistakes and sins ; 
enlightener of his conscience ; eradicator of his 
depravity ; educator of his incompetency ; support 
and consolation under his trials, come when and 
where they may. For, in the time of distress, he 
can look away to the righteous throne of the In- 


finite Disposer, and see stars seeding his darkness. 
And when the hour is midnight, he is not unused to 
say, " What should I do now without a God to go 
to ? " He goes to God, and his heart is bound up. 
And it is a gladness to feel that he can do this for- 
ever, could his sorrow last so long; for his heart 
sings amid its groans, " O Lord, Thy years are 
throughout all generations." In fine, it is such a 
comfort to have a God, that it would be day turned 
to night were his Theism to become an atheism. 

Now truth is kindred and polar to goodness ; and 
so the desires of good men are most apt to harmo- 
nize with and point at the truth. The most virtuous 
have most affinity with the truth ; are most free 
from prejudices and intellectual obliquities ; are 
the most fair-minded, earnest, and laborious in their 
inquiries ; and so their opinions and tendencies to 
opinions are most apt to be correct. — Also, the 
mind when virtuous is in its soundest and most nor- 
mal state ; and the features which belong to the 
whole class of virtuous minds, in proportion to their 
virtue, are natural to the virtuous mind. But, on 
observation, we find that there are, outside of this 
case and two or three other mooted cases — such as 
that of the desire for immortality — no desires natu- 
ral to a sound human constitution for objects which 
do not exist. Thus a desire for food, for friend- 
ship, for knowledge, for reputation, for society, 
for liberty, for freedom from pain, is natural to every 
sound human constitution ; and the object of each 


of these desires actually exists. The food exists 
to meet the hunger ; the beauty exists to meet the 
taste for beauty ; there is knowledge, society, health, 
to meet the natural relish for each of these things. 
Indeed, you cannot point out a single desire natu- 
ral to a sound human nature to which there is not 
an answering object somewhere ; but, on the con- 
trary, such answering object is certainly known to 
exist, outside of the two or three disputed cases, 
like that under consideration. Hence we must 
conclude that the desire for God, which is natural 
to virtuous or normal minds, has over against it in 
the outward universe such a God to fulfill it. — But 
what I am more particularly concerned with at 
present is the strong testimony which the attitude 
of virtuous men toward Theism gives to the need 
of God. The utmost we can be asked to allow, 
in regard to the disposition of such men to believe 
in God, is that it comes from a desire for such a 
Being. They wish a God, and this feeling natu- 
rally draws faith after it. The wish is father to 
the thought. Supposing this to be so — supposing 
that the whole case is reduced to one of desire 
for a God — how comes such a desire to exist, to 
exist in proportion to virtue, to exist in the most 
virtuous as an intense craving ? Two answers can 
be given. One is that such craving is the instinct- 
ive aching of a great vacancy for a great supply : 
the other is that the craving comes from an intel- 
lectual judgment that a God is vastly desirable. 


In both cases we liave human nature in its sound- 
est state testifying loudly to the need of God ; in 
the one case by its natural instincts, and in the 
other by its intellectual convictions. And the need 
testified to is organic, because it belongs to essential 
human nature in its most normal state — is generic, 
because it belongs to a great class of beings — is 
most important in kind, because it belongs to the 
most important of earthly beings in their most im- 
portant relations. Whoever has virtue is Agamem- 
non, king of men. When you see a fairly hung 
vane straining away at the west as if a gale were 
blowing from that quarter, make sure there sits the 
wind. And when you see our best and truest na- 
ture pointing Godward with a snowy finger as de- 
termined and intense as was ever chiseled out of 
marble, make sure that a broad organic need of 
God is invoking that motionless digit. 

But the traveler may not only wish to be reliably 
pointed in the direction of a great city ; he may 
wish to advance, and see it with his own eyes. It 
is thus his impression of it will become more cor- 
rect, vivid, and enduring. And we shall have that 
Need of God which the polarities of good men 
point at, directly under our eye, if we go on to con- 
sider the practical influence of Theism. 

It has been usual for leading unbelievers to con- 
fess the excellent moral tendency of the doctrine of a 
righteous Divine Ruler. And ask any man of ordi- 
nary sense and observation, putting him on his honor 


and conscience to speak frankl}^ — ask him whether 
he does not really think that a solid faith in such a 
Being would, on the whole, be a greatly better 
thing for his son and all connected with him than 
disbelief or unbelief would be — what would be the 
answer? He might not speak it, but ere a mo- 
ment could elapse he would think it. " Practi- 
cally," would he say to himself, " it is better that 
my child should believe. Whatever may be the 
abstract truth in the case, I cannot deny that 
such a belief is likely to be followed by better re- 
sults to himself and to all within his sphere of in- 
fluence than the absence of that belief." And 
could the ideas — perhaps exceedingly vague, 
frasmental, and disordered — which form his rea- 
sons for this view be formally drawn out and ex- 
pressed, they might be found stated somewhat as fol- 
lows : — " Character is the great interest of a man. 
An unprincipled and wicked life is low, disgraceful, 
and destructive. And it does not admit of reason- 
able question that those believing in a righteous 
Divine Ruler — that is, all who believe in God at 
all — are under stronger moral restraints than 
others; that the more profoundly society is im- 
pressed with the conviction of an Infinite One above 
it who loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and 
will without fail hold men to account for their con- 
duct and the secret evil of their hearts, the more 
orderly and virtuous it will be. The bare presence 
«-o the mind of such an idea — of an idea so majes- 



tic and pure, so grand and lofty and thrilling, as 
that of a God actually living and reigning, never 
beginning and never ending, knowing virtually all 
things and powerful to do virtually all things, 
true and just and good in the highest conceiv- 
able degree, having for His sweet name Un- 
fathomable and Shoreless Love — must tend pow- 
erfully to educate the moral sense ; to expand, ele- 
vate, and purify the soul. It can be nothing less 
than one of the greatest of moral cultivators. 
And, besides its power as a great and pure idea, 
the conception of God as an actual existence must 
have vast power to restrain from evil and encourage 
to good by the strong appeals it makes to the prin- 
ciples of hope and fear. A sinner cannot steadily 
look at the thought of a just God without trembling ; 
and even a shadowy impression of such a Being 
leaves a voice in the heart which says, ' Be warned : 
if you are wise, you will cease to do evil.' A good 
man cannot hold steadily before him the thought 
of an Infinite Being taking account of every right 
act and rejoicing over it, without brightly hoping : 
and even a vague, embryonic impression of such a 
Being leaves words in the heart which say, ' Blessed 
be thou of the Lord ; go on and prosper.' The one 
is restrained, and the other is encouraged — greatly 
and necessarily. Without such restraint and encour- 
agement, the water-line of morals in this world 
would be far below its present level. Why, con- 
sider what a God this is who men say reigns in 


glory and righteousness everlasting ; and is he to 
whom this mighty Personality is a solemn reality 
under no greater pressure to virtue than he to 
whom such a Being is a fable or an uncertainty ? 
Sure we are that there are few thoughtful men 
Who would be so unreasonable as to think it. As 
well almost might they think that objects on the 
surface of the earth are just as likely to fly off" 
from it with as without the gigantic forces of 
gravitation steadily drawing from all points toward 
the center. No: from every point of view the 
natural tendency of faith in such a God is toward 
virtue, toward virtue only, toward virtue vastly. 
And though it is true that moral beings, from their 
very nature, are competent to so resist this natural 
tendency as to make it the source of increased 
guilt and misery, and often do so, yet in the ma- 
jority of cases it will not be done. The more faith, 
the more motive against sin ; the more motive 
against sin a man has, the more likely he is to re- 
strain it ; and, if the individual is more likely to 
restrain it, the community at large will actually re- 
strain it better. Men universally act on the prin- 
ciple that if they can make persons believe vividly 
that it is their interest to take a certain course, the 
eiFect in that direction will be favorable in a major- 
ity of cases. These rational deductions are con- 
firmed by observation. Comparing together large 
communities, one observes that those are the most 
orderly and moral in which faith in a righteous 


Divine Governor prevails to the greatest extent. 
We have on record only one instance of a nation of 
atheists ; and what a frightful state of disorder, de- 
moralization, and terror accompanied the phenome- 
non, the world, and especially Paris, will not soon 
forget. Milton's description of Sin is not too strong 
to suit atheistic France of the Revolution : 

* Seemed woman to the waist, and fair, 

^ But ended foul in many a scaly fold 
Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm'd 
With mortal sting: about her middle round 
A crj' of hell-hounds never ceasing barked 
With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung 
A hideous peal.' 

No civilized people ever gave so hloody and foul a 
chapter to history. May history never receive such 
another ! Further, it is observable that individuals 
with habitually very vivid and strong Theistic faith 
are almost, if not quite, always very virtuous ; cer- 
tainly very much more free from misconduct than 
other persons. Nearly all positive rejecters of God, 
and indeed nearly all professed skeptics as to Him, 
known to the reading public, have been public lep- 
ers both as to the principles and practice of common 
morals — have fought against, not only the doctrine 
of a God, but also the doctrine of moral distinctions 
and all the ten commandments, both with their pens 
and with their lives." 

So might soliloquize almost any intelligent father. 
On the basis of mere broken hints of such facts 
he might well desire faith for his child. Which the 


more friendly to virtue, faith or its absence — how 
can he for a moment be at a loss how to answer the 
question ? There can be no comparison between 
the two. As motive to virtue one is everything, and 
the other nothing. On the one hand you have a 
giant statured hke the demigods of fable, clothed 
in prodigious sinew and brawn, and making the 
earth and its starry dome to shake at every step — 
such a giant pushing us toward all open and secret 
righteousness with might and main. On the other 
hand you have a pigmy asthmatic skeleton, scarce 
able to stand or breathe alone, laying on us the 
feathery touch of a single skinny finger, which, ten 
to one, is not noticed by us at all, save as a chill or 
a paralysis on all virtuous endeavor. Sure we are 
that, instead of giving the smallest pressure in the 
right direction, it rather goes to chill off the soul as 
with the damps of the grave from all excellent ac- 
tivities. When we see that for the leaders in unbe- 
lief to discard God is generally to cast off right- 
eousness, lose conscience, and unlearn the very 
theory of obligation — when, in the only example 
the world has ever seen of organized atheism, we 
see it shaking society like an earthquake, and 
crushing alike the sanctities of home, the rights of 
the citizen, and the authority of law — when we 
consider the instincts of parents, the confessions of 
atheistic apostles, and the very nature of the case, 
it is impossible to give any but the most gloomy 
account of the practical influence of any system of 


living which does not positively recognize a Divine 
government. Strike out tlie present ahiiost uni- 
versal idea of such a government, and we are bound 
to believe that the present level of* morals in the 
world would sink with startling swiftness and pro- 
digious ebb so as to show the very central sands. 
If some misanthrope would turn the world into 
such a state that, in comparison with it, the present 
state should be an Eden-garden, let him find some 
way to extinguish from the world all belief or sus- 
picion of a Divine existence. This would bring 
upon us the briers and thorns of the wilderness as 
nothing else would. If any father wishes to bring 
up his family to be impetuous and bold for every 
folly and for every crime, ready to trample on all 
civil and social and filial duties ; sad tempests and 
plagues always and everywhere — then let him 
bring them up to think that there is no God above 
to watch and deal with them according to their 
works. In a word, Theism is the salt of the world. 
We should be nothing but a putrefying corpse 
without it. And, on the other hand, should all 
men come to believe in God as they believe in 
the oceans and mountains — as vividly and pro- 
foundly — the world would become a beautiful 
life, and its present faded and hectic cheek would 
so nobly round and flush with virtue's health that 
one would hardly recognize it. 

Thus faith in God is greatly favorable to virtue. 
Being so, it is greatly favorable to happiness here 


and to prospects of it hereafter. Let one consult 
tlie general admission of mankind ; let him consult 
his own experience and observation ; let him con- 
sult the very definition of virtue, which includes 
the idea of acting in harmony with the nature of 
things ; and he must feel that the happiness of a 
man in this world depends more on his relation to 
virtue than on all other things put together. Be- 
yond a doubt, goodness is the great sunshine- maker. 
There is a world of poetry and of truth — and not 
more of one than of the other — in that antique 
phrase. Sun of Righteousness. The kind of pleas- 
ure virtue gives is incomparably more pure, pene- 
trating, lasting, and elevated than any other. It is 
sweet as the ambrosia and nectar of the gods. It 
can make a little heaven in the absence of all things 
else : all things else leave us but an empty and 
pricking satisfaction without it. It gives a quiet 
conscience, governed passions, benevolent affections, 
concord with natural laws, and generally sublime 
hopes. While leaving us as fair candidates as others 
for all forms of worldly good, it doubles our faculty 
for enjoying them : while leaving us to no more 
and greater trials than befall others, it provides us 
with sevenfold consolations under them. Virtue 
does indeed forbid us certain pleasures. It will not 
allow us to drink of everything that goes by that 
much abused name, or that really gives much pres- 
ent gratification — perhaps foamy, passionate, incar- 
nadined Falernian. But the gratifications which 


virtue refuses are well known to leave beliind them 
so many bitter tastes and pains as to make them, on 
the whole scheme of life, sorrows. Our interest of 
earthly happiness ought to thank virtue for cutting 
us off from such apples of Sodom and grapes of 
Gomorrah. — And is there another life beyond this ? 
If so, the virtuous man stands by far the best chance 
in regard to it. Should a Holy Governing God 
prove real, such a man must be saved and glorified ; 
should He prove but an empty name, such a man 
can hardly be worse off than his unvirtuous 
neighbor. Who believes that, Christendom being 
searched through, a single intelligent man could be 
found, who, looking merely at the chances for safety 
and happiness after death, had not rather live and 
die as a good man than as a bad one ? Every per- 
son is absolutely certain that his future state would 
not be prejudiced by a virtuous character and ca- 
reer ; and he is not certain but that it would be 
ruined by the want of these. 

Then, as to the bearing of virtue on the useful- 
ness of a man. When we say that a certain man 
is virtuous, we in effect say that he habitually dis- 
charges what seem to him his duties in all direc- 
tions. He stands nobly pledged to his family, to 
his neighbors, to his countrymen, to his race, and 
even to brute and inanimate nature. We may be 
sure of his being, in the main and according to his 
light, a good son, brother, father, employer, servant, 
citizen, ruler, subject. Even the beasts and herbs of 


the field shall be the better and thriftier for him. 
The very nature, as well as the history of virtue 
assures all this. On the other hand, tlie unright- 
eousness which atheism fosters assures nothing of 
the sort. It leaves the way open for every sort 
and degree of trespass on the interests of others. 
A man may plague his friends, and curse his neigh- 
borhood, and betray his country — ■ may belch out 
corruptions and injuries of every name on all around 
him as stormily and profusely as ever did volcano 
its destructive ashes and lava — and still be a capi- 
tal atheist. If he chooses to commit the grossest 
possible outrage on society, and then assert that he 
does not believe in God, we cannot say that his as- 
sertion and his deed are mutually inconsistent. Go 
to that man in prison on charge of having murdered 
his own loving, self-sacrificing, and beseeching- 
mother. Say to him, " Man, what think you about 
this matter of a God? " " Think! " he shall say, 
" why I don't believe in Him — there is no such 
Being." Would such an answer go to strengthen 
any lurking idea of his innocence which you may 
entertain ? Would you feel like grasping his hand, 
and exclaiming, " My dear sir, it must be that you 
have been unjustly accused ! You a matricide ! 
You an atheist, and yet do such a crime I You 
honestly convinced that tliere is no God to bring 
the wicked to account, and yet lift murdering hand 
on your own mother ! Incredible ! The friends 
of justice must at once look to your liberation." 


How preposterous such language would sound to 
even the prisoner himself! He Avould think you 
dealing in severest irony. He knows, and is sure 
that everybody knows, that the loss of that faith 
which he had when a boy has done nothing for him 
morally, and could do nothing whatever, save to 
mightily lift the checks from his depravity. He 
knows, and is sure that everybody knows, that god- 
lessness is just the thing from which to expect all 
sorts of harmful outgoings on the world around — 
from men down to the dog that crouches at his feet, 
and to the sapling that stands fearing the wasteful 

For the full scientific significance of these facts 
we must wait a little. After gathering some further 
particulars of the same general character, we will 
proceed to question science in regard to the value 
of the whole. But I will ask you to just notice in 
passing that, in case there is a righteous Divine 
Ruler, this immense utility to great classes of be- 
ings of faith in Him is just what we ought to find. 
He would be likely to make a system to which He 
should be the necessary complement ; a system 
which should perpetually call for Him ; a system 
which should find its highest repose, satisfaction, and 
uses of all sorts in a cordial recognition of Him. 
But, without a God, the fact would not be positively 
likely to be as we find it: on the contrary, it would 
be positively improbable. Is it not matter of uni- 
versal admission that it is in general best for even 


the individual to avoid error, that generally it is 
best for him to see things as they are ? Much more 
sure is the doctrine — much more does it square 
Avith the convictions, experience, and proceedings 
of mankind, that for a whole class it is substantially 
never better to believe, especially permanently, in 
a falsehood than in the conflicting truth. Indeed, 
I am confident that not a sincrle instance of the 
kind can be discovered by any amount of research. 
And if the class in question be the whole race of 
men, then indeed it can be concisely proved that 
such an instance is impossible — there cannot be an 
instance of universal faith in a falsehood proving 
vastly more serviceable to the public than faitli in 
the opposed truth. If it is extremely desirable, all 
things considered, that men at large should hold to 
a given error, then true benevolence requires you 
to promote that false belief in yourself and others 
to the extent of your ability — no matter though at 
the outset you know it to be unwarranted by facts. 
This being so, unless there is generic antagonism 
between the dictates of general benevolence and 
those of duty, between a useful course of conduct 
and a righteous one — which is allowed by no cred- 
ible and tolerable theory of morals — it is your duty 
to abuse your reason, to make and love a lie, to 
employ prejudices and sophisms and all sorts of in- 
tellectual trickery to impose on yourself and others. 
Samson must put out his own eyes and those of all 
Israel besides. Who believes this ? Are we pre- 


pared to give up the most instinctive, universally 
received, and fundamental principles of morals ? 
If in any one case it is not merely right, but a posi- 
tive duty, to practice such moral jugglery, then 
there is no radical and inherent distinction between 
right and wrong, and one may carry his principles 
along with his crops to market without compunc- 
tion, or run them up for his amusement to the side 
of some highest vane, to bear it company as it turns 
easily by a breath to every point of the compass. 
The doctrine is simply abominable. Get thee hence, 
Satan ! Any campanile would be dishonored by 
such a weather-cock. One cannot persuade the 
human mind to accept falsehood as true on good 
grounds. Just arguments never prove an error. 
Natural, judicious, and honest processes of thought 
have no tendency to carry us to wrong conclusions. 
If one manages to escape the grasp of known truth, 
it must be by pettifoggings, cheats, treacheries, false 
swearings against his own reason and conscience — 
it must be by shameful twistings, turnings, doub- 
lings, and even metamorphoses of his better nature. 
Behold the struggling Proteus ! At last the god 
becomes a swine. Is it his duty to do this ? Is he 
at hberty to do it? How dare he so debase his 
divinity ? How can he help despising his ugly self 
wallowing in that sty? Avaunt Proteus, Machia- 
velli, Mephistophiles — we wdll have none of you ! 
Away w^ith such repulsive and destructive princi- 
ples — on the point of the longest and most non- 


conducting of spears ! It is as if one had grasped 
the battery of a torpedo ! 

But — theory apart — a bad practical influence 
is a noted characteristic of falsehood. I do not say 
there may not be seeming exceptions. But I do 
say, that, in general, it is unfavorable to our inter- 
ests to believe a falsehood, or to fail to believe the 
truth. Otherwise, to say the least, we might as 
well have one opinion as another; mistake would 
be as likely to be serviceable as just views ; and all 
pains to investigate would be foolish — a thing that 
nobody believes, and the contrary of which every- 
body assumes in the affairs of actual life. Witness, 
ye sciences — sweating away at your observation 
and experiment and induction! Witness, ye arts 
and trades — straining away at the toil of in- 
ventors and adapters of inventions! Witness, ye 
sagacious business men of every name — knitting 
your questioning, forecasting, anxious brows over 
ledgers, markets, products ! What mean ye all — 
unless it be that knowledge is better than igno- 
rance ; that facts are the mine out of which men are 
to dig their prosperity ; that he who best knows 
things as they are, and best adjusts his conduct to 
them, has advantage over every competitor ? This 
is what all this circumspect and thoughtful activity 
of the world means. And means wisely. For this 
is only saying that the engineer who lays out his 
road across the continent after copious and careful 
surveys, and with eyes wide open on the correlations 


of hill and valley and marsh and river, will surely 
do better by his company than if he had gone bhnd- 
folded to his work ; that the sailor who, with alert 
hand on the wheel, watches closely compass and 
chart and sea and sky, will be more likely to make 
a prosperous voyage than if he had chosen to 
sleep or to be drunken ; that a blind traveller who 
paces at random about Switzerland is more likely to 
come to harm than if, with eye like a sunbeam, he 
were carefully noting every step he took among the 
torrents and glaciers and chasms and terrible preci- 
pices. Civilization is better than barbarism. The 
Nineteenth Century is better than the Age of 
Bronze. The United States are better than Da- 
homey. And that truth, secular and religious, out 
of the acquisition and use of which all this mighty 
difference has slowly grown, is very profitable truth. 
So generic utility as a trait of truth, and generic 
hurtfulness as a trait of error, stand demonstrated 
on an immense scale in the history of the world. 
The conduct of the world admits it, the experience 
of the world proves it, the very foundations of mo- 
rality demand it. And when we find the Doctrine 
of God with this bright distinction shining on its 
breast, like the jeweled star that betokens an em- 
peror ; when we find it so radically and vastly use- 
ful to the virtue, happiness, and usefulness of the 
broad class of men, and so to the welfare of all the 
dependent animal races with their still broader do- 
main — our heads instinctively sink upon our breasts, 


and we do homage as in the august presence of that 
unchallenged sovereign whose name is Truth. 

I pass to another point. The polarities of good 
men point toward a great need of God. The prac- 
tical influence of Theism places that need actually 
under our eye somewhat in detail. A consideration 
of the effects of a direct Divine action on the uni- 
verse will manifest the need still more fully and 
impressively. This will show great Rome from the 
summit of the Capitoline. The distant guide-boards 
of the Appian have reliably pointed us toward the 
city. Coming to the gate, we have caught partial 
views of the interior. And now, at last arrived at 
the city-heart and perched far above Rock Tar- 
peian, we proceed for a moment to take the supreme 
view. All the monuments are before us. On the 
one hand is the old city, witli its arches and tem- 
ples and Coliseum of the mighty past ; on the other 
is the new city, with its palaces and basilicas and 
Vatican of the mightier present. The most impres- 
sive sight of all! 

Conceive of a direct Divine action on the uni- 
verse. Hardly anything can be surer than that 
such action cannot be the slightest harm to the gen- 
eral interest of the system, but must, on the con- 
trary, promote that interest infinitely by force of 
infinite faculties acting through infinite years. 
With One standing at the wheel who can at a 
glance see through the whole system as related to 
both space and duration ; who out of a loving heart 


wants to make out of that vast empire the best He 
can, and who can on occasion instantaneously and 
forever send out to its remotest extremities the help 
of resources virtually immeasurable ; and who is 
actually counteracthig, guiding, propelling every- 
where in all that stupendous sovereignty — enlight- 
ening ignorance, comforting sorrow, restraining sin, 
stimulating lioliness, forcing brute energies and ele- 
ments along their appropriate channels by an over- 
mastering omnipotence — with such a Being the 
system of Nature as a whole is sure to reach, not 
only the highest destiny in the nature of things pos- 
sible, but also one infinitely in advance of what 
would have been realized without Him. Individ- 
ual interests found in irreconcilable conflict with the 
general interest will have to suffer ; but the general 
interest itself, in all its huge proportions, will stead- 
ily have the benefit of a still huger wisdom and 
power working endlessly in its behalf. And this 
will be an immeasurable benefit. 

According to the doctrine of chances it is morally 
certain that without a God the issue of the universe 
will not be the best possible. Further, without a 
God there are as many chances of the issue being 
bad as of its being good. Still further, it is possible 
that the issue will be calamitous beyond expression. 
On the ground of no presiding Deity we cannot 
venture to predict the last or balanced result of any- 
thin o*. What is there whose history we can follow 
throuo-h all the intricate workings and interwork- 


ino^s and counter\vorkiii2:s of an infinite number of 
independent agencies upon it, and so gather up its 
general significance, whether fortunate or unfortu- 
nate, best possible or worst possible ? The web that 
is being woven is so large, and such myriads of 
shuttles shoot before our eyes in as many different 
directions, that we cannot make out the patterA. 
Here we see a bright thread, and there a dark one: 
but what figure will come out in the end no mere 
looking into endless mazes will tell us. But give 
us the fact that there is an infinitely accomplished 
Being at the head of the universe, and we can see 
in a moment what sort of a pattern, with its parti- 
colored threads and swarming shuttles, the great 
loom of existence is weaving. Behold the most per- 
fect picture the case admits of! Behold a tapestry 
Gobelin whose precious threads spell out the sweet- 
ness of celestial landscapes — fit hangings for the pal- 
ace of the Eternal ! The system of things will turn 
out happily, and as happily as, in the nature of things, 
it possibly can. It cannot be a curse or a failure, as 
without a God it may be. It must be a positive bless- 
ing, as without a God there is no positive probability 
of its being. It must be the greatest blessing possi- 
ble, as without a God it is certain not to be. Nay, 
this greatest possible blessing must be an infinite 
one, as without a God it is certain to be at an infinite 
remove from being. The perfect goodness of God 
would nevev have allowed Him to bring into being 
a system out of which He could not extract more 



good than hurt : once in being, that system cannot 
but be gloriously advantaged by the eternal action 
upon it for good of that glorious magazine of forces 
and resources of which His name is the magnificent 
cordon. Such forces cannot fail of effects commen- 
surate with themselves. All forces actually exerted 
on an object are effectual, and effectual in proportion 
to their degree. If they fail to produce a positive 
movement in the direction in which they act, they 
at least destroy so much force in the opposite direc- 
tion. Hence the resultant of a God on the well-be- 
ing of the universe must be unspeakably precious. 
The difference between what it is with Him and 
what it would be without Him, is solid infinity. 
The two are as far apart as are the poles of Nature. 
Just think of an infinite Being working with unde- 
caying diligence through everlasting years for the 
best good of His universal creatures — giving to the 
great enterprise all the wealth of His loving heart, 
all the resources of His unbounded intelligence, 
all the energies of His almighty arm ! Is it in the 
power of such minds as ours to compute the value of 
such an agency as this? Astonished Arithmetic re- 
fuses to undertake the problem. She refuses even 
to seriously look at it. What have her puny multi- 
plication tables to do with such an optimism as this ? 
To be without a God is for the universe to suffer an 
infinite loss. It needs Him as it needs to escape an 
infinite evil. Measureless Need ! Where is the 
%thom-line that can sound it — where the ship or 


the electricity that can log across its broad expanses 
— where the aeronaut or the telescope even that can 
shoot upward to the foamy crest of its ground swell ? 

When you see a little orphan child — weak, 
sickly, willful, destitute, tempted — you are touched 
with compassion. How much he needs a father ! 
How much he needs a father to protect him, to coun- 
sel him, to govern him, to educate him, to provide 
for his future in almost every respect ! Such is the 
spontaneous feeling of every kind and thoughtful 
man as he sees the poor boy wandering about in his 
rags, able to do little or nothing for himself, full of 
fears and ignorance, beset on all sides with great 
dangers and miseries, prone by nature to almost 
every kind of evil, and already showing the begin- 
nino-s of many bad habits and disorders in body and 
mind. How much he needs a father ! 

So I feel when I look about on the fatherless 
world which atheism presents to us. Ah, such a 
-world — let no one tell me that it does not need a 
God ! It is weak and sickly ; and needs a strong 
Divine arm to lean upon, a strong Divine tender- 
ness to nurse and shield it. It is a world in rags, 
'cold, hungry, thirsty, wandering about without 
shelter under inclement skies ; it needs a Heavenly 
Father to care for it, and give it home and fireside 
and raiment and daily bread. It is a sorrowful 
world — it needs a Heavenly and Omnipresent Con- 
soler ; a world full of temptations and dangers — it 
needs a Heavenly and Omnipresent Protector ; a 


world full of wrong tendencies and actual disorders, 
willful and wayward and corrupt to a miracle — it 
needs a Wise, Omnipotent, and yet Pitiful Heav- 
enly Governor; a world full of ignorance and 
error — it needs a Heavenly and Omnipotent Coun- 
selor and Enlightener. 

From what now is in this world, imagine what 
would be in all worlds were Nature thoroughly 
drained of a Divine existence and orovernment. 
It would be a most terrible state of things. My 
account of it has not been too strong. From the 
nature of the case it beggars description. An Infi- 
nite Force that lays itself out most unsparingly and 
wisely and eternally for the best good of Nature, 
could not be subtracted from it without infinite 
damage. It could not be added to it without infi- 
nite gain. 

We are now to ask carefully for the scientific 
import of this Need of God. 

It is a canon of modern science that whatever 
is needed to complement a race of beings in any 
constitutional respect, always exists somewhere, or 
is attainable. Take, for example, the race of men. 
Whatever is needed to match and make fully avail-* 
able any of our natural mechanisms, faculties, apti- 
tudes, traits, so that there may be no waste — so 
that we may have the full benefit of such powers 
as normally belong to us — whatever is needed to 
do this always exists, or, at least, can be m^de to 
exist. Thus men need air. They need it to turn 


to some account the breathing mechanism of their 
bodies. Accordingly air exists. — Men need Hght. 
They need it to make some use of their eyes. 
These organs were as good as thrown away with- 
out it. Accordingly light exists. — Men need odors 
and sounds. They need them to turn to some 
account the organs for smelling and hearing. Ac- 
cordingly odors and means of sound exist. — Men 
need food and heat. They need these things to 
sustain the action of every bodily organ. We 
mio'ht as well not have the organs as to have them 
frozen and strengthless. They would be sacri- 
ficed. Accordingly heat and food exist. — Men 
need knov^^ledge, friendship, government, virtue. 
They need these things in order that the constitu- 
tional faculties and demands for them which human 
nature possesses may not be quite useless and worse 
than useless. We should be wretched with noth- 
ing or next to nothing to answer to these hungry 
and thirsty parts of our nature. Accordingly they 
do not hunger and thirst in vain. There is knowl- 
edge to be acquired ; love to be given and taken ; 
government to restrain, direct, and compose the 
social state ; virtue wherewith to exalt and felicitate 
ourselves. — In short, Nature builds no reservoir 
which she does not, sooner or later, use ; forges no 
tool which she has never occasion for. She is self- 
congruous and self-fulfilling. 

Not only do such things exist as are needed to 
prevent an entire waste of any constitutional fac- 


ulty or trait of mankind, but also all such things 
as are needed to prevent even a partial waste of it. 
Nature is thrifty. She is a great utilizer. Slie 
abhors waste in all its degrees. She gathers up 
the fragments that nothing be lost. And so pro- 
vision is made for the full use of everything that 
really belongs to our nature. The best condition 
of each part is made possible. A pendulum may 
describe a very small arc, or a large one, or a whole 
semicircle. An eye may see little, or much, or as 
much as belongs to an eye of the soundest state 
and wisest culture. It is this last measure of activ- 
ity and use that Nature provides for. She sees to 
it that every part of human nature is provided with 
the means of describino; its full semicircle. For 
example. Men need not only air, light, sound, 
odors, food, heat, knowledge, friendship, govern- 
ment, virtue — without which certainly constitu- 
tional traits would be totally unavailable — but 
they also need certain measures and varieties of 
these things in order that those parts of our nature 
to which they have respect may be available in the 
fullest degree which their natures allow. Unless the 
air has a certain density, the lungs begin to labor. 
If the light has not a certain tone and intensity, 
the eye is more or less crippled in its performance. 
Unless the sounds and odors are tempered and va- 
ried to a certain extent, the ear and nostril cannot 
do full service. Unless we have a variety of food 
and certain limits of temperature, our bodies weaken 


throughout, and every faculty walks with trembling 
knees. If we do not have large measures and 
many sorts of knowledge and friendship and vir- 
tue, the most possible is not made of our faculties 
for these things — we are not suitably fed and 
equipped for the best experience and service which 
our powers allow — the oil does not fill the capa- 
cious bowl, the wick is too small for its large tube, 
and accordingly the flame flickers on the high silver 
socket where it ought to burn steadily, and the 
photosphere is pale which ought to be flooded with 
light. Such is the need. Nature has provided 
accordingly. That density of air, that measure 
of light, that variety of food, that range of knowl- 
edge and friendship and virtue, which best suits 
our powers, is either actual or attainable. We 
find that if much change is made in either of these 
respects we at once begin to suffer. Our vitality 
abates. The system becomes depressed. Strength 
ebbs away at every pore, and every organ gives 
sign of embarrassed action. We discover that our 
circumstances stand well adjusted to our natures. 
What the race needs to best utilize its various fac- 
ulties the race has. The stature of the supply 
matches the stature of the demand. Nature builds 
no reservoir tw^ice as large as she can use ; nor forges 
a tool twice as sharp and massive as she has occa- 
sion for. She is self-congruous and self-fulfilling. 
These are a few examples of the law that what- 
ever is needed to turn to account, and even the 


fullest account, the traits normal to any class of be- 
ings, exists somewhere or is attainable. Of course 
it is not claimed that this law has been verified by 
an actual examination of every single case of such 
need in even a single department of great Nature. 
But it is claimed that so extensive an examination 
of particular cases has been made as to put the law 
on the sure footing of inductive science. We have 
had an immense experience. And all our experi- 
ence has been one way. It has been to the effect 
that Nature, within the field stated, does nothing 
by halves. She does not stop at fractions of enter- 
prises. She never forsakes a part till it becomes a 
whole. Her works are often a process ; not sel- 
dom the process is long ; but provision is always 
made for finishing up in a congruous manner what- 
ever she has undertaken. Many human works are 
finally forsaken at various stages of incompleteness 
— schemes, machines, edifices, books. You cannot 
infer from the unfinished tow^er of Cologne, or from 
the unfurnished niches on the minster of Milan, that 
it ever will or can be supplemented into complete- 
ness. Not so with the generic works of Nature. 
She is no Michael Angelo — leaving piles of unfin- 
ished productions. She is no Livy — certain chap- 
ters given, and then a hopeless *' Ca3tera desunt." 
All her parts bid us look for wholes. Each fraction 
of hers proclaims that its integer is come or com- 
ing. Have you found such a fraction ? Be sure 
that all the things needed to round it out into 


completeness exist somewhere, either in esse or in 
posse — as sure as you are when you see the red 
of the spectrum that its complementary colors are 
not far distant — as sure as you are when you see 
a crescent moon that the rest of the sphere is by 
its side, though for the present unilluminated. 
Look more closely, and perhaps you will faintly dis- 
cover the old moon in the arms of the new. Look 
more closely, and perhaps you will discover over 
against yonder organic need in Nature that full 
supply of the need which Nature has provided. 
But whether you discover it or not, make sure that 
the supply exists or is attainable. Nature does not 
waste herself. She has no fondness for throwing 
herself away, either w^holly or in part. If you find 
one of her reservoirs, make sure that there is some- 
thing to put in it, and as much as it will hold; if 
you find one of her tools, make sure that it has 
something to do, and as much as it can do well. So 
frugal is she with all her bountifulness ! So provi- 
dent is she, and so well does she husband her re- 
sources ! So good and careful a provider is she — 
never liable to be reckoned worse than an infidel 
because she does not provide for her own ! 

So well established is this principle in our ex- 
perience that scientific men are accustomed to as- 
sume it and build on it without ceremony in their 
investigations, especially in physical science. As 
soon as they discover a constitutional physical want 
of any natural species, they at once receive a pow 


erful suggestion of the existence, or at least of 
the attainability, of an adequate supply. Nay, they 
are profoundly convinced of such existence or at- 
tainabihty, and confidently assume it. If Cuvier 
finds a bone, he at once reconstructs the whole ani- 
mal to which it belongs, and tells us how it looked, 
and what its habits were when living. How ? On 
the observed fact that whatever is needed to com- 
plement a given mechanism in Nature and enable 
it to be turned to full account, at least in a natural 
class, exists or has existed. He does not speculate 
as to how this great fact came to be ; only it is mat- 
ter of plentiful experience that it is. — Mantell, in 
digging deeply into the earth, discovers a strange 
skeleton, and tlie round bony sockets where once 
were eyes. '' This class of animals," he says, 
" though now lying five hundred feet below the 
surface, once had life above ground." " And how^, 
my dear sir, do you know this ? " " Why, do you 
not see that the animal had eyes, and needed to 
live in the light ? " The philosopher w^ould not be 
confident that some individual of the class did not 
spend all its days in darkness underground ; but he 
is sure that it was not so with the class at large. 
They needed life in the light, and he sets it down as 
certain that they had it ; and not a naturalist in 
Christendom will dream of disputing him. — As little 
will Owen be disputed, when, on finding on the 
surface of a field the bony frame of an animal which 
plainly never had any eyes to speak of, but which 


had feet and form and head nicely suited to Hving 
and making its way underground, he just reverses 
the former assumption. '* This class of animals," 
he says, "needed life below the surface;" and on 
the instant he takes it for granted that the life which 
they needed they had. — Miller goes far inland, and 
there, on the top of a mountain, picks up the 
bleached debris of a bird plainly once web-footed. 
This class of birds needed, in part at least, a life 
in the water ; and his mind at once rests unwaver- 
ingly in the conclusion that at the time when they 
lived a water-life was accessible to them. — Or 
Sedgewick, or Dana, or Agassiz finds a fossil with 
both herbivorous and carnivorous organs : only to 
be quite sure that the species to which it belonged, 
needing both flesh and herb for its best develop- 
ment, lived in times when both flesh and herb food 
could be obtained. Or, these eminent philoso- 
phers find a whole formation filled with fossil plants 
and animals having special adaptations to an am- 
phibious life, needing a world of ponds and marshes, 
not indeed to exist, but to exist after their most 
flourishing manner: only to feel sure that those 
amphibians by structure actually lived in a transi- 
tion period when the world of waters was just 
giving way to a world of dry land. As soon as 
they see the need, they believe in the supply. 
And from east to west of the scientific world there 
is no one to lift up a single sign of remonstrance. 
" The whole earth is quiet, there is none that 


moves wing or opens mouth or peeps." It is uni- 
versally felt that tliis is sound science — that no 
sounder is to be had in all the Baconian realm. 
And so on to a vast extent. Behold scientists 
perpetually assuming and allowing that somehow 
supply accompanies the generic needs of Nature 
as shadow accompanies substance — sometimes be- 
fore it and sometimes behind it, sometimes near 
and sometimes considerably removed, sometimes 
easily seen and sometimes seen with difficulty or 
not at all ; but always existing, as surely as there 
is always more or less light on the earth even in the 
darkest night, and always linked to its counterpart 
substance by indissoluble though invisible bonds ! 

Now, this conduct in men of science does not 
proceed from a traditional notion of a wise and 
good God who will do nothing by halves or tan- 
talize his creatures, but from a sense of what is 
the general course of Nature. It is observed that 
somehow Nature has a way of finding her generic 
wants supplied — that is the whole of it. It is 
observed that somehow her parts are extremely 
apt to orb themselves out into w holes — that is the 
whole of it. It is observed, and profusely observed, 
that somehow it is with her as with other kind and 
wealthy mothers ; she does not send forth her chil- 
dren into the world without suitable outfit — that is 
the whole of it. This is the secret of that high scien- 
tific confidence. It is all pure observation — not at 
all traditional theology. Scientific investigations sel- 


dom proceed on tlieologlcal grounds, even among 
religious men. Indeed, it has long been estab- 
lished law that special jealousy be used to prevent 
anything of the kind. Besides, the conduct re- 
ferred to is as general amono" those who never 
think of a God in any practical connection with 
their employments — among atheists and antithe- 
ists who are carefully and zealously on the watch 
against any tacit assumption of the general Theistic 
tradition — as among others. Even as the great 
mass of farmers and merchants and other men of 
affairs never go behind natural agents and laws in 
the dealings and conceptions of their business, so 
with the investigators of Nature as a class — they 
deal exclusively with phenomena and natural 
causes. They see on all hands the immense ten- 
dency to equilibrium. They see how the streams 
and straws converge on every vacant spot. They 
see that wherever there is a broad organic need 
thither set gulf-streams and trade-winds freighted 
heavily with relief-ships. They see that where 
shines the Castor of a demand you may with proper 
search find shining over against it the twin Pollux 
of a supply ; and that where night appears there 
appear also the festival-keeping stars. They see — 
as they have always seen from the time when they 
began to observe Nature at all — that she has a 
happy faculty, say a genius, at getting her loud 
calls affirmatively answered, her great hungers 
and thirsts provided for, her hungry vacuums 


charged with fitting contents. They see — in 
short, it is pure sight from beginning to end. Wit- 
ness almost all the men called philosophers, from 
Comte upward. And from Comte upward, the 
idea of a Framer of Nature who is far too wise 
to frame useless things, and far too steady to His 
purpose not to carry thoroughly through whatever 
framing He has begun — this idea has nothing to 
do with prompting the general philosophic convic- 
tion that the great polarities of Nature are every- 
where as faithful guides to explorers as when boxed 
up in the mariner's compass ; and that when we 
find her putting up at some corner of her thorough- 
fares a guide-board, with its striking index-hand 
and great capitals saying " London " to all passers 
by, we may assure ourselves that London exists — 
more especially when she proceeds to plant her 
own person by that prophetic cross, and to glare 
wqth the eye, and to point with the finger, and to 
nod like Olympian Jove in the same direction, 
and to exclaim " London " in every civilized speech 
and with a voice that surges against the stars. 

For see further. Physicists, on purely natural 
grounds, not only give unanimous consent to the 
principle that in their field Nature has an invet- 
erate habit of getting her generic needs supplied, 
but they will, on the same grounds, unanimously 
consent to a certain extension of the principle — 
namely, the larger the need, the greater the mo- 
mentum and evidence with which Nature finds 


the supply. There are four cases. Sometimes 
a need is intrinsically larger than another need. 
Sometimes several needs point at and demand the 
same object. Sometimes the class to which a need 
belongs is broader and more important than another 
class. And the strongest case of all is when you 
have a combination of these three cases into a fourth 
— when you have great needs, many of them, and 
all of these belonmncr to a class of immense breadth 
and importance. Then the aggregate need is very 
great ; and the supply of that need is assured 
after a most manifold and imperial manner. 

Some needs are intrinsically greater than others. 
And we observe that it is after the spirit and man- 
ner of Nature to give the most heed to the loudest 
call. See with what peculiar care she guards such 
vital things as brain and heart behind their bony 
ramparts! Whatever it is that prompts her to 
provide for a need rather than for a no-need, would 
prompt her to provide for a great need with more 
care than for a small one. — Sometimes several great 
needs point at and clamor for the same supply. As 
we have seen, each of these is evidence of the ex- 
istence of that supply. And together they are so 
many independent evidences of that existence, and 
form an airgregate need of the largest dimensions. 
The manifold call is extremely loud and pressing. 
It must receive a correspondingly great attention 
from Nature. For such is the way of her who pro- 
vides for a need rather than for a no-need, and for 


a great need rather than for a small one. — Some 
classes, each having several great needs, are more ex- 
tensive and important tlian others. Make sure tliat 
the same notoriously self-consistent Nature that is 
everywhere more careful of a heart than of a hair, 
of wholes than of parts, of classes than of individ- 
uals, is more careful of great classes than of small 
ones. And if the class that clamors for a certain 
supply with many loud mouths is enormously 
broader than another class, then the sure testimony 
of Nature to the existence of the supply is enormously 
louder and more impressive. It is the voice of many 
waters. It is the concurring affidavits of many in- 
dependent witnesses, each of which swears with a 
steady and determined voice. Hence, if we find all 
these cases combined in one — if we find very great 
needs clamoring for a supply, and many such needs 
all shouting for the same supply, and these all be- 
longing to a class of beings enormously large — then 
we have a threefold assurance of the intensest and 
broadest character that the object for w^hich so many 
brawny hands are stretched out, and so manj^ brawny 
voices call, is extant or attainable. 

For example. The class of men need air. This 
need is of a more crying and imperative kind than 
that for air of standard density or purity ; and so 
Nature is more careful to secure the former than 
the latter. Also, it is not only the lungs of men 
that imperatively needs air, but also the ear and 
the nostril and the eye and the skin with its 


adapted pores — to say nothing of other oro-ans. 
Neither of these can be turned to proper account 
without air. So it is a chorus of loud calls that is 
made for the same thing : and the whole is greatly 
more loud and impressive than any single call would 
])e, and so proportionally surer of being heard. 
Also, each call is an independent argument for the 
existence of the supply. Further, it is not the class 
of men only that has these various needs ; but the 
greatly larger class of living beings — comprising 
hundreds of thousands of animal and vegetable spe- 
cies, each on the average more numerous than 
men. All these would be sacrificed without air. 
This exceeding breadth of calling Nature gives ex- 
ceeding volume to her voice. It rolls on the ear 
like tropical thunders. What place so remote as 
not to hear? What place so deaf? And every 
distinct organic species that helps to make that 
great invocation is a distinct proof that the invo- 
cation is not in vain. Altogether, the proof is im- 
mensely cumulative. It convinces like noonday 
mathematics. It displays more cooperative banners 
than Homer saw marching invincibly on Troy ; or 
than Tasso saw waving and glinting above Godfrey 
and his embattled Europe, on their way to Jerusa- 
lem Delivered. So that when we find in the fossil 
realms of geology an immense amount and variety 
of plants and animals, all of which imperatively 
needed air, and all of which imperatively needed it 
for many purposes, philosophers feel that they move 



a million strong on the conclusion that when those 
races existed air existed for them. They would 
laugh to scorn the man who should pretend to 
doubt whether an atmosphere flooded the world 
in the Silurian or any subsequent age. They 
feel that nothing can be surer. And this, although 
it is simply an inference from the vast need of air — 
from the vast and varied waste that w^ould be im- 
plied in case no air existed. 

So in other similar cases. Wherever in physics 
we find many great needs calling for help in behalf 
of a prodigious sweep of being, we have an anvil 
chorus that does not fail of beino; heard. It com- 
mands like an emperor. It invokes like a mighty 
mao;ician. It dredo-es the whole abyss of the un- 
known for an answer, as with Briarean hands ; as 
a river is dredged for some lost favorite by a whole 
out-turning population ; as all the declinations and 
ascensions of heaven have been dredged by our 
later Astronomy for hidden planets and nebulse. O 
Polypheme, thou hast indeed a great and most suc- 
cessful voice ! How the shores and the distant hills 
and the far, far away welkin ring as thy massive 
lips part skyward, and thy huge swollen chest 
empties itself in gales and torrents and cataracts 
of sound ! And see how quickly the invoked help 
swarms to his aid! Swart forms as huge as his 
own, great voices as burly and earth-quaking as the 
voice that calls, make prompt answer, and say. Here 
we are ! The Cyclopean voice has found out the 


'*Clamorem immensum tollit, quo pontus et omnes 
Intremuere undse, penitusque exterrita tellus 
Italise, curvisque immugiit ^tna cavernis. 
At genus e sylvis Cyclopum et montibus altis 
Excitum ruit ad portus et littora complent." 

Such is an uncontested law of Nature. Each real 
need of a natural class of beino-s has over ao-ainst it 
in Nature the suitable supply, or the means of 
it ; and the greater the need, the greater the mo- 
mentum and evidence with which the supply is 
furnished. We have seen that modern science is 
built on this law to a very large extent. We have 
seen that even atheistic explorers of Nature would 
be glad to build any amount of science on the same 
foundation. And shall any complain as we now 
proceed to build upon it what is of more concern to 
the world than all the profane science that ever was 
taught and cried up to the third heaven of fame — 
even though it unravels the tangled mystery of the 
stars, and provides all the dynamics of useful in- 
dustry, and probes the solid earth to where sleep in 
their stony mausolea the secrets of her genesis and 
hoariest history — I mean that sacred science, the 
Doctrine of God ! 

For God is needed. I do not claim that He is 
needed to keep the frame-work of Nature — its 
mountains, plains, and seas ; its plants, brutes, and 
men — from promptly falling into utter nothingness : 
nor do I care to say that every particle of order and 
comfort would at once drop out of the system were 
an active Divine hand withdrawn from beneath it. 


Still God is a necessity to the universe. Humnn 
nature in its soundest statt^ hungers for Him. Tlie 
race at larcje needs to believe in Him. The total 
system needs to have Him — as a Providence and 
Government. Woe to the morals of mankind when 
faith is wholly dead ! Woe to the happiness and 
usefulness and all true greenness of mankind when 
its morals have o-one down into the Potter's Field 
where faith lies scantily buried ! Woe to all earthly 
Nature, animal and vegetable as well, when the 
human life and character have both become offen- 
sive corpses ! Nay, woe to the universal Cosmos 
when it has no God to guide and govern it ! An 
infinite evil has come upon it. It has sustained un- 
speakable loss. For suppose God to be dead. He 
has lived and wrought and governed as only a be- 
ing of perfect faculty can, through amazing seons. 
But now He dead — dead. What means such an 
event to the universe ? Manifestly it means some- 
thing very dreadful. The difference to the system 
between the presence and the absence of such a 
dynamic as God is plain infinity. And so I declare 
that an unspeakable loss has been sustained. A 
good that defies figures, and even the fancy, has 
been subtracted from the creation. It is not too 
much to say that the creation became bankrupt at 
that loss — became, at that stroke of doom, both 
altar and sacrifice ; a holocaust sacrifice, whose 
xurid flames make all space ghastly, and go on to 
fill it with the charred and ruinous heaps of its 


former fair self. Oh, how these dismal ruins hunger 
and thirst for the old God ! Oh, how much these 
black and cindered earths yearn and beseech after 
Him through their innumerable fissures and gap- 
ing wounds, as the parched and chapped ground in 
fiercest drought yearns and cries toward the heavens 
for rain ! At last true midnight has come. And 
from out its anguished bosom, indestructible though 
, ruined Nature sends forth groans on groans accented 
with profound despair — broken with piteous protests 
and pleadings for a God tliat cannot be spared. 
There is not a scorched and scarred fragment 
that does not, forgetting all other wants, join in 
the mournful chime. Oh for a God, Oh for a God ! 
The state of things is such as to invoke the dead 
God from His nonentity with almost the force of a 
Creator. And should He, in answer to these ap- 
peals " creating a soul under the ribs of death," 
again suddenly make His appearance — appear no 
more to die — Oh, what thrills would circulate, 
what hallelujahs would go up, what jubilees of 
shouts and songs would peal and re-peal, what an 
ecstatic wave of sacred laughter would run and flash 
in the new sunlight across the whole breadth of 
being ! Nature would ring all her bells. She 
would blow all her silver trumpets. Even demons, 
methinks, would rejoice as they emerged from that 
chaotic night into morning. Even they would be 
^lad at that greatest of Eurekas — the refinding 
of One who knows how to govern. Never before 


has such exulting Sabbath been kept — not even 
when the mornmg stars sang together, and all the 
sons of God shouted for joy. And it is but just. 
So utterly measureless is the need of God. No or- 
dinary words of literal statement can begin to carrjr 
a just sense of its greatness. 

I saw a little child — wandering, wandering. A 
strange place, new objects, fresh curious eyes peer- 
ing at everything — little one, where are you going? 
Suddenly she misses her father. Where is he ? 
She looks round and round. Where is the familiar 
hand that a short time ago held hers ; where the 
familiar face that but just now was looking down 
upon her so tenderly and protectingly ? A great 
fear begins to steal upon her. She lifts up her voice. 
" Father, Father^ No answer comes. " Father, 
Father^ Father." Still no answer. Her alarm 
increases fast. She begins to run about and to ask 
of one and another, with flushed face and anxious, 
questioning eyes, " Have you seen him — Have you 
seen my father ? " No — no one has seen him ; and 
the poor child's heart fails her more and more. Her 
knees begin to tremble, she is all agitation, her 
questionings and calls become every moment more 
hurried and tremulous ; at last a spasm of mingled 
wails and calls pours out of her white lips, and she 
breaks down into convulsive sobs which no sooth- 
ings can allay. Poor child — she has lost her 
father ! Will she never see him again ? God for • 
bid — if there be a God. 


This partly expresses wliat every good man 
would feel like doing on discovering himself to be 
without a God — what all men, after a short expe- 
rience of doing without Him, would feel like doing 

— indeed, what comprehensive Nature, could it 
become personal, would certainly do. She would, 
with a great fear at her heart, begin to call for the 
lost Heavenly Father. She would go searching for 
Him and asking for Him up and down all the lati- 
tudes and longitudes. And should she not succeed 
in finding Him ; should no answer come to her loud 
and urgent invoking ; should she nowhere meet 
with any who could tell of having seen Him or His 
like ; should at last the deepening gloom and silence 
whisper He is dead — oh, what a heart-breaking 
wail would go up that moment to pierce the very 
heavens ! Drenched in sobs and tears, that poor 
orphaned child, though bearing the great name of 
Nature, would wish herself dead also. But hark — 
what sound is that? It comes nearer and nearer. 
She has cauo;ht it. She lifts her streamino; face and 
breathlessly attends. On comes the strange sound 

— deepening and widening and at last taking on a 
perceptible accent of joy. She springs to her feet. 
With parted lips and face pictorial with hope she 
leans toward the advancing murmur. " He is 
found," " He is found " — at last shapes itself dis- 
dnctly to her greedy ear. Lo, the day breaks like 
noon over her beaming face. She springs forward, 
she runs, she leaps, she meets Him afar, she clings 


about His knees, she casts herself into His open 
arms and nestles in His bosom. Her sobs die away. 
She looks up into His face and smiles and clings, 
and clinos and smiles. At last she is at rest. God 
bless her — at last the poor child whom some call 
Nature, is at rest. And the tears of by-standers — 
the spaces and durations — fall in jo;)'ful rain. It is 
all right — just as it should be. It would have been 
such a dreadful orphanage ! Such rags, such hun- 
gers, such rooflessness and homelessness, such neg- 
lects and exposures and blows, such ignorance and 
guilt and misery — never were seen tlie like. Poor 
Nature would have died. 

What is the scientific import of all this ? This 
need of a God, so pronounced and mighty — what 
means it in view of such science as forms the glory 
and boast of this nineteenth century ? Why, it 
means the same as every other case of natural ge- 
neric need — it means a supply of the need ; it 
means an actual God. Nay, it means Him with an 
emphasis more prompt and sonorous than ever came 
from any other need whatever. For it is the su- 
preme need. It is the Labarum among standards, 
and the Pontifex Maxim us among priests. Indeed, 
it is much more than this. It is not only a supreme 
need but an incomparable one ; not only an incom- 
parable one but one which could not be greater. 1 
How could a need cry more out of the very depths 
and essential nature of finite thinors ? How could 
it relate to more vital things than virtue, and those 


forms of happiness and usefulness that naturally 
follow in the wake of virtue ? How could it bear 
on a greater variety of interests than Infinite Fac- 
ulty can reach and aid, or bear on them more heav- 
ily ? How could it spread itself over a wider area 
of being than the enormous All? So that it is not 
enough to say that Nature aches after God more 
than ever eye ached for light, or lungs for air, or 
wings for an atmosphere, or fins for waters, or 
the babe for its mother. It is even not enoujrh to 
say that this Divine need towers out of sight above 
all others ; that it is indefinitely beyond rivalry ; 
that, toto orhe, there is nothing else for which Na- 
ture clamors so deeply, from so many mouths, with 
such variety and breadth of voices, and in behalf 
of so many classes of being. It is not enough to 
say even this. We must go on to say with ple- 
nary voice that it is not within the range of possibil- 
ities for a need to be greater at any one of these 
essential points. It is a maximum of maxima. It is 
the eternity among the durations, the astronomical 
abyss among the spaces, the God among living be- 
ings. The day that should see the universe va- 
cated of a God would begin to see it beggared to the 
last farthing. And when we have said all this, and 
truly said it ; when all such secular needs as we have 
been instancing appear dwarfed into nothingness by 
its side ; I demand in the name of Science — Shall all 
these little needs, without exception, be allowed to 
argue a supply for themselves, and the same privi- 


lege be denied to this greatest ? Shall all these be 
allowed to argue in proportion to their size, and 
it be denied to this need to argue at all ? Science 
protests against such strange proceedings. She will 
not permit such huge inconsistency — especially as 
done in her name. After we have taken indefinite 
consecutive cases of organic and generic need, and 
found them always balanced by supply with a 
brilliancy and emphasis proportioned to their size, 
shall we come to the next case — which happens to 
be that of the Divine need — without expecting a 
continuation of the law ? Who will be so unscientific, 
unreasonable, and absurd ? Who will not feel able 
to rest all his weight on that long chain of inductions ? 
What scholar in the Baconian philosophy and the 
philosophy of common sense will hesitate to declare 
that this need, which transcends all others so im- 
mensely in magnitude, transcends them correspond- 
ingly in the force with which it argues for that 
grand supply whose name is God ? 

So the nisus predicts a God. The Being who is 
needed to complement Nature into a whole really 
exists. The great hunger for Him which belongs to 
normal human nature is provided for; the great 
vacuum that beseeches Him like a maelstrom can 
be filled ; the great finger-post that points at Him 
so steadily from all corners is not perjured ; the 
great drafts and streams that set in from all quar- 
ters toward Him really have Him for their Equa- 
tor ; the great wheel whose radii are seen con- 


verging on Him till they are lost in clouds really 
has Him for its sublime Axis. 

See how these flowers, and indeed all this abun- 
dant vegetation, have their generic slant sunward ! 
Do I need to have seen that attracting sun during 
all these months and years in order to know that it 
has existed and shone ? Nature is a heliotrope — 
an enormous sunflower, turning its whole fruitful 
bosom toward God ; and when I see that generic 
bent, I do not need to see God in order to know that 
He is. I see the obeisance which the creatures are 
paying to their Creator. — See how these vines lean 
and twine and cling and put forth their profuse 
rootlets and tendrils ! Does one need to see the 
firm trees and sturdy walls and century-defying 
church-towers to which these epiphytes fasten 
themselves, in order to know that such supports 
may be had? Nature is an ivy — a leaner and 
dinger by its very structure, with tendrils and 
rootlets innumerable issuing from all parts, and 
reaching for support and nourishment to something 
indefinitely firmer and richer than itself; and I do 
not need to see cathedral God in order to know that 
this glorious support for Nature may be found. 
The very structure and infinite tendrils of that 
wonderful creeper proclaim Him. — See how mys- 
terious instinct draws the babe toward its mother, 
the bee toward its cell-building and honey-making, 
the silk-worm toward its spinning, the coralline to- 
ward its submarine architecture, and each species 


of living Nature toward its peculiar functions and 
line of life ! Surely, if one could know these in- 
stincts apart from the things to which they point, 
he would not need to actually see that mother with 
his two eyes in order to know that she exists — or 
that curious honey-comb with its plenum of mathe- 
matics and nectar ; or that cocoon wealthy with the 
silks of Lyons and Cathay ; or that coral archipel- 
ago within whose harbors navies safely ride, and 
on whose fertile bosom tropical harvests bloom and 
empurple — these things are all implied and sworn 
to in the very instincts themselves. Such, from 
babe to coralline, is Nature ; and the true Mother, 
the infinite Sweetness, the gorgeous Robe, the 
tropical Paradise to which it instinctively reaches 
forth and calls, is God. Why must I see Him in 
order to know that He is ? The very instinct that 
blindly draws and pushes everywhere toward utility 
and beauty and goodness and worship announces 
Him sufficiently. 

See Uranus wavering and quavering on his Si- 
berian path. Must I put a telescope to my eye, 
and descry perturbing Neptune, before I send in to 
the Institute my account of the new planet ? It 
alone satisfies the perturbations. Still look, O Ger- 
man Galle, and all ye whose faith in mathematics 
and the law of gravitation is weak; look toward 
Delta Capricorni, and optically find what is already 
theoretically known. — See all the path-bits of the 
solar system curved as for a common center, and 


lo, some of the celestial pilgrims brightly smiling 
toward the same point ! Who feels that he must 
actually see that center blazing as a sun before he 
can solidly believe in it ? Why, all the arcs of the 
system, great and small, unite in affirming that pri- 
mate and metropolitan. — See Constellation Hercules 
growing larger, year by year. Must you see, with 
fleshly eyes, a flaming ellipse trending along the 
abyss, and carefully take its bearing among the 
stars with compass and sights, before you will con- 
sent to believe in it ? If so, alas for the Herschels 
and Struves ! They are visionaries, and not the 
men of science they have had the credit of being. — 
See the proper motions of all Galacteal stars curved 
as if for central Pleiades ! To know the reality of 
that center, must I actually see it blazing like twelve 
thousand suns, and actually see it brightly zoned 
about by its eighteen millions of completed elhpses, 
and actually hunt down, one by one, as many 
shadowy foci till they are lost to view in thy efflil- 
gent bosom, O illustrious and imperial Alcyone ? 
Not at all. Forbid it, Dorpat and Pulkova — for- 
bid it, the fames of Maedler and Argelander and all 
most signal astronomers ! Never do I need turn 
eye on the neck of Taurus. Its famous cluster 
mio-ht be as strange to my sight as the lost Pleiad. 
And' yet I must believe. It is enough for me that 
I know the law of gravitation, and have noted the 
general drift of our heavens. This settles the 
matter. Every bit of star-path out in yonder 


vault contributes a voice to that euphemism which 
tells me the brilliant story of the Central Sun. I 
am assured of that august nebular heart, of that 
astonishing center of force and revolution, as 
plainly, if not as impressively, as I could have 
been by near sight. No, I do not need to see it. 
No more do I need to see God in order to know of 
His existence. He is perturbing Neptune. He is 
the Herculean Constellation toward which all things 
sail. He is the metropolitan Alcyone around which 
all things revolve. So I have no occasion to invoke 
sight. The perturbations of Nature show Him. 
Her orbits concave to Him proclaim Him. The 
general drift of her firmaments announces Him like 
a choir of trumpets and artilleries. Hail, Great 
Center of revolving being — as real as if we saw 
Thee on Thy throne sending forth Thy beams and 
government to remotest space ! The nisus has re- 
vealed Thee ; and it was not in vain that we 

" Per magnos, Nisu, Penates 
Assaracique Larem, et canae penetralia Vestae 
Obtestor; quaecumque mihi fortuna fidesque est 
In vestris pono gremiis : revocate parentem ; 
Reddite conspectum ; nihil illo triste recepto." 




*Y\p<jiOri xmep Travra, vTrepMfJiiav /cat C7rai/(u. 

X/ovcem ToXavTa — Tpwoov X^P^** '^P^^ ovpavbv aepOev. 




I ASK your attention in this Lecture to the su- 
perior merits of Theism as an hypothesis for the 
explanation of Nature. Notice that the hypothesis, 
while perfectly sufficient, and, to say the least, a 
priori as credible as any, is vastly the simplest, the 
surest, the safest, the sublimest, and the most in ac- 
cord with the convictions and traditions of mankind, 
especially of the most enlightened and moral part 
of mankind. Some of these particulars may appear 
at first sight to address themselves solely to the 
taste and interest : I trust they will be found to ap- 
peal to the reason as well. 

The Theistic Eypothesis is perfectly sufficieyit. 

It is plain that a Being of power and wisdom 
indefinitely beyond the human can completely ac- 
count for all the wonders of Nature. Nothing 
could be plainer. A child can see it as well as the 
sage. The most exquisitely fashioned man, the 
noblest astral system, the aggregate of the amazingly 
varied organisms that crowd the earth and spangle 
the sky — a God is abundantly equal to the produc- 



tlon of them all. There is absolutely nothing 
which siich a Being cannot do with the greatest 
ease. He has skill enough to contrive the most 
exquisite things, power enough to accomplish the 
hardest things, and comprehension enough to tri- 
umph with these attributes over the largest fields 
of being which observation has examined or thouo;ht 
conjectured. As an explanation of Nature, the The- 
istic hypothesis could not be improved. The 
hardiest assailant would scarcely dare question its 
perfect sufficiency. 

The Theistic Hypothesis is, to say the least, a priori, 
as credible as any. 

The various hypotheses to account for organic 
Nature are as follows. First, natural organisms, 
as individuals or races, are eternal. Second, they 
were constructed by chance. Third, they were 
constructed by law — that is, by blind material ele- 
ments acting in obedience to the eternal laws of 
their natures. Fourth, they were constructed by 

The first two suppositions are too openly in 
conflict with observation and science to find any 
supporters in this age. No one now supposes that 
the individual plants and animals which he sees 
about him have always existed as such. That tree, 
that brute, that man ^— each of these individuals 
self-existent, imperishable, eternal ! All the senses 
of all men are against it. They protest in a thou- 
sand ways that such organisms begin and flux and 


dissolve with every passing day. Equally plain 
is it that the races began — as plain as the 
igneous and metamorphic rocks, and the alphabet 
of geology. — As to a man, or even a blade of 
grass, becoming constructed by a strictly fortuitous 
concourse of atoms, such epicureanism is now out 
of date by many centuries. Chance — no person 
of culture at the present day believes in such a 
thing ! Nor is it Argyle alone who believes in the 
reign of law. The schoolboy or the schoolless 
peasant does it as well as the cultured noble. All 
persons among us now understand that every atom 
has its essential properties and laws, which, together 
with those of other atoms and agents, spiritual and 
other, determine all its doings and experiences. 
The very idea of hap-hazard died and was buried 
at the incoming of modern science ; and every new 
inquiry into Nature heaps new measures of dust 
on the grave. So we may put aside the two 
hypotheses first named. The comparison lies wholly 
between the last two — between that of construction 
by law and that of construction by God. Which 
of these has the best claim on our favor? 

Let it be observed, in the first place, that the 
hypothesis of construction by God is, to say the 
least, fully as credible, on its face, as its rival. Of 
course a person is perfectly credible ; for we know 
millions of such beings in actual existence. Of 
course a person producing organisms, and very elab- 
orate organisms, is perfectly credible ; for we know 


millions on millions of persons actually doing as 
much. An eternal and practically infinite personal 
constructor of organisms is a more difficult concep- 
tion, and further removed from our experience ; but 
not more so than the eternal and practically infinite 
material constructer of organisms which the law hy- 
pothesis assumes ; for it assumes what is really a 
material God — an eternal assemblage of blind atoms 
with properties in the aggregate fully equivalent, so 
far as production of results is concerned, to that 
personal power and wisdom indefinitely greater than 
the human which the Theistic hypothesis ascribes 
to God. Indeed, the construction of organisms by 
an intelligent agent is wonderfully more conformed 
to experience, not to say reason, than the construc- 
tion of such organisms by mere blind matter. We 
have no conceded instances of the latter construc- 
tion, while we have innumerable conceded instances 
of the former. Men do plan and execute watches, 
telegraphs, sewing-machines, pin-machines — ma- 
chines beyond count. This is matter of absolute 
knowledge. It is universally granted among those 
who believe in knowledge at all. But construction 
by mere blind force, is not granted — especially 
construction of intelligent and moral beings. Only 
a very few imagine such a thing proved at all, 
and they in only a few instances, and that rather 
as a possibility or a presumption than as a demon- 
stration. And just think of it. A mist of blind ele- 
ments bhndly shaping itself, not only into an infinity 


of useful and admirable objects — and such only — 
like plants and animals, but also into intelligent 
and moral beings ; into statesmen, philosophers, and 
saints ; into Napoleons, Miltons, Newtons, Howards; 
in fine, into such books as the Principia or Paradise 
Lost — for the author cannot be less wonderful than 
his works. What says an unsophisticated mind to 
the idea of matter, under blind forces and laws, 
shaping itself into the Iliad, or the M^canique Ce- 
leste, or the mosaic portraits of the popes 'that look 
down so marvelously in long order in the Roman St. 
Paul's ? Why, the very idea gives a shock to the 
understandings of most men ! It seems like an 
insult to their intuitions. It seems to defy their 
common sense and knowledge of Nature. Blind 
causation do such things I To say that the con- 
ception is hard, far-fetched, unnatural, is not 
enough. It looks vastly preposterous. It begs 
like Demosthenes to be considered a self-con- 
tradiction. The man who accepts it instead of 
Theism, has wonderfully the appearance of one 
swallowing a camel after straining at a gnat. 
Blind causation do such things — it seems a feat a 
hundred fold more wonderful than any ever attrib- 
uted to a personal God ! Really, the hypothesis of 
construction by law is, on its face, greatly less 
credible than that of construction by God. 

The Theistic Hypothesis is vastly the simplest. 

Each hypothesis, considered as an explanation of 
Kature, consists formally of two parts — first, certain 


assumptions ; and, second, certain considerations to 
sliow that these assumptions, in connection with 
known principles, will explain Nature. In the case 
of the Theistic hypothesis, the first part consists of 
the supposition of an eternal Being with power and 
wisdom indefinitely greater than the human, while 
the second part is nil — no considerations whatever 
being required to show that such a Being can 
account for the whole hight and breadth of Na- 

Not so with the law hypothesis. Here the two 
parts are much less simple, being in fact two very 
generic and complicated schemes of suppositions 
and arguments ; one called the cosmical hypothesis 
for explaining the origin of worlds, and the other 
called the physiological hypothesis for explaining 
the origin of the living organisms on this world. 
The leading suppositions of the general scheme are 
as follows : — 

1. An eternal substance, namely, matter. 

2. An infinite number of eternal substances, 
namely, countless material atoms having independ- 
ent existence. 

?. An eternal and infinitely complex scheme of 
exquisite relationships between these countless, 
eternal, independently subsisting substances. 

4. These exquisitely correlated atoms tenuously 
diffused as a o;as or mist. 

5. This mist vastly larger than a solar system. 

6. This mist on fire. 


7. Currents in this mist, obliquely toward the 
general center of gravity and nucleus of conden- 

8. Several minor nuclei of special condensation 
distributed throu2;h the mass — each with its own 
system of oblique currents. 

9. All these nuclei such in size, place, and num- 
ber, as to harmonize with the conditions of stable 
equilibrium in a solar system. I call particular at- 
tention to this last most voluminous assumption. 

These are only a part of the assumptions included 
in the law hypothesis — merely leading specimens. 
You observe that the infinite and eternal enter 
quite as largely into this scheme of explanation as 
into the other — indeed, more largely — while there 
is no comparison between the two schemes as to 
number of assumptions. 

But, allowing these numerous assumptions, it 
does not intuitively appear from them, as it does 
from the assumptions of the Theistic hypothesis, that 
they will explain Nature. Arguments are neces- 
sary. No small amount of them is necessary. The 
arguments to show that the foregoing postulates, 
with the help of known laws of matter and prin- 
ciples of science, are adequate to explain natural 
organisms, may be arranged in three classes : — 

First, certain arguments to show that all the 
worlds composing our solar system, and the leading 
features of each world, may be naturally derived 
from the foregoing data. These arguments are 


long and intricate ; and when duly spread out, make 
a volume. 

Second, certain arguments to show the possibility 
of spontaneous generation of the lower forms of or- 
ganic life. These arguments are long and intricate ; 
and when duly spread out, make a volume. 

Third, certain arguments to show the possibility 
of transmutation of species by gradual natural de- 
velopment of these lower organisms into higher 
forms, and at last into intelligent and moral beings. 
These arguments are long and intricate ; and when 
duly spread out, make a volume. 

Now, granting that the two schemes of explana- 
tion are, in the last result, equally good at account- 
ing for Nature, you observe that one is a vastly 
more complex plan of exjilanation than the other. 
With elements fully as difficult, one consists of 
many parts — the other of few. With elements 
fully as difficult, one requires volumes to unfold it- 
self folly — the other requires only a few words. 
Need I ask which is the more philosophical ? It is 
an immemorial and indisputable canon of philosophy 
to accept the simplest explanation of facts. 

We have taken the law hypothesis in its usual 
form. If any one thinks it may be made more 
simple by supposing more and arguing less, let him 
try. Let him reduce the second part of the hy- 
pothesis to zero by introducing the following com- 
prehensive supposition into the first part. Suppose 
those eternally correlated atoms to have an efficiency 


practically Infinite — to have forces and laws which 
as a whole are fully equivalent, so far as results 
are concerned, to that power and wisdom indefi- 
nitely greater than human which the Theistic hy- 
pothesis ascribes to God — to have forces and laws 
which are of tliemselves able to bring the atoms 
together into all the exquisite organisms that we 
see, up to intelligent and moral beings. 

Of course, to grant this supposition is to grant 
everything. No need of any argument to show 
that such an hypothesis will explain Nature. But 
is such an hypothesis plainly allowable ? Does it as- 
sume only what is plainly possible ? All the assump- 
tions of the Theistic hypothesis are assumptions of 
what in the nature of things are evidently possible — 
an eternal person, this person indefinitely superior to 
man in wisdom and power. But this last assump- 
tion of the law hypothesis is a very different matter. 
To take for granted that a mist of atoms, by virtue 
of any blind properties whatever, can arrange itself 
into that Infinite variety of exquisite organisms — 
and nothing but exquisite organisms — that we see, 
is taking for granted a great deal ; is taking for 
granted what one may well be pardoned for doubt- 
ing. The possibility of such a thing needs mightily 
to be shown. It needs to be shown that astonishing 
solar systems can result from mere natural forces 
and laws ; that spontaneous genesis of organic life 
in some low form can occur ; that there may be a 
natural development of this low form, through trans- 


mutation of species, into the most wonderful men. 
The possibility of all this needs not only to be 
shown, but to be show^n to a demonstration ; since 
all the assumptions of the rival hypothesis are pos- 
sible to an absolute certainty. It is self-evident 
that there is some eternal substance, and that an 
eternal person is, in the nature of things, just as 
possible as eternal matter — self-evident that there 
is nothing in the nature of things to limit an eternal 
intelligence to a given breadth of knowledge and 
power — self-evident that there is nothing to pre- 
vent that intelligence from being as much greater 
than men in these respects as man is greater than 
a worm. Thus in the Theistic hypothesis. So 
everything in tlie rival hypothesis must be put on a 
basis of absolute certainty. That profuse argument, 
drawn out through volumes, which undertakes to 
show the possibility of a cloud of blind atoms doing 
the work of an infinite God must be made as strong 
as Euclid. Every link in that long chain of evi- 
dence must be forged by some Vulcan in the smithy 
of geometry. On this plan of exhibition, the law 
hypothesis will be quite as complex as on the other 
plan. On both plans it is a most cumbrous machine 
for its purpose — wheels within wheels in most un- 
necessary and perplexing maze. It is the first rough 
effort of the inventor compared with the instrument 
when, at last, simplified into a tithe of its original 
size and expense by the labors of many years and 
many rival ingenuities. It is the long, rambling. 


tedious process of some unfledged geometer com- 
pared with the swift and laconic algebra of La 
Grange. It is the Ptolemaic system of Astronomy 
compared with the Copernican — the vortices of 
Descartes compared with the Newtonian principle 
and law of gravity. What manufacturer now uses 
the first spinning-jenny of Arkwright ? What math- 
ematician now works at his daily investigations with 
the ancient synthesis rather than with the modern 
analysis ? What astronomer now explains the 
heavens according to Ptolemy? Cycles and epi- 
cycles and deferents and eccentrics piled on each 
other — who does not bless himself that he is well 
out of this tangled w^ilderness into the grand sim- 
plicity of the Copernican theory ? With a true 
philosopher, nothing but the clumsy manifoldness 
of the old system, as compared with the new, is 
needed to secure its emphatic rejection. Could it 
explain all astronomical facts equally well with its 
simpler rival, it would still fail of countenance for a 
single moment, as being essentially unscientific. So 
should fail of countenance that complex and cum- 
brous law hypothesis which is the Ptolemaic system 
of natural theology. However successful it may 
prove in accounting for Nature — though it should 
leave nothing to be desired in respect to clearness 
and certainty of result — it ought to be summarily 
rejected as being a tedious Chancery and Circumlo- 
cution Office. What traveller rides with a fiftieth 
or even a fifth wheel to his carriage ? What Amer- 


ican, seeking merely New York, goes by way of 
Pekin ? 

The Theistic Hypothesis is vastly the surest. 
It is perfectly certain — certain to the apprehen- 
sion of all mankind — that the hypothesis of a God 
will account for all natural wonders. 

Can as much be said in favor of the hypothesis 
of construction by law ? Is its adequacy intuitively 
certain ? Or has that adequacy been rigorously 
demonstrated, level to the apprehension of all the 
world ? No one claims it. No one dares to claim 
it. Great effort has been made. Great inoi nuity 
has done its best. Years of argument have piled 
themselves on years, and still the argument rages. 
With what result ? The great majority of think- 
ing men are as unconvinced as ever. They do not 
even find a modest probability in the scheme so 
laboriously commended to them. And even its 
best friends hardly presume to call their own ar- 
guments a proof, much less a demonstration, much 
less still a demonstration that can be universally 
seen to be such. A certain amount of philosophic 
credibility, or, at the most, probability, is all that 
such men seem to themselves to have accomplished 
by their long and intricate dealings in behalf of 
spontaneous generation and transmutation of spe- 
cies by natural development ; while to most per- 
sons the whole scheme is a hopeless fog-bank — 
very picturesquely constructed perhaps, and dis- 
playing not a few showy battlements and pinnacles 

SUREST. 269 

and prismatics — but still mere unsubstantial and 
uncertain air-castles, liable to change shape and 
even disappear at any moment. And yet, to put 
their scheme on as good footing as the Theistic, its 
ability to explain Nature must be made a matter of 
absolute and immeasurable certainty to the gaze of 
all plainest understandings. For, from sunrise to 
sunset, and round to sunrise again, there is not a 
person capable of understanding the proposition 
who does not know, to absolute perfection, that an 
Infinite Person could produce with perfect ease the 
noblest and all things that make up the beauty and 
majesty of Nature. It is as much an axiom to the 
child and the savage as it is to the sage. So a 
heavy demand is made on the friends of the law 
scheme. It is not enough, should we find ourselves 
unable to prove positively that this scheme is insuf- 
ficient to explain Nature : its friends must show to 
utter certainty that it is sufficient, and show it to 
the complete satisfaction of all respectable inquirers. 
A hugely contested probability, timidly accepted as 
i'.uch by a few respectable reasoners, will not answer. 
Euclid himself must not be more conclusive, nor 
his axioms plainer. To secure this, all the parts, 
scores in number, of the very complex scheme, must 
be put on the footing of geometrical axioms. You 
must do it for all parts of the cosmical argument. 
You must do it for all parts of the physiological 
argument — for the spontaneous generation, for the 
transmutation of species, for the development of the 


oyster into the Newton. Not a single point in the 
vohiminous scheme must be left to rest on mere 
probability. Should absolute demonstration halt at 
a single one of these points, or at any one of them 
fail to flash conviction like a sun on the most limited 
of sound understandings that chances to glance 
thither, the whole hypothesis would break down as 
a demonstration. Of course such a Cesarean, all- 
conquering proof, is not only unaccomplished, but 
unaccomplishable. Not an instance of it can be 
found in the whole kingdom of logic. 

A man who, reduced to choose between two sec- 
ular hypotheses in other respects equal, should 
choose the one whose adequacy to account for the 
facts is, almost unboundedly, the most questionable, 
would not be considered the wisest of men. Sup- 
pose you meet an English friend in yonder street. 
'' How came you here ? " you exclaim. He informs 
you that he came either by steamer or by artificial 
wings. Have you any difficulty in choosing be- 
tween the two explanations ? You can decide the 
case swift as the flashing light, and with the mo- 
mentum of a planet. And why not ? You certainly 
know, as does everybody, that a steamer is adequate 
to bring the man across the Atlantic ; but you do 
not certainly know that artificial wings can do such 
a feat. Very far from it. What you know is that 
the possibility of such a mode of transit for men is 
extremely doubtful, to say the least. Some ingen- 
ious things can be said in its favor — witness Ras- 


selas — but to most persons tlie very idea is very 
ridiculous, and to none is it more than plausible. 
So you have not a shadow of hesitation. Instanta- 
neously, your mind flashes its decision. Between 
the hypothesis whose adequacy is perfectly certain, 
and the hypothesis whose adequacy is, to say the 
least, extremely uncertain, you have no occasion to 
linger. You take the immeasurably surer hypothe- 
sis immediately and as a matter of course. Your 
friend did not, Daedalus like, transfer himself across 
the seas by means of a pair of wings deftly fastened 
to his shoulders. 

TJie Theistio Hypothesis is greatly the most sal- 
utary and safe — salutary for the present life, and 
safe as to another. 

It is easy to see that the recognition of a God, 
carrying with it, as experience shows it generally if 
not always will, a recognition of His righteous gov- 
ernment — certainly of the possibility of it — has 
greater tendency to restrain from misconduct and 
to stimulate to virtue than has atheism. This from 
the nature of the case. And experience accords. 
It lies on the very surface of life and history that 
Theism is better than atheism for the character, 
the happiness, and the general outward prosperity 
of communities and families and individuals. Such 
has been the teaching of my own observation and 
reading on this point, that I am free to say that I 
had rather have my child worship in faith some re- 
spectable Brahma or fetich than to have him alto- 


getlier without a God. So felt the ancients, though 
with but a small part of our experience. Plato 
would have atheists exported far from his republic 
as being a public danger. He would have their 
children taken from them, and brought up as orphans 
at the public charge. And the words of Cicero to 
the same effect have become famous. " That such 
views are useful and necessary, who will deny, when 
he reflects how many things must be confirmed by 
an oath, how much safety there is in those religious 
rites that pertain to the solemnization of contracts, 
how many the fear of Divine punishment keeps 
back from crime ; in short, how sacred and holy a 
thing society becomes when the immortal gods 
are constantly presented both as judges and wit- 
nesses." So spake classic antiquity. And modern 
times, with their larger scope, venture to speak 
still more strongly. To them Theism is like a cer- 
tain geode but recently found. To them Theism is 
like a certain flower just now becoming naturalized 
in our conservatories. The stone was broken, and 
lo, it was lined with beautiful crystals, and in the 
heart of that rich casket a still richer crystal in the 
form of a cross ! Some delicate petals of the Flos 
Sancti Spiritus are drawn aside, and lo, nestled in 
that fragrant bosom, looks forth what seems a milk- 
white dove ! Such are the contents and implica- 
tions of Theism — things most fair and wonderful 
to see. Behold altars and homes and common- 
wealths- — behold orders, proprieties, safeties, phi- 


lanthroples, steadfast consciences, regulated free- 
doms, and durable civilizations — behold usefulness 
and happiness and hope and virtue in their most 
snowy and effulgent forms — behold, as I think, the 
Cross and the Holy Gliost ! All these are seminally 
contained in the Doctrine of God. It travails in 
birth with these for all the worlds. 

Whichever hypothesis is honestly accepted will 
be measurably acted on. If that of a God is ac- 
cepted, experience shows that with it, in general if 
not always, will be accepted His character as a 
righteous moral Governor. Supposing men to act 
on the supposition of such a God, it is certain that 
no crrave harm will come of the action in any event, 
while it may open on the soul the gates of eternal 
life. But if men act on the supposition of No-God, 
they may be ruined remedilessly in case there is 
such a Being. Nearly all theists claim it will be 
so : a very plausible revelation affirms and reaffirms 
the claim in the most positive manner. And cer- 
tainly, very severe results are by no means improb- 
able. For, if there is a God, it is exceedingly im- 
portant that men should know it; and if He is 
rio-hteous — as certainly is not improbable — He 
greatly desires them to know it, and has given them 
suitable means for knowing, and so will be severely 
displeased with their atheism. 

It w^ould obviously be irrational to choose the 
least useful and safe of two hypotheses in other 
respects equal. No man in his senses would advise 



such a step in secular matters. It would be alike 
an insult to interest and to truth. I say, it would 
be a libel and outrage on truth — that Divine prin- 
ciple which is only inferior in beauty and majesty 
to A^rtue itself, and which is universally allowed to 
deserve the love and homage of mankind. Useful- 
ness and safety are near of kin to truth. They are 
its natural associates. Where they are found truth 
is likely to be fonnd. They are the surface indica- 
tions of the gold mine — the Geology that divines 
of it so strongly that men hopefully gather great 
capital about the spot where trembles her rod, and 
set to work. If observation shows anything, it is 
that the most salutary and safe course is usually the 
one accommodated to fact : and indeed such a 
course cannot in general be that which is accommo- 
dated to a falsehood. From the nature of the case, 
courses accommodated to a falsehood, and so in pos- 
itive conflict with the real nature and relations of 
things, must in general be attended with more diffi- 
culty, expense, and damage than those in harmony 
with such nature and relations. 

The TJieistic HyiJotJiesis is greatly the fairest and 

Other things being equal, the fairest and sub- 
limest hypothesis has the best claim on us — on our 
faith as well as on our affections. It has most the 
asj3ect of a truth. 

Soul — whether regarded as an immaterial sub- 
stance, or simply as the sum of certain qualities 


occasionally found in connection with certain or- 
ganic forms — soul, with its will, feeling, intelli- 
gence, and capacities for happiness and virtue, is 
universally felt by thinking men to be the highest 
as well as the most mysterious sort of known 
being. Not the grandest masses of matter; such 
as mountains, oceans, stars — not the most subtle 
and forceful material elements ; such, for example, 
as produce the phenomena of light, electricity, 
and gravitation — not any conceivable combination 
of such elements, can compare in wonderfulness 
and nobleness with the soul of a Newton. Much 
less can any conceivable combination of such causes 
compare in these respects with an Eternal and es- 
sentially Infinite Soul that devises and produces all 
natural organisms, and is capable of governing 
them and all things with infinite wisdom and good- 
ness. If, in addition, we suppose this great Being 
crowned with the glories of an infinite and ever- 
lasting actual felicity and virtue — as we are enti- 
tled to do for aught that appears to the contrary 
— a goodness efflorescing into every imaginable 
beauty of hue and form ; a goodness bathing the 
whole Divine Nature in the rosy lights of an un- 
utterable tenderness and mercy and love, whose 
warm floods overflow to the remotest terms of the 
creation, and insure to it the utmost possible meas- 
ure of blessed results — what shall we say of such 
an Object ? It makes the heart leap to look toward 
it. Never such a scene blushed under eye of trav- 


eler or pencil of master — never such sumptuous 
palace or cathedral reared its wilderness of comeli- 
ness and majesty on the sight or dreams of men — 
never such moun tain-ran o-e gathered clouds and 
rainbows about its brow and blossomed o'er all its 
mighty sides with the beauties of every clime — 
never such central sun blazed and triumphed and 
governed amid its coronet of rejoicing worlds ! O 
wonderful Vision, O Colossus of perfection, O 
worthy and worshipful Emperor of Nature, O fair- 
est and sublimest Idea in the whole empire of 
thought ! One may well be excused for preferring, 
other things being equal, such an hypothesis as this. 
It has the most claim upon him. What should we 
think of a man who, being reduced to choose be- 
tween tw^o hypotheses equal in every other respect, 
should choose the meanest and hardest-favored of 
the two ? It were an insult to truth. It would do 
violence to the subtle instincts and proprieties of 
Nature. It would affront the "beautiful and fit- 
ting " of science. 

The Theistic Hypothesis is greatly the most in 
accoi'dance with the convictions and traditions of 
mankind., especially of the most enlightened and 
moral part of mankind. 

You could almost count up on your fingers the 
men wdio, leaving the attitude of mere doubters, 
have come to positively affirm and positively believe 
that Nature was actuall}^ produced in conformity 
with the law hypothesis. On the other hand. 


those who so positively and firmly believe in the 
Divine origin of Nature that they could freely die 
for their faith are almost innumerable. I would like 
to see the man who could die for the law hy- 
pothesis ! — Further, the Divine origin of Nature is 
the strong popular faith of whole nations and gen- 
erations, constituting the most intelligent and best- 
behaved part of the race. Much of this faith, in- 
deed, is not that of martyrs ; but most of it is a 
faith that shudders at the very name of atheist, and 
at the very idea of a godless universe. And the 
Jews, the Christians, the Mohammedans, the Hin- 
doos with their affiliated races — to say nothing of 
smaller peoples — the believing nations covered by 
these names include in their mighty circumference 
nearly all the science and civilization and semi-civil- 
ization and respectable morals the w^orld can boast. 
— Further, the whole body of mankind, past and 
present, with a few trifling exceptions, firmly be- 
lieve in at least one Great Intelligence of a grade 
indefinitely superior to the human and worthy of 
worship. Every nation has some divinity. There 
is no country without temples, altars, priests. In 
all climates, under all governments, through all 
stages of society from the most barbaric to the most 
cultivated, man humbles himself before great in- 
visible personal powers. The traveler into unex- 
plored countries about as much expects to find them 
supplied with deities as he expects to find them sup- 
plied with men. The traveler into distant ages. 


whatever direction he takes, about as mnch expects 
to find men worshipping as he does to find them 
eating and drinking. Whether Livingstone or Hum- 
boldt — he encounters the supernatural at every 
step. Whether Niebuhr or Muratori — at every 
step he meets the immemorial traditions of the su- 
pernatural descending upon him like Amazons from 
every point of the compass. The cultus is every- 
where. And whether it points at the fetich, or the 
idol, or the star, or the Grand Lama, or Brahma, 
or Boodh, or Odin, or Osiris, or Jupiter, or Allah, or 
Jehovah — it expresses the faith of all nations and 
ages in at least one Great Superhuman Intelligence 
who holds sanctuary within such holy names, be- 
fore whose power and wisdom the greatest of men 
should uncover, and from M'hose undefined and 
dreamy greatness one should not be surprised to 
see issuing any conceivable wonders. I use univer- 
sal language. It is because the dissenters from this 
generic Theism are so few as to be absolutely inap- 
preciable in the presence of the empires and conti- 
nents and generations who hold it with a profound 
and ineradicable faith. 

What means this great Plebiscitum ? What 
means this universal faith in at least one Worshipful 
Superhuman Intelligence — this chain of such faiths 
stretching away back into the mists of history and 
even the adyta of primeval tradition — this chain 
ever expanding toward Christian Theism as it 
passes through the more enlightened times and 


lands ? If any man says that it me?.ns nothing, or 
that it does not flex itself significantly in the direc- 
tion of God, my eyes dilate npon him with astonish- 
ment. Is he serious ? Does he mean what he says ? 
It cannot be denied that universal and very an- 
cient beliefs have sometimes proved false ; but still 
it is acknowledged in practical life that they are 
generally true, and are always to be accepted as 
true in the absence of all positive evidence to the 
contrary. For example, if it should be the univer- 
sal speech in this community that a certain person 
is dishonest, one would not, anterior to a thorough 
investigation, trust him as quickly as though there 
were no such common fame ; especially if that com- 
mon fame had existed for many years, and was fully 
indorsed by his most intimate acquaintances — 
proving that it is viewed as of the nature of evi- 
dence. It is possible that the man has been belied, 
for many instances of such belying have been 
proved ; but still that universal faith against him 
is one of the adverse probabilities needing to be oflP- 
setted and overcome by other probabilities. In the 
absence of all discoverable positive evidence to the 
contrary, the universal and stable belief would be 
considered decisive against the man for all practical 
purposes, and ought to be so considered. Is there 
any positive evidence that there are no superhuman 
intelHgences ? On the contrary, are they not 
rather favored by the fact of numerous orders of 
living beings below us in a long line of gradation 


down to microscopic life ? What authority has man 
for saying that the long line in its ascent ends with 
himself, or ends anywhere short of a Being of in- 
finite proportions as compared with ourselves ? 

Further, there cannot be shown an instance of 
dateless and universal belief which has maintained 
its ground witliout abatement amid all advances of 
knowledge and morals, and which has even been 
enhanced by such advances, proving false. The 
false belief that the sun moves around the earth 
was universal at one time ; but as knowledge in- 
creased this sort of astronomy weakened and passed 
away. The false belief in astrology, in the lunar 
influence on the weather, is very ancient, and has 
had almost universal acceptance ; but it has faded 
before advancing intelligence. The false belief that 
it is lawful to worship many deities, and to repre- 
sent deity under material forms, was for ages well- 
nigh universal ; but wherever at any time knowl- 
edge and character have improved, polytheism and 
idolatry have shown tendency to decline. See, for 
proof, the French Positivists. But French Posi- 
tivists were hardly needed to prove this to any 
moderate reader of history. The chief Greek and 
Roman philosophers seem to have always lived on 
or within the verge of Monotheism, spiritual Mono- 
theism ; and the more learned and better class of 
Brahmins at the present time, when drawn into ex- 
planations, take up very much the same position. — 
On the other hand, this dateless and universal be- 


lief in at least one Superhnman and Worshipful In- 
telligence has not been injured anywhere by a com- 
bined advance in knowledge and character ; but 
the reverse. The Mohammedan nations, as such, 
believe as strongly as the pagan — the Christian 
nations, as such, as strongly as the Moslem — the 
most advanced Christian nations as strongly as the 
least advanced. So far, indeed, from this belief 
declining with advancing intelligence and virtue, 
it shows in such case a general tendency toward a 
more refined and stupendous Theism. Osiris, Ju- 
piter, and Brahma, are far greater deities than any 
worshipped by African or South Sea savages — the 
Theos and Deus of such philosophers as Socrates, 
Plato, Cicero, Seneca, far greater than the popular 
Jupiter — Allah and Jehovah far greater than the 
divinity of Plato's speculations — even Jehovah 
as conceived by the cultured and saintly christian 
is a far more glorious object than the average Jeho- 
vah of Christian lands. In such lands those com- 
munities which are the most eminent for intelli- 
gence and excellent living are also most noted for 
both the strength and quality of their faith in the 
supernatural. See that swearing, swindling, drink- 
ing, gambling, dissolute, and ignorant frontier set- 
tlement ! Which has the strono-est and hio^hest faith 
in the supernatural — that, or yonder cultured and 
virtuous New Encrland villao;e ! See that good man 
of to-day ! Make sure that when, twenty years 
hence, he has become a still better man — more sol- 


idly principled, more strictly conscientious, more loft- 
ily just, more tenderly and actively benevolent — 
his faith in God will stand on a still broader base and 
pierce the heavens with a still loftier apex. It is 
simple experience. Never stood pyramid more sta- 
bly and sublimely than stood the faith of Sir Da- 
vid Brewster at the age of fourscore and seven — 
a faith that had grown through the long years as 
fast as his ever-growing intelligence and goodness. 

Look at it. A dateless and universal belief in 
at least one Great Intelligence of a grade indefi- 
nitely superior to the human — whence came this 
mighty epidemic ? Did it spring naturally from a 
low moral and intellectual condition of the race at 
large — as fevers and ignesfatui do from marshes 
— or from the selfish efforts of governments and 
incipient priesthoods ; or from both ? Either ori- 
gin would be inconsistent with the fact that a com- 
bined advance in knowledge and morals is found to 
affect the faith favorably. Did it spring from the 
evident profitableness of the faith in the sight of all 
mankind ? This were strongly in its favor as being 
true. Did it spring from the fact that it is intrin- 
sically and universally palatable, if not profitable ? 
Who can say that ? No-Religion makes no exac- 
tions whatever : the easiest religion known to men 
makes great exactions, and makes them constantl}^ 
Self-restraint and sacrifice are the common and 
statute law of every religious system. Not a wor- 
ship but includes endless expenses, labors, cares, 


and fears. Codes of regulations must be carefully 
studied out, and watchfully conformed to. Pil- 
grimages, penances, works from the twelve labors 
of Hercules downward, must be accepted. Tem- 
ples must be built, altars fed, costly rites main- 
tained, priesthoods supported. In fine, to mere na- 
ture, a religion is a cramping formula for this 
w^orld ; while it offers for another world only what, 
according to the atheistic theory, a man is equally 
at liberty to expect without a God. So it would 
seem to be intrinsically an unpopular system. That 
such a system could have fought its way from noth- 
ing into virtually universal acceptance, and main- 
tained itself there unfalteringly from immemorial 
antiquity to the present, without any real support 
from either the reason, the experience, or the inter- 
est of mankind — could even have brio-htened and 
ascended with advancing knowledge and morals, 
and all as the product of the hideous incubation of 
wickedness upon general ignorance and wickedness 
— is, to say the least, far from being a plain matter. 
It has a strong look of incredibility. It savors 
mightily of self-contradiction. Plainly, it would 
take more argument than most minds can compass 
to give even plausibility to such an explanation. 
As to demonstrating its adequacy, such a thing is 
out of the question. The very idea is absurd. 
But if we suppose a primeval revelation of God ; 
that the doctrine was gradually lowered and cor- 
rupted to a great extent by the moral and intellect- 


ual lapses of\ the race ; that nevertheless it com- 
mended itself so mightily to their fundamental 
instincts, essential reason, and great wants that 
even such potent sources of error could never quite 
overpower it among any considerable body of man- 
kind ; and that, just as soon as these incubi are 
lifted, the elastic and irrepressible doctrine proceeds 
to expand toward its normal and original grandeur 
— I say, if we suppose this, we have an explana- 
tion of the general faith in worshipful superhuman 
beings, and of its obvious partiality for inteUigence 
and virtue, which is perfectly natural and perfectly 
sufficient ; intuitively so. The adequacy of the ex- 
planation is perfectly axiomatic. Not a word need 
be said in its defense. Especially in view of the 
fact that all the most eminent mythologists of the 
present day are agreed in the opinion that Mono- 
theism lies at the foundation of all pagan mythol- 

No one who in these times and lands admits 
wonderfully superhuman beings, but will go further, 
and admit a God. As a matter of fact, those who 
admit them do invariably admit a true God. And 
it ought to be so. For this admission takes away, 
on the one hand, the only serious appearance of an 
objection to a God, and, on the other hand, vastly 
intensifies the difficulty of accounting for Nature 
without Him ; indeed, makes such an account im- 
possible, if we may trust the mathematical doctrine 
of chances. The only apparent objection to a God 


that lias much weight wltli most persons, is His fail- 
ure to manifest Himself in overwhelming appeal to 
our senses and experience ; and this objection is 
recognized as invalid just as soon as one admits any 
invisible intelligences above man who mingle in lui- 
man affairs. And, too, just as soon as one admits 
such intelligences vastly above man and yet not 
eternal, he has introduced into the begun Mature 
that needs to be accounted for a new element of 
difficulty vastly greater than any it before con- 
tained. If it is somewhat hard to understand and 
show how blind causes can produce an intelligent 
man, it must be vastly harder to understand and 
show how such causes can produce an Intelligence 
vastly superior to man and able to make a man. In 
fact, the mathematics of chances forbids our at- 
tempting to account for Nature by blind causes 
after the admission of such a Being. La Place 
states the following law. The probability that an 
effect is produced by any one of given things is as 
the antecedent probability of that thing, multiplied 
by the probability that, if it existed, it would have 
produced the effect. Now, in the case before us, 
^')ne agent is admitted as existing and able to pro- 
duce the effect. To get the entire probability that 
it actually produced the effect, we must multiply 
certainty by the probability that, if existent, it 
would actually have produced the effect. Now the 
latter probability is certainly greater than the prob- 
ability that a competing blind cause, if existent, 


would have produced it. It certainly is more likely 
that, of two causes, the one blind and the other in- 
telligent, the intelliirent was the author of an intel- 
ligent being or even of the human body. We 
know multitudes of organisms produced by intelli- 
gent beings, and not one certainly produced by 
blind causes. 

Such is the Theistic hypothesis as compared with 
its sole rival. While perfectly sufficient, and, to 
say the least, a priori as credible as any, it is greatly 
the simplest ; the surest ; the sublimest ; the safest ; 
the most salutary ; and the most in accordance with 
the convictions and traditions of mankind, especially 
of the most enlightened and moral part of mankind. 
In each of these respects it has almost infinitely the 
advantage over the law hypothesis. And, accord- 
ing to the maxims and practice of philosophy in 
other things, such an aggregate superiority as this 
ought to cause the Doctrine of a God to be promptly 
accepted and fully rested on as the true explanation 
of Nature. Whatever secular hypothesis could claim 
as much would be accepted without hesitation by 
all impartial men. It would be considered triumph- 
antly established. To oppose it would be consid- 
ered altogether absurd. And no man of science, 
with a reputation to lose, would for one moment 
think of venturing on opposition. On the contrary, 
an hypothesis so strongly fortified with verisimili- 
tudes and superiorities over all competitors would 
ascend the throne of faith, and robe itself in the 


purple of all her prerogatives, by unanimous accla- 
mation of the Baconian pliilosophy, of scientific 
usage, and of the entire college of scholarly men. 

After the painting has been found pervaded with 
Titian's characteristics, you have only to observe 
that, as compared with other hypotheses in regard 
to its origin, that which attributes it to Titian is by 
far the simplest, the surest, the fairest, and alto- 
gether in accord with the convictions and traditions, 
especially of the best judges — I say, you have only 
to observe this in order to receive it cordially as the 
work of that old master. If able, you will give 
your thousands for it, on tlie strength of your con- 

You believe that Canova made that statue, An- 
gelo that cathedral, Herodotus that history. A 
neighbor has chosen to say that each of these won- 
ders was made by a mollusk. This is his hypothe- 
sis. Another has chosen to say that each of these 
wonders was made by the great artist whose name 
it bears. This is his hypothesis. Why do you ac- 
cept this last in preference to the other ? Have you 
made out formal proof that the oyster cannot make 
such wonderful things — that though inert-looking 
things are sometimes found possessed of prodigious 
power, an oyster could by no possibility ever have 
wrought that shapely Venus, or swelled that sur- 
-^rislng dome, or penned that immortal volume? 
Nothing of the kind. You do not deem such proof 
necessary. It is enough for you that the hypothe- 


sis which attributes St. Peter's to Micliael Angelo 
is on its face altogether reasonable, that it has in its 
favor the whole current of tradition ; while, as com- 
pared with the only competing hypotliesis, it is al- 
most infinitely the simplest, and surest as to ade- 
quacy. You have no occasion to inquire any fur- 
ther. It does not even occur to you to do it — 
cautious Baconian though you are. In common 
with the whole art-world, you instinctively accept 
and rely upon the great Florentine with unlimited 
boldness. The mollusk explanation is paraded be- 
fore you in all sorts of ingenious verbal magnificence 
and logical forms without making the slightest im- 
pression on you. There is not a quaver in your 
faith. It not only occupies you, but reigns — not 
only reigns, but reigns indisputably. 

So reigns to-day the Newtonian hypothesis of 
gravity. It is everywhere supreme — in the books, 
in the schools, in the innermost convictions of all 
intelligent men. Nothing moves wing, or opens 
mouth, or peeps against it. And yet do we see the 
principle of gravity ? Not at all. Have we proved 
by experience that each particle of matter, away to 
the universe's last outskirt, attracts every other 
particle with a force proportioned directly to its own 
quantity of matter and inversely to the square of 
the distance between the particles ? Not at all. 
Has it ever been demonstrated that the vortices of 
Descartes, or even the crystal machinery of Hip- 
parchus and Ptolemy, cannot be so amended and ap- 


pendixed as to explain all the astronomical motions 
thus far known ? Not at all. Whence, then, that 
triumphant acceptance of the Newtonian principle 
and law of gravity? Simply from its superior 
merits as an hypothesis. Newton started a bare 
supposition. It was found to explain fact after 
fact. It kept on explaining. It has gone on up to 
the present time triumphantly explaining, in fields 
so broad, in fields so various, in fields so numerous 
and high, that our confidence in its power to ex- 
plain the whole round of astronomical motions is 
quite complete. We deem it perfectly sufficient. 
Besides, while, to say the least, as credible on Its 
face as the ancient Alexandrian or the modern 
French hypothesis, it is vastly simpler, surer, fairer, 
and more In harmony with the instinctive feeling 
and judgment of cultured men. This is the whole 
of it. This is the entire ground on which stand 
the entire scientific world. Is it not enough ? Will 
any one start up at this late day to reprimand the 
entire scientific world for accepting and relying on 
the great Newtonian hypothesis of gravitation with 
unlimited boldness? And shall any venture to 
blame the theist for accepting and relying upon the 
Theistic hypothesis for precisely the same reasons 
somewhat intensified and enlarged ? Confident as 
the astronomer may be that the clew which has not 
failed him yet in his wide terrene and stellar wan- 
derings, would not fail him though his travels should 
go on to cover all the fields of Nature with foot- 



prints, still what he feels is not such a confidence 
as every sane man has that there is not a thing em- 
braced by space whose origin the hypothesis of a 
God will not completely account for with infinite 
ease. This latter is the confidence of absolute, 
axiomatic, immeasurable knowledge. The other is 
merely the confidence of faith from a large induc- 
tion of particulars. It is vastly probable — I con- 
sent to say morally certain — to at least philosophers, 
that this key of gravity will unlock the whole as- 
tronomical movement : it is mathematically certain 
to the entire sweep of humanity that this key of 
Theism will unlock and explain as to origin all the 
latitudes and longitudes of Nature. Further, in 
respect to simplicity, and sureness, and beauty, and 
accord with the convictions and traditions of man- 
kind, especially the best part of mankind, the The- 
istic hypothesis has far more advantage over the 
law hypothesis than the Newtonian has over the 
Ptolemaic and Cartesian. And yet what a confi- 
dence the Newtonian displays ! He threads great 
sciences on his doctrine like so many habitable 
globes. He sails away on his doctrine through the 
uttermost depths of heaven as on some voyaging 
sun. I will neither praise nor blame him. But 
this I say, that if he is warranted in founding him- 
self so mightily on that doctrine of gravity, we are 
warranted in founding ourselves even more mightily 
on the Doctrine of God. We have the best of coun- 
tenance in making Theism the basis of reas ming 


and action to any extent. We have no reproaches 
to fear from consistent science, though we proceed 
to rest upon that Theism castles, palaces, cities, em- 
pires, heavens of inferences and interests, answer- 
ing to, but far nobler than, those which Astronomy 
confidently reposes on her great hypothesis. 

A word more. For what would a man reject 
this vastly superior Theism? What does he gain 
by putting aside this account of Nature which car- 
ries itself so regally, and before whose sheaf all 
other sheaves bow down — the account which, 
while perfectly sufficient, and, to say the least, a 
'priori as credible as any, is greatly the simplest, the 
surest, the sublimest, the safest, the most salutary, 
and the most suited to the convictions and tradi- 
tions of mankind ? Is he afraid of a personal God 
— lest that sharp-sighted Omnipotence should bring 
him to account for his conduct? Pray, in what 
respect would he be better off with a Nature con- 
structed by law ! Does the law scheme, neces- 
sarily, do away with sin ? Does it do away, neces- 
sarily, with responsibility for sin? Does it, as a 
matter of course, even lessen the avalanche of pen- 
alty which the sinner may have to encounter? 
Not at all. All these things are just as possible, 
and may be just as great, under the one system of 
explanation as under the other. If a mist of atoms 
can really make this wonderful Nature which no 
man could make unless his faculties of wisuom and 
power were infinitely expanded — that is, if this 


mist seetlies practically with an infinite efficiency, 
and its forces and laws taken together are fully 
equivalent, so far as the production of results is 
concerned, to that infinite power and wisdom which 
the Theistic hypothesis ascribes to God — then we 
have, to all intents and purposes, a material God. 
We have matter practically almiohty and all-wise. 
It can do whatcA'er an almighty and all-wise Person 
could do. 

Now if men choose to call this wonderful thing 
by the name of Law, let them. If they choose to 
say it is unintelligent, let them. But let them not 
deceive themselves with names. What they actu- 
ally have is something that can do things after a 
manner of unlimited wisdom and power. What 
they actually have is something that can arrange 
and adapt and exquisitely fashion just as if an in- 
finite intelligence and discrimination, as well as 
force, presided over the work. In short, it is prac- 
tically the equivalent of a God, if not God Himself. 
Such a Dynamic as this, whatever name it bears, is 
abundantly sufficient for everything. It can govern 
men as well as make them — it can treat them ac- 
cording to character as well as give them character 

it can give us a glorious Bible in words as well 

as a glorious Bible in worlds — in short, it can do 
whatever Theism commonly attributes to God. 
Which is the harder — to make the arithmetical 
machine of Babbage, or to use it as it ought to be 
used? No, the Something that can make a man 


after a manner of infinite wisdom, can go on to deal 
with him, when made, after a manner of infinite 
wisdom. The potential Fog-Bank which is able to 
make men who can treat other men according to 
character, can itself treat them after the same man- 
ner of discrimination. So what do our atheists 
gain ? What is their compensation for espousing 
the hypothesis that is the most intricate and far- 
fetched and uncertain and hazardous and hurtful 
and homely and hostile to the convictions and tra- 
ditions of mankind? Their costly scheme — for 
the sake of which they are at the trouble and un- 
reasonableness of such holocaust sacrifice of philos- 
ophy and taste and utility and venerable traditions 
• — their costly scheme leaves men open to just as 
formidable possibilities as does Theism. The sin- 
ner has just as much reason to tremble before that 
astute Cauldron of mechanical and chemical forces 
that can make such a universe as this as he has to 
tremble before a personal God. Those are won- 
derful orbs yonder — this is a wonderful earth here 
with its packed life — even this single humanity of 
ours, body and soul, is an inexhaustible wonder to 
the most dynamical philosophy — full well do we 
know that the grandest man would have to de- 
velop into infinite proportions of intelligence and 
power before he could produce such an astounding 
universe as we behold — and, what I have to say 
is, that the primal Fire-Cloud which can organize 
such a universe as this which only an infinite man 


could organize, can, like such a man, practically 
discriminate between our righteousness and un- 
righteousness, and can, like him, pursue that un- 
righteousness as an unutterable Nemesis through 
all space and duration. Such a crafty Nebula is as 
fearful as God — only it can neither love nor be 
loved. It is as fearful as God to a sinner — though 
the atheist will never beheve it, but will, while 
treating law as if almighty and all-wise for fash- 
ioning things, treat it as all-weak and all-foolish for 
the purpose of moral government. 





By Rev. E. F. BURR, D.D. 

1 vol. 16mo, 198 pp. Price, $1.25. New Edition. Sep' prepaid by maU 
on receipt of price. 


117 Washington Street, Boston. 

The Publishers request special attention to the following un* 
solicited testimonials, which have been received from sourcea 
worthy of regard. 

From Rev. W. A. Stearns, D.D., LL.D., President of Amherst College. 
** I have read it with great profit and admiration. It is a grand 
production, — very clear and satisfactory, scientifically considered ; 
very exalted and exalting in spirit and manner ; and exhibiting a 
wealth of appropriate emotion and expression which surprises me. 
May the life and health of the author be spared to show still 
further that God is and that His works are great, sought out of 
them that have pleasure therein," 

From Rev. Horace Bushnell, D.D. 
** I have not been so much fascinated by any book for a long 
time, — never by a book on that particular subject. It is popu- 
larised in the form, yet not evaporated in the substance, — it 
tingles with life all through, — and the wonder is, that, casting off 
BO much of the paraphernalia of science, and descending, for the 
most pan, to common language, it brings out, not so much, but so 
much more of the meaning. I have gotten a better idea of AstroD 


amy, as a whole, from it than 1 ever got before from all 3thei 
goiirces, — more than from Enfield's great book, which I once care- 
fully worked out, eclipses and all. 

" I trace the progress made, and the methods of the same, and 
seize on the exact status of things at the point now reached." 

From the Dihliotheca Sacra. 
" This is a remarkable book, — one of the most remarkable 
which has proceeded from the American press for a long time. It 
lifts the reader fairly into the heavens and unveils their glories. 
The presentation is very full though concentrated, very clear and 
animating, — with a command of language and a glow of eloquence 
which is quite extraordinary. The last lecture is hardly less than 
a Te Deum. The only adverse criticism which, on reading the 
preparatory lecture, we were incUned to make, was, that tlie almost 
impassioned eloquence with which it opened would have be=n 
more impressive further on, and after the imagination had been 
excited by the facts. But, after finishing the last Lecture, we 
could not wonder that a mind so full of the great facts, and of the 
emotion which they necessarily kindle, should, on seeing his own 
parish charge assembled to listen, break forth in strains whicht none 
but a mind fully roused by his theme and his audience would 
have been able to utter. No person can read through this volume 
without mental exaltation, and a conviction of the peculiar ability 
of the author." 

From the New Englander. 
" It presents an admirable r(fsum^ of the sublime teachings ot 
Astronomy, as related to religion, — a series of brilliant 
pen-photographs of the Wonders of the Heavens, as part of God's 
glorious handiwork. The first five lectures pass the science in 
rapid review ; the last treats of the Author of Nature, as related to 
its leading features. There is not a dry page in the volume, but 
much originality and vigor of style, and often the highes' elo- 
quence. It is, withal, evidently by an author at home in his sub- 
|ect, not " crammed " for the task. It affords a fine example of 
what an intelligent pastor can do, outside of his piilpit, towards 
training an intelligent people, and by imparting to them Nature's 

teachings, leading "through Nature up to Nature's God," — the 
God of Revelation as well. To such a book the author need not 
hesitate to affix his name." 

^nm Rev. A. P. Peabody, D.D., LL.D., Preacher to Harvard University^ 
and Plummer Professor of Chinslian Morals. 

" Permit me to thank you for a work in which you have effected 
a rare union of scientific accuracy, eloquent diction, and rich de- 
votional sentiment. It is attractive, instructive, and edifying. It 
appears at a time when science needs, as never before, to be 
redeemei and sanctified by faith in Him, in whom are hidden all 
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And, best of all, it does 
not make Religion cringe to Science, but maintains her in that 
queenly status which is the only position she can hold. The book 
must do great good, and I heartily congratulate you as its author." 

From Rev. S. H. Ball, D.D. 
" Ecce Coelum is much more than a book-success. It will be 
honored as a most timely and admirable treatise to put into the 
.land of thoughtful young people, to ' turn off their minds from 
vanity,' and lead them to God." 

Frovi the New- York Evangelist. 
" This unpretending, though elegant little volume, gives a most 
admirable popular summary of the results of Astronomical Sci- 
ence. The author has evidently mastered his subject, and he has 
presented it in a most striking manner, adapted to the comprehen- 
sion of the common reader, and enriched with i)ertinent illus- 
trations. The book is perhaps the most fascinating treatise on the 
Bcence which has been published of late years, ranking indeed 
in many respects with that of the. late lamented and eloquent 
Mitchell. One of its excellencies is that it does not hide God 
behind his own creation.'" 

From the Religious Berald. 
" A New Book, and one that is a book, worth its weight in 
gold or diamonds, for it is full of gold and precious gems, — di»- 
mends of law and fact, — truths beamiug with celestial light. I 

•peak of *Ecce Coelum/ from the pen of Eev. Enoch F. Burr, 
D.D., of Lyme, Conn., published bj x>ichols & Noyes, Boston, a 
duodecimo of 198 pages. Mr. Burr modestly signs himself ' A 
Connecticut Pastor,' but some college has rent the vail and written 
out his full name, and added to it a D.D. So much the better for 
Connecticut and for the world. Such light as the book containn 
ought not to be under a bushel. 

'* These six Parish Lectures are a masterly, vivid, easy, sub- 
lime presentation of the enchanting facts of Astronomy. They 
are adapted to all classes, — the learned and the unlearned. The 
astounding glories of the skies are tempered to our humble eyes. 

" Let all read the book, old and young. Let it be found in 
every school, in every library, and .in every home where wisdom 
is invoked. Eead it, and you will exclaim, what glorious light it 
sheds from the throne of God upon the lonely pathway of man ! " 

From C. H. Balsbaugh, of Pennsylvania. 
" It is certainly a wonderful little book. How the world 
shrinks into an atom as we follow the lofty soarings of the ' Con- 
necticut Pastor.' I never knew rightly what Dr. Young means 
by saying, * an undevout Astronomer is mad ; ' but I now see and 
feel the power and beauty of the expression. Such a book cannot 
be read without laying upon us the responsibility of a new charge 
from heaven. After contemplating such grandeur, we instinctively 
exclaim, ' What is man that Thou art mindful of him 1 * " 

From Hon. S. L. Seklen, Late Chief Justice of New YorJe. 
" A beautiful book. I admire it for the elegance of its style, as 
well as for the lucid and able manner in which it presents the 
noblest of the sciences. It will prove, I think, very valuable, not 
merely for the knowledge it communicates, but as suggestive of a 
.ine of noble and elevated thought. And I am much pleased to see 
from the numerous notices which have come under my observa- 
tion that my estimate is confirmed by many persons of the first 
capacity for judging. To have written a work which receives 
and deserves such very high praise from scholars and men of 
science cannot but be a source of great gratification to the 





From the Theological Eclectic, [Edited by Professor Day, Schaff, etc.] 

"The style is remarkably graphic and elastic, and the matter h 
so skilfully grouped and lucidly stated as to be level to all classes 
of readers. The writer has a rare gift at popularizing science, 
and his book deserves the wide welcome it has received." 

From the New York Observer. 
" We have never yet seen a volume on Astronomy that seemed 
to us to explain more intelligently, to ordinary minds, the visible 
phenomena of the heavenly bodies." 

From the Congregationalist. 
" We advise all our readers who have not yet read the book 
entitled ' Ecce Coelum,' to embrace their earliest opportunity to 
do so, — a book which certainly has been surpassed by nothing 
of this general line, for many years, if ever. There is a grandeur 
of conception — an easy grasp of great facts — a clear apprehen- 
sion of deep and subtle relations — a power to see, and make 
others see, the nature and extent of the heavenly movements, 
such as are altogether wonderful. Many works have been writ- 
ten from time to time to popularize astronomy— to bring its 
great leading features within the compass of unscientific minds. 
But we do not know of a work in which this has been so finely 
done as in 'Ecce Coelum.' Six lectures of about an hour each, 
tell the story, and the reader feels, all the while, as if he were 
upon a triumphal march. He is upborne and sustained by his 

puide, so that he has no sense of labor and weariness on V«8 
journey. Tbe last chapter, on ' The Aivthor of Nature,' is a 
most worthy and fitting close to the book. We wish it could be 
read by that great host of so-called scientific men, who are delv- 
ing away in the mines of nature, with thoughts and purposes 
materialistic and half atheistic. They need the tonic of such 
Christian thinking as this." 

From Hours at Home. 
" This little book, from the pen of Rev. E. F. Burr, D.D., has 
already been noticed extensively and pronounced a * remarkable 
book ' by our best critics. The author first delivered the sub- 
stance of it to his own people in familiar lectures. It presents a 
clear and succinct resume of the sublime teachings of astronomy, 
especially as related to natural religion. The theme is an in- 
spiring one, and the author is master of his subject, and handles 
it with rare tact, and succeeds as few men have ever done in 
giving an intelligent view of the wonders of astronomy, accord- 
ing to the latest researches and discoveries. It is indeed an 
eloquent and masterly production." 

From Harper's Monthly. 
" The title page of ' Ecce Coelum ' is the poorest page in the 
book. We have seen nothing since the days of Dr. Chalmer's 
Astronomical Discourses equal in their kind to these six simple 
lectures. By an imagination which is truly contagious the 
writer lifts us above the earth and causes us to wander for a 
time among the stars. The most abstruse truths he succeeds in 
translating into popular forms. Science is with him less a study 
than a poem, less a poem than a form of devotion. The writer 
who can convert the Calculus into a fairy story, as Dr. Burr has 
done, may fairly hope that no theme can thwart the solving 
power of his imagination. An enthusiast in science, he is also 
an earnest Christian at heart. He makes no attempt to recon- 
cile science and religion, but writes as with a charming ignor- 
ance that any one had ever been so absurdly irrational as to 
imagine that they were ever at variance." 

From the Evangelist. 
" We have had many inquiries in regard to the authorship of 
*Ecce Coelum,' the volume noticed somewhat at length two 

weeks since. To save writing a number of letters, we may say 
here, that the Country Pastor, who is the author of these six 
Lectures on ' Parish Astronomy,' is the Rev. E. F. Burr, D.D., 
of Lyme, Ct. The book is a 16mo of about two hundred 
pages, but in that small compass it comprises the results of long 
study, and will be found as instructive as it is eloquent. The 
grandest truths are made level to the plainest understanding. 
We took it up, expecting little from its humble pretensions, but 
soon found that it was all compact with scientific knowledge, 
yet glowing with religious faith, and were not surprised that Dr. 
Bushnell should say he ' had not been so fascinated by any book 
for a long time — never by a book on that subject ' — and that it 
had given him ' a better idea of astronomy than he ever got be- 
fore from all other sources.' We don't know if they have many 
Buch ministers ' lying around ' in the country parishes of Con- 
necticut, but if so it must be a remarkable State. 

" While the impression of this fascinating volume is fresh in 
mind," etc. 

From Rev. G. W. Andrews, D.D., President of Marietta College. 

" The author has succeeded admirably in his attempt to pre- 
sent the great facts of Astronomical Science in such form as to 
be intelligible to those who have not gone through with a 
thorough mathematical training, and to make them intensely in- 
teresting to all classes of readers. I cannot express more strong- 
ly the interest the volume excited than by saying that I read 
through at once. I can hardly remember when I have done the 
saine with another work." 

From Rev. Edwin Hall, D.D., President of Auburn Theological Seminary 
"I received it last night, and have read it through with intense 
interest and delight. It is a worthy book on a mighty theme. 
I wish it might be in every household, and read by everybody. 
And I am sure it will be read with admiration and wonder long 
after the author shall have been gathered to his fathers." 

From Rev. ProfE. W. Hooker, D. D. 
" The book is an admirable argument from the discoveries of 
modern Astronomers, for the existence of God ; and indirectly 
for the truth of the Gospel. It is an honor to his kindred, to the 

Church and the place of his birth, and, above all, to Him whose gos. 
pel he preaches." 

From an Obituary of Rev. S. L. Pomroy, D.D., late Secretary of the 
A. B. a F. M. 

" He was a man of extensive information, a ripe scholar, and he 
retained his scholarly habits and tastes to the last. A few weeks 
since he read 'Ecce Coelum' with great pleasure and satisfaction, 
When he returned it he remarked, ' I have read it all twice, parts of 
it three times, and have noted down certain passages.' He was spec- 
ially delighted with the arrangement of the work — the grouping of 
the different system so as to give us something like a comprehensive 
idea of the grand whole." 

From the Congregational Quarterly. 

That a Connecticut Pastor should be able in six lectures to his peo- 
ble to shed more light on this profound subject — to make it more 
simple and yet more grand, amazing, and impressive — than many 
of the great masters who have written before him is a matter of sur- 
prise. Yet this seems to be the generally conceded opinion of the 
press. We hear but one testimony concerning Ecce Coelum. Any 
intelligent reader of it can understand what before has been only a 
mystery. It is worthy of the widest circulation. 

From the Lawrence American. 

There is not a dry page in these six lectures ; but the glories of the 
skies are presented in a most enchanting manner, vivid, popular, 
grand, and glowing. Young and old should read it. 

From The Christian Union. 
We can commend this book in the heartiest manner. It is one of the 
noblest examples of the moral uses of astronomy that have appeared 
gince Chalmer's astronomical sermons. Besides their intrinsic 
merit, these lectures show what may be done by a quiet pastor of a 
village church for the instruction of his people. Every preacher has 
not the equipment required for a course of scientific lectures : but 
"where there is a will there is a way," and much more might bo 
done than is done in broadening a pastor's literary education and Ir 
raising the literary tastes of his people.