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Full text of "The unrealized logic of religion, a study in credibilities"

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THE LIBRARY 

of 
VICTORIA UNIVERSITY 

Toronto 



THE UNREALIZED LOGIC 
OF RELIGION 



The 35th Fernley Lecture 

THE 

UNREALIZED LOGIC 
OF RELIGION 

A STUDY IN CREDIBILITIES 



BY 

W. H. FITCHETT, B.A., LL.D. 

AUTHOR OP 
1 DEEDS THAT WOK THB EMPIRE, HOW ENGLAND SAVED EUROPE," BTC. 



ELEVENTH THOUSAND 



ILonfcon 
CHARLES H. KELLY 

CASTLE BT., CITY ROAD, AND 26 PATERNOSTER ROW, R.C. 
1906 



BT 

no; 



STOR 



PRINTED BV 

WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, 
LONDON AND BECCLES. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION 
n 
RELIGION AND ITS LOGIC , 



BOOK I 
IN HISTORY 

I. THE LOGIC OF THE CHANGED CALENDAR . . .15 

II. THE LOGIC OP THE KEYSTONE AND THE ARCH . . 27 
III. THE LOGIC OF THE MISSIONABY .... 41 

BOOK II 
IN SCIENCE 

I. THE IRRELEVANT LOGIC OF SIZE .... 55 
II. THE LOGIC OF OUR RELATION TO NATURE . . 68 

III. THE LOGIC OF VERIFICATION 87 

IV. THE LOGIC OF THE SUNSET 101 

BOOK III 

IN PHILOSOPHY 
L THE LOGIC OF PROPORTION . . . . 119 

II. THE LOGIC OF OURSELVES 130 

III. THE LOGIC OF THE INFINITESIMAL 149 



vi Contents 



BOOK IV 
IN LITERATURE 

CHAPTBB rAOH 

I. THE LOGIC OF AN HYPOTHESIS . . . . .161 
II. THE LOGIC OF HUMAN SPEECH . 18U 



BOOK V 

IN SPIRITUAL LIFE 

I. THE LOGIC OF ANSWERED PBAYERS . . . .195 
II. THE LOGIC OF DESIGN IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD . 205 

BOOK VI 

IN COMMON LIFE 

I. THE LOGIC OF UNPROVED NEGATIVES . . .219 

II. THE LOGIC OF HALF-KNOWLEDGE .... 232 

III. THE LOGIC or THE UNLEARNED .... 247 

EPILOGUE 2G9 



THE UNREALIZED LOGIC 
OF RELIGION 

INTRODUCTION 
Religion and its Logic 

Syllogistic reasoning la utterly inadequate to the subtlety of 
nature. BACON, Novum Oryanum. 

The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but 
through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the 
testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persona 
influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. 
Many a man will live and die upon a dogma ; no man will be a 
martyr for a conclusion. NEWMAN. 

THERE exists a somewhat distressful form of 
religious literature known as the Evidences 
of Christianity, in which we have the argu 
ment for the Christian faith set out at length, and on 
a scheme of what may be called scheduled logic. We 
are offered evidences external and internal ; proofs 
direct, indirect, and collateral ; arguments a priori, a 
posteriori, and intuitional. The whole is a demonstra 
tion of the Christian faith which derives its cogency 
from the facts of history, the frame of the physical 
universe, the characteristics of the Bible itself. No 

B 



2 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

one desires to speak disrespectfully of this demonstra 
tion* It is a stately structure of proof, with deep 
foundations and sky-piercing summits. 

But to master the scientific and formal evidences 
of Christianity is the business of experts. For the 
man in the street, the man whose business is not 
theology, or literature, or scholarship, life is too brief, 
duty too urgent, the hours too swift and crowded, to 
make any adequate study of these evidences possible. 
"Who, moreover, can afford to wait for a faith till it is 
built up, course after course, on a foundation of scientific 
argument ? Nay, if we have mastered this great and 
technical demonstration, for practical purposes we must 
forget it. Who goes back to the categories of formed 
logic in search of a tonic for a sick faith? Religion, 
in a sense, is never a deduction; it is, to quote 
Newman, a message, or a history, or a vision. 

Sir Oliver Lodge, with a logic too daring for most 
of us, contends that we err by linking our religious 
beliefs too closely, or at least too exclusively, to specific 
historical facts facts that occurred in a definite locality, 
at a definite moment of time, and are sustained by a 
more or less convincing array of direct evidence. We 
have such facts; they are unchallengeable; but it is 
possible to give them a mistaken place and value in the 
scheme of religious proof. It is the absence of any 
thing like a material foundation/ says Sir Oliver 
Lodge, 1 which makes the earth so secure. If it were 
1 Lecture at Midland Institute, Birmingham, October 24, 1904. 



Religion and its Logic 3 

based upon a pedestal, or otherwise solidly supported, 
we should be anxious as to the stability or durability 
of the support, and we should have a royal commission 
sitting on it/ As it is, the earth floats securely in the 
liquidness of space. 

The stability, balance, and order of the planet, its 
amazing wedlock of swiftest movement and of exquisite 
and unjarring equipoise, all depend, in a word, not on one 
specific force or fact, but on the innumerable harmonies 
of a thousand forces. And Sir Oliver Lodge invites us to 
accept this as a parable of Christianity. To conceive 
of Christianity/ he says, as built on any physical or 
historic fact is dangerous. It is dangerous, not be 
cause the facts do not exist, or cannot be proved ; but 
because to limit the area of proof to them is to give up 
whole realms of other, and sometimes of nobler, evidence. 
Whereas to base it upon the primary facts of conscious 
ness, or on direct spiritual experience, as Paul did, 
1 this, says the great scientist, is safe. 

But beyond even the primary facts of consciousness, 
or the direct spiritual experience of this saintly spirit 
or that, is the argument derived from the harmony of 
all facts and of all experiences. And for Christianity, 
what better proof can be asked than its profound, 
unbroken, multiform harmony with the laws on which 
the universe is built, with the facts of history, and with 
the unbroken spiritual experience of the race ; a harmony 
which is expressed in a thousand forms, and can be 
verified in a thousand ways ? 



4 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Newman, in his Grammar of Assent, had, long 
before Sir Oliver Lodge, taken much the same ground. 
Formal logical sequence/ he says, is not the method 
by which we are to become certain of what is concrete. 
. . . The real and necessary method ... is the accu 
mulation of probabilities, independent of each other, 
arising out of the nature and circumstances of the 
particular case which is under review probabilities 
too fine to avail separately, too subtle and circuitous to 
be converted into syllogisms, too numerous and various 
for such conversion, even were they convertible. De 
fenders of Christianity/ he goes on to say, are 
tempted to select as reasons for belief, not the highest, 
the truest, the most sacred, the most intimately per 
suasive, but such as best admit of being exhibited in 
argument, and these are commonly not the real 
reasons in the case of religious men. 

It is certain there are proofs of the truth and divinity 
of religion which lie closer to us than those formal 
arguments of which we have spoken, and are of quite 
another type. They do not need to be drawn out into 
syllogisms; perhaps they cannot be so drawn out. 
They are incidental, infinitely various, apparently un 
related to each other ; seen vividly at times, and yet at 
other times lost to sight. They are not, perhaps, 
usually recognized as proofs/ yet their evidential 
value is of great and perpetually expanding scale. 
Literature and life grow richer in them every day. 
They break upon us as surprises from unexpected 



Religion and its Logic 5 

quarters, they multiply as the mind grows in the habit 
of meditation. 

It is not easy to describe them, or to assess them. 
Sometimes they consist of correspondences analogies 
unexpectedly discovered, high as the roof of the heavens 
and deep as the soul of man betwixt the physical and 
the spiritual ; harmonies suddenly made audible betwixt 
faith and science, betwixt things in the material, and 
things in the spiritual, order. Sometimes they take the 
form of spiritual intuitions strangely verified ; of great 
spiritual truths found hidden in physical facts, and 
suddenly breaking out from them. 

Every one accustomed to think much on religious 
things knows how now at this point, now at that 
they grow unexpectedly luminous. An astronomer 
to borrow an illustration from the physical realm sees 
in the night sky a stain of white vapour. He turns 
the disc of the great telescope upon it, and lo! the 
vapour slowly resolves itself into tiny points of fire. 
As he still watches, these tiny points of fire expand 
into a constellation of stars. What was a patch of 
mere structureless vapour presently becomes to the 
wondering eye a cluster of planets, moving in majestic 
order through the depths of space. 

And in the same way there are facts in science, or 
history, or in everyday life which to-day are regarded 
as absolutely secular. But a gleam of spiritual meaning 
becomes dimly recognizable in them, and they are seen 
to be illustrations, broken and imperfect, of divine 



6 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

truth. Then as the mind dwells on them the light 
grows. Its area widens. What were only illustrations 
become analogies. They brighten into revelations. 

Sometimes what we have called the unrealized logic 
of religion is found in a vision of the contrast betwixt 
the majestic structure of Christian faith, standing un- 
destroyed while centuries pass, and the broken and 
forgotten shapes of unbelief which have opposed it. 
The centuries are strewn with the wrecks of forgotten 
unbeliefs, of theories intended to refute Christianity and 
to take its place. No one has written yet, or has 
written adequately, the history of unbelief; but when 
that is done it will be one of the most powerful argu 
ments for faith the human mind knows. Sometimes, 
again, a glimpse of what may be called the whole trend 
of the accumulating knowledge of the race constitutes 
a new and hitherto unrecognized argument for religion. 
Who can fail to see, for example, that steadily, and with 
fast-growing momentum, the scientific interpretation of 
the universe turns in the direction of Christianity ? 

The purely materialistic reading of the universe is 
by all serious thinkers at least discredited. Matter 
in its last analysis is found to be only a mode of Force ; 
and Force, when analysed, is the expression of Will ; 
and Will is the quality of a Person. And so science 
itself, drawing aside one obscuring veil after another, 
is showing us dimly seen behind all veils the figure 
of a personal and ever-working Creator. We do not 
always see this ; but when it is seen, how the vision 



Religion and its Logic 7 

reinforces faith ! We have only to contrast such typical 
scientists as Lord Kelvin and Sir Oliver Lodge with, 
say, Tyndall or Haeckel, to realize what may be called 
the drift of science. 

Sometimes, again, this evidence of the final truth 
of religion takes darker shapes ; it speaks with sterner 
accents. It may take the shape of pain ; pain that 
awakens suddenly, and we know not how, or whence, 
in the innermost chamber of the spirit ; strange fears 
that witness to the existence of moral forces; a dis 
quiet which has the conscience as its instrument, and 
the deepest susceptibilities of the human soul for its 
field. If there be a God/ says Dalgairns, our 
imagination would present Him to us as inflicting -nain 
on the violator of His law ; and, lo ! the imagination 
turns out to be an experienced fact ; the Unknowable 
suddenly stabs me to the heart. 

A sense of the resistless logic of religion is sometimes 
awakened as we realize how the accumulated witness 
of all godly souls, in every land and throughout every 
age, arrays itself on this side. John saw in vision the 
great victorious host of heaven, and heard the loud 
voice saying, Now is come salvation and strength, 
and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His 
Christ ; and that mighty and triumphant host, he is 
told, overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the 
word of their testimony. And that testimony is 
surely an instrument of victorious power for Christi 
anity ; the witness of those -in all ages, under all skies, 



The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

who have lived by it, loved it, verified it, found in it 
the secret of strength and of victory. And the sound 
of that great and accumulating testimony deepens con 
tinually. It grows in volume and majesty. Every 
day adds to it; every saintly life and every happy 
deathbed increases its authority. Who realizes that 
has a new and exultant sense of the truth of religion. 

The strange half-seen unities, again, which run 
through religion, when for a moment realized, give a 
new and overwhelming sense of its divinity. Every 
one knows the subtle and persistent correspondences 
which link the physical universe into unity, and prove 
that unity. Let an atom of hydrogen be taken from 
the belt of Orion, or from the central sun of the Pleiades, 
and from a kitchen fire. They have never touched. 
They have no physical relations with each other. All 
the vast distances of utmost space part them. And 
yet, when tested, they yield exactly the same results ! 
Put these two tiny jets of hydrogen flame, lit from such 
far-off fires, to the test of the spectrum analysis ; they 
register themselves in the same belts of colour, in 
exactly the same order. They will do it always, no 
matter what hand applies the test. 

All the duties, truths, and doctrines of Christianity 
have the same mysterious unity of structure. When put 
to an adequate test a test that has for them the office 
the spectrum analysis has for light they yield the same 
characteristics. And this is the scientific proof that 
they have one source ; they reflect one creative Mind. 



Religion and its Logic 9 

These incidental evidences of religion abound in 
secular life, and take the shape of a logic that repeats, 
in its own dialect, and in accents of authority, all the 
great demands of religion. Sometimes this incidental 
proof is found in the axiomatic logic of the instinctive 
reason asserting itself; a suddenly realized sense of 
what the spiritual consciousness declares, and of the 
finality of its witness. Sometimes it is the gift of a 
vision, all too rarely caught, and too easily lost, of the 
true perspective of history; a realized vision of cen 
turies, and ages, and nations, and civilizations, moving 
under the impulse of a divine purpose and towards a 
divine end. 

History, to sum up, is rich in these examples of 
what may be called the undeciphered, or the half- 
deciphered, logic of Christian faith. They abound in 
science ; they meet us in everyday life. They lurk in 
our very senses ; they whisper to us in the most secret 
chambers of the soul. Sometimes they shed the white 
light of certainty on truths hitherto only half seen. 
Sometimes they make the duty at our feet suddenly 
luminous, and clothe it with peremptory authority for 
the conscience. Sometimes they open an unexpected 
window of vision into some vast chamber of the spiritual 
world ; they yield a glimpse of some spiritual law run 
ning through all time, and all realms, and touching all 
souls. 

To an electrician the characteristic and proof of a 
live wire consists in the fact that when tested, no 



io The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

matter how often, at points no matter how widely 
separate from each other, mysterious currents of energy 
within the wire instantly answer, and answer in the 
same terms. And it may be said that history, the 
physical universe, the facts of our daily life, the very 
make of our spiritual nature, if tested adequately, give 
in one form or another instant and definite response ; 
and these responses are an infinitely varied chain of 
proofs of the reality of religion. 

To the poet s ear, as Wordsworth long ago taught 
us, the world is full of messages 

The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep 

I hear the echoes through the mountains throng. 
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep 

all bringing strange meanings. To the child s eye, 
again, strange visions come 

Thou blest philosopher who yet dost keep 
Thy heritage; thou eye amongst the blind, 

That, deaf and silent, read st the eternal deep, 
Haunted for ever by the eternal Mind. 

But to the devout spirit, to which is linked the 
simplicity of the child s heart, come visions, too, such 
as neither poet nor child can know. The whole world 
at some moment grows luminous. God s very presence 
not merely the print of His foot or the signature of 
His Hand is on every side. The universe is a vast 
whispering-gallery, and the inner ear catches messages 



Religion and its Logic n 

of which the outward senses know nothing. Nature 
itself thus seen is written over with divine hieroglyphics. 
No one has collected these incidental and suddenly 
realized proofs into a system; perhaps they cannot be 
systematized. Their spontaneity, their number, their 
unexpectedness, the widely separated points at which 
they appear, their very unrelatedness, constitute their 
value. But they are all of the class we have tried 
describe-correspondences suddenly discovered betwixt 
the physical and the spiritual order, showing the same 
Mind behind both; analogies proving that through all 
realms that Mind is working towards the same ends ; 
justifications of the terms of religion breaking in on us 
from the laws of secular life; vast outlines of a moral 
order, and of a moral purpose, shining through the 
entanglements and bewilderments of human history. 

Is there any logic known to the human reason like 
the logic found in the answer of the chambers of a 
lock to the wards of the key that opens it ? If key 
and lock fit, the debate ends. And to a degree which 
is very imperfectly realized, at a thousand points, and 
in a thousand ways, beyond expectation-sometimes 
even against expectation-this logic is arraying itself 
on the side of Christian faith. 

The chapters which follow are designedly spread 
over a wide area of topics ; they deal with what seem 
unrelated subjects, and that, the writer ventures to 
think, constitutes their value. Their aim is to show 
that when widely separated points in literature, history, 



12 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

science, philosophy, and common life are tried by their 
relation to religion, they instantly fall into logical 
terms with it. 

Incidentally, it may be added, the chapters are a 
study of what may be called opposing credibilities. 
Faith has its difficulties; but the incredibilities of 
unbelief, when tested at any point, are so vast, that 
their mere scale constitutes a new argument for 
Christian belief. There are harmonies everywhere and 
discords nowhere. 



BOOK I 
IN HISTORY 



CHAPTER I 
The Logic of the Changed Calendar 

Christ . . . who, being the holiest amongst the mighty, 
the mightiest amongst the holy, lifted with His pierced hand 
empires off their hinges, turned the stream of centuries out of its 
channel, and still governs the ages. JEAN PAUL RICHTEB. 

NO one stops to ask for an explanation of one 
of the strangest facts, not only in historical 
literature, but in the living world ; the fact 
that all civilized time is dated from the birth of Jesus 
Christ. This is the twentieth century ; and from what 
event are those twenty centuries counted ? From the 
birth of a Jew, who, on the sceptical theory, if he 
ever existed, was a peasant in an obscure province in 
a far-off age ; who wrote no book, made no discovery, 
invented no philosophy, built no temple ; a peasant 
who died when, as men count years, he had scarcely 
reached his prime, and died the death of a criminal. 
And even before his death the little band of disciples 
he had succeeded in gathering, all forsook him and fled. 
This is a story written in all the characters of defeat. 
Yet civilized time is dated from the birth of this Jew ! 
The centuries carry His signature, and the years of the 



1 6 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

modern world are labelled by universal consent the 
years of our Lord. 

And no one knows how it came to be done, or 
when, or by whom. Not one educated man out of a 
thousand can tell, off-hand, why all civilized calendars 
are reckoned from that far-off birth in a little Jewish 
village. Every morning all the newspapers of the 
civilized world though some of them fill their columns 
with attacks on Jesus Christ readjust their date to 
His cradle. Each new year, as it arrives, is baptized 
with His name. Calendars and Acts of Parliament, 
business, and politics, and literature the very dates 
on our cheques and letters all are thus unconsciously 
adjusted to the chronology of Christ s life. 

To write a human signature on Time itself, to put 
a human name on the brow of the hurrying centuries 
this is a marvellous achievement ! Caesar has not 
done it, nor Shakespeare, nor Newton. Genius is vain 
to accomplish such a task ; the sword is vain ; wealth 
is vain. But this Jew has done . it ! Plato was a 
teacher, and Socrates was a martyr, with elements of 
artistic interest and of human power which might be 
thought to surpass anything associated with Jesus 
Christ. Plato taught on a larger stage, belonged to a 
more imperial race, and spoke a richer language than 
the carpenter s son of Nazareth. Socrates drank the 
cup of hemlock to an accompaniment of philosophic 
discourse such as never was heard in Galilean villages. 
He talked the language of Homer and Aeschylus, not 



The Logic of the Changed Calendar 17 

the rude Aramaic of Jewish peasants. The philosophy 
of Plato, the dialogues of Socrates, are studied yet in 
all the universities of the world. But the world does 
not reckon its time from Plato or Socrates ; from 
Alexander, or Caesar, or Marcus Aurelius ; from Greek 
Olympiads or Eoman Consulates. It dates its time 
from One who, as unbelief explains Him, was merely 
a Jewish peasant, and who died the death of a 
criminal ! 

Christian men as they dwell on this strange thing 
know that it is no accident. It is a sign writ large 
on Time itself, of the empire of Him who is the Lord 
of Time. But if we accept the theory of those who 
reject Christ, the very almanac of the modern world 
is an incredible absurdity. How does it come to pass, 
we repeat, that not by accident, not by some conspiracy 
of fanatics, not by the force of any imperial edict, but 
by a convergence of silent, unrecognized, almost un 
conscious forces, all civilized time is baptized into the 
name of Jesus Christ ? 

To have some common measure of time is, of 
course, a necessity of organized society; and in a 
thousand ways the attempt has been made to establish 
such a universal time-measure. But all these attempts 
save one have failed. The trouble is to find an 
adequate starting-point for the calendar. It must be 
an event, or a person, or an institution universally 
known; some one, or something, which has left an 
enduring mark on the imagination of mankind. And 

c 



1 8 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

the scale of the event from which mankind consents, 
or is compelled, to count its years, may be measured 
by the geographical area over which that date is 
accepted as a starting-point of time, and the number 
of centuries through which it keeps that great office. 
A world-shaking victory, the foundation of some many- 
centuried city, the birth of a dynasty or of a creed, 
the beginning of a revolution such an event, it might 
reasonably be expected, would give time a new starting- 
point. And it has a curious effect to look back and 
see how many starting-points have been set up, were 
visible for a moment, and are now forgotten. 

History is strewn thick with these forgotten way- 
marks of time Greek Olympiads, Koman Consulates, 
Babylonian Eponyms. For centuries the mystic letters 
A.u.c. were a witness that the world s time was dated 
from the foundation of the great city on the Tiber. One 
calendar dates from Alexander the Great, another from 
Julius Caesar. Pharsalia and Actium were battles that 
changed the course of history, and each in turn was 
taken as a starting-point for the world s almanac. 

But no conqueror s sword has ever cut deeply 
enough on Time to leave an enduring mark. The 
Julian era, the Alexandrian era, the era of the Seleu- 
cidae all have had their little day and vanished. 
The martyrdoms of Diocletian could not burn deeply 
enough into the calendar to leave a lasting mark there. 
The Aera Martyrum is forgotten. The Indictions of 
all names imperial and pontificial have fled like 



The Logic of the Changed Calendar 19 

shadows. There is for civilized men but one enduring, 
universally recognized starting-point of civilized time. 
It is that which dates from the cradle of Bethlehem ! 

How is this strange fact to be explained ? Did 
a conspiracy of Christ s followers capture all the 
calendars of the race and baptize them by fraud into 
the name of their Master ? No one ventures to suggest 
that explanation. The change was neither achieved by 
fraud nor imposed by authority. It does not represent 
the will of a conqueror, or the arts of priests, or the 
enactment of a despot. Most people would say, on 
general grounds, that we owe the christianization of 
the calendar to the Emperor Constantine. It was he 
who saw the cross in vision, surrounded by the 
shining characters In hoc vinces ; and he stamped 
that cross on the institutions and literature of his time. 
He, first of all the world s rulers, gave to Christianity 
official recognition. 

But as a matter of historic fact he did not writa 
the name of Jesus Christ on the calendar. The famous 
Indictions or tax-periods were his work, and in some 
provinces of the empire they outlasted the empire itself. 
Traces of them, for example, are found in France for 
nearly a thousand years after Constantine. But the 
Indictions had no religious aspect whatever ; they 
simply marked the tax-periods in cycles of fifteen 
years. The most significant and impressire feature in 
the strange change wrought in the calendar is, indeed, 
the silence and the slowness with which it was effected. 



20 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

The process was as independent of human will as tho 
coming of spring, or as the rise of a sea tide and as 
resistless. 

The name of Jesus Christ did not emerge in the 
calendar till five centuries after His death, a space of 
time long enough for Him to have been forgotten had 
He been an impostor. It took another five hundred 
years to become universally accepted as a starting- 
point for historic time. And the process is linked to 
no single human name. Who knows, or cares, any 
thing about Dionysius Exiguus, an obscure Roman 
abbot, who from A.D. 525 had begun, in his Easter 
tables, to count ab incarnatione domini ? As a 
matter of fact, only twelve years after the Easter 
tables of Dionysius Exiguus the Emperor Justinian 
A.D. 537 issued a decree directing that all public 
documents should be dated by the year of the emperor, 
the name of the consul, and the Indiction, or tax- 
period, then current. But only four years later the 
last consul was elected; the office and the name alike 
became shadows ! 

Emperors and consuls have counted for nothing 
against the name of Jesus Christ. By A.D. 525 that 
name had stolen into the imagination of the world. 
It had stamped itself on literature. Greek games, 
IJoman Consulates, mighty emperors, world-famed 
conquerors vanished like hurrying phantoms. Why 
should time be dated ab urbe condita when Eome 
itself had lost bcth empire and fame ? So A.D. took 



The Logic of the Changed Calendar 21 

the place of A.U.C. Only one Name survived; only 
one figure was visible across wide spaces of perished 
time. That name and figure represented the energies 
which were moulding human society to a new pattern ; 
and, as a visible and concrete reflex of that fact, the 
world s time began to be reckoned from the birth of 
Jesus Christ. All that had gone before, all that had 
happened beside, no longer counted. By a deep, un 
conscious, inarticulate, yet irresistible instinct the 
world recognized, and recorded on its almanacs, the 
true starting-point of its life. 

Many attempts have been made since to give 
another point of departure for recorded time. La 
Place, the astronomer, proposed to give stability and 
dignity to human chronology by linking it to the 
stars. Some four thousand years before Christ the 
major axis of the earth s orbit coincided with the line 
of the equinoxes ; in A.D. 1250 they were at right angles 
to each other. Human time, La Place argued, ought 
not to be adjusted to the trivial events and vanishing 
names of earthly history, but to the march of the 
heavenly bodies. Here in the depths of space, and in 
the grouping of the planets, it was possible to find a 
magnificent and unchanging mark to which all human 
calendars might be adjusted. Why not make the 
moment from which the whole earth should count its 
time that at which the line of the equinoxes is at 
right angles to the axis of the earth s orbit? But 
science has not yet redated the almanac, and never will. 



22 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Islam has made a faint and broken mark on the 
calendar. Mohammedan nations count their time from 
the Hegira, A.D. 622. The Moslem almanac was drawn 
up by the Caliph Omar in A.D. 640, only eighteen years 
after the Flight ; and he imposed his calendar on all 
the followers of Mohammed by the logic of the sword. 
Time for them was redated by force ; and still the 
Hegira is confined as a time-measure to a dying creed 
and to a cluster of half-civilized races. 

The most notable attempt in modern days to find 
a new starting-point for civilized time was that under 
taken by France in 1793. The Eevolution was to be 
counted as the Year One ; and that ambitious calendar 
had many things in its favour. It undoubtedly coin 
cided with a political new birth ; and since the 
Eevolution had great passions and forces behind it, 
and great ideals before it, the new date marked the 
beginning of an enduring movement. The world of 
European politics has never been the same since the 
Eevolution, and never will be. The calendar enacted 
by the French Assembly had thus some historic 
justification, and it was adorned with all the artistic 
graces the lively French imagination could invent. 
Its months had poetical names; its festivals bore 
such high-sounding labels as Virtue, Genius, Labour, 
Opinions, Eewards. The revolutionary calendar, in 
brief, had for the Eevolution itself the office of a flag 
and it shared the fate of a flag. It fell with the 
cause it represented. It lasted just thirteen years; 



The Logic of the Changed Calendar 23 

and its only legacy to history is the tangle of names 
and dates with which it confuses the records of those 
thirteen years. 

All the forces known to history, in a word, and 
all the ideas that have authority for the human 
imagination, have been employed to mark the starting- 
point from which the human race may count its 
years; and all have failed. Only one Event towers 
high enough above the horizon of history to serve as a 
landmark and a time-measure for all civilized races. 

Faith, of course, sees in that deep mark on human 
almanacs a mysterious and, as far as human purpose is 
concerned, an undesigned, but all-significant, token of 
ownership. It corresponds to the stamp on the coin. 
It answers the challenge, Whose image and super 
scription is this ? * It is both a sign and a prophecy ; 
a sign that the centuries belong to Christ, a prophecy 
of the fast-coming hour when all that Time includes 
and represents shall bear His signature. 

But what faith sees in the christianized calendar 
is, for our purpose, irrelevant. What adequate and 
intelligible explanation can, on scientific grounds, be 
given of this strange signature of a dead Jew s hand 
on all the almanacs of the living world ? What force 
wrote it there ? Is it a mere historic accident ? Is 
it the result of a reasonless caprice ? It is certainly 
not the result of any conspiracy on the part of 
Christian fanatics. 

The line left by a wave on the sloping beach is 



24 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

slight ; a child s foot can efface it. But it shows where 
the tide has run. It is a measure of the mysterious 
energies, born of the movements of the planets and of 
the unsounded depths of ocean, which cause the tides. 
And so the date on the almanac is a tide-mark, 
and it is the mark of a tide which has known no 
reflux. If a jury of historians had to explain on 
purely historical grounds the letters A.D., which now 
serve universally as a point whence civilized time is 
reckoned, they must report that some force, mysterious 
in origin and quality, and independent of human will, 
but with range and energy sufficient to affect all 
civilized nations, and persistent enough in character 
to run through all the centuries, has somehow put 
the impress of Christ s hand on history. What other 
explanation is possible ? 

Suppose some strange chemical force suddenly 
awoke in all the seas of the planet, crept through all 
their depths, and changed the tint of every wave. No 
one could name the moment when the change took 
place ; no one could guess the cause. But the change 
was visible to man s very senses. Every wave that 
broke reflected the new tint. Would plain men accept 
as a sufficient explanation the theory that a child had 
by accident dropped its box of colours into the sea ? 
Would a conspiracy of chemists explain it? What 
affected the colour of all the seas must be a force as 
wide as the sea, and as deep. 

On the theory that Christ never lived, or that lie 



The Logic of the Changed Calendar 25 

was an impostor, in regard to whom only the visible 
human elements have to be computed, the change in 
the nomenclature of time is the very paradox of his 
tory. Here is a peasant in the darkest age of the 
world; he lived in a subject province; he never 
wrote a sentence which has been preserved; he died 
when he had scarcely reached manhood, and he died 
cast out by his own race, and abandoned by his scanty 
handful of followers. And yet twenty centuries after 
he hung on the cross his birth is accepted, by believers 
and unbelievers alike, as the point whence all the 
centuries must be counted. In Jean Paul Eichter s 
magnificent sentences, the crucified Jew, being the 
holiest amongst the mighty, the mightiest amongst 
the holy, has lifted with His pierced hands empires off 
their hinges, turned the stream of centuries out of its 
channel, and still governs the ages. And all our 
almanacs repeat in unconscious prose, and in un 
rhythmical numerals, that flight of stately rhetoric. 

As Faith with adoring eyes looks on Jesus Christ, 
the cause is scientifically adequate to the effect. It is 
fitting that He who came to transfigure human his 
tory should put the transforming touch of His hand 
on the very records of Time. The Christian centuries 
ought to carry the signature of Christ s name. But 
the unbelief which rejects Christ can have no answer 
to this puzzle. How does it happen, it may be asked, 
that an obscure Jew has done what Alexander and 
Caesar failed to do ; what it would seem an idle 



26 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

absurdity to expect Shakespeare, or Newton, or Napoleon 
to do? 

The incarnate Son of God, the Word made flesh 
who has come into the world s history to shape it 
to a new pattern-it is fitting that to Him all the 
years should pay the unconscious homage of bearin* 
His name. The christianized calendar represents the 
seal of Christ s kingship on Time itself. But to be 
lieve that a remote impostor, in a forgotten province 
of a perished empire, stamped himself so deeply on 
Time as to compel all the centuries to bear his name 
is to believe that a child, with its box of colours, could 
change the tint of all the oceans I 



CHAPTER H 
The Logic of the Keystone and the Arch 

Christian theology means philosophy become Christian. 
ILLIXGWOBTH. 

Pagan literature, philosophy, and mythology, properly under 
stood, were but a preparation for the goepeL The Greek poets and 
sages were in a certain sense prophets ; for " thonghts beyond their 
thoughts to those high bards were given." NEWMAS. 

TWO stately pillars rise from separate bases. 
They are parallel yet distinct. They climb 
upward through space, course on course ; but, 
at a certain point they curve; they converge, and 
approach each other. Yet they do not meet. They 
wait for something different from each, which will 
unite both. They are waiting for the keystone ! Each 
is unfinished, imperfect, fragmentary. But the keystone 
completes them. It turns the fragments into a unit; 
it weds the separate pillars into an arch. 

And there are two movements in history Jewish 
prophecy and Greek philosophy which seem parted 
by a very wide gulf from each other, but which fulfil 
the parable of the keystone and the arch. It is not usual 
to think of them as being twin forces in one great 



28 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

history, factors in a common plan. There is, it is true, 
a curious agreement, in point of time, betwixt them. 
But by geography, language, environment, they are 
utterly divorced. They seem to move in different 
realms. One belongs to secular history, the other to 
sacred. One is moral, the other is intellectual. One 
works by the conscience, the other through the reason. 
One represents an aspiration after holiness ; the other 
is the translation into historic terms of the second 
great hunger of human nature, the hunger of the 
intellect for knowledge. 

Yet the two movements, though each was uncon 
scious, through whole centuries, of the very existence 
of the other, are parallel. Their rise, their climax, 
their point of arrest coincide. Each of itself was 
incomplete, but at a given moment these two separate 
movements strangely approach. They combine. Each 
finds its completion in one sublime, historic event, the 
Incarnation. And the manner of their union, the way 
in which a single historic fact, the entrance into human 
flesh of the Son of God, fulfils both movements, is one 
of the strongest proofs the human intellect can ask that 
behind both was one divine and shaping Will. 

Jewish prophecy is, of course, everywhere recognized 
as a movement in preparation for the Incarnation, and 
the long chain of verified predictions is one of the 
legitimate and familiar arguments drawn from history 
for the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is, perhaps, true 
that at one stage in the fight for the Christian faith 



The Logic of the Keystone and the Arch 29 

the argument from Messianic prophecies was not too 
wisely used. Christian apologists were too anxious to 
discover predictive hints and types on every page of 
Scripture; to catalogue specific prophecies whose ful 
filment could be dated and identified. The wiser 
tendency now is to lay less emphasis on individual 
predictions, but to increase the prophetic significance 
of the whole history of the Jewish people. That his 
tory is a web shot through and through, over its entire 
extent, with Messianic predictions. The history and 
the literature of the Jewish nation alike are unintel- 
licrible if the whisper of a coming Messiah is not heard 
throughout every sentence. 

The whole story of the Jewish people is the tale 
of a nation selected and morally trained to be the 
religious teachers of the race. If the Greek ideal was 
knowledge, and the Koman ideal social order, the 
Jewish ideal was religion. And the very structure of 
Jewish history and institutions is a great interwoven 
scheme of events and institutions, designed to create a 
vocabulary for religion ; to burn in upon the human con 
science the great ideas of religion : the sense of what sin 
means, and of what its penalty must be ; the vision of 
holiness, as it exists in God and as it is imperative 
on man; a message of forgiveness, reached through a 
scheme of mysterious suffering, suffering vicarious in 
character the suffering of the innocent for the guilty. 

And, visibly, Jewish history before the Incarnation 
is a movement towards a sublime goal not yet reached 



30 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Its literature shines with the fore-gleams of a revelation 
still to come. It is incomplete. It bears witness to 
righteousness, and to some approaching and perfect 
triumph of righteousness ; but the goal is still far off. 

Jewish history and religion are thus a movement 
towards a spiritual victory necessary for the happiness 
of the race and for the completion of God s plans, but 
impossible to man as he is, and only to be achieved 
by the appearance of a great and mysterious Deliverer. 
Looked at historically, it is, to quote Illingworth, a 
great, divine idea moving onward with infinite patience 
to its realization. And the prophetic character of 
Judaism, it may be repeated, does not depend on 
specific predictions, but on the drift of the whole 
movement It is all prophetic, through every syllable. 
It points continually forward to something better and 
greater than itself. 

But a parallel, though widely different movement 
is visible throughout the same period in the secular 
realm; and the Christian Church of to-day, which is 
slowly learning how God fulfils Himself in many 
ways, how wide are His plans, and how surely His 
Spirit runs through all human history, can recognize 
that the great movement of the Greek mind in the 
realms of philosophy had a deep, if unconscious, kinship 
with the training of the Jewish people. 

Christianity, of course, is not a philosophy; it is a 
religion. It is not an intellectual theory, but a life ; 
not a discovery, but a revelation. But since philosophy 



The Logic of the Keystone and the Arch 3 1 

deals with knowledge as a whole, and seeks to find the 
underlying unity behind all facts, there must be a 
philosophic aspect to religion, as well as a religious 
aspect to philosophy. And there is in human history 
no more splendid chapter of intellectual effort than 
that of Greek philosophy, from Thales to Aristotle. 
All the great questions that perplex the human mind, 
and which are as old as the race itself, were debated 
in the Greek schools by the keenest intellects the race 
has known. The current questions of to-day as to 
the relation of matter and spirit, the problem of free 
will, the puzzle of human personality, the nature of 
God, the unity of natural law, the ultimate reality 
lying behind all phenomena are to be found in the 
literature of the Greek philosophical schools. 

These problems are co-existent with the human 
mind ; and the modern terms into which we translate 
them ought not to hide the essential identity betwixt 
the questions debated in Greek schools centuries before 
Christ and those over which so much ink is spilt in 
modern newspapers. Nothing that materialism asserts, 
and nothing that agnosticism denies to-day, but was 
asserted, or denied, in Greek philosophy more than 
two thousand years ago. 

Now, Greek philosophy reaches its high- water mark 
in Plato ; and philosophy with him was not intellectual 
merely, but intensely religious. Plato reasoned twenty 
centuries before Kant was born ; he represents another 
stage in the great evolution of philosophical knowledge. 



32 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

He lacked Kant s piercing vision into what may be 
called the roots of human personality and the essential 
conditions of human knowledge. But the great Greek 
thinker was dimly conscious of those inevitable limita 
tions lying upon the human intellect, which Kant has 
taught us to recognize. The human mind can only 
think in the terms of its own categories. In the very 
act of translating sensations into perceptions, we give 
Truth a new aspect, and so, in a sense, miss it. The 
highest human duty, Plato taught, was to break free 
from the illusion of the senses and to reach the ultimate 
realities of things. And the ultimate reality of the 
universe is God. 

Many of Plato s thoughts about God are marked by 
a singular loftiness. There is even a curious forecast of 
the mystery of the Trinity in his analysis of God under 
three forms : TO ov, the Cause of all things ; o Aoyo?, the 
Reason and Ruler of all tilings ; and the third, the ^vx) 
KOffftov, the Soul of all things. Nothing can be more 
certain/ says Pope, than that the trinity of personal 
hypostases glimmered in the writings of Plato. His 
definition of God, Pope adds, has never been surpassed 
in sublimity. Light, Plato declared, is His shadow. 
God Himself is the Light of lights. Knowledge, 
Plato taught, does not lie in the senses, or in what the 
senses report. The world of ideas is the world of 
realities. What the senses deal with are but illusions. 
The highest Idea is the idea of goodness ; and God 
is the ultimate reality of goodness. 



The Logic of the Keystone and the Arch 33 

Plato, in a word, taught as definitely as St. Paul 
that the things which are seen are temporal, and the 
things which are unseen are eternal. Truth and false 
hood, he held, are radical and ultimate contradictories. 
If, says Maurice, in the minutest thing Plato 
believes that there is a reality, an archetypal form 
or idea, yet he believes, also, just as firmly, that every 
idea has its root in one higher than itself; and that 
there is a Supreme Idea, the foundation and consum 
mation of all these the Idea of the absolute and perfect 
Being in whose mind they all dwell, and in whose 
eternity alone they can be thought of as eternal. l 

It is unnecessary to dwell on the defects of Plato s 
philosophy, and on the practical blots in his EepuUic. 
It is enough to note that his whole scheme of thought 
about the universe was profoundly theistic, spiritual, 
ethical ; it justifies the great saying of Clement of 
Alexandria, that philosophy was to the Greeks what 
the law was to the Jews, a schoolmaster to bring them 
to Christ. Who can doubt that the Spirit of God was 
at work in the Greek intellect as truly as in the Jewish 
conscience, and in both was moving towards one sublime 
goal? 

But he who studies the history of these two move 
ments will see that, at a stage almost coincident in 
point of time, both suffer arrest. With the Messianic 
prophecies of Jewish history, it was the pause in a, 
great drama waiting for its final act. For nearly four 
1 Moral and, Metaphysical Philosophy, Part I, p. 49, 

D 



34 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

centuries before Christ, the voice of the prophet was 
hushed. The nation was waiting though perhaps 
hardly conscious of its own attitude and expectation 
for an event which should fulfil the accumulated 
prophecies of centuries ; a fulfilment without which 
its history was a failure, its types false, its aspira 
tions defeated. Christianity without Judaism is a root 
less flower ; but Judaism without Christianity is a 
root that never breaks into blossom. Unless the dim 
and splendid prophecies of Jewish history found historic 
embodiment, there must come the greatest defeat of 
human hope the literature of the race records. 

But Greek philosophy, too, during the centuries 
immediately before Christ, suffered strange and con 
scious defeat. Plato himself was conscious of the 
limitations of the human intellect. It was capable of 
aspiring after truth, but incapable of reaching it. How 
could the human mind penetrate through all the illu 
sions of the senses and reach the ultimate reality of 
things? In the Republic is the well-known and 
most pathetic Myth of the Cave. Men are pictured by 
Plato as prisoners in some vast and shadow-haunted 
cave. They are chained with their backs to a fire; 
they see cast on the rocky wall before them the shadows 
flung by their own forms and gestures, and they mis 
take this shadow-dance for reality. Some of these 
prisoners have turned their faces to the light; they 
oil up the steep slope to the mouth of the cave ; they 
stand with dazed eyes in the sunlight, trying to endure 



The Logic of the Keystone and the Arch 35 

the vision of the sun itself. These escaped prisoners, 
struggling into the light, and trying to bear its radiance, 
are the highest souls of the race, its philosophers. But 
the mass of the race still dwelt, and must dwell, in 
darkness and shadows. 

There finds utterance in the later writings of Plato 
himself, a pathetic consciousness of failure. The soul 
is wearied of its own aspirations. It cannot climb to 
God ; God must, as Plato dimly sees, stoop to man ; and 
he puts on the lips of Socrates the words, We will wait 
for one, either God or a God-inspired man, to teach us 
our religious duties and to take away the darkness from 
our eyes. Greek philosophy, as Plato left it, is not 
merely a tangle of questions unanswered, of puzzles 
unsolved. It is a confession that the questions are 
unanswerable, the puzzles beyond solution. 

But if there is that pathetic note of intellectual 
defeat in Plato s later philosophy, the defeat and the 
despair of human intellect itself find complete expres 
sion in the schools that succeeded Plato. In these schools 
we have philosophy fallen consciously bankrupt. It 
becomes mere Pyrrhonism, the teaching that there is 
nothing noble or base, just or unjust; that nothing 
truly exists and nothing matters. And the city which 
gave Socrates the hemlock, gave Pyrrho, for such teach 
ing as this, the honours of citizenship, and for his sake 
exempted all philosophers from the payment of taxes ! 
A despair of philosophy in its old sense/ says 
Maurice, was implied in all the later Greek schools. 



36 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

That despair finds expression alike in the teachings of 
Epicurus, in the doctrines of the Stoics, in the atom- 
dance of Democritus. The perception of any real law 
and standard for man had perished. The very power of 
conceiving the central principle of Plato s philosophy 
was lost to his countrymen. The later schools are, to 
use Maurice s words, the lees of Greek philosophy. 
And Greek ethics, like Greek philosophy, became a mere 
decaying ferment, whose foulness Paul has described in 
terrible characters. 

Then, suddenly, there came, to Jewish prophecy 
and Greek philosophy alike, a meeting-point an Event 
that interpreted and united them both. The keystone 
was fitted into the arch ! 

One great and significant term had survived from 
Plato s philosophy ; it was the word logos, with the 
double sense of reason and of speech. In Plato s 
terminology the Logos was the reason, the shaping 
reality of all things. The Jewish mind in the century 
immediately before Christ had become conscious of its 
kinship with Greek thought, and hence the appearance 
of Philo, a contemporary of Christ, in Alexandria. In 
his writing he borrows the Logos of Plato and links it 
to the creative and personified Wisdom of later Jewish 
literature. But it is St. John who takes the word 
Greek philosophy had shaped, baptizes it with a 
Christian meaning, and puts it in the opening sentence 
of his Gospel. 

The earlier evangelists could not have done this. 



The Logic of the Keystone and the Arch 37 

They were concerned merely with facts. The question 
of the relations of facts, of the philosophy underlying 
the facts, comes later. But John, writing in what may 
be called a philosophic environment, and writing, we 
must believe, towards the close of the first Christian 
century, has a vision of the inter-relations of history. 
He sees that Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, 
is the Logos, the shaping Eeason of the universe, of 
whom Plato had caught a broken vision. And so he 
takes the term, which represents the climax of Greek 
thought reaching out after God, and links it with the 
fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. In the beginning/ he 
says, * was the Word, and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God. . . . And the Word was made 
flesh and dwelt among us/ And, as a matter of fact, 
as we look at the Incarnation in the perspective of 
history, it is certain that it links together and fulfils 
these two great movements in the development of the 
race. 

That the Incarnation satisfies all the Messianic 
predictions of the Old Testament no one doubts ; but it 
also meets and satisfies all that Greek philosophy 
dreamed of, and longed for, and failed to reach. Plato, 
if he could have read the opening verses of John s 
Gospel, would have recognized his own conception ; but 
he would have found his conception lifted up into 
sublime clearness, and linked to an historical event 
which exactly met all the needs of the human soul, as 
Plato imperfectly saw them ; an event which, in place 



38 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

of intellectual defeat and despair, gives to the soul the 
triumph of intellectual attainment. 

The Word, John teaches, is personal, eternal ; it 
is made flesh. Here is God descending from those 
heights to which the human intellect cannot climb, 
and giving Himself in human terms to the human 
soul. Here is the central Eeality of the universe 
offered to our very senses. The great doctrine that 
God is love is only intelligible in the light of the 
Christian doctrine of the Trinity ; for how could God 
be love if eternally alone ; if eternally there were not 
this trinity of persons in the Godhead ? Plato, as we 
have seen, had curious fore-gleams of the multiple 
personality in the Godhead ; but he never linked it 
to the great Christian doctrine, its correlative, that 
God is love. And though he hoped for some teacher, 
a God-inspired man, or God, who would solve for 
the human intellect all the problems that perplexed 
and baffled it, he never dreamed of such an event as 
the Incarnation. 

It came, indeed, in a shape neither Jew nor Greek 
expected. It disappointed both. To the Jew the In 
carnation was a stumbling-block, to the Greek it was 
foolishness. Yet, as we now see, it completed the two 
great movements represented both by Jew and Greek. 
It fulfilled the Jewish ideal of a divine and perfect) 
holiness, and the Greek ideal of a divine Wisdom, the 
ultimate reality of the universe. It offers both ex 
pressed in human terms. In the Incarnation we have 



The Logic of the Keystone and the Arch 39 
Messianic prophecies verified and Greek philosophy 
fulfilled. 

In the meanwhile how did it happen that John 
who was a Jew, not a Greek; a fisherman, not a 
philosopher seized this great philosophical term which 
Plato had invented, and put it in the opening sentence 
of his Gospel ? How did he identify the Logos of Plato 
with the Messiah of Jewish hope and prophecy ? And, 
more wonderful still, how does it happen that this Jewish 
Messiah does, as a matter of fact, correspond so pro 
foundly to the Logos of whom Plato debated and dreamed? 
For just as it is historically certain that the Word 
who was made flesh satisfies Jewish prophecy, so it is 
intellectually certain that in the great Figure described 
in John s Gospel the Word whom John declared his 
eyes had seen, his hands had touched Plato would 
have found an answer to all the puzzles of his own 
philosophy. The Incarnation, if it be accepted as a 
fact, does answer all the questions over which Greek 
philosophers debated for centuries; until, in sheer 
intellectual despair, they turned to mere Pyrrhonism. 

The Incarnation is a revelation of the Ultimate 
Reality of the universe. It reveals God; it reveals 
Him as a Person ; as love, and light, and holiness. It 
is a revelation of the spiritual nature of man ; of his 
place in the universe ; of his significance in the sight 
of God. It is a supreme interpretation of duty ; and 
it brings into the circle of human experience the 
moral forces which make duty possible. 



40 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Incidentally, the Incarnation is an assertion of the 
spiritual basis of the universe, and of the moral goal 
towards which it moves. It is a declaration of the fact 
that the whole material universe is for man, a servant, 
a tool, a training-ground. It is an assertion not only 
of the fact that God is love, but that man is His child, 
and is meant to stand to Him in a relationship of love. 
A philosophical analysis of the meaning of the 
Incarnation, quite apart from the question of its 
historic truth, will show, in brief, that it answers all the 
puzzles of the human intellect And, we repeat, how 
does it come to pass that in a single event, the Incar 
nation, these two great and apparently unrelated historic 
movements Jewish prophecy on one side, Greek 
philosophy on the other meet and find their fulfil 
ment ? And how did John come to discern this, and 
put Plato s Word in the first line of his Christian 
Gospel, a silent witness of the great harmony thus 
revealed ? 

All this, of course, is only to ask why the keystone 
fits, and completes, the arch. And who that looks at 
the perfect lines of the completed arch, the wedlock of 
unshakable strength and of reasoned symmetry it 
represents, can doubt that behind it is the thought 
of a divine Mind, working in different lands, by 
different forces, and, through men of different blood 
and speech, towards one sublime goal ? 



CHAPTER III 
The Logic of the Missionary 

1 Should a voyager chance to be on the point of shipwreck on 
some unknown coast, he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of 
the missionary may have reached thus far. . . . The lesson of the 
missionary is the enchanter s wand. DARWLH. 

THE Church is beginning to see the reflex value 
of Christian missions, though the vision is yet 
very imperfect. Missions call into exercise, 
they intensify by exercise, the central motives, the 
most characteristic energies and emotions of religion. 
They repeat in human terms that divine passion of 
pity, of seeking love, of love which takes the supreme 
form of sacrifice, which is behind the Incarnation and 
explains it They measure our fidelity to all the great 
doctrinal conceptions of the Christian scheme: the 
value of man, the awfulness of sin, the range and 
tenderness of the redeeming purpose of God. And 
it may be added that if they disappeared, Christianity 
would lose one of its divinest credentials. For in 
missions, as a branch of Christian evidences, there is an 
unrealized force. They not only diffuse Christianity, 
they prove it. They are the revelation of a force 



42 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

which can only be scientifically explained on the 
supposition that Christianity is true. 

In a cluster of familiar Scripture words words 
which, as Wellington put it with a soldier s insight, 
constitute the marching orders of Christianity is to 
be found the charter of missions : Go ye into all the 
world and preach the gospel to every creature. Now, 
a bit of literature, like a flower, cannot be separated from 
its environment, its climate, its soil, its root. And, tried 
by literary tests, these words are a paradox. They are 
in utter quarrel with their environment. They were 
spoken only six weeks after what, to the group of 
Jewish peasants and fishermen who listened, must 
have seemed the shattering and final defeat of the 
Cross. 

We etherealize the Cross to-day. We set it in 
the perspective of nearly twenty centuries of victorious 
history. We see it, as Constantine saw it in his dream, 
high in the sky, with a nimbus of glory about it, while 
mighty voices out of unseen worlds are crying to us 
in hoc signo vinces. But to the immediate spectators 
the Cross was a fact, as brutal and as tainted with 
shame, as to the modern imagination is the hangman s 
rope. It was the instrument and sign of the death of 
a criminal. 

Yet within six weeks of let us say the hangman s 
rope, here is a message tingling with triumphant energy 
in every syllable, commanding the news of the death 
that rope has accomplished to be carried as a gospel to 



The Logic of the Missionary 43 

the whole world ! There is victory in the words, 
authority, the gladness of supernatural hopes. They 
overleap all national barriers. And, as a matter of 
historic fact, they proved the signal for that great 
march of Christianity, before which empires, and king 
doms, and creeds have gone down, which though it 
has sometimes loitered has never ceased since, and 
never will cease. 

Looked at as a mere problem in literature, how is 
this strange message, out of which Christian missions 
have sprung, emerging under such strange conditions, 
to be explained ? Was it the expression, in literary 
terms, of a delusion which had somehow captured the 
narrow brains of a group of affrighted and defeated 
Jews ? But the words are in open quarrel with the 
whole temper of Judaism. The Jew, bound up in the 
narrow pride of his race, scorned the Gentile world ; 
and history had deepened that scorn to hate. For 
centuries Palestine had been a doormat on which 
one great invader after another had wiped his feet. 
The Jew who had seen a Greek conqueror sacrifice 
a sow in the Holy of Holies, and a Eoman con 
queror march his legions through the gates of Jeru 
salem ; who had seen the Holy Land broken up and 
oppressed by one Idumean after another how he 
hated them all, Assyrian and Greek, Eoman and 
Idumean ! 

He nursed his hate like a piety. He avenged 
himself by it for a hundred defeats, for the captivities 



44 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

and oppressions of whole centuries. Its black eclipse 
covered the whole human race outside the men of his 
own blood. 

Could a message like this, with its world-embracing 
good will, find its cradle within the narrow brows of a 
Jew ? That is unthinkable. These Jews to quote 
Eousseau, could never have struck this tone. Eighteen 
centuries of Christian history had yet to pass before the 
Christian conscience itself learned to spell the first 
syllables of that great message. Whatever the words 
represent, they do not reflect the genius of Judaism ; 
they are in conflict with it. If some one discovered 
one of Shakespeare s sonnets hidden in some harsh 
Scandinavian saga; or if stanzas wearing the austere 
grace and charged with the lofty conceptions of In 
Memoriam, were found embedded in some musky 
and sensual love-song of the East, it would not be a 
literary paradox more bewildering than the sound of 
words like these on Jewish lips. And yet, on the 
sceptical theory, they are the utterance, real or 
imaginary, of a Galilean peasant ! 

But the message is in quarrel, not only with the 
temper of Jerusalem, but with the visible facts of the 
moment. No one can read the words and believe that 
behind them is a defeated Christ; a Christ lying in 
Joseph s grave, with the stone yet at the door, and 
Pilate s seal unbroken. There are those who believe 
that the resurrection is a myth, and they expend 
pensive compliments on the body of Christ still 



The Logic of the Missionary 45 

wrapped in Mary s spices. They say with Matthew 
Arnold 

Now He is dead! Far hence lie lies 

la the lorn Syrian town, 
And on His grave with pitying eyes 

The Syrian stars look down. 

But no one who really believed that could have 
imagined, or could have uttered, the great charter 
which stands behind Christian missions. A dead Christ 
is a defeated Christ. And the note of these words is 
not one of defeat, but of victory, and of the exultant 
energy born of victory. 

Huxley says that when no star yet swung in its 
orbit, all the worlds lay potentially in the cosmic vapour 
which eddied through space, and a being of sufficient 
intelligence might have discovered in that vapour 
everything there is in the world to-day, from the last 
winner of the Derby to the last leading article in the 
journals. Tennyson strikes a saner note in his lines 
beginning 

Flower in the crannied wall 



If I could understand 

What you are, root and all, and all in all, 
I should know what God and man is. 

And from a flower a being of sufficient intelligence 
could, no doubt, deduce all that goes to produce the 
flower earth and rain and sun. It needs an ante 
cedent universe to make the flower possible. We 
could not explain it without taking into account all 



46 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

the worlds. And in the cluster of words behind 
Christian missions the whole gospel comes into bloom. 
It needs the whole gospel to explain them. 

There must be victory, and not defeat, behind them. 
Would it have occurred to a group of men whose leader 
had just died the death of a criminal, who were stagger 
ing under the shock of a disaster so great, and trembling 
for their own safety, to talk in accents like these ? 
That is unthinkable. At the back of the words, to 
make them credible or possible, there must have been 
the miracle of the open grave, the risen Christ, the 
transfigured Cross ; the miracle of a divine redemption 
accomplished, fulfilled, and crowned. 

But if there is one set of wonders behind these 
words to make them possible, another set of wonders 
has followed them. Slowly, and by a process runnin^ 
through centuries, they have mastered the conscience 
of the Christian Church; they have coloured its 
ideals. And to-day, by universally admitted ethical 
obligation, Christianity is a missionary religion. It 
is a creed which, twenty centuries after its founder s 
death, produces missions and missionaries as naturally 
as a living tree, in whose woody fibres the mysterious 
forces of spring are stirring, produces blossoms. 

And the missionaries it produces are of an absolutely 
unique type. Mohammedanism is a missionary religion, 
too, but the evangelists of Islam use the logic of the 
sword-blade. Their message is, Accept the Koran 
or diel But the Christian missionary is a human 



The Logic of the Missionary 47 

phenomenon without parallel in history. A certain 
measure of half-pitying contempt commonly gathers 
about him. He has the scantiest equipment. He carries 
no arms ; he is clad with no civil authority ; he has 
very little money ; he is usually alone. He has only a 
message and a motive. The message is the story of 
Christ, and the motive is the love of Christ. 

And, somehow, he succeeds everywhere ! He works 
a miracle which all the resources of science, and litera 
ture, and civilization without him could not do. A 
pagan race, it is true, can learn the mechanical arts 
and borrow the dreadful weapons of civilization. 
Japan has dc-ne this, and has shifted the very centre 
of political gravity for the whole world as a result. 
But to create a new moral character in a people foul 
with the vices of heathenism, this is a miracle beyond 
the wit of man to accomplish. But the missionary does 
it ! He lands on some lonely and savage isle, and, under 
black skins, in dull brains, in human souls made fierce 
with whole centuries of savage ancestry and habits, he 
yet creates a new character. By some strange magic 
he reproduces, on such strange soil, the best morality 
civilized lands know. In races that yesterday were 
heathen and savage he somehow develops many of 
the qualities of saints, and, not seldom, something of 
the temper of martyrs. 

What may be called the secondary results of the 
missionary s work are, in their kind, marvellous. He 
civilizes, though civilization is not his immediate aim. 



48 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

For a barbarous race with a rude and scanty vocabu 
lary, he creates a written language. He gives them a 
literature, and the faculty for enjoying it. He raises 
womanhood ; he creates homes ; he draws a whole race 
to high levels of life. He does this under all skies and 
on all shores. 

Now, on any reading of the story, this is a social 
miracle. We have many forces of a non-religious sort 
amongst us j but which of these could, or would, do 
the missionary s work ? The Press is one of the great 
forces of civilization. It takes charge of us all; it 
instructs and rebukes us all; it talks in accents of 
infallibility which popes once used, but have forgotten. 
When these peculiarities have been smiled at, and 
forgiven, it remains that the power of the Press is 
both great and noble. But can any one imagine a 
committee of editors, or of newspaper proprietors, 
landing, with their presses, on some savage island and 
undertaking to change cruelty into love, lust into 
purity, and naked savagery into civilized order ? For 
that purpose they have neither language nor message. 
A gospel of leading articles will not serve to turn 
cannibals into saints. For such a cause the Press has 
no vocation, and would certainly evolve no martyrs. 

Science, again, is a great civilizing force; but can 
any one imagine, say, a cluster of biologists, or of 
chemists, armed with sufficiently ingenious formulae, 
visiting some wild shore, and undertaking to morally 
transform its savage inhabitants; to create ethics for 



The Logic of the Missionary 49 

them ; to persuade them to be chaste, not to kill, not 
to steal? Commerce, too, is one of the great forces 
of the modern world; but in the main it touches 
savage races only to destroy them. Its gospel of gin- 
cases is deadly. It adds to the vices of savages the 
yet fouler vices of civilized life. 

Only Christianity, as a matter of fact, creates the 
missionary. It evolves him ; gives him a message ; 
inspires him with adequate motives ; clothes him with 
strange forces. And so it visibly works that greatest 
of social miracles the moral transformation of whole 
communities. 

The whole historic record of Christian missions 
proves this. The modern world is their creation ; it 
could not have existed but for them. Suppose the 
marching orders of Christianity lie or fact had 
not been spoken, and the new creed had remained in 
its Jewish shell. It is certain that in that case the 
history of the world would have been changed. There 
might, indeed, have been no history ! How near death 
the world of that day was how corrupt in every drop 
of its tainted blood, how surely on the point of lapsing 
into universal chaos can hardly be realized. The 
vileness, as of uttermost decay, of that age is written 
in those terrible sentences in the Epistle to the Eomans. 
Or, if a Christian apostle must be dismissed as a witness 
with a bias, the same testimony is written, in characters 
black and ineffaceable, in the story of the later Eoman 
Empire. 

s 



5 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

But this particular group of men, under the impulse 
of this real or imaginary command, betook themselves 
to every land. Persecution was behind them, martyr 
dom before them ; but they carried a message which, 
whether fraud or fact, stirred the dying world like 
the call of an archangel s trumpet. And in the work 
of this little company of men the world, somehow, 
found a new starting-point, a fountain of new and 
exhaustless energies. 

We can judge of the transforming energy of the 
missionary gospel by the experience of our own 
English-speaking race. It was not Eome the Eome 
of the consuls and the emperors that civilized Great 
Britain. What of order, or religion, or law Eome 
planted on British soil was submerged and destroyed 
under the wave of sea-robbers from the stormy north, 
and the inroads of wild Pictish clans from the Welsh 
hills, or from beyond the Tweed. What was it tamed 
those fierce piratic races ; fused them into a nation, 
and determined the type of their civilization ? J. H. 
Green, the historian, says that when, late in the sixth 
century, Augustine with his band of monks landed 
on the isle of Thanet the very spot where, a century 
before, Hengist and his long-bearded, sea-beaten hordes 
had landed it was simply the return, in another form, 
of Eoman civilization. The march of the monks as 
they chanted their solemn litany was, in one sense, 
a return of the Eoman legions who had retired at the 
trumpet-call of Alaric. 



The Logic of the Missionary 51 

But that is certainly not true. Augustine and his 
monks, no doubt, started on their pilgrimage to Britain 
from the steps of a church in Eome. They brought 
with them the tongue, and many of the usages, of 
Eome. But had they brought only these they would 
have left no mark on England. They brought though 
it is true in an imperfect form the Christian faith; 
and that faith awoke in our race the pulse of a strong, 
deep, and rich life which endures to this day. England 
may well be the most missionary of races, for it owes 
most to missions. It is nearly fourteen centuries 
since Augustine put his feet on English soil, but the 
new energy of life which the teaching of Christianity 
brought remains. 

What is the scientific explanation of the facts here 
described and of the forces behind them? Every 
effect must have an adequate cause. To take the 
case of our own nation alone : is it credible that the 
deep religious life of Great Britain, with its manifold 
energies, has nothing behind it but an illusion ? That 
is as if one announced that the Gulf Stream has 
nothing behind it but an exhausted, or even an imita 
tion, water-tap ! It is to offer as an explanation of 
the greatest force in the modern world a fraud that 
somehow, in spite of history, of plain facts, of fierce 
national prejudices, got itself, two thousand years ago, 
born in the narrow brains of a little cluster of Jews. 

This lie had energy enough to send them round the 
world without money or arms, at the cost of infinite 



52 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

toil and of unnumbered perils, to tell the tale of their 
delusion to stray travellers on the wayside, to little 
gatherings on river-banks or in city slums. The 
sword could not slay this delusion, if delusion it was, 
nor fires consume, nor the strength of armies stop it. 
What is stranger still, quarrels and betrayals, in 
fidelities and disloyalties in a thousand forms amongst 
the missionaries themselves, could not arrest it. It 
has captured the world. Never was so prosperous a 
lie, and never one so beneficent! It discharges all 
the offices, and has all the indestructible vitality of a 
truth. 

Surely the whole history is more wildly incredible 
on the theory that the assumptions behind Christian 
missions are false, than if we accept them as truel 
Do tares produce wheat, or thistles grapes? When 
that happens, we may believe that from the black 
seed of a lie there blossoms all the splendid forces 
and fruits of Christian missions. 



BOOK II 
IN SCIENCE 



CHAPTER I 
The Irrelevant Logic of Size 

There is surely a piece of divinity in us ; something that was 
before the elements, and pays no homage to the sun. SIR THOMAS 
BKOWHE. 

Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature ; but he is a 
thinking reed. It is not necessary that the whole universe should 
arm itself to crush him a vapour, a drop of water suffices to kill 
him. But though the universe should crush him, man would still 
be more nolle than that which kills him, because he knows that he 
dies, and the advantage which the universe has over him. PASCAL. 

PERHAPS nothing has done more to create in 
the general imagination the sense of God s 
remoteness from us, to generate a vague and 
paralysing scepticism, and to give to the whole theory 
of the universe for which the Bible stands a look 
of incredibility, than the contrast betwixt the little 
ness of man and the overwhelming vastness of the 
physical universe, which we owe to the discoveries of 
modern science. The mood of feeling itself is ancient. 
The writer of Psalm viii., whoever he was, put it into 
words three thousand years ago : When I consider 
Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and 
the stars which Thou hast ordained, what is man . . . ? 



56 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

That bitter question has been asked in troubled accents 
in every age. 

But the familiar psalm, with its note of doubt, was 
born before the age of the telescope, and is inadequate. 
All of the physical heavens that the writer of the 
psalm knew was that tiny curve measured in it by the 
unassisted eye; and within the radius of the natural 
eye, as actual count shows, lie only some six thousand 
stars. The great telescopes of modern observatories 
multiply the range of human vision more than two 
hundred times ; and in the dim, vast, ever-widening 
realms of space thus opened there burn a hundred 
million suns ! 

The application of photography to astronomical 
science, again, has opened new depths of space and 
new armies of stars, if not literally to human vision, 
yet to assured human knowledge. A sensitized plate 
is applied to the eye-piece of a telescope, in some great 
observatory, and the huge tube is turned to what seems 
an empty spot in the heavens. After long exposure, 
the plate is found to be pricked with thousands of tiny 
pin-points of white each one the image of a star ! 
Sometimes across the plate is drawn a faint line of 
white, a line which registers the track of a planet 
through unguessed depths of space. The human eye, 
even with the aid of the great telescope, fails to register 
the worlds thus discovered ; but the worlds are there, 
in mighty armies. 

Lord Kelvin, too, has given us a hint, drawn from 



The Irrelevant Logic of Size 57 

another source, of the depth and the riches of the star- 
filled heavens. He has, so to speak, put the tape of 
his mathematics round their whole circumference. He 
has computed the total mass of the heavenly bodies ; 
and with the bewildering yet reasoned arithmetic 
science employs, he reckons that there must be a 
thousand million suns and planets in space ! 

In this measureless ocean of star-thronged space 
our little earth is but a pin-point. If God, says one 
despairing astronomer, dispatched one of His angels to 
discover this tiny planet amongst the glittering hosts 
of His stars, it would be like sending a child out upon 
some vast prairie to find a speck of sand at the root of 
some blade of grass. And what is man, with his brief 
and fleeting life, his politics and literature, his debates 
and discoveries, his insect round of work, and care, 
and enjoyments, when set against the background of a 
thousand million suns ? How can it matter what he 
does, or what he is ? He is but one of the ephemeridae. 
He shrinks, when set against the dreadful altitudes of 
space, into less than insect scale. 

Stately purpose, valour in battle, splendid annals of army and 

fleet, 
Death for the right cause, death for the wrong cause, shouts 

of triumph, sighs of defeat, 

Eaving politics, never at rest while this poor earth s pale his 
tory runs : 

What is it all but the murmur of gnats in the gleam of a 
million million suns ? 

No one who knows current literature, or the average 



58 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

thinking of the average man, can doubt that this 
modern and growing consciousness of mere dispropor 
tion in scale betwixt man and the unnumbered stars 
which burn above him darkens the faith of multitudes. 
It makes God immeasurably remote, too far off for 
either prayer or love. How can the cry of need, or the 
sigh of penitence, or the whispered prayer of a child at 
its mother s knee, find its way through all these rushing 
worlds to the God who sits beyond them ? These 
dreadful vastnesses seem to give a new incredibility 
to the Christian account of man s standing in the uni 
verse, and of his value in the sight of God; to the 
story of the love which, from the Maker of all these 
stars, stoops to him; to the dream of a Providence 
which, amid the rushing planets, still remembers him, 
touches him, plans for him. 

The logic of relative size, it must be frankly ad 
mitted, is overwhelmingly against man, and against 
the Christian account of man s standing in the universe. 
But is that logic valid ? Can we hold unshaken, and, 
in spite of all the discoveries of science, can we still, 
vindicate the Christian teaching about man and the 
scale of his nature ? 

Yes ; even while we stand looking with amazed and 
awe-stricken eyes into these multiplying provinces of 
God s mighty universe, as they open before us, faith 
need not be shaken. The Christian reading of man 
and his relation to God is still credible. A little 
courageous thinking will show us that this logic of 



The Irrelevant Logic of Size 59 

mere size the logic of the foot-rule and of the grocer s 
scales has no relevancy in the realm in which man 
stands. It does not run in the great spiritual king 
doms to which he belongs. 

We act on this belief every day in the circle of our 
own lives. We refuse to be bullied by mere scale. In 
the realm of love, for example and that realm is the 
highest, the sweetest, and noblest we know mere 
physical bulk has no relevance. It might almost be 
described as an impertinence. Will any mother con 
sent to have the value of her child measured in 
inches, or assessed in pounds avoirdupois ? She may 
be told that the house is a thousand times bigger than 
the baby, and this is true. But in love s realm the 
argument of the foot-rule does not count. In the 
scales of a mother s values all the Himalayas and Alps 
of the planet are less than her infant ! 

And let no one dismiss this estimate with a smile 
as a mere flight of feminine and unreasoning sentiment. 
There is an imperishable logic, the logic of the highest 
thing we know of reason as well as of love which 
justifies that estimate. And if love is the same in 
quality through all its degrees and we are sure of 
nothing if we doubt this if the love of a mother s 
heart is the best interpretation we possess of love in 
God ; then, since we are God s children, and the stars 
represent only the brute unconsciousness of dead matter, 
how can we doubt our own relative value in God s 
judgement ? How can we fear that the mere bulk of 



60 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

the stars hides us from God s sight ? That is to invert 
all rational thinking. 

The discovery of the planet Neptune is a familiar 
story which belongs to the romance of astronomy. It 
was noted that at one point in its track through space, 
the planet Uranus swung outward from the perfect 
curve of its orbit. What drew the great planet from 
its course ? Two astronomers, independently of each 
other, solved the problem. Some unknown mass 
across millions of leagues deflected the rushing orb in 
its course. They calculated the distance, the direction, 
the weight of the disturbing body, and climbing up, 
so to speak, on the slenderest thread of mathematical 
calculation, through measureless altitudes of untracked 
space, they found the new planet ! 

Now, tried by the test of physical size, what dis 
proportion can be vaster than that betwixt the planet 
Neptune and the brain of the astronomer, who, by sheer 
force of reasoned logic, reached and discovered it ? It 
is the contrast betwixt a planet still shining in the 
heavens and a speck of grey matter in a human skull 
long since turned to dust. The foot-rule, the scales, 
all the tests of physical measurement, all the authori 
ties of physical values, are on the side of the planet, 
and against the astronomer. 

But the planet was, and is, and will always be, a 
mass of brute, dead, unintelligent matter. It is un 
conscious of its own vastness. It knows nothing of the 
mighty curve of its path, It never felt the touch of 



The Irrelevant Logic of Size 61 

its Maker s hand. It can give to that Maker no tribute 
of knowledge or of worship. The astronomer s brain, 
on the other hand, was the instrument of conscious 
intelligence, of a capacity for sustained reasoning in 
finitely nobler than the mass of all the stars piled 
together. Nay, it was the vehicle of nobler things 
than even thought or knowledge. The faculty of wor 
ship was in it; it was the home of those spiritual 
qualities which link man to the spiritual order. It is 
intensity that counts, range of spiritual faculty, not 
mere physical magnitude. And in the scale of such 
contrasting values bulk is irrelevant. 

Measured against the chronology of eternity, a 
planet is but a temporary aggregation of atoms; set 
against the spiritual nature of man it is a meaningless 
cipher ! For man belongs in the last analysis to the 
moral order. This is his essential characteristic and 
distinction. He can not only think ; he can love and 
will. His character is the field or, it may be of the 
greatest moral qualities, of love imperishable, of good 
ness, of righteousness. In the realm of the natural 
affections, as we have seen, and in the kingdom of the 
intellect, material bulk has neither value nor relevancy. 
How much more must this be true in the yet loftier 
world of moral character ! 

A certain school of scientists, it is true, w r ould 
translate all forces and qualities back into material 
terms. The soul, it teaches, is the mere effervescence 
of matter. The fungus that grows unnoticed in the 



62 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

field, and the genius which wrote Hamlet, are alike 
expressions of matter. The love with which a mother 
stoops over her infant, and the ferment of a stagnant 
pond in the sunlight; the worship that burns in the 
spirit of the saint, and the sap which stirs in the 
woody fibres of a tree, are all disguises of the same 
force, and may be assessed by like values. But this 
is a theory which the healthy human reason, without 
waiting for scientific argument, instantly rejects. We 
instinctively act on the assumption that it is false. 
In the scale of forces and values on which the universe 
is built, unconscious matter stands lowest; and as 
against the spiritual order it has no relevancy. 

Man, then, may keep his self-respect even when 
he stands looking out from his tiny planet on the 
rush of all the unnumbered worlds. There is con 
sciously in his nature something loftier than is found 
in Saturn, with its belt of fire, or Jupiter with its 
band of shining moons. In the scale of God s 
judgements physical mass, we are sure, can have no 
value as a counter. He is a Spirit; spiritual values 
with Him must be supreme. And we, too, consciously 
belong to the spiritual order. 

But it is worth while noting how the very doubts 
as to whether God is not utterly remote from us, which 
science on the argument of the scale of the physical 
universe awakens, are answered by science itself, from 
the opposite pole of the same realm. For the latest 
scientific reading of the constitution of matter shows 



The Irrelevant Logic of Size 63 

God present in the infinitely little, in such astonishing 
manifestations of energy, and contrivance, and care, as 
almost outshine such manifestations in the physically 
vast. 

It is asked, and doubted, whether God can come 
down to our poor level. Can He think of such an 
insect as man ? Are we not too small to be so much 
as visible in the mighty landscape of God s universe ? 
Now science itself answers that challenge. It shows 
us God stooping not merely to the man, but to the 
atom. It sees Him hanging in the tiny curve of a 
molecule a whole system of stars, as wonderful in 
their very want of scale as Arcturus and Orion are in 
their vastness of scale. 

It is not simply that the microscope is the cor 
relative of the telescope, so that while one reveals the 
wonders of the physically vast, the other unveils the 
marvels of the physically minute. What we yesterday 
thought to be the ultimate forms of matter have been 
broken open, and we see shining within the infinitesimal 
horizons of the molecule a whole system of stars ; 
inconceivably minute points of electric energy moving 
in orbits like the stars, and with an ordered speed that 
equals theirs. And this is God s work ! He sets us 
betwixt two firmaments a firmament of planets in 
the dreadful height of the heavens above us, a 
firmament, sown as thick with starry electrons, in the 
atoms under our feet. By measureless degrees below 
the farthest reach of the telescope, in. terms of a 



64 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

minuteness which only the symbols of mathematics 
can express, God is revealed working with an order, 
a greatness, an energy of power, a splendour of 
contrivance, before which the human imagination 
droops. 

If a dewdrop were expanded to the size of a planet, 
the molecules of hydrogen of which it consists would 
resemble, says Sir Oliver Lodge, oranges or footballs. 
How many oranges would it take to constitute a 
bulk equal to that of our planet? And as many 
inconceivably minute molecules of hydrogen are packed 
into the mass of a dewdrop. And yet within each 
such molecule science now discovers a stellar system 
which is not only the reflex, in infinitesimal terms, 
of the solar system, or of the Pleiades, but, by reason 
of its very minuteness, is more wonderful than they. 
It is a reproduction, in terms of the inconceivably 
minute, of the splendour of the physically vast. 
Science thus, in the terms of its own logic, proves 
that with God material vastness has no significance. 
All that we find in the majesty of the planets their 
order, their speed, the perfect curve of their orbits we 
find repeated in the molecule. Does God, as doubt 
whispers, sit far off from us in the dreadful height of 
His heavens, amongst a thousand million stars, with 
Orion and the Pleiades at His feet, too concerned with 
them to listen to us? Science itself shows that God 
does not come down merely to where we stand. He 
goes down by distance immeasurable, below our feet. 



The Irrelevant Logic of Size 65 

He is present not merely in the dust grain and the 
atom, but in the electron. 

God in the infinitesimal, hiding His wonders there, 
working His miracles of power there, as much as in 
the infinite ! This is the message of science. Tho 
order of the material universe is a mighty chain 
which runs upward to heights of which David never 
dreamed ; but it runs downward to depths of which, 
yesterday, science itself had no thought. It is a 
chain of ordered magnificence with the planet at one 
end, the electron at the other, and God at every link. 

Christ, it will be remembered, sanctions nay, Ho 
enjoins this appeal to the near, the minute, and the 
commonplace, as an answer to the doubt of whether 
we have any value in God s sight. Is Providence 
concerned about our little lives ? Christ points us to 
the falling sparrow, to the blades of trodden grass; 
God s thoughts come down to these. Nay, if unbelief 
bids us consider the heavens to learn our insignificance 
how little God must care for us, Christ bids us 
consider the most trivial things of earth the lilies, 
the grass, and the sparrow to learn how God cares 
for things immeasurably lower in Nature s scale than 
we are. He appeals, moreover, to what, we are 
tempted to think, is the least important quality in 
vegetable life, its grace of form and beauty of tint, 
and bids us find in these the most intimate signature 
of God s thought. 

There is a leaven of Puritanism, and of the Puritan 

s 



66 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

mistrust of beauty, in much of our Protestantism. 
We are accustomed to say that * God does not care 
for the mere look of a thing a very deplorable 
heresy indeed 1 It is this very thing the look of 
the lily, how God clothes the grass of the field Christ 
bids us consider. 

The great Maker and Lord of all the stars thinks 
it worth while to paint a splendour beyond the ward 
robes of kings on the perishing leaf of a flower that 
blossoms only for a day. And this is only a sample 
of God s methods. He pours into the tiny cup of a 
violet a purple that mocks the splendour of kings. 
He mingles for the rose its rich and exquisite tints. 
Nay, that dainty perfume, which beats itself out in 
such exquisite pulses of scent on the air from every 
flower, and which has no other use than the giving 
of pleasure, is God s contrivance. Here is a revelation 
not only of God s methods, but of God s values, written 
on the trodden grass, on the worthless dust beneath our 
feet. And Christ bids us consider these things to 
learn how God cares for things of immeasurably less 
value than we are. 

And science, as we have seen, reinforces with its 
discoveries exactly that lesson. Yesterday it seemed 
to give energy to unbelief by the argument against 
man s value drawn from the vastness of the material 
universe. To-day it is on our side, against the 
tyrannous scale of matter. It repeats with trium 
phant accents all the arguments for faith in our own 



The Irrelevant Logic of Size 67 

significance by showing that God finds a place in 
His plans and field for the exercise of His utmost 
omnipotence, in terms of physical minuteness beyond 
the range of the microscope itself. 

If the question of physical scale, in a word, is to 
count, we must measure ourselves against, not the 
planet, but the molecule. For God is more worder- 
fully present to even the gaze of science in e l a , 
molecule, than He was to the eyes of adoring my e ,1- 
tudes in the Shekinah of the Jewish templ^ impo . 



CHAPTER II 
\ L The Logic of our Relation to Nature. 



~tion of the human free-will is a miracle to physical 
and chem- .. -r^nd mathematical science. LOUD KELVIN. 

We are c.,jcious of being ahle to originate action, to initiate 
events, even in t\ measure to modify the processes of nature, in 
virtue of our free-vill or power of self-determination. And what 
we demand, therefore, in a First Cause, ii analogous to what wo 
find within ourselves and nowhere else. ILUNGWORTH. 

ONE of the most familiar, far-spread, and con 
fident forms of unbelief is the theory that 
the miraculous is essentially and hopelessly 
the incredible. It is not that, historically, the evidence 
for this miracle or that is insufficient; but the order 
of nature stately, majestic, unvarying; moving in 
rhythmical sequences of unbroken law towards change 
less goals is looked on as fatal to the whole conception 
of miracles. The natural blots out the supernatural. 

Hume s famous argument against miracles or, 
rather, that section of it which is best remembered is 
that they are improvable. He challenged boldly the 
possibility of a miracle, and yet more subtly and 
confidently its communicability. The evidence of any 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 69 

particular group of witnesses to a specific miracle, he 
argued, must be less than the silent and general con 
sensus of all history, and of general human experience 
on the other side. So the value of affirmative testimony 
on one side of the equation must, in every instance, be 
less than the value of the negative testimony on the 
other side. 

But the new mood of scepticism lays greater em 
phasis on the other branch of Hume s argument. 
Miracles are not merely unprovable, they are impossible. 
The natural order, as science interprets it to us, fills 
the whole circumference of the horizon. The super 
natural is a dream, not to say a discord. 

Now, the general weight of logic on the side of the 
miraculous or, rather, to use a better term, of the 
supernatural is stronger than is generally realized. 
There is what may be called the direct Christian reply. 
Miracles are made credible by their context, and can 
not be separated from their context. They form part 
of a great history which attests them, and which is 
unintelligible without them. Their context is the 
whole redemptive scheme of Christianity. They are, 
on the Christian theory, incidents in the life of a 
supernatural Teacher and Saviour. It is not merely 
that they were needed as credentials. Granted that 
there broke in on human history a history disordered 
by sin the figure of a divine Person, Himself com 
pletely out of the natural order, it was inevitable that 
this sudden emergence of the supernatural would 



70 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

register itself at a hundred points in events out of the 
natural order. 

The old crude, not to say false, definition of a 
miracle described it as a suspension, or violation, of 
the ordinary laws of nature. Most of the objections 
against miracles hold only against this false conception 
of them. In the sense of a violation of the natural 
order, sin is the true miracle. It is essentially a 
breach of the divine order of the universe, and Christ s 
acts of supernatural healing are the restoration of law 
to its kingdom; the arrest of that disorder in man s 
physical nature which sin produces. His miracles are 
not a breach of the divine order, but its reassertion. 
They are prophetic hints, in physical terms, of the great 
ends of His redemption. 

It is usual to say that the act of forgiveness which 
Christ claimed to perform, and upon which still hangs 
all human hope, was a miracle in the spiritual order. 
Luther was accustomed to call conversion the greatest 
of all miracles ; and the logic which rejects Christ s 
power to work miracles in the physical order is equally 
fatal to His claim to work miracles in the spiritual 
order. For law is a unit. It is as absolute if absolute 
at all in the spiritual as in the physical realm. But 
forgiveness, too, looked at properly, is not a breach of 
spiritual order, but the restoration of an order already 
broken. 

There is, again, what may be called the direct 
scientific defence of miracles. It is certain that on 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 71 

the severest scientific reading of the universe \ve can 
not blot out the miraculous. There is always what 
De Quincey calls the a priori miracle, the beginning 
of life. Life must have been originated at some given 
moment, and by some specific act; for the theory of 
an eternal unoriginated race a chain with no first 
link is a theory more confounding to the human 
mind than any miracle can be. That life exists we 
know. That there was a time on this planet when it 
did not exist we are certain ; for within a period which 
science can measure the earth was, as all science de 
clares, a red-hot molten globe, on which no life could 
exist. There must have been a moment when the first 
pulse of life stirred. Whence did that pulse come ? 

Not, it is scientifically certain, from dead matter. 
It must have sprung from the entrance into the circle 
of phenomena of an absolutely new force. The super 
natural, that is, must have broken in on the natural. 
Every pulse in our own veins thus runs back into the 
miraculous. Life began in a miracle *; it is itself 
the great miracle. "Wallace, indeed, 1 claims that there 
are at least three stages in the development of the 
organic world where some new cause of power, from 
outside that world, must necessarily have come into 
action. 

Darwin, it is true, whittles down the super 
natural, which must lie at the roots of life, to the 
smallest possible size. He stipulates for life, with 
1 Darwinism, p. 274, 



72 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

its several powers, having been originally breathed by 
the Creator into a few forms, or into one. But the 
notion that the smaller the miracle is the more credible 
it becomes is absurd. Christ multiplied five loaves 
and two small fishes into a meal for five thousand 
people. Would the miracle have become more credible 
if at its basis lay twice as many loaves and fishes ? If 
out of a few microscopic forms, or even one, could 
be evolved all the crowded life, the sea of living energy, 
which fills the living world to-day, how much of 
miracle must have been packed into those two or three 
primary cells! The miracle becomes not less, but 
greater, as we reduce in scale the original starting- 
point. 

To-day, it may be added, almost as certainly as in 
that far-off sublime moment on the cooling earth, when 
the first pulse of life stirred, a miracle lies at the root 
of life. Or if we cannot postulate a miracle, still the 
origin of life constantly runs back into a mystery so 
profound that it suggests the miraculous ; and science 
itself is so dumb in its presence that at least, it may be 
claimed, it has no authority to deny the miraculous. 
Here is a tiny speck on the very border line of the 
invisible. It is too minute for analysis ; it baffles all 
tests. But what strange powers are hidden in that 
almost invisible mote! It levies tribute from land 
and water and sky. It takes fibre from the earth, 
colour from the sun, energy from the gases of the 
atmosphere, and builds up its strange architecture of 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 73 

organs and faculties. And before the whole process 
Science stands with wondering eyes and silent lips. 
It has no explanation for what it sees. What miracle 
could be so completely beyond the possibility of ex 
planation as the force which lies at the root of every 
form of life ! 

But if the general vague doubt as to the miraculous 
be analysed, it will be found to consist of certain pre 
suppositions which are denionstrably false. There is, 
first, the assumption that God has emigrated from His 
universe. He touched it once to set it going; He 
placed on the cooling globe at least those two or 
three living germs into which was packed all life, and 
all history, and all literature. But since then He no 
longer interferes with the universe He has set going. 
The second pre-supposition is that natural law is some 
thing sacrosanct ; it is a changeless, imperative, and 
ascertained order ; an order which is an end to itself, 
and which it is a mere folly to think can ever be 
changed to serve any end outside itself. The third 
pre-supposition is that man, and all that man repre 
sents, count for little in the system of things. It is 
absurd to think that his welfare can weigh for an 
instant in the scales of cosmic values. The physical 
universe, with its supposed order, its network of in 
exorable and unconscious laws, is the supreme fact in 
the universe. The supernatural is irrelevant, incredible, 
something lying outside the very domain of science. 

That God is distant, that man is little and irrelevant, 



74 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

that nature meaning by nature the great circle of 
physical phenomena is great, these are the three un 
spoken assumptions in the great argument against 
miracles. And it may be said with the utmost con 
fidence that these three pre - suppositions are in 
conflict with both science and common sense. They 
result from looking at the whole universe in a false 
perspective. 

That the so-called laws of nature are nothing 
more than observed sequences of events has become 
almost a platitude ; and yet round the phrase natural 
laws still hangs a false authority which is an offence 
to science. A law of nature in the scientific sense, 
says Huxley, is the product of a mental operation 
upon the facts of nature which come under our obser 
vation, and has no more existence outside the mind 
than colour has/ Law, says Newman, 1 is not a 
cause, but a fact. When we come to the question of 
cause, then we have no experience of any cause, but 
will. The notion of natural laws as categories 
of imperative force may certainly be dismissed as 
unscientific. 

The notion, too, that God has emigrated from the 
physical universe, that the touch of His hand is to be 
discovered, not in the living world of to-day, but only 
at some far-off point in the measureless past, may be 
put aside with a smile. That is not the Christian 
theory. My Father worketh hitherto/ said Christ, 
1 Grammar of Assent, p. 69, 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 75 

and I work/ A concluded creation/ says Fairbairn, 
could only signify an exhausted universe and a dead 
deity/ Christian doctrine asserts the presence of the 
ever-working God in the living universe about us. 
Science, on its physical side at least, is not entitled to 
have any theory on the subject; yet all the great 
scientists are on the side of theology in this matter. 
They believe in the divine immanence. Look/ says 
Sir Oliver Lodge, for the action of the Deity, if at all, 
then always ; not in the past alone, not only in the 
future, but equally in the present. If His action is not 
visible now, it never will be, and never has been visible/ 1 
Even that school of science which almost persuades 
itself that God does not exist, or which attenuates 
Him into a vague impersonal mystery, yet believes that 
if He exists He fills the universe. 

Herbert Spencer, who banishes God from human 
knowledge as being for ever inscrutable, has to bring 
back God in the shape of an Energy, in order to keep 
the universe going. Through all the mysteries, the 
half-knowledge of life, there remains/ he says, the 
one absolute certainty that we are ever in the presence 
of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all 
things proceed/ It is not a remote or purely historic 
Energy, but one in whose presence we, and all things, 
stand every moment. An Energy which has set 
the universe going, and then departed from it, is to 
science itself unthinkable. 

1 Hibbert Journal, vol. i., No. 2, Jan. 1903, p. 214, 



7 6 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

But the best defence of miracles or, rather, of the 
supernatural, which is the true underlying issue is 
found in the latest scientific reading of the whole 
relation betwixt the material and the spiritual. A 
shallow and unscientific interpretation of the universe, 
even if it admits that the supernatural and spiritual, as 
well as the physical, exist, puts wide intervals of time 
and measureless gulfs of space between them. They 
belong to separate realms. They are in discord. If 
they touch the natural is broken. 

Now, it is not enough to say that the natural and 
the supernatural, the physical and the spiritual, are con 
current ; that we cannot conceive of one without the 
other. On the severest scientific reading of the facts of 
the universe, it is fused with spirit. It is intelligible 
only by the help of spirit. And through all its pheno 
mena, from the highest to the lowest, the physical is 
the servant of the spiritual. In Locke s psychology 
the human mind was simply a mirror which reflected 
the image of the external universe, brought to it by the 
senses; and Hume s scepticism was built on Locke s 
psychology, for he taught that the mind itself was 
nothing but a chain of such images without reality 
in them. 

But the profounder psychology of Kant taught that 
the mind is a laboratory, transforming what it receives 
from the external universe into some new thing. The 
mind receives through the eyes invisible vibrations of 
ether, and translates them into colour; nerve- waves, 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 77 

and transmutes them into form. We have been 
imagining, he says, space outside us, and have tried 
to find it in things ; but it is not in them, it is in us, 
involved in our method of contemplating substances. 
Time and space are categories of our own mind. 

All this sounds obscure and mystical, but we can 
verify it for ourselves. Where is colour ? Not in the 
sunset, in the snow peaks, in the purple sea, the soft 
green of the landscape, the blowing poppies. It is in 
us ! Vibrations of mysterious ether that ether which 
the latest guess of science whispers must be the ultimate 
stuff out of which the whole visible universe is made 
strike with varying degrees of intensity upon the sen 
sitive lens of the eyeball ; and somewhere betwixt the 
eye and the grey matter of the brain somewhere on 
that strange and unmapped border which lies betwixt 
the spirit and matter a strange thing takes place. 
The vibrations report themselves to our consciousness 
in the purple of the violet, the flush of the rose, the 
glory of the sunset, the majesty of the far-off hills. 
; No one can so much as guess how it is done. The 
passage from the physics of the brain to the correspond 
ing facts of consciousness, says Professor Tyndall, is 
unthinkable. But the passage takes place. And all 
the harmonies and discords of sound, all the majesty of 
form and splendour of colour in the external universe, 
is thus literally the creation of our own mind. Science, 
when it analyses the material world, discovers in it 
nothing but atoms and vibrations, energies and 



7 8 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

sequences ; it knows nothing of flame in the sunset, of 
sound in the vibrating air. Colour, it declares, is the 
creation of the eye, or of the mind behind the eye ; 
sound of the ear, or of the mind behind the ear. Spirit, 
that is, translates matter into its own terms before it 
can be so much as known. 

Beethoven, as every one knows, in his later years 
was deaf. No whisper of sound reached his conscious 
ness. But in the forum of his mind he wove the 
exquisite web of melodies unheard by himself, and, as 
far as his own consciousness was concerned, with no 
relation to sound. Music, his case proves, is a phe 
nomenon of mind, not of matter. 

All this is but the A B C of psychology. Colour, 
says Fairbairn, 1 does not inhere in things ; Nature, by 
herself, is without it. It is there because man is there 
and possesses that sense by which it is not simply 
perceived, but, in a sense, constituted. Nature gives 
us, in brief, the raw material of colour, of sound, of 
physical form. We bring it into perfect existence in 
the laboratory of the brain. Nature in her own right 
is, if not a void, yet at most a mere aggregate of 
mechanical properties. Her pomp of beauty, her 
voice, and all her harmonies she owes to mind. We 
receive from her what we have given to her, and with 
out them she would not be what she is. 

The very order of nature, on which so many eager 
disputants insist as an argument against the spiritual, 
1 Philosophy of Religion, p. 33, 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 79 

is itself a purely spiritual product. Atoms, says 
Illingworth, 1 combine in mathematical proportions. 
Stars move in their courses by mechanical rule, organic 
life in plant and animal is minutely and elaborately 
teleological. But these links are not mechanical ; they 
are spiritual. 

The order of nature thus is a combination of two 
elements, matter and spirit, set in a certain relation; and 
that relation, from the dust of the physical universe to 
its very crown, is one service on the part of matter to 
spirit. Matter is what moves in space, spirit is that 
which thinks, and wills, and loves ; and, as may be tested 
at any point, matter never uses spirit, but spirit always 
uses matter. Illingworth has wrought this out in 
matchless demonstration in his Divine Immanence. 
If matter/ he says, lay at our feet as a thing to be 
left or employed at will, we might regard its use as 
accidental. Bat its fusion with spirit is, in fact, far 
too intimate, its correlation too exact, to admit of any 
such idea. 2 Spirit and matter are linked together, but 
matter exists for spirit, not spirit for matter. 

What we find about us, then, is not a majestic order 
of physical structure, bound together by iron laws, 
to which spiritual ends are irrelevant, and weighed 
against which man, with his brief life and petty troubles, 
is but as an insect weighed against a planet. If this 
were so, it might be contended that it is foolish to 
suppose that the order of nature could be arrested, or 
1 Divine Immanence, p. 69. 2 Ibid., p. 8, 



8o The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

diverted, in the interests of man. We live, on the 
contrary, in a universe in which, at every point and 
throughout every moment, spirit rules matter ; claims 
as of right to govern and never to serve matter ; and 
in which matter is adjusted to spiritual ends. 

If, then, the assumption underlying a miracle is that 
at some given point, in some specific event, the laws of 
matter were made the servants of some spiritual end, 
this is not in conflict with what may be called the 
scientific reading of the usage of the universe. It is in 
profoundest harmony with it. For throughout all the 
categories of that universe matter is fused with spirit, 
and is the servant of spirit. The whole material 
universe, in brief, is set in exactly that relation to 
spiritual ends and forces for which miracles stand. 

All this, however, may seem to the man in the 
street somewhat academic, if not unintelligible. He 
does not understand psychological laws, and if told that 
the glow of sunset in the western sky does not really 
burn there, that its fires are lit in the cells of his own 
brain, is apt to be bewildered and incredulous. He is 
still more puzzled, if not sceptical, when told that time 
and space exist not outside him, but within him. Even 
a philosopher must admit that time does in some sense 
exist ; for if we acted in practical things on the theory 
that it is an illusion, then, as Sir Oliver Lodge reminds 
us, we should never catch a train ! 

Is it possible to translate the psychological argument 
for the empire of the spiritual over the material into 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 81 

easier and nearer terms ? Is there any reply to the 
argument against miracles that lies close at hand ; 
that can be easily understood ; that appeals to com 
mon sense and is justified by plain facts ? If so, this 
will supply for the man in the street the answer to 
the attack on miracles which he wants. 

And there is such an answer. It lies in our own con 
sciousness; in the plainest facts of the everyday world; 
in that relation to the external universe in which we 
are conscious we stand, and of which our very senses 
are the judge. If we consider, we shall find that we 
have ourselves a certain relation to natural order, 
which is shared by no other form of life known to 
us. We are part of the material system of things; 
yet, somehow, we stand above it ; we can study it ; 
we can set it in perspective, as though we looked at 
it from another realm ; we can read its secrets, put 
our hand upon its forces, master it, make it take for 
us the uses of a tool. We can put its laws into new 
combinations, and compel them to be the servants of 
our thoughts. We can use its energies to produce 
results which, to the whole system of things without 
us, would be impossible. 

And the reason is that we are free, personal, 
reasoning spirits, moving amongst the forces and laws 
of material nature as the master of a great factory 
moves amongst its flying wheels and travelling belts. 
They are our servants. The sequences of nature are 
to us mere tools. We cannot alter them, but we can 

G 



82 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

make them pliant to our will. A thousand illus 
trations leap up at once to show that we ourselves 
have power, without violating natural order, to produce 
results outside that order and impossible to it. 

It is a law of nature, for example, that iron shall 
sink in water. It took a miracle to make an axe- 
head float. But the modern shipbuilder will take 
ten thousand tons of iron, mould them to a certain 
shape, put within them one of the simplest physical 
forces, and so we have the spectacle of a great iron 
clad that not merely floats, but travels across the 
surface of the yielding sea with the ordered speed 
and momentum of a railway train. All the forces of 
nature put together would never build the ironclad. 
When man s shaping brain and faculty of controlling 
will are added to the process, the supernatural 
instantly emerges. 

The air-currents floating through the pipes of an 
organ are a purely natural force ; but not all the air 
currents that ever blew, not all the laws of harmony 
ever tabulated, would produce the Hallelujah Chorus. 
But mind, working through the cells of the musician s 
brain, bids these air-currents flow in certain measured 
pulses ; and lo ! the majestic harmonies of Beethoven 
and the stormy choruses of Wagner are created ! 

It is possible to say that a great bridge represents 
the triumph of physical energy; but shall we seek 
that energy, asks Sir Oliver Lodge, in the tin cans in 
which the navvies bring their breakfast, or in the mind 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 83 

of the engineer ? It is a familiar story how a famous 
engineer used the energy of the sea-tides to lift the 
huge tubes of the Menai Bridge to their place on the 
summit of the mighty stone piers. Great iron caissons 
were floated into position at the base of the piers. 
Each returning tide lifted them a certain height; the 
lift was captured and secured, and, foot by foot, to 
the pulses of the sea, the vast masses of iron rose 
to their place. 

Now, behind the sea-tides was a sequence of forces 
running to the farthest planets, and to the remotest 
ages of time. The physical energy of the whole 
material universe, in a sense, was in them. Yet 
they would never have built the Menai Bridge. To 
this great and ordered procession of natural forces 
must be added one tiny but tremendous plus the brain 
of the engineer ! Then the bridge becomes possible. 
It rises as the result of the energy of natural forces, 
but the result is impossible to that energy alone. 

A parable of the relation of the human mind to 
nature might be extracted, as Sir Oliver Lodge tells 
us, from the time-table on which a train runs. The 
train itself, travelling on fixed iron lines, and driven by 
unconscious mechanical forces, is a mere congeries of 
physical and unintelligent energies. The time-table 
is the mind of the director expressed in certain symbols, 
running ahead of the train, determining with varying 
adjustments at what speed the train shall travel, when 
and where and for how long it shall stop. It is a picture 



84 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

of mind acting in advance on mechanical sequences, 
and using them to reach an object which is outside them. 
Take a train/ Sir Oliver Lodge says, running through 
a savage country, moving, say, on the Cape to Cairo 
railway, without stopping. Natives on the route would 
come to regard it in time as a sort of force in nature, 
which moved through their country inexorably, and 
could not be stopped. They would come presently 
to suppose that it obeys fixed laws as, indeed, it 
does and that it is unchangeable. If they were told 
that it was arranged in the directors board-room, and 
they were sceptical and intelligent, they would say, 
" That is all nonsense. The thing goes because there 
is fire and steam." They would say, " What do you 
mean by a miracle ? It goes by perfect law and regu 
larity, and miracles do not happen." Yet they might 
be told that, if they wanted the train stopped, a peti 
tion conveyed to the board-room might get the train 
stopped. They would certainly be sceptical about 
that. Still, says the great scientist, dryly, * perhaps it 
might be managed by methods of which they were not 
aware. 

One explanation of miracles may certainly be 
found in that parable of the train and the time 
table. God s time-table of natural sequences may 
include the emergence of the miracle. Time, for Him, 
is non-existent : sequences do not exist ; all events 
for Him are present. But a larger and better reply 
is found in the assertion that in our own relation to 



The Logic of our Relation to Nature 85 

natural law there is a hint of God s relation to His 
universe. He cannot have a more remote relation to 
His own works than He has given to us. It is in 
credible that He has devised for us, and bestowed 
on us, a freedom of action, a power to use all natural 
forces as the immediate servants of our personal intelli 
gence, which He does not Himself possess. 

He who has made us the masters of the physical laws 
of the universe cannot Himself be their servant. God 
must possess in the scale of His own infinite nature, 
and throughout the fields of His vast universe, that 
present, personal, absolute mastery over the forces and 
sequences of His works which we, in the scale of our 
brief lives and of our limited powers, possess. It is 
not that once He built the machine and set it going, 
and then left it. He is for ever present. There is no 
point in space and no moment in time at which, and 
in which, He is not at work. His will, in the last 
analysis, is the great driving energy of the universe. 
And if that be so, the whole question of miracles is 
settled. They are reasonable, natural, and inevitable. 

God does not, it is true, act on caprice. He does 
not violate His own laws ; nor is any such violation 
needed to produce results above those laws. It is the 
obedience of His laws, not their violation, which 
makes the miracle possible. The natural and the 
supernatural are concurrent. The physical is covered 
over its whole area by the spiritual, as the elastic atmo 
sphere covers, over its whole area, the surface of the 



86 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

sea. And God does not sit inert and careless, or, per 
chance, asleep, in His own universe. This, says Sir 
Oliver Lodge, is a law-saturated cosmos. And what 
we call law is but the action of the creative Mind on 
the forces He has called into existence. 

And, granted the personal Mind of the Creator in 
His own creation, miracles are possible. Once admit 
of God, says J. S. Mill, and the production of an effect 
by His direct volition must be reckoned with as a 
serious possibility. 1 The only logical alternative to a 
belief in their possibility is, as Huxley frankly ad 
mitted, blank, unqualified atheism. .And that is a 
theory more profoundly abhorrent to the sane intellect 
than belief in all the miracles the Gospels record. 
1 Essays on Religion, p. 230. 



CHAPTER III 
The Logic of Verification 

The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not 
by faith, but by verification. HUXLEY, Lay Swmons. 

* If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine. . . . 

IN one of his letters St. John takes up the exultant 
phrase we know/ and claims it for religion. 
Again, and yet again, in accents of triumphant 
certainty, he repeats it. We know/ he says, that 
we are of God/ We know that the Son of God is 
come, and hath given us an understanding/ We 
know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, 
even in His Son Jesus Christ. For him, as his 
spiritual experience deepened and life drew to its close, 
religion became an august realm of verified certainties. 
Over all the vital doctrines of the Christian faith he 
writes that great and challenging affirmation, we know/ 
And yet multitudes of sceptics will say to the 
Christian, That is exactly what you do not do ! You 
dream ; you imagine ; you hope ; you believe. The 
dream is fair ; the imagination is noble ; the belief has 
a certain air of plausibility ; the hope might well be 
envied. But you never get beyond the misty horizons 



88 



The Unrealized Logic of Religion 



of faith, and faith is less than knowledge ; less sure, 
less safe. It comes short by unmeasured distance of 
certainty. The whole interval, indeed, betwixt religion 
and science, many people think, lies at that point. The 
man of science knows ; the man of religion merely 
believes. Eeligion, its critics say, is a kingdom of 
credulities. It is at best a realm of unverified specula 
tions. But science is a world of certainties 1 

And the secret of the triumphant certainty, audible, 
for the general ear, in every accent of science, lies in 
that word verification, which Huxley uses. The 
scientist can translate his theories into concrete shape 
at will. He can test them by an appeal to fact. He 
can produce and reproduce a given and specified result 
under given and exact conditions. 

Does any one doubt that all the primary colours lie 
hidden in each ray of white light ? A boy with the 
help of a broken bit of glass may repeat Newton s 
experiment, and splinter the shining pencil of soft 
white light into the rainbow. That water, at a certain 
temperature, becomes vapour, and at another tempera 
ture turns into a solid, is a doctrine of science which 
can be verified at will. A chemist discovers that a 
given solution will crystallize into a certain form, and 
reports the circumstance. Nobody need take the dis 
covery on trust. Any chemist in his laboratory can 
prepare the solution, and watch how in the precipitating 
fluid the angles of the coming crystal shape themselves, 
until the perfect crystal emerges. 



The Logic of Verification 89 

The whole strange mystic process reports itself 
to the senses, and will report itself as often as 
anybody chooses to repeat the experiment. A given 
metal, tried by the spectrum analysis, registers itself in 
certain colour-lines, arranged in a certain order ; and as 
often as the experiment is repeated, by no matter what 
hands, on the light yielded by that metal, taken from 
any source, the same spectrum emerges. Behind all 
the propositions of science, in a word, is the great law 
of the uniformity of nature. All separate facts run 
back into that uniformity, and express it. And so 
science stands, it is claimed, on a solid foundation of 
verified and constantly verifiable results. 

How far this claim for science is true is discussed 
elsewhere. Meanwhile, in the mysterious realm of 
religion are such verifications possible ? Can its truths 
be translated into concrete form at will ? Can they be 
put to the test of actual experiment, and survive the 
test? Dare the Christian believer take up Huxley s 
words, as well as Paul s, and say that he believes in 
justification, not merely by faith, but by verification ? 
Do we reach in the spiritual realm, in a word, the 
height of that great certainty which enables the soul 
to say, not merely I believe, but a more triumphant 
assertion yet I know 1 

It is true beyond all possibility of serious denial 
that the seal of a genuine verification can be put, and 
is daily put, on the doctrines of Christianity. Under 
certain conditions they are countersigned, both by the 



9O The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

personal consciousness of the believer, and by the visible 
facts of the world. 

Verification for a chemist consists in putting 
together the elements of a given formula so that they 
produce, and always produce, a result which can be 
predicted. Let the process be translated into spiritual 
terms. Let us imagine that into the soul of a thief 
the great forces of religion are, somehow, introduced. 
Something will instantly and inevitably follow. He 
will steal no more ! The thievish fingers will forget 
their evil art. Let us suppose that a fallen woman 
from the street comes under the forces of religion, and 
is converted. In the defiled soul of that woman a 
strange white flame of chastity will instantly begin to 
glow. Vice will become hateful, purity imperative. 
The harlot of yesterday will become to-day, if not a 
saint, yet a soul under the law of saintly forces. 

Let the missionary go with his New Testament to 
some cluster of savage tribes set on a reef-girdled 
island in the Pacific. The lesson of the missionary/ 
says Darwin, is the enchanter s wand. It is always 
the enchanter s wand ! It will not only create civilized 
habits, call a written language into existence, make 
commerce possible. It will slay lust and cruelty; it 
will make the savage gentle, the cannibal humane. 
The proof of this is written in history and on every 
page of the actual world. 

These experiments, of course, cannot be tried at will, 
for merely dialectical purposes, or at the bidding of a 



The Logic of Verification 91 

scientific curiosity. You cannot catch your thief and 
inject Christian principles into him, with a hypodermic 
syringe, as you inject drugs. You cannot inoculate 
your harlot at will, and with a lancet. Christianity 
can only be applied under its own conditions and laws, 
and these conditions are personal to the subject. They 
are conditions, not of scientific curiosity in the operator, 
but of moral surrender and trust in the personal soul 
to which Christianity makes its appeal. Huxley s 
famous proposal to apply a prayer-test to a given ward 
in a great hospital showed, on his part, a complete 
ignorance of the real nature of prayer, and of the 
spiritual laws which govern it. 

It can be no complaint against religion that it 
must be tested under its own conditions. That is 
true of every verification of science. Each phenomenon 
has its own laws, and must be dealt with in harmony 
with those laws. But when the conditions of religion 
are satisfied, that certain results follow, follow inevitably 
and instantly, is beyond challenge. History may be put 
into the witness-box to prove it; the visible facts of 
the world attest it 

But let us go a step farther. It may be claimed 
that, with uncounted multitudes of men and women 
to-day, religion stands, as a personal experience, in the 
category of verified truths. They do not simply be 
lieve, they know. They know by the surest evidence 
on which truth can be built the certitudes of con 
sciousness. 



92 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Millions of living men and women, for example, 
have undergone the process called conversion. They 
can recall the moment when, the place where, they 
yielded themselves to Christ. They hold still in vivid 
memory the phenomena and emotions which followed : 
the sudden rush of joy; the thrill of spirit touching 
spirit; the changed perspective of life; the sense of 
new relationships awakened; the empire of new 
motives suddenly established. And the essential 
identity of this great experience in myriads of lives, 
under the widest possible diversities of temperament, 
of education, and of environment, is a scientific phe 
nomenon of the most impressive sort. 

The experience is as old as authentic history, and 
yet as new as the last sunrise, or as the dews lying on 
to-day s flowers. It is not confined to poets and 
mystics, to monks and dreamers; the witnesses run 
through all ranks of life, all diversities of character, 
and all generations of time. They range from John and 
Paul, from Augustine and a Kempis, to Pascal and 
Luther, to Gordon and Havelock. How do exactly 
the same phenomena emerge under conditions so un 
like; in scholar and peasant, in little children and 
in learned men, in Augustine in the fifth century, 
and in John Smith in the twentieth century ? 

To many, it is true, religion does not report itself 
in any sudden rush of deep emotion, at some clearly 
dated moment, of the character described. But they 
know as a present fact, a fact verified from moment to 



The Logic of Verification 93 

moment in their consciousness, that religion is true ; 
that, being accepted, it produces certain results in 
character and life. For them religion is not a theology, 
a history, a ritual, a hymnology. It is not even a 
scheme of ethics. It is a life, with all the forces, the 
self-conscious energies, and the quick susceptibilities 
of life. It is a living relationship to a personal God ; 
and the relationship is as vivid and definite as any tie 
that links one human being to another. 

And all this knowledge, it is to be noted, stands on 
a foundation of evidence at least as sure as our know 
ledge of the external world itself. Our knowledge of 
the existence of the world of colour and form is only 
an act of faith in the veracity of the reports brought 
by the senses. It is but the translation into perception 
wrought we cannot tell how of certain nerve-vibra 
tions. And does the great spiritual nature within us, 
which stands related to the spiritual order, possess 
nothing linking it to that order which corresponds to 
the senses by which we are linked to the material 
world? Shall we trust the touch of our fingers, the 
sight of our eyes, the hearing of our ears, and not trust 
the deepest consciousness of our higher nature the 
answer of conscience, the flame of spiritual gladness, 
the glow of spiritual love ? 

To deny that spiritual experience is as real as 
physical experience is to slander the noblest faculties 
of our nature. It is to say that one half of our nature 
tells the truth, and the other half utters lies. The 



94 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

proposition that facts in the spiritual region are less 
real than facts in the physical realm contradicts all 
philosophy. 

And these subjective experiences, it is to be noted, 
are attested by external results. The inner experience 
has its reflex in the outer life. It registers itself in 
gentle tempers, in noble motives, in lives visibly lived 
under the empire of great forces. 

It may be objected that this verification is private, 
subjective; good, no doubt, for the soul to which it 
comes, but without authority for any one else ; whereas 
the verifications of science are universal. They are 
stamped with no personal signature, and wear and 
carry no marks of private ownership. 

But all knowledge runs back into privacy. We 
know in the scientific sense only what we have trans 
lated into the categories of our own mind. And the 
knowledge of God, sweet, and subtle, and sacred 
beyond all others, must have round it the shelter of 
a special privacy. Eeligion being in its final analysis 
a personal relation betwixt the personal soul and the 
personal God and Saviour, its verification must in the 
nature of things be personal. 

To make this position clearer, let it be remembered, 
for a moment, what knowledge/ in the scientific mean 
ing of the word, is. In the philosophical sense it is, 
and must be, an absolutely personal and untransferable 
thing. It rests on experience, it is limited to ex 
perience. We can, in the scientific sense, know nothing 



The Logic of Verification 95 

of which we have not had direct and individual ex 
perience, and which we have not translated into terms 
of consciousness. And experience for any one is a 
tiny and limited area, covering only a limited range 
of facts. But who in practical life limits knowledge 
to the tests and demands of philosophy ? We all/ 
says Illingworth, deal habitually with two kinds of 
knowledge, that which we verify for ourselves, and of 
whose truth we are personally certain, and that which 
we have never verified, and of which, therefore, at the 
very utmost, we can never be more than morally 
certain. l But who pretends to rediscover, personally, 
all science ; to verify all geography ; to reject from the 
category of historical knowledge everything that did 
not begin with his own personal existence, and is not 
capable of being verified within that existence ? 

We practically, and in every realm, accept the col 
lective experience of the race or even the experience of 
a tiny cluster of individuals as a sufficient equivalent 
for our own personal experience, and unhesitatingly 
describe what we thus learn as knowledge/ We 
claim to know there is a place called Tibet, even if 
our feet have never trodden its frosty plateau. We 
know it as certainly, if not as scientifically, as the men 
who have waded in its icy streams and felt the blowing 
of its bitter winds. Even a scientist does not pretend 
to knowledge at first hand outside his own section of 
study. He accepts nine-tenths of what he calls his 
1 Reason and Revelation, p. 77, 



96 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

science on hearsay. If he is a geologist, he takes his 
astronomy on trust. If he is an astronomer, he accepts 
his chemistry on authority. 

And knowledge which rests on the collective ex 
perience of the race, or of one section of the race, if it 
does not satisfy the philosophical definition of know 
ledge, and gives us only moral certainty, is yet 
sufficient for all the purposes of life. A king will 
reward a soldier, a jury will hang a criminal, a banker 
will cash a cheque, on very much less than first hand 
and direct knowledge. And in this large and popular, 
though untechnical, sense, religion stands in the category 
of verified certainties. It is attested by the general 
experience of mankind. 

The other and rarer form of knowledge knowledge 
whose witness lies in the secret and innermost chamber 
of the personal consciousness the knowledge which 
is final and absolute for its subject, is possessed as to 
religion by myriads, and it is absurd to say that their 
experience is not valid for any one but themselves. 
It constitutes a weight of evidence which, for the rest 
of mankind, amounts to moral certainty. Let any one 
reflect on the cumulative force of evidence called into 
existence by all these separate and isolated verifica 
tions. It is a mass of evidence as weighty as anytime 
known to science. 

For consider the witnesses, their number, their 
character ; how they fill the centuries, how they crowd 
every realm, how they constitute one great unbroken 



The Logic of Verification 97 

and many-centuried tradition. Here is a vast unceasing 
procession of men and women, born under every sky, 
belonging to every race and age, of all degrees of civiliza 
tion, all varieties of social rank. It is a procession 
of witnesses continually renewed. In character taken 
as a whole, and allowing for cases of imperfect develop 
ment they form the very salt of the race. Purity, 
truth, honour, integrity, humanity, all reach their highest 
level in them. The chain of witnesses stretches from 
the martyrs of the first Christian century to the last 
forgiven sinner of to-day. The Christian tradition is 
a thing which countless currents from countless sources, 
from countless ages, have imperceptibly gone to form ; 
4 brooks to quote Illingworth flowing into streams, 
streams swelling into rivers, rivers meeting in oceans, 
till the earth has become full of the knowledge of the 
Lord as the waters cover the sea. 

In her Glimpses of Tennyson, just published, 
Miss Agnes Grace Weld tells how the great poet, as 
he walked side by side with her on the high, wind 
swept hills about his house, said : 

God is with us now on this down as we two are walking 
together, just as truly as Christ was with the two disciples on the 
way to Erumaus; we cannot see Him, but He, the Father, and 
the Saviour, and the Spirit, are nearer perhaps now than then, to 
those that are not afraid to believe the words of the Apostles 
about the actual and the real presence of God and His Christ with 
ah 1 who yearn for it. 

I should be sorely afraid to live my life without God s 
presence, but to feel He is by my side just now as much as you 
are, that is the very joy of my heart. 

H 



98 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

This is an experience repeated in myriads of human 
souls. Will any one say that this vast company of 
earth s very noblest and best, stretching through all 
the centuries and found under all skies, represents 
one huge conspiracy of falsehood? Are all these 
witnesses dishonest or deceived ? If any physical 
phenomena were attested by such a body of witnesses, 
living or dead a chain of witnesses perpetually 
renewed doubt in regard to them would be insanity. ; 

God Himself makes this appeal to human con 
sciousness. Ye are My witnesses/ He says. And 
the personal experience of the uncounted multitudes 
of Christ s followers in every age is, in each unit of 
the great host, a direct verification of the reality 
of religion. And these constantly reverberated and 
reduplicated verifications entitle us to claim that 
religion, as surely as science, stands in the category 
of things verified. 

It may be asked why this experience is not 
universal ; and the answer is clear. The experience 
is not cheap, easy, independent of moral character; 
won without effort, and kept without care. God can 
only reveal Himself under the laws of personality, 
and these are fixed. They require attention, sympathy, 
moral harmony. A person who is holy cannot reveal 
himself to the unholy, for his character to them is a 
thing unintelligible, or even hateful. 

All knowledge has behind it personal conditions. 
All knowledge, indeed even knowledge of secular 



The Logic of Verification 99 

things runs back to a moral root. It represents, in 
the last analysis, attention ; and attention means desire, 
desire crystallized into will and sustained with effort. 
And personal knowledge depends absolutely on con 
ditions of harmony betwixt the person knowing and 
the person known. Blessed, says the Divine Word, 
are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. He 
that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. 
Nothing in philosophy is more profound than those 
words. 

Verification, we repeat, must always be personal. 
It must lie deep in the secrets of the spiritual nature ; 
and such a verification of religion lies within every 
man s reach. If any man will do His will, says 
Christ, he shall know. And the presumptions in 
favour of Christianity are so mighty, so sacred, are 
of so tender and moving a character, that this mood 
of willingness of eager and solemn consent to do 
God s will as soon as that will is known, and step by 
step as it is known is a moral obligation on every 
man. It is sufficient to put us on trial. 

There is no force of evidence on the side of unbelief 
that entitles any man to hold himself discharged from 
the duty of reverent and eager search after Christ. The 
mere possibility that He exists, that His gospel is 
true, that He has suffered for us, that He has redeemed 
us by His blood, and touches us with tender and nail- 
torn hands all this lifts the whole question of religion 
out of the realm of what may be called debating-society 



ioo The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

logic, and translates it into moral terms. It clothes 
the bare possibility that religion is true, or may be 
true, with authority for the conscience, with subduing 
sweetness for the heart. It becomes, even at this 
stage, that categorical imperative of which Kant 
had a vision so clear. 

And truth, no matter how beclouded by doubt, 
becomes at the touch of the loyal and assenting will 
translucent. The effort to obey scatters the shadows. 
It brings an instant verification. Obedience is the 
true and final solvent of doubt. 



CHAPTER IV 
The Logic of the Sunset 

Spirits are not finely touched, 
But to fine issues. 

SHAKESPEARE. 

Nature is visible thought. 

HEINE. 

IN" his Life, Darwin tells us how, after wandering in 
the shadowy and leafy depths of a Brazilian 
forest, he wrote in his diary, It is not possible 
to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of 
wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate 
the mind. He recalls that passage late in life, and 
says with a certain accent of regret, Now the grandest 
scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings 
to arise in my mind. 

That decay of the higher susceptibilities in his case 
illustrates, of course, the law that the unused faculty 
dies. But Darwin himself can be quoted in proof of 
the fact that nature in one of her many forms of beauty 
the beauty of a vast tropical forest has power to 
strike in the human soul the chords of a feeling which 
is deeper than admiration, loftier than wonder ; a mood 



102 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

of devotion ; the sense of a Presence behind nature, 
and speaking through nature, to which the soul turns 
with an impulse of worship. 

But that experience is repeated in human life 
constantly; it is reflected on every page of litera 
ture. The experience, it is true, does not come at 
will ; it is not possible in every mood. The capacity 
for it may be slain. But whoever has watched closely 
the emotions aroused in his own mind by any of the 
higher manifestations of natural beauty must have 
found that in them, and through them, ran a certain 
deep note of religious feeling. 

Almost every form of natural beauty will at some 
time or other produce this effect. The silent multitude 
of the stars at night ; the glow of the sunrise and of 
the sunset ; the vastness of a mountain crowned with 
the pure whiteness of snow; the fret of sea waves 
seen against the curving edge of the horizon ; beauty 
of blossoming fruit-tree filled with the scents of spring 
and the hum of bees ; beauty of sound, from the lark s 
keen trill high in the sky, to the undertone of the sea 
at night time ; beauty of colour, from the deep blue of 
the arched sky to the purple that lies in the cup of a 
violet; beauty of form, from the trembling grace of 
the blue-bell to the stern majesty of a peak in the 
Himalayas ; all have power, in some of our moods at 
least, to touch the human spirit to fine issues. 

Literature has for the intellect the functions of the 
spectrum analysis. It reveals imperishable elements 



The Logic of the Sunset 103 

that lie hidden in the general human mind. And 
literature everywhere, in prose and poetry alike, makes 
visible this strange power concealed in the higher 
forms of natural beauty ; the power to speak to the 
In^an spirit and to awaken in it emotions through 
which runs a sense of religion. Illingworth fills whole 
pages in his Divine Immanence with extracts from 
poets of every land and every tongue to show that 
in this way matter becomes to us the channel of 
religious forces. Wordsworth speaks for the whole 
choir of poets when in the well-known lines on 
Tiutern Abbey he tells how, looking on a sunset, he 
has felt 

A presence that disturbs me with a joy 
Of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns 
And the round ocean and the living air, 
And the blue sky and in the mind of man. 

Cowper, in his more restrained fashion, repeats the 
thought in such lines as 

Nature employed in her allotted space 
Is handmaid to the purposes of Grace. 

Pope again, infinitely less spiritual than Cowper, 
yet has the same conception 

Nature affords at least a glimmering light, 

The lines, tho touched but faintly, are drawn right. 

Examples may be gathered from every page of 
literature and from every class of mind. Burns, 



104 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

trudging behind his plough in a Scottish field, sees a 
daisy in the track of the keen ploughshare, and from 
that wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower, somehow an 
influence thrills his conscience, and he sees in it a 
dim suggestion of some penalty, driven of inexorable 
law, waiting himself. William Cullen Bryant sees 
darkly painted on the crimson sky with wide-stretched 
wings, the figure of a water-fowl. He asks 

Whither, midst falling dew, 

While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, 
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue 

Thy solitary way? 

Then, as he muses, faith in God s providence for him 
self awakens 

There is a power, whose care 
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast 
The desert, the illimitable air 

Lone wandering, but not lost 

He who, from zone to zone, 

Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, 
In the long way that I must tread alone, 

Will lead my steps aright. 

But these, it may be said, are poets, with the un- 
chartered imagination natural to poets. But the same 
effect, as we have seen in Darwin s case, is produced, 
by the same cause, in the mind of a scientist. Who 
does not remember how Linnaeus knelt and adored 
amid the blossoming gorse outside London ? Who 
does not remember Kepler s cry as he spelt out the 



The Logic of the Sunset 105 

wonders of the stars, God, I am thinking Thy 
thoughts after Thee ! ? 

How deep a chord of religious emotion may be 
struck by the humblest form of vegetable life is illus 
trated in the familiar story of Mungo Park. Plun 
dered, beaten, stripped by a band of savages, five 
hundred miles from the nearest human help, he 
tells how he flung himself down under the blazing 
African sun to die. As he lay despairing, a tiny bead 
of moss caught his eye. It was no bigger than the tip 
of his finger ; and yet as he looked at the exquisite 
shaping of its roots, leaves, and capsule, he asked him 
self whether the Mind which planned and sheltered, 
and brought to such a perfection of beauty that tiny 
bead of moss could forget him. The tiny speck of 
vegetable life had for him the office of a prophet, it 
spoke to him with a prophet s lips. I started up, 
he said, and, disregarding both hunger and fatigue, 
travelled forward. That impulse of faith was not in 
the moss, but it streamed through it into that fainting 
human spirit. 

Wordsworth was a poet ; but multitudes who have 
no poetic gift have shared the experience he describes, 
when he declares that in him the meanest flower 
that blows could awaken thoughts too deep for 
tears. 

Now here is an effect which must have some cause 
corresponding to it in nature. Are these emotions 
accidents or illusions ? That is incredible. They form 



io6 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

part of universal human experience ; they are common to 
men of every temperament and every land. The atoms 
and ether waves that science discovers behind colour are 
real; the sensations which race from them along the 
nerves are real; the perceptions which mysteriously 
emerge from these nerve-waves in the consciousness, 
they, too, are real. And the effect on the spirit, which 
is the last link in this chain of effects, is surely as real 
as all the rest. Illingworth, indeed, says that the 
emotional effect is even more real, in the only intel 
ligible sense of the word, than the mechanical causes 
which produce it, since it more profoundly touches our 
personality. 

But, it may be argued, these spiritual emotions 
aroused by natural beauty are nothing better than 
tricks of the imagination, and need not be taken 
seriously. Poets feel them, and artists. The reason 
knows nothing of them. But this, again, is unscien 
tific. These emotions are the legitimate answer of 
our personality to the touch of some external cause. 
We cannot logically say that one part of our per 
sonality is to be taken seriously, and the other to 
be ignored; that the answer one part gives to an 
external appeal is veracious, but the response of the 
other is an illusion. The emotions are as much 
a part of our personality as the reason ; and, in its 
order, the answer of the imagination is as valid as 
that of reason. 

Nor can these impressions produced in our spiritual 



The Logic of the Sunset 107 

nature by physical beauty be dismissed as being in 
themselves material. The effect lies in the spirit. The 
mind in us uses matter ; the brain cannot think with 
out the help of the blood that nourishes it, and the 
blood is made up of oxygen and nitrogen, of phosphorus 
and carbon. But the mind itself does not consist of 
chemical elements ; nor have these chemical elements 
the sensibilities of mind. 

These spiritual impressions produced on us by 
forms of physical beauty must be taken seriously ; and 
they are part of a great fact, true in every field of the 
universe, the fact of the relation betwixt matter and 
spirit. According to one reading of the universe, it 
is, to quote a well-known scientist, a chain of law 
whose beginning and ending are unknown, and on 
which mind and matter are strung like beads ; but 
not even the authority of a great name can make 
that statement credible. The very sense attached to 
the term law in it is unscientific. Natural law, in 
the accurate meaning of the word, is nothing more 
than a certain observed sequence of phenomena. 
And spirit and matter are not twin, unconscious 
beads strung upon some iron thread of law. Spirit 
is a free force, and matter everywhere is its servant 
and minister. 

It is not merely that matter is interfused with 
mind; nor that matter, as science analyses it, and 
tracks it down to its starting-point, melts evermore 
into terms of mind ; becoming, that is, nothing but a 



io8 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

disguise of force. To the man in the street; the state 
ment that colour is not in the sunset or the flower, but 
in his own brain ; that time and space are categories 
of his own mind, will seem unintelligible or even 
absurd. They may be metaphysically true ; but he will 
think they are hardly less absurd on that account. 
And yet matter, as our wiser science now teaches, is 
but the raw material that mind uses to produce all 
those phenomena in the consciousness we describe as 
form, colour, &c. Matter is everywhere the tool and 
servant of mind. It exists for the sake of mind. Its 
laws or relations, as we have seen, can only be described 
in terms of mind. 

And the effect of physical beauty on the deeper 
emotions of our personality is the most significant part 
of the service matter renders to mind. It shows that 
to us, under certain conditions, and in certain moods, 
matter has a religious office. It becomes the vehicle 
of religious forces. For let the effect of a landscape, or 
a sunset, or the sound of the lark s voice falling out of 
the sky, or the deep monotone of the sea heard through 
the darkness the voice of mighty waters rolling ever 
more be analysed. Amongst the effects are some 
clearly and definitely religious. Perhaps what has 
been called the sacrament of the sunset the colours 
that flame, and then grow pale and die in the western 
sky as the sun sinks can best be analysed, since the 
spectacle is so constantly recurrent and on a scale so 
large. 



The Logic of the Sunset 109 

What is the exact emotional effect produced by a 
sunset ? The most easily recognized is, no doubt, the 
pathetic reminder it gives of our own mortality; the 
sense of transitory things. The little perishing life 
under the great arch of the sky, how brief it seems ! 
How swiftly comes the end of it all ! The ending day 
tells us, in nature s mighty yet fading hieroglyphics, of 
other endings. Sunt laclirymae rerum. This is how 
Wordsworth interprets the sunset 

The clouds that gather round the setting sun 
Do take a sober colouring from the eye 
That hath kept watch o er man s mortality. 
Another race hath been, and other palms are won. 

But if the mood kindled by the sunset-skies be 
analysed, deeper elements will be found in it, some 
pensive, some peaceful, some strangely ennobling. 
There are in it sometimes forces that rebuke. Vile 
things in us are taught shame ; petty and fermenting 
quarrels are hushed. Life seems set against a new and 
loftier background. Sometimes, as we look, a sense of 
kinship with other orders, and even a sense of perma 
nency in ourselves beneath nature s changes, dimly 
stirs. Something of the peace of the great skies falls 
upon us. 

And, deepest of all, there is a sense of the power 
and greatness of the Infinite Creator and Lord of 
all worlds, whose thoughts, in terms of beauty, we 
see. 

All this goes to prove that there is in matter 



no The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

a religious office. The ether waves, the atoms 
which constitute matter, become the vehicle of forces 
which are non-material The sea/ says the Auto 
crat of the Breakfast-table, belongs to eternity, and 
of that it sings. The starry heaven/ says Burke, 
never fails to excite an idea of grandeur, and this 
cannot be owing to anything in the stars themselves. 
Every one remembers Keats s famous line, A thing of 
beauty is a joy for ever/ but we forget how he goes on 
to say that physical beauty itself is 

An endless fountain of immortal drink 
Pouring unto us from the heaven s brink. 

Now there is certainly no religious element in the 
mere structure of nature; in ether waves and atoms, 
in hydrogen and carbon and phosphorus. And yet 
it is also certain a fact attested, as we have seen, by 
all literature and all human experience that there is 
a religious service wrought into the very structure of 
the physical universe. And it follows from this that 
there is Something behind the veil of the material 
universe seeking religious ends, and appealing to us 
through matter for religious ends. 

That mind should use matter to carry to other 
minds messages of which matter itself knows nothing 

o 

is a fact proved by universal experience. What do 
the leaden types on which Hamlet is printed know 
of the meaning of the great drama? But Shake 
speare s genius uses those bits of metal still to thrill 



The Logic of the Sunset in 

our minds with all the splendours of his creative 
imagination. What do the air waves of which the 

O 

Hallelujah Chorus is composed know of the exulta 
tion, the fervours of worship and adoration they convey 
to us? It is the soul of Handel behind these air waves 
that speaks to our souls through them. A cluster of 
wind-blown flags at the mast-head of the Victory on 
the great day of Trafalgar kindled the seamen of a 
whole fleet with a new daring. They still are a force 
stirring in the blood of the English-speaking race 
everywhere. But what did the flags know of the 
message they carried ? 

There must be mind at both ends of such a message. 
The mind of Nelson is still in the syllables of the 
historic signal, the mind of Handel in the great chorus. 
And there is Mind speaking to our minds through all 
these natural phenomena of which we have spoken 
the glow of the sunset, the song of the bird, the mighty 
concave of the sky, the dim shapes of far-off mountains, 
the figure of the water-fowl outlined against the purple 
sky. To deny this is to say that in the signal at 
Trafalgar there was nothing but the woven cotton and 
the crude colours of the flags ; that in the Hallelujah 
Chorus there is nothing but certain vibrations of 
air. 

* If a poet, says Sir Oliver Lodge, witnessing the 
cloud-glories of a sunset, for instance, or the profusion 
of beauty with which snow-mountains seem to fling 
themselves to the heavens, in districts unpeopled and 



ii2 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

in epochs long before human consciousness awoke 
upon the earth; if such a seer feels the revelation 
weigh upon his spirit with an almost sickening pressure, 
and is constrained to ascribe this wealth and pro 
digality of beauty to the joy of the Eternal Being 
in His own existence to an anticipation, as it were, 
of the developments which lie before the universe in 
which He is at work, and which He is slowly guiding 
towards an unimaginable perfection, it behoves the 
man of science to put his hand upon his mouth, lest, 
in his efforts to be true in the absence of knowledge, 
he find himself uttering, in his ignorance, words of 
lamentable folly or blasphemy. l 

We must, then, on scientific grounds, and as a 
scientific fact, accept the religious office hidden in 
matter. God sets on the frontiers of the morning and 
the night the great signal of sunrise and of sunset. 
Over the dust of city streets and the clamour of city 
crowds burn the great fires of the dying sun. It is 
God s signal to us set in His heavens. He makes the 
rolling of the earth sunward a message. The sky, 
says Euskin, is the part of nature in which God has 
done more for the sake of pleasing man, more for the 
sole and evident purpose of touching him, than any 
other of His works. And at how many points, by 
how many signals and voices, God in these accents 
speaks to us ! Oliver Wendell Holmes picks up a shell 
on the seashore, and in his poem of The Chambered 
1 Eibbert Journal, 



The Logic of the Sunset 113 

Nautilus/ he tells how the tiny shell became a parable 
and a message to him 

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee, 

Child of the wandering sea, 

Cast from her lap forlorn! 
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born 
Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn ! 

While on mine ear it rings, 
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voico that sings 

Build thee more stately mansions, my soul I 

As the swift seasons roll 1 

Leave thy low-vaulted past ! 
Let each new temple, nobler than the last, 
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, 

Till thou at length art free, 
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life s unresting sea! 

Shelley hears the lark singing at heaven s gate 

Singing hymns unbidden 
Till the world is wrought 
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not. 

Of all God s gifts to the sight of man, says 
Euskin, colour is the holiest, most divine, and most 
solemn ; and he repeats that lesson a hundred times 
over in his pages. And these exquisite cadences of 
colour, that touch the spirit so finely, and to an issue 
so fine, do they represent merely forces in matter, or a 
Spirit behind matter, and which speaks through it to 
our spirits ? There is religion, says Euskin, in every 
thing around us, a calm and holy religion in the unbreath- 
ing things of nature. ... It is a meek and blessed 
influence, stealing in, as it were, unawares upon the 

I 



H4 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

heart ; it is fresh from the hands of its author, glowing 
from the immediate presence of the great Spirit which 
pervades and quickens it ; it is written on the arched sky, 
it looks out from every star, it is on the sailing cloud 
and in the invisible wind ; it is among the hills and 
valleys of the earth, where the shrubless mountain- 
top pierces the thin atmosphere of eternal winter, or 
where the mighty forest fluctuates before the strong 
wind, with its dark -graves of green foliage; it is 
spread out, like a legible language, upon the broad 
face of the unsleeping ocean. It is the poetry of 
nature ! It is this which uplifts the spirit within 
us, until it is strong enough to overlook the shadows 
of our place of probation; which breaks, link after 
link, the chain that binds us to materiality, and which 
opens to our imagination a world of spiritual beauty 
and holiness. 

God, in a word, surrounds us with beauty, from 
the star-filled heavens above our heads to the flower- 
sprinkled grass under our feet ; from the eastern skies 
where in glory the day is born, to the western horizon 
where in splendid but fading tints it dies. And this 
ministry of beauty has spiritual ends. And these ends 
are part of the original purpose of material beauty; 
for that cannot be in the conclusion which was not 
already in the premisses. And this higher office of 
natural beauty is missed by us only when by mere 
disuse we have killed the sensibilities to which it 
appeals. 



The Logic of the Sunset 115 

Now if there are religious forces streaming upon us 
through material things, there must be some great Mind 
behind the veil of matter, seeking religious ends in us, 
and using the very molecules and vibrations of the 
material universe to serve those ends. The witness of 
God and religion, in brief, is wrought into the very 
structure of the physical universe, and the witness of 
our own involuntary response to physical beauty 
attests it* 



BOOK III 
IN PHILOSOPHY 



CHAPTER 1 
The Logic of Proportion 

1 The utmost for the highest. The motto of Watts, the painter. 

IF the essential elements of beauty are analysed it 
will be found that a certain law of proportion, a 
definite harmony of scale, runs through them and 
links them together. Failure at this point is the defeat 
of beauty. Nor is it merely art that demands propor 
tion ; in every realm known to the human mind it is a 
postulate of the healthy intellect. The preface must 
bear some true ratio to the book, the prelude to the 
song, the pedestal to the statue. If a sculptor were to 
construct a pedestal a hundred feet high, and perch on 
it a statue of a dozen inches, his work would cover him 
with ridicule. That perfection of any sort of form, 
or of character lies in a certain balance and symmetry 
of proportion is a law which runs through all realms. 

And the law applies to life and character. The 
intellectual is higher than the physical ; the moral 
than the intellectual ; and any nature that touches 
these three realms, to be perfect, must be highest in the 
realm that is loftiest. He must be higher in intellectual 



iso The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

than in material terms, and higher in moral than even 
in intellectual qualities. A human body with the 
limbs of Hercrles, the grace of Antinous, but with the 
brain of a flea and with a non-existent conscience, 
would be a jest. A perfect body linked to a perfect 
intellect, but without any touch of moral qualities, 
would be a devil. 

A British private, to a critic who complained that 
Wellington was a very little man, replied, trium 
phantly, that he was biggest at the top ; and any 
nature in the degree in which it is perfect must obey 
this law of proportion. The motto of Watts, the 
great English artist, The utmost for the highest, 
was simply the law of artistic proportion expressed 
in terms of conduct. So certain is this rule that it 
might be described as an imperative demand of the 
healthy reason. Give an astronomer the curve of a 
planet s track through space, and he will construct 
the full orbit. Give a mathematician the first term of 
a geometrical progression, and he will draw out the 
whole series. So in a perfect nature, if we know 
what is in lower terms, we can affirm, with absolute 
confidence, what it must be in higher things. 

Now, all this applies to God ; it is the law of 
His character and works. What He is in His lowest 
works tells, with a certainty as absolute as anything 
known to mathematical science, what He must be in 
higher things. The ellipse must fulfil the prophecy of 
the curve. The first term of the progression, unless 



The Logic of Proportion 121 

mathematical science itself is false, is the index of later 
and higher terms. 

Now, God s lower works lie near us, in the realm of 
our senses. The material universe is the expression of 
what He is in material terms ; and we are learning, 
with the help of science, to spell out the great alphabet 
of its wonders. When God thinks in terms of matter, 
He thinks in planets. The Milky Way itself is but 
one of His thoughts. Sir Oliver Lodge, in rebuking 
the purely materialistic reading of the universe, makes 
a daring use of the analogy suggested by the changes 
in the grey matter of our own brain which attend each 
process of thought. Perhaps, he suggests, the whole 
mighty rush of the countless hosts of stars is but the 
expression, in material terms, of thought in the divine 
Mind! 

Certainly if we want to know in what mighty 
circles God s thoughts run, with space as their field, 
and matter as their instrument, we must take the 
wheeling stars for our guide. And day by day, with 
deeper and more adoring accents, we are learning to 
cry, Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God 
Almighty. How David sang of God s glory, as re 
vealed in the stars on which his eyes looked, we know ; 
but in what new rapture of adoration would he have 
struck the keynote of his psalm had he been told that 
all the stars human eyes can see are but a handful 
compared with the unseen armies of the sky that lie 
beyond all seeing! And there are wonders in their 



122 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

flaming depths, in the presence of which thought and 

imagination seem to droop rebuked, or even afraid 
can cast a plummet into the stream of the Milky 

Way, that great river of stars, and sound its depths, 

and map out its currents ? 

Yet all these stars consist of brute, unconscious 
matter. They know nothing of their own splendour, 
their paths through space, of their rushing speed 
They are God s lowest works. Their mere scale, it is 
true, oppresses us. They dwarf us into the insi^ifi. 
cance of insects. They seem to push God beyond our 
reach. And yet it is certain they represent only the 
outer fringe of God s greatness. They scarcely even 
begin to reveal what God Himself is. They are a rude 
unconscious measure of His physical omnipotence, and 
that, in the scale of God s attributes, is His least and 
lowest glory. 

Not the mass of the material universe not its 
energies, not the rush of the planets, the almost measure 
less sweep of their orbits, is what is most wonderful 
higher than this is the intelligence that rules them 
and maintains the equipoise of all the wheelina planets 
The world of stars is built on mathematical terms 
on principles of ordered and numerical ratio. It is not 
merely the revelation of God s power, made to us in 
terms of force and matter, nor the ordered and stu 
pendous architecture of the heavens, which overwhelms 
It is the creative mind behind that architecture with 
its height and depth, its minuteness and its vastness. It 



The Logic of Proportion 123 

is too high for us. It outruns even our wonder. It 
bewilders us. We catch only broken visions of it ; and 
then beneath the revelation thought sinks, overwhelmed. 

And modern science, as we have seem, is opening 
ever new kingdoms of creative intelligence to our 
wonder. A few years ago the ultimate form of matter 
was supposed to be found in sixty or seventy primary 
elements, irreducible and inconvertible. They repre 
sented the stuff of which the physical universe was 
made. But science has untwisted the last fibres of 
matter; it has broken open these ultimate capsules. 
And lo, it is found that each lightest atom rehearses the 
order, and reproduces the glory of the whole star- 
crowded heavens ! Within the tiny curve cf each of 
these supposed ultimate molecules is a cluster of points 
of electrical energy, which correspond to the planets 
and asteroids in a solar system. Hidden in a drop of 
dew are a thousand star-systems more wonderful than 
anything the heavens know, because they revolve in 
dimensions which not by their vastness, but by their 
minuteness evade not only our senses, but almost our 
comprehension. 

And so God, in the infinitesimal, seems more wonder 
ful than even in the infinite. We have neither imagi 
nation nor wonder adequate for the mystery of power 
and wisdom thus revealed to us. The starry heavens, 
says Mr. Balfour, in his address to the British Associa 
tion, have from time immemorial moved the worship 
or the wonder of mankind. But if the dust beneath 



124 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

our feet be indeed compounded of innumerable systems, 
whose elements are ever in the most rapid motion, yet 
retain through uncounted ages their equilibrium un 
shaken, we can hardly deny that the marvels we 
directly see are not more worthy of admiration than 
those which recent discoveries have enabled us dimly 
to surmise. 

But let all we have learned of God at this point 
be analysed. It is absolutely destitute of any moral 
elements. It is high high beyond our dreams; but 
we are sure it is not the highest. We have revealed 
to us the wonders of matter and of material force, the 
wonders of the Contriving Mind, all on a scale which 
outruns our very imagination. When God thinks in 
terms of matter, the solar system is one of His thoughts. 
When He thinks in terms of physical power, all 
the omnipresent energies of gravitation express that 
thought. When He thinks in terms of contriving 
skill the balance and harmony of the material universe 
give us a measure of the range of intellect expressed. 

But if the story stopped short at this point, how 
much would be lacking ! The highest word would be 
unspoken, the loftiest realm unreached. We should 
have the pedestal without the statue, the preface with 
out the volume, the prelude without the song. Power 
in its highest terms, intellect in its noblest exercise, 
divorced of moral qualities, might be the equipment 
and revelation of a devil. Does God stop short at 
that point? That would be to say, not that He 



The Logic of Proportion 125 

does not exist, but that He is a Being deformed, or 
malformed. 

No; the wonders, the energies, the speed beyond 
comprehension of God s physical omnipotence; the 
splendours of His creative and contriving wisdom thus 
dimly revealed to us, are nothing more than the first 
terms in a geometrical series. They are only the 
curve which foretells the ellipse. The law of propor 
tion, the test of all beauty, the condition of all per 
fection, must apply to God. He must be highest in 
the highest. What He does in the realm of unintelli 
gent matter can only be the rude index of what He 
does in the kingdom of moral qualities. 

The Hebrew psalmist saw this, and dared to say, 
1 As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is 
His mercy toward them that fear Him. The measure 
of the physical heavens, that is, is the index, in terms 
of matter, of the sweep of God s love ; and yet it can 
never be more than an imperfect index. God must 
be not merely as great on the spiritual side as He is 
on the physical ; He must be greater ! His mercy 
must have a curve even beyond that of the measureless 
heavens. It must have heights beyond our dreams 
and depths below our sounding. It must hide wonders 
which outrun our utmost thoughts. 

The law that God must be greatest in the highest 
is axiomatic, and it robs, at a breath, the scale of the 
material universe of its terrifying power. It is idle to 
deny that faith does, in some moods, find the height 



i26 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

of the heavens dreadful. The number and the rush of 
the stars, the far-running curves of space, they terrify 
the imagination. But the law of proportion which 
must apply to God turns these wide heavens, with all 
their mysterious chambers, into an argument, not against 
hope, but for it. The physical heavens which find 
room in their depths for the orbits of a thousand million 
stars are but a parable, in physical terms, of the greater 
firmament of God s mercy. Nay, the physical is but 
the first term of the series, and the series must multiply 
as it ascends. God, to come back to our starting-point, 
must be biggest at the top. 

When He thinks in terms of matter, as we have 
said, He thinks in planets. When He thinks in terms 
of love, does He think in inches ? When, in the depths 
of space, He draws the orbit of a planet, how mighty is 
the curve ! And when in the mysterious realm of His 
love He draws the orbit of a soul, does His hand 
move in narrower curves ? 

That is to say that God inverts, in His own per 
sonal character, all those laws of beauty which He 
has Himself made imperative on our reason. It is 
to say that He has the physical strength of a giant 
linked to the moral scale of a dwarf. 

The material universe is only the outer court of 
the great temple of God; the spiritual realm is the 
Holy of Holies. And who shall dare to think that 
the outer court is more splendid than the very presence- 
chamber of the Creator ? By a mathematical necessity, 



The Logic of Proportion 127 

a progressive series must run on, clothing itself with 
new powers as it runs. And by a moral necessity God 
must work in the spiritual realm on even nobler terms 
than those shown by His works in the kingdom of matter. 

Now, the applications of this principle are innumer 
able, and they reinforce faith at a thousand points. Let 
it be realized, for example, what a miracle of beauty 
God hides, say, in the cup of a violet. Nature, it has 
been finely said, is not an artisan but an artist ; but 
nature is a word which tricks the sense. God is the 
divine artist. He takes for His canvas a little curve 
of vegetable fibre ; He bids the brown earth, the falling 
rain, the hastening light become His servants, and He 
makes for its brief life a spring blossom the cup of 
a violet, the curve of a lily, the close-packed leaves of 
a rose beautiful. How God works for perfection in 
even a dying flower! He takes from the untwisted 
light all the glories of colour to adorn it. 

And all this is a parable of higher things. What 
must be God s ideals for the imperishable soul ? To 
wards what ideals of beauty and of purity in it does 
He work ; what mysterious reflections of His own 
perfect grace does He not seek for it ? 

It is incredible that He should make the unconscious 
earth, and the wind-driven rain, and the far-off fountains 
of the sun co-operate to make a perishing flower beau 
tiful for a moment, and then be careless about the 
beauty of a soul. God s ideals in the material realm 
are of perfect grace. They must grow richer as they 



128 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

rise through other realms. And looked at in this 
light, the purple cup of a violet is an argument for the 
richest spiritual hopes. 

Or an illustration can be taken from another realm. 
A microscopic speck of radium, it is computed, is 
capable of sending out a stream of fiery particles for 
thirty thousand years. A needle dipped into a solution 
of radium nitrate, when viewed through a microscope, 
and set opposite a phosphorescent screen, will turn the 
screen into a target for successive jets of tiny stars, and 
the surface of the screen will be broken into minute 
crystals by the stream of particles which rush on it 
from the needle. A radium electroscope has been de 
signed which is calculated to go on automatically ring 
ing a bell for thirty thousand years. 

Now, if God has hidden in the tiny curve of an 
almost invisible speck of radium a physical energy so 
tremendous, an energy whose pulses will beat through 
tens of thousands of years, what possibilities of sus 
tained energy has He not hidden in the spirit of His 
child ! Is He mightier in the atom than in the human 
spirit ? 

To one who has seen that pulse of fiery particles 
streaming from an invisible speck, and realizes that it 
will maintain its energy through whole ages, a belief in 
the immortality of the human soul gains a quite new 
credibility. 

But these analogies are merely incidental. The 
underlying affirmation is that by the mere logic of 



The Logic of Proportion 129 

proportion, the logic that demands that the circle shall 
fulfil the promise of the curve, all the wonders of re 
demption the Incarnation with its mystery, the Cross 
with its atoning suffering, the broken grave with its 
deliverance of a dying race from death, all the miracles 
and splendours of our salvation, in a word are not 
only credible ; they are inevitable. The pledge of them 
is found in the overwhelming revelations of the physical 
universe. And each new kingdom of wonders opened 
to us by science gives them a new credibility. For on 
any simple rule of proportion, if God be so glorious in 
the meaner realm, what must be the splendour of His 
thoughts, and what the greatness of His works in the 
higher realm ! For if we know nothing else about His 
glories, we are sure, at least, of this : they must grow 
brighter as they run higher I 



CHAPTER II 
The Logic of Ourselves 

1 If the idea of Order underlies all scientific thought, standing, 
as it were, at the entrance of scientific reasoning, there is another 
idea which stands at the end of all scientific thought. This is 
the idea of Unity in its most impressive form as Individuality. 
PROFESSOR MFRZ, History of European Thought. 

1 Should we possess these things and God not possess them ? 
SIR OLIVER LODGE. 

IF any one asks what is the central doctrine of 
religion, the doctrine that for many minds grows 
pale, and beyond all others needs to be reinforced 
in authority and made vivid to the understanding and 
the imagination, the answer must be, It is the doctrine 
of the personality of God. For when the sense of 
that great central fact becomes faint religion itself 
perishes. And it is exactly at this point lies the 
greatest peril of current religion. 

We are not tempted to whisper with the fool There 
is no God. Naked atheism belongs to the wards of a 
lunatic asylum. Some persons, it is true, contrive to 
keep on friendly terms with atheism by clothing it 
with all sorts of verbal and philosophical disguises; 



The Logic of Ourselves 13 l 

but atheism, unqualified and unadorned, is for the sane 
intellect unthinkable. The atheistic idea, says Lord 
Kelvin, is so nonsensical that I do not see how I 
can put it into words. The healthy reason refuses to 
believe in a three-legged stool without a carpenter 
behind it to explain it. No sane man would offer to 
his neighbour the theory that the house in which he 
lived had no planning brain behind it and no skilful 
toiling hands that built it. And this great universe, 
whose architecture outruns all comprehension, with 
stars shining in such countless multitudes in its mighty 
firmament, and yet other stars, as science now teaches 
us, hidden in its very dust ; this great physical universe, 
built on mathematical laws, saturated with intelligence 
to its very atoms that this has behind it no infinite 
and contriving Mind is unthinkable. 

All science proceeds on the theory that the visible 
universe is intelligible. It is built on laws which 
may be ascertained, on mathematical principles which 
can be read. And from what source can intelligibility 
proceed except from Intelligence ? 

But many, though they believe there is, and must 
be, a God, have abandoned the notion of His personality. 
He is infinite ; and infinity seems, like measureless 
space, to be formless. We conceive of the Infinite as 
a mere abstract fringe of emptiness outside the Finite. 
So God is resolved, in Matthew Arnold s words, into 
a mere stream of tendency ; an impersonal power 
not ourselves that, no doubt, makes for righteousness ; 



132 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

but is as incapable of personal relationships as, say, 
the Gulf Stream, or Niagara. And the denial of 
personality to God ia fatal to religion. It thrusts 
God out of the moral realm, it makes personal 
relationship with Him impossible. 

Love can only be thought of in personal terms ; 
morality can only be predicated of a person. All 
the highest and sweetest relationships of life are 
personal. The fundamental distinction betwixt matter 
and spirit lies at this point; and to deny personality 
to God is to translate Him, no matter what decorous 
and high-sounding phrases are used, into terms of 
matter. 

A machine cannot reason, or love, or will. Who 
can love gravitation ; or pray to electricity ; or sing 
hymns, say, to the law of the conservation of energy ? 
All the great offices and forces of religion perish at a 
breath if there be no personal God. The heavens are 
empty, the soul sits orphaned in the waste kingdoms 
of space. Thomson s City of Dreadful Night, the 
one poem in English speech which may be described 
as atheism set to music, is true if there be no personal 
God 

The world rolls round for ever like a mill, 
It grinds out death and life, and good and ill, 
It has no purpose, heart, or mind, or will. 

While air of space and Time s full river flow, 
The mill must blindly whirl unresting so. 
It may be wearing out, but who can know? 



The Logic of Ourselves 133 

Man might know one thing were his sight less dim, 
That it whirls, not to suit his petty whim, 
That it is quite indifferent to him. 

Nay, doth it use him harshly, as he saith? 
It grinds him some slow years of bitter breath, 
Then grinds him back into eternal death. 

Now the general argument for God s personality 
is of great force, but cannot be dealt with here. It 
rests in the last analysis on the certainty that the 
world is the product of mind, and mind is the quality 
of a person. The one great presupposition of science, 
as we have said, is that the material universe is 
intelligible. This implies that it is the work of 
intelligence ; intelligence that chooses its ends, and 
takes fit means to reach those ends. And intelligence 
is the attribute of a person. 

Scientific authority for this belief is overwhelming. 
Science, says Lord Kelvin, positively affirms creating 
and directive power, which it compels us to accept as 
an article of belief. 1 Design, says G. G. Stokes, 
is altogether unmeaning without a designing mind. 
A law, says Newman, is not a cause, but a fact. 
But when we come to the question of cause, then we 
have no experience of any cause but will. a The 
presence of mind, says Sir John Herschel, is what 
solves the whole problem of the material universe. 
And the signature of mind is written on every atom 

Nineteenth Century, June, 1903, p. 827. 
, Grammar of Assent, p. 69, 



134 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

of that universe, on every pulse of life, on every 
movement of force. 

It were as easy to believe that, say, Milton s 
Paradise Lost had been set up, in all its stately march 
of balanced syllables, by an anthropoid ape, or that 
the letters composing it had been blown together by 
a whirlwind, as to believe that the visible universe 
about us built on mathematical laws, knitted together 
by a million correspondences, and crowded thick with 
marks of purpose is the creation of some mindless 
Force. 

We find an argument for God s personality hidden 
deep in one of the indestructible capacities of our own 
nature the moral sense. Conscience has many uses. 
One of these is its silent, inextinguishable witness for 
God ; and not only for God, but for God as a Person. 
What gives its mysterious sharpness to the rebuke of 
conscience ? It is the fact that its rebuke testifies not 
only to some violation of impersonal law, some breach 
of mechanical order. It is found in the sense not, 
perhaps, always translated into terms of consciousness, 
but lying hidden deep and inarticulate in the soul 
that an infinite, loving Person has been wronged. It is 
the personal element which makes the sense of sin so 
deep, so sharp, so closely linked to remorse. * We are 
not, says Newman, affectionate towards a stone, nor 
do we feel shame before a horse or a dog. We have no 
remorse or compunction on breaking mere human law. 
Yet, so it is, conscience excites all these painful 



The Logic of Ourselves 135 

emotions, confusion, foreboding, self-condemnation. 
The wicked flees, when no one pursueth. Then why 
does he flee ? Whence his terror ? Who is it that he 
sees in solitude, in darkness, in the hidden chambers of 
his heart ? If the cause of these emotions does not 
belong to this visible world, the Object to which his 
perception is directed must be supernatural and 
divine. l 

Conscience, as Illingworth a argues, commands our 
will with an authority which we can only attribute to 
the touch of a conscious will. It educates our character 
with a precision of adjusted influence which shows it 
streams from a personal mind. The philosophers who 
have probed it, the saints and heroes who have obeyed 
and loved it, the sinners who have defied it have 
agreed in this. And the inevitable inference must be 
that it is the voice of a personal God. 

An almost amusing proof that God is personal 
may be found in the complete failure of all attempts 
to formulate, in intelligible terms, the conception of 
a God emptied of personality and attenuated into a 
mere impersonal force. 

Human language somehow refuses to give this idea 
expression. The very terms used to express the notion 
of God, the Creator of the universe, divorced from in 
telligence and will, are fit for nothing but a museum of 
curiosities. Illingworth has given a memorable and 

1 Grammar of Assent, p. 107. 

* Personality Divine and Human, p. Ill, 



136 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

brilliant summary of these alternatives to the con 
ception of a personal God, and of the methods by 
which the notion of Personality is evaded or whittled 
down into invisibility. Thus we have Hegel s Idea, 
the Blind Will of Schopenhauer, the Sublimated 
Unconscious of Hartmann, the Moral Order of Fichte, 
and the Eternal Not Ourselves of Matthew Arnold. 
But all these are nothing better than disguises of 
personality, or functions of personality, torn from 
their source, and made to clear thought incredible, 
not to say absurd, as a result The phrases assume 
personality in God even when seeming to deny it. 

Darwin supplies a striking example of this in 
the famous passage in the Origin of Species, p. 146, in 
which he describes the structure of the eye, with its 
layers of tissues and complex web of nerves. In the 
twenty-seven lines of this passage there are, as Pro 
fessor Henslow points out, no less than seventeen 
suppositions, a circumstance which takes it out of the 
category of severe science. But the thing to be noted 
is the part that Natural Selection takes in the process 
by which the eye is called into existence. We must 
suppose, says Darwin, that there is a Power repre 
sented by Natural Selection intently watching eacn 
alteration in the transparent layers, and carefully pre 
serving the most fit until a better one is produced, and 
then destroying the old ones. In this way, for millions 
of years, and during each year in millions of individuals 
of many kinds, Natural Selection will pick out wiih 



The Logic of Ourselves 137 

unerring skill each improvement. But a Power, no 
matter how labelled, which watches, chooses, de 
stroys, and builds up by intelligent methods continued 
for millions of years, is certainly not a mindless and 
unconscious Force. It has that higher quality of 
personality, a reasoning will. 

Abbott, in his Through Nature to Christ, has keenly 
analysed Matthew Arnold s phrase, a power not our 
selves which makes for righteousness. What/ he 
asks, is meant by the word " makes " ? For the word 
necessarily calls up three, and only three, kinds of 
"making"; either "making" voluntarily, as a man 
makes ; or " making " instinctively, as a beast makes ; 
or "making" neither voluntarily nor instinctively, 
but unconsciously, just as an eddy, or current may 
be said to " make." Of these three kinds of " making," 
which is meant ? If the first, you are anthropomor 
phic ; if the second, you are zoomorphic ; if the third, 
you are azoomorphic. Such a use of the words, 
he adds, rather conceals than reveals thought, and 
conveys, as perhaps, indeed, it is intended to convey, 
no certain revelation whatever of the nature of 
God. 

Perhaps the least successful effort to express in 
reasoned language the conception of God without 
personality is that of Herbert Spencer, and there is no 
more brilliant example of destructive criticism than 
that applied to Herbert Spencer s views by William 
Arthur in his Ediyion Without God. Mr. Frederic 



138 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Harrison unkindly describes Herbert Spencer s Un 
knowable as the All Nothingness. He pictures its 
inventor, Mr. Herbert Spencer, however, as saying to 
the theologians, I cannot allow you to speak of a 
First Cause, or a Creator, or an All-being, or an 
Absolute Existence, because you mean something 
intelligible and conceivable by these terms ; and I tell 
you that they stand for ideas that are unthinkable and 
inconceivable. But 7 have a perfect right to use these 
terms, because I mean nothing by them, at least nothing 
that can either be thought or conceived of, and I know 
that I am not talking of anything intelligent or con 
ceivable. That is the faith of an agnostic, which, 
except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved. 

A brother sceptic, Sir James Stephen, is still more 
severe. Mr. Herbert Spencer, he says, works his 
words about this way and that ; he counts that part for 
ghosts and dreams, and the residue thereof he maketli 
a God, and saith, " Ha, ha, I am wise, I have seen the 
truth." The string of names by which Herbert 
Spencer tries to express the conception of an ultimate 
cause and of a creative power who is not personal; 
these/ says Sir James Stephen, are nothing but a 
scries of metaphysics built upon one another and ending 
where they began. 

William Arthur, too, 1 distils excellent satire on 
Spencer s Unascertained Something, of whose exist 
ence we are more certain than any other existence, 
1 Religion Without God, p. 486, 



The Logic of Ourselves 

his Power without attributes, his Substratum of 
material existence on which only Nothingness rests; 
his Unconscious Agency of which conscious humanity 
is a product; his Unconscious Substance of which 
conscious humanity is formed ... his disguises, when 
there is only a single thing to disguise itself and be 
imposed upon ; his Creative Power that does not think, 
act, or will. Putting all these positives into line with 
all the negatives, we arrive, says William Arthur, at 
only one perfectly clear idea namely, that at every 
moment, no matter how much accumulates to obscure 
it, the existence of an eternal and omnipotent Creator 
keeps cropping up through all. 

In one striking passage, indeed, Herbert Spencer s 
better sense revolts from the strange conception of a 
God who discharges all the offices of reason without 
possessing reason. Christians/ he says, make the 
erroneous assumption that the choice is between per 
sonality and something lower than personality; whereas 
the choice is rather between personality and something 

higher. l 

Mr. Bradlaugh in his turn, is on the most familiar 
terms with God. He has walked round about Him, 
explored Him, measured Him with the foot-rule, and 
is able to report that God cannot be intelligent, 
cannot think, cannot have the faculty of judgement/ 
&c. Haeckel s negatives are on an amazing scale. 
His monistic philosophy definitely rules out the three 
i First Principles, p. 31, 



140 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

great central truths of God, Freedom, and Immortality. 
What room is left even for the riddles of the universe, 
or who survives to speculate on these riddles, after 
God, Freedom, and Immortality are dismissed, and only 
a world of machines is left, the plain man fails to 
understand. 

For it is to be noted that all those forms of philo 
sophy which deny personality to God attenuate into 
nothingness the personality of man. Looking up 
into the heavens they find them empty; and look 
ing round on man and nature they discover nothing 
but, to use William Arthur s phrase, a mere Vanity 
Fair of disguises. And this twin denial of person 
ality both to God and man may well drive us to 
suspect the logic on which both dreadful denials 
stand. 

For when all the qualities of Personality intelli 
gence, will, and freedom are denied to man, what is 
left? On the monistic theory men are mere bubbles 
on the surface of reality, and they are bubbles ex 
hausted of moral contents. The harlot in the street 
is one bubble ; the mother bending tenderly over her 
child is another. They are equally necessitated, equally 
incapable of praise or blame. A man s beliefs are as 
much necessitated as the colour of his hair, and as 
remote from all moral qualities. Emotions, beliefs, 
political theories, philosophical arguments, the foulest 
lusts, the purest affections, all may be resolved into 
chemical terms. 



The Logic of Ourselves 141 

All of our philosophy, says Huxley, all our 
poetry, all our science, and all our art Plato, Shake 
speare, Newton, and Eaphael are potential in the fires 
of the sun. The protoplasm of a mushroom, he de 
clared in his lecture on The Physical Basis of Life, is 
essentially identical with that of the man who eats it. 
Two particles of fungoid will develop one into a 
mushroom, and the other, via the brain of Shakespeare, 
into Hamlet; and as far as physical contents are 
concerned, both are identical. 

An adequate knowledge of chemistry, on this theory, 
would enable a philosopher to inject say, with a 
hypodermic syringe free-trade views, or a belief in 
protection; a triumphant confidence in the monistic 
theory, or the most energetic scorn of that theory, into 
any given number of persons. The arrangement of the 
particles of grey matter in Professor Haeckel s brain 
which compels him to believe in what he calls monism 
is as inevitable as, say, the combination of grey matter 
in Sir James Stephen s brain which compelled him to 
pronounce that theory not merely a form of error, but 
the most complete nonsense. Everything is mechanical, 
necessitated, non-moral. It is as logical to exhort a 
man to change his creed as to become, say, six feet 
high. It is as unreasonable on this theory to blame 
him for being a rogue as it would be to blame him for 
having red hair. 

This is a theory, of course, which destroys all 
morality. To act on it, or even to hold it consistently, 



142 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

and to talk about it intelligibly many minutes in 
succession is impossible. It is entertaining to notice how 
Ilaeckel credits the primary atoms with the very power 
he denies to man. The atom, he says, is not without 
a rudimentary form of sensation and of will. The 
scientist who denies soul to man thus discovers soul in 
the molecule. 

Who will not turn away with a touch of scorn from 
teaching so flippant, so charged with peril to morality, 
and so utterly in conflict with our own consciousness ? 
To call it scientific is to dishonour a great word. 

But turning aside from the verbal feats of distressed 
philosophers, and the civil strife which wages among 
them, it is sufficient for our present purpose to point 
out that the nearest, the most intelligible, the highest 
proof of personality in God lies in ourselves, in the 
central fact, rooted deep in our own consciousness, that 
we are persons. 

Personality is for us a fact of consciousness. It 
is, to quote Illingworth, the inevitable and necessary 
starting-point of all human thought, for we cannot 
by any conceivable means get behind it, or beyond 
it. 1 If we are not sure of this, we are sure of 
nothing. If I may not assume/ says Newman, 
that I exist and in a particular way, that is with a 
particular mental constitution, I have nothing to 
speculate about, and had better leave speculation alone. 
Such as I am it is my all, and must be taken for 
1 Personality Human and Divine, p. 41, 



The Logic of Ourselves 143 

granted, otherwise thought is but an idle amusement 
not worth the trouble. 

A whole science of psychology is built on this one 
luminous certainty, the certainty of our own self- 
consciousness; and psychology is as much a science, 
and deals as certainly with definite laws and ascertained 
phenomena, as astronomy, or chemistry, or geology. 

But what, when the very roots of our nature are 
examined, do we find constitutes in us personality? 
Included in it are, no doubt, deep, mysterious realms 
which can only be guessed at; forces which evade 
definition. Deep below the consciousness are vast 
primitive tracts of being, unilluminated and uncharted. 
That sub-conscious region resembles a dim and un 
mapped continent. But when we have allowed for 
these mystic and strange realms which lie outside the 
clear disc of consciousness, certain elements of our 
personality are clear. The Christian reading of our 
nature is noble and adequate; it is the only reading 
which fits the facts, as science slowly, and by the 
debates of centuries, interprets the facts. We are 
spiritual beings ; and the spiritual order is one which 
transcends matter, masters it, uses it, includes it ; just 
as the chemical includes and transfigures the mechanical, 
or the vital the chemical order. 

The fundamental characteristic of personality is, to 
use the language of psychology, self-consciousness ; the 
quality of a subject becoming an object to itself. 
Herbert Spencer, it is true, denies this fundamental 



144 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

mark of our personality. If it is the true self which 
thinks/ he demands, what other self can it be that is 
thought of? William Arthur burlesques this by 
saying that, if it is the true self which shaves, it must be 
another self which shaves it. Mansel argues that if 
in personality subject and object are identified, this 
means the annihilation of both, and on the strength of 
this logic he dismisses self to the dim realms of the 
unknown and the unknowable. 

And yet it is a fact of consciousness, of which every 
inau can be the judge, that he can make himself the 
object of his own thought. Self-consciousness lies in 
that fact. And in the light of that self-consciousness 
we see in ourselves the great faculties of reason, of will, 
and of love. If these are the most mysterious things we 
know, yet they are the things we know most certainly. 
They stand in the light of direct self-consciousness. 

Perhaps of all these qualities that of a free, self- 
determining will is most vehemently denied. Yet we 
are directly conscious of freedom; of the power to 
think and to love ; of the power to choose our ends. 
The materialistic school, it is true, denies in stentorian 
accents the very possibility of a free will in man. 
Haeckel, in his Riddle of the Universe (p. 5), says, The 
freedom of the will is a pure dogma, based on delusion, 
and has no real existence. Every act of the will is as 
absolutely determined by the organization of the in 
dividual, and as dependent on the momentary condition 
of his environment, as every other activity. But 



The Logic of Ourselves 145 

Haeckel could not be consistent. After denying free 
will to man, he declares, as we have seen, that even the 
atom is not without a rudimentary form of sensation 
and will. Why that should be denied to man v/hich is 
ascribed to the atom is hard to see. Dr. Johnson settles 
the question with his sturdy common sense. Sir/ he 
said to Boswell, we know our will is free, and there s 
an end on t. As to the doctrine of necessity, no man 
believes it. 

There is certainly no easy predisposition in man to 
believe in his own free will. Linked to the freedom of 
the will is the twin fact of responsibility, and, says 
Illingworth, there is no fact in the world that in their 
misery men would not more gladly have denied ; for 
if it could be denied, human responsibility would cease, 
and that dark element in human experience, remorse, 
the sense of failure, would not exist. 

But the sense of freedom is inwrought into the very 
fibres of our consciousness. It lies at the root of our 
nature. Even those who regard it as a delusion are 
obliged to admit that it is a delusion from which there 
is no escape; a delusion which we must treat as a 
reality. All human law proceeds on the theory that 
man is free, and, being free, is responsible. All history 
verifies it. The rational order of society is only pos 
sible on the theory that men are not automata, but 
responsible beings ; and that a rational order of society 
could spring from an irrational disease of the mind is 
unthinkable. 

L 



146 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Human personality, in brief, includes great and 
splendid capacities which we ourselves only half com 
prehend. One of the classic and memorable passages 
in Augustine s Confessions is that in which he wanders 
through the stately halls of memory/ and dwells on 
its splendours and mysteries. And memory is only 
one of the secondary endowments of our personality. 
And behind all other factors is the entity to which they 
belong, and from which they are inseparable. These 
strange and half-comprehended qualities of personality 
are linked into conscious unity, and fenced into a 
separateness of which, to quote Liebnitz, the impenetra 
bility of matter is but a faint analogue. 

Personality, with all its mystery and greatness, is 
thus the ultimate fact of consciousness. Man is con 
scious that he is a free spirit. The sequences of the 
material world are compelled and unconscious; but 
man is self-determined, an end in himself, a free spirit 
moving in a world of unconscious forces and compelled 
sequences. 

This, then, is the fact about ourselves. What light 
does it shed on the nature of God ? 

It is the supreme proof that God Himself is 
personal For is it credible that He has given us 
something nobler and loftier than He Himself pos 
sesses? It makes the dignity of our nature that we 
are not links in a chain, accidental eddies in some 
stream of unconscious existence. This quality of 
separate and indestructible personality makes all great 



The Logic of Ourselves 147 

things possible to us. We can love, we can choose, 
we can worship. If personality is denied to man he is 
smitten with an instant degradation. He is thrust out 
of the moral order. All the sweetest relations of human 
life are made illusions. The love of a mother to her 
child is as mechanical as the blowing of the wind. All 
moral possibilities are extinguished. Our consciousness 
tricks us. If a man is only a machine the very highest 
activities of human life are turned to lies. Why should 
we preach to machines; pass laws which they are 
expected to obey ; love them, weep over them, admonish 
them? 

But we know we are not machines. An engineer, 
with his endowment of free and conscious personality, 
can stand beside the great engines which drive a battle 
ship and feel he is nobler than they. He has invented 
them; he is able to control them. They answer to 
every pulse of his will with all their giant strength. 

Shall we, then, say that God who has given us this 
high and noble endowment, and so set us in the moral 
order, does not Himself possess what He has given to 
us ? To say that involves a paradox which confounds 
all reason. If this be so, then is God less than His 
own creature. He is lower in the scale of existence. 
He is Himself thrust out of the moral order. This ia 
to say that the infinitesimal contains what cannot be 
found in the Infinite. There are many errors, says 
Sir Oliver Lodge, but there is one truth, in anthro 
pomorphism. Whatever worthy attribute belongs to 



148 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

man, be it personality or any other, its existence in the 
universe is thereby admitted ; we can deny it no more. 

It is Christianity which has deciphered man s 
nature and drawn into clear light the elements of his 
personality. The historic development of the science 
is clear, and can be traced from Augustine to Luther; 
from Luther to Kant ; from Kant to Lotze and Mar- 
tineau, to McCosh and Mansel, and many another. 
Christianity sets man in the august light of the Incar 
nation, and so the whole reading of man s nature has 
been revolutionized. Even the metaphysical disputes of 
the early Christian centuries as to the Trinity, and the 
relations of the Persons in the Godhead to each other, 
disputes which we now contemplate with intellectual 
impatience, and even with an undeserved touch of 
intellectual scorn, helped to shape the whole conception 
of human personality, and to create the science of 
psychology. 

And when we have read our own nature we have 
learned to interpret the nature of God. The proof and 
the interpretation of personality in God are found in 
that sense of a free personality which is the deepest 
consciousness of our own being. 



CHAPTER III 
The Logic of the Infinitesimal 

1 The earth is a point, not only in respect of the heavens above 
us, but of that heavenly and celestial part within us. ... 
There is surely a piece of divinity in us, something that was before 
the elements, and pays no homage to the sun. SIR THOMAS 
BBOWHX. 

GDD is the infinite, man is the infinitesimal. 
God is the ocean, man the drop. And what 
ratio is thinkable betwixt extremes parted 
by an interval so measureless ? The ocean includes 
all that the drop contains, and infinitely more. Where 
the infinitesimal ends the Infinite begins. How can 
the infinitesimal measure or interpret the Infinite ? 

Yet in some dim, profound sense, the drop does 
interpret the ocean ; the infinitesimal suggests and 
explains God, the Infinite. This must be true, if only 
in this sense : that whatever of rich and noble faculty 
there is in us God must possess, and possess on a 
scale outrunning not only the broken hint of our own 
faculties, but the utmost measures of our imagination. 
It is unthinkable that God is less rich in faculty than 
His own handiwork; that He has given us at any 



150 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

point more than He Himself possesses. How can the 
drop include in its tiny curve something the ocean 
itself does not hold ? 

Our very senses are in this way a divine revelation 
to us ; a witness of what there must be in God. They 
suggest powers and faculties which, in the mysterious 
scale of His infinitude, God Himself must possess. 
Was it a deaf God who invented the ear, or a blind 
God who gave us the faculty of sight ? Is it think 
able that a Being, Himself mindless and unintelligent, 
gave us what He does not Himself possess the 
imperial faculty of reason ? He that planted the ear, 
shall lie not hear ; He that formed the eye, shall He 
not see; He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not 
He know ? 

To say that man is the measure of God is an 
affront to reason ; for it is to say that the atom is as 
great as the planet. But it is a yet vaster incredibility 
to say that in any one faculty God can be less than 
His own creature, for this is to say that the atom has 
something the planet lacks. The Infinite must for 
ever, and in all the heights and depths of capacity, be 
more than the infinitesimal. So we get a principle as 
certain as anything the human mind can know, but 
capable of a hundred applications, and carrying with it 
far-reaching issues : the principle that what is highest 
in us best interprets what God is, if only because He 
must possess more than we can find in our own nature. 

If, for example, this principle of the ratio betwixt 



The Logic of the Infinitesimal 151 

the infinitesimal and the Infinite be applied to Christian 
history, it instantly makes more than credible it makes 
certain, and even inevitable what seems to many 
persons the central incredibility of that history: the 
story of the Incarnation, the descent into human flesh 
of the eternal Son of God. Love, we know instinc 
tively, is the highest in the whole range of moral 
qualities. If the loftiest nature in the universe, in 
the highest mood love knows, the mood of limitless 
self-sacrifice, breaks into history and takes visible form, 
it must be exactly in such a shape as that we, on the 
Christian faith, hold the Incarnation to be. And the 
proof of this lies, not remote from us, hidden in 
perplexed terms of logic ; it lies near to us, in the 
very make and capabilities of our own nature. 

Human love in its ordinary manifestations is selfish 
and brief. But there is one form of that love a form 
which, since we were all once children, has touched us 
which makes the love of the Incarnation perfectly 
credible. Not all mothers, it is true, are motherly; 
but in the heart of every true mother, at the sight of 
her infant s face, the touch of her infant s fingers, the 
cry of her infant s pain, there breaks into flame the 
glow of a love which is deathless, and which is capable 
of moods and acts of self-sacrifice which carry with 
them strange implications. 

Here is love speaking with human lips, and wearing 
a human guise, which is not destroyed by want of 
desert in the object loved j which finds, indeed, in the 



i5 2 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

very want of desert only a new argument for tenderness 
and sacrifice ; love which often takes its most com 
passionate forms towards the one who least deserves it. 
It is for the wanderer, for the outcast, for the son who 
has broken loose from household ties, and is in the far 
country, and perhaps by the swine s trough, that the 
true mother weeps oftenest at God s feet. Here is a 
love which time cannot change, nor failing strength 
make faint. The mother s senses grow dim ; her busy 
hands lose their strength, her tireless feet their swift 
lightness. But behind the failing senses, the dimmed 
eyes, the whitening hair, still burns, quenchless and 
immortal, the flame of her love for her child ! A true 
mother knows that heaven itself would be for her 
unthinkable, if her child were left outside the gates. 

There is a familiar story of such a mother it might 
be told of many mothers who lay dying. Her eyes 
had lost their power of seeing, her ears their faculty 
for hearing. The voice of the minister while he prayed 
at her bedside, the sound of her name from her 
husband s lips, sent no vibration to the brain, drowsed 
with the stupor of fast coming death. But while those 
who stood round her bed waited, in the hush of grief, 
for the last fluttering breath from the dying lips, 
suddenly from the next room there arose the voice 
of a weeping child. And the mother heard ! It was 
as though her soul turned back on the dim ways of 
death at the call of her child s voice. 

Let us suppose such a mother in heaven ! Her feet 



The Logic of the Infinitesimal 153 

tread the streets of gold ; the chant of the angels fills 
her ears ; her eyes see the face of God ; she is clad in 
the fine linen, clean and white, the garment of the 
saints. And, suddenly, she hears, in that darkness 
which lies outside the gates of heaven, the sound of 
her child s voice, lamenting ; the voice of her firstborn 
son, of the daughter on whose cheek she grudged the 
wind to blow too roughly. What at such a moment, 
and at the sound of such a call, would be love s 
impulse love even in the imperfect form in which 
it dwells in the human heart ? It would be to leave 
street of gold and chant of saint, and to go with out 
stretched hands and hastening feet into that outer 
darkness, in search of her lost and lamenting child. 

Who is it has planted deep in an imperfect human 
soul a love capable of an impulse so tender ? This is 
God s gift. And has He nothing in His own nature 
which corresponds to it, and explains it ; nothing 
which on the scale of infinity moves the Infinite 
Himself ? 

The Incarnation, the descent of the eternal Son 
of God into suffering human life is, in fact, but 
the expression, in historic terms, and on a scale in 
harmony with God s nature, of a love in kind like that 
which a good mother knows. And such love, taking 
such a shape, is, on the witness of our own nature, 
most credible. Nay, we have but to assume what 
not to admit is blasphemy that God possesses, and 
possesses in the measure of His being, what He has 



154 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

given us, and the Incarnation is something more than 
credible. It is inevitable ! 

If it had not taken place we might have accused 
God of having set at the gate of life for most of us, 
shrined in a human heart, and making tender a hnman 
voice, a love deeper and stronger, loftier in scale, and 
more tender in quality, than that which keeps watch 
at the gates of eternity. It is to say that He has 
given, to some of our race at least, capacities for the 
self-sacrifice in which love expresses itself which out 
range anything found in His own nature. 

But this principle of the necessary ratio betwixt the 
infinitesimal and the Infinite can be applied to Chris 
tian ethics, as well as to Christian history. Changed 
into the terms of ethics it suggests this strange ques 
tion : Does God expect a goodness in us that does not 
exist in Himself? Does He keep His own laws? 
Does He act in the circles of eternity, and on the 
scale of His infinite attributes, upon those moral 
principles which, in the tiny curve of our own brief 
lives, He has made imperative on us ? 

To doubt that is to say that God expects us to be 
morally better than He is Himself. God s laws of 
moral conduct are not caprices. They are revelations. 
They are the reflex of His own character, a declaration 
to us of the principles on which He Himself acts. 
This is what makes these laws, what in poetic language 
they are sometimes called, the music of the universe. 
TLoy make audible the deep, eternal harmonies which 



The Logic of the Infinitesimal 155 

run through all the chambers of the universe, and all 
the ages of eternity. But if we realize that God must, 
on the scale of His nature and attributes, and through 
out His whole universe, act on the moral principles 
He has enjoined on us, instantly all the great messages 
of the gospel, and all the great human hopes built on 
that gospel, take a new and imperative credibility. 

The great law of pity, for example, is by God s 
enactment, and by Christ s teaching, made binding on 
the human conscience. It is mandatory ; it is eternal. 
To translate it into conduct is for us the supreme 
obligation. 

It is God s law for human society. The strong is 
linked to the weak, the rich to the poor, the instructed 
to the ignorant, by a tie woven of imperishable obliga 
tion. The strong must help the weak ; the rich holds 
his wealth under obligations of service to the poor ; the 
instructed must make his knowledge the servant of the 
ignorant. This great law, as yet only half understood, 
is some day to solve all the social problems of the world; 
it is to bring in the new heaven and the new earth for 
which the race waits and suffers. All human gifts 
strength, knowledge, money turned into selfish posses 
sions and kept back from the help of those who lack 
these things, become the guilt of the possessor. This 
is the law, as God teaches us, from man to man. 

Does God, then, Himself act on some law less noble 
and lofty ? Does He demand in these terms a higher 
morality from us than that He practises Himself? 



156 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Such a question has in it a note of blasphemy. George 
Macdonald uses as a motto for one of his tales a rugged 
verse inscribed on an old gravestone in a Scottish 
churchyard 

Here, lie I, Martin Elginbrodde ; 
Hae mercy o my soul, Lord God; 
Aa I wad do, were I Lord God, 
And ye were Martin Elginbrodde. 

And in those rough rhymes lies enshrined a true if 
daring conception, a conception which is the very key 
to Christian theology. 

In that great parable of pity, the story of the Good 
Samaritan, Christ strikes the deep, eternal keynote of 
human duty. lie draws the figure of the pitying 
Samaritan, stooping over the stripped and wounded 
wretch lying in the dust. He says to us all : Go and 
do thou likewise. Want cries to us; its broken 
accents are the eternal and peremptory voice of law. 
We ourselves, Christ warns us, smitten with a need so 
sore, are to play the part of the good Samaritan to 
those about us who suffer yet worse needs. Is it think 
able, then, that God reserves for Himself, sitting far 
above the heavens amongst ten thousand worlds, the 
part of the Levite, or of the priest ! 

Is it too daring a thing to say that this link of 
sacred duty which binds us in offices of help to each 
other must run up to the crown of the universe ; that 
it must be imperative on God Himself? We cannot 
but say it. Nay ! not to say it is to impeach God. 



The Logic of the Infinitesimal 157 

What makes this very law of duty sacred, tender, of 
imperishable and universal authority ? It is the fact 
that it is the reflection of something eternal; something 
in God s own nature. And if this be so, what a new 
certainty and scale of credibility the whole gospel of 
divine pity and help, on which all human hope is 
built, instantly gains ! 

Forgiveness from man to man, again, is one of the 
most absolute forms of duty. Who refuses to forgive 
his brother, Christ teaches us, makes impossible God s 
forgiveness to himself; and here is revealed a law 
which runs through all time and all worlds. But in 
the tiny curve of this human obligation to forgive, how 
much is included ? Peter raised this very problem in 
his question to Christ : How oft shall my brother sin 
against me and I forgive him ? Till seven times ? 
I say unto you, was Christ s answer, not till seven 
times, but till seventy times seven. This, of course, 
does not mean that the human obligation of forgiveness 
extends to four hundred and ninety times, and ceases 
on the four hundred and ninety-first offence. It simply 
means that human love keeps no count ; it knows in 
the great act of forgiveness no arithmetic. 

Is it credible that God s love can be narrower than 
He requires human love to be ? If this is the law 
which God imposes from man to man, on what law 
does He Himself act? Will He who expects us to 
forgive till seventy times seven stop short of that 
great height, and forgive, say, only till seven times ? 



158 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

That is to say that He expects from us a loftier 
morality than He practises Himself; that, in a word, 
the infinitesimal must, in moral terms, outrange the 
Infinite. And what inversion of reason can be more 
shocking 1 



BOOK IV 
IN LITERATURE 




CHAPTER I 
The Logic of an Hypothesis 

I will not believe that it is given to man to have thoughts 
higher and nobler than the real truth of things. Sia OLIVER 
LODGE. 

EHIKD every negative stands, uttered or silent, 
some positive. Who denies that two plus two 
equals four must be held to affirm that it 
equals five, or three, or some other number. Now 
unbelief, like every other creed, is best judged by its 
affirmatives. We are too much concerned with what 
it denies. We do not draw out in clear terms the 
affirmatives which stand behind these denials. Some 
day a book will be written on what may be called the 
affirmatives of unbelief, and it will be a very amazing 
bit of literature. For when the denials of unbelief are 
translated into positive terms it will be seen they 
require for their acceptance and digestion a much more 
amazing exercise of faith than the largest propositions 
of belief itself. 

To enable this to be even faintly seen it is worth 
while to accept for a moment the hypothesis that 

M 



1 62 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Christianity can at last be regarded as disproved. Un 
belief, let us suppose, has won a final victory all along 
the line, and Christianity, by general consent, is dis 
missed absolutely from the faith of men. On this 
hypothesis where do we all stand ? 

Now, if Christ be banished out of history as a 
detected impostor, His mark on history remains, and 
has to be accounted for. Christ and the creed which 
bears His name are, on any theory as to their origin, 
the greatest facts in history. The simple record 
of three short years of Christ s active life/ says 
Lecky the historian, has done more to regenerate 
and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of 
philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists. 1 
This impostor somehow has far more profoundly 
affected the human race than all the other great figures 
of history put together ; and to account for the actual 
world about us without Him is the most perplexing 
task to which the human intellect was ever called upon 
to address itself. 

The confession of John Stuart Mill is noteworthy. 
It is of no use to say that Christ, as exhibited in the 
Gospels, is not historical, and that we know not how 
much of what is admirable has been superadded by 
the tradition of His followers. Who among His 
disciples, or among their proselytes, was capable of 
inventing the sayings described as those of Jesus, or of 
imagining the life and character revealed in the 
1 History of Morality, vol. ii. p. 83, 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 163 

Gospels ? Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee, still 
less the early Christian writers. 1 

The theory that the whole Bible is a mere collection 
of legends, that it represents the inventions of rogues or 
the dreams of fools, is held with easy assurance by 
some simple people. But on any theory as to the truth 
or falsehood of the Bible, its historic force, its results in 
civilization, remain unaffected. It is still the most 
wonderful and influential form of literature the human 
race knows. 

If we accept the hypothesis that there is no reliable 
history behind it, that there are Psalms but no Psalmist, 
laws but no law-giver, prophecies but no prophet, 
evangelists but no evangel, the wonder of the Bible is 
not lessened. It is almost infinitely increased. Fact 
or fraud, history or dream, the book exists. It has 
done a certain work in the world. It may be tried as 
the Iliad is tried, or the historical writings of 
Thucydides or of Tacitus by purely literary tests. 
And when we have agreed that David, or Christ, or 
Paul never existed, that the events recorded in the 
Bible did not actually happen, yet some explanation 
must be given of the book. 

How does it come to pass that the most splendid 
literature the race knows has blossomed, not on the 
Btem of Greek intellect, or of Koman genius, not in the 
brains of scholars, or philosophers, or poets, but 
beneath the narrow brows of a cluster of Jewish 
Essays on Nature, p, 253, 



1 64 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

peasants and fishermen ? For that the literature of the 
Bible, considered simply as literature, does utterly 
outrange all other products of the human brain cannot 
be doubted. The Iliad and the Psalms may be taken, 
roughly, as contemporaneous forms of literature; but 
it is impossible to compare for a moment the God of 
whom the Hebrew Psalms sing with the lying, quarrel 
ling, lustful deities of the Iliad. Pope has condensed 
the moral character of these deities into two terrible 
lines 

Gods changeful, partial, passionate, unjust, 
Whose attributes were rage, revenge, and lust. 

Who can imagine the 23rd Psalm set singing 
amid the clash of weapons which makes up tho 
Iliad ? 

If we compare Isaiah with Plato, or, say, Juvenal 
with St. John, the contrast in merely literary values 
is nothing less than startling. They belong to different 
worlds. The pure, profound, and infinitely tender 
teachings of what, on the theory of unbelief, is a 
deluded Jewish peasant, such as John, compared with 
the literature of Imperial Eome the Eome or the 
Greece of his time are like the song of a lark carol 
ling in the sunlit depths of the sky, compared with 
the foul imagination and obscene wit of a Caliban 
fallen drunk. 

But the mere contrast in spirit and genius betwixt 
the Bible, as a form of literature, and all other human 
writings, is, perhaps, the least wonderful fact in the 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 165 

case. Mark Twain summed up the disputes as to the 
authorship of the Iliad by saying the critics had proved 
it was not written by Homer, but by another person 
of the same name! That, of course, is a jest. The 
theory of the multiform authorship of the Iliad was 
practically slain by the reflection that it is easier to 
believe in one Homer than in a dozen. But what shall 
we say of the theory which explains the Iliad without 
any Homer at all ? 

There are keen disputes as to whether Shakespeare 
wrote the plays which bear his name. But some one 
with Shakespeare s genius, whatever name he bore, 
certainly lived. The works which actually exist prove 
this. Suppose it were discovered beyond doubt that 
Shakespeare never existed; his plays are forgeries; 
the grave at Stratford-on-Avon is empty. Still Hamlet 
and Macbeth, the Midsummer Night s Dream and The 
Tempest exist. It takes a Shakespeare to invent a 
Shakespeare. A man who, not having Shakespeare s 
brain, yet borrowed his name and wrote his plays, 
would be a more astonishing phenomenon than Shake 
speare himself. And it takes a Christ to invent a 
Christ. To ask us to believe that some nameless and 
forgotten impostor invented the character and story of 
Jesus Christ, preached the Sermon on the Mount for 
Him, imagined all His parables, fcrged His ethics, 
conceived in His name the parable of the Prodigal 
Son and of the Good Samaritan, and yet was him 
self throughout the whole process a conscious and 



1 66 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

conscienceless impostor this is the wildest flight of 
mere unreason. 

And the fraud of this nameless cheat, we must 
believe, has created the Christian religion. It has 
built cathedrals, inspired martyrs, made saints, sent out 
missionaries, reshaped civilization, created a myriad 
godly lives and uncounted happy deaths. What a 
stupendous genius such an impostor must have 
been ! 

In what period did he live ? What was his name, 
his birth, his training, his motives, his reward ? He 
was surely a much more astonishing being than Christ 
Himself ! The New Testament, with no Christ and no 
Paul behind it, is a much more perplexing book than 
even on the Christian theory it claims to be, and is 
infinitely less credible. 

It is a mere form of lunacy to declare that behind 
the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke s Gospel, the four 
teenth of St. John, and the Sermon on the Mount there 
is the soul of a rogue, the brain of some sly and lyin<* 
Greek, the temper of some narrow and pharisaical Jew. 
If falsehood can assume the office, wear the aspect, and 
talk with the accents of self-evident truth in this 
fashion, all the foundations of knowledge are unsettled. 

Some truths are self-evident, some facts prove 
themselves ; and no truth is surer, and no fact more 
absolute than the truth and the fact that behind the 
literature of Christianity, however we quarrel about its 
dates or the exact names of its writers, there is a 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 167 

spiritual genius unparalleled elsewhere in human 
literature. 

Now, it satisfies science, when called upon to ex 
plain a rose, with its vivid tints and rich perfume, to 
be told that there is a living root to the flower. But 
the theory which requires us to believe that the rose 
never had a root, or that it blossomed on the stem, 
say, of a thistle, can only be regarded as a jest. The 
rose itself, in the only logic science knows, proves the 
rose-seed. All botany is nonsense if that be not true. 

We may dismiss, then, the crude scepticism which 
declares the Bible to be a forgery, which asks us to 
believe that the book which in every syllable enforces 
truth, is itself a lie ; that the scheme of ethics which 
scourges roguery with whips of utmost penalty, is itself 
an invention of rogues. That form of infidelity, at least, 
is dead, killed of mere intellectual contempt. The sane 
human reason rejects it in advance. But there is a 
more plausible form of unbelief which rejects the Bible, 
as an illusion an innocent illusion with a sort of 
tender and admiring regret. The great book is no 
doubt beautiful, but, alas ! it is only a tangle of human 
dreams, and it is as unsubstantial as a dream. It is 
made up of the visions of nameless and long-dead poets, 
the dreams of mystics and enthusiasts. 

Christ is one of these dreams. The redeeming love 
which sought us, suffered for us, died for us, is another 
of these dreams. There is no such love anywhere in 
the universe. God as a Father, watching from the 



1 68 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

crown of His heavens with unforgetting tenderness over 
His children, is but another dream, beautiful, no doubt, 
but, alas! air-drawn and unsubstantial. There is no 
fatherhood amongst the stars, or beyond them. Heaven 
is a dream which delights children. It soothes the 
imagination of the dying, and serves as a useful opiate 
for grief. But no golden and eternal reality corre 
sponds to it. The notion that we have spiritual natures, 
and belong to a spiritual order, which death cannot 
touch, and which has heritage with God Himself, is 
yet another dream. 

The compassionate fancy might wish these dreams 
were true, but it is idle to build life on illusions. In 
Coleridge s Ancient Mariner, the hag-ridden, haunted 
slayer of the albatross comes home at last. He sees 
the hills, the lights of his native town, and he trembles 
lest it should be only an idle vision that cheats his 
senses. Is it all a dream ? then how bitter the wakin^ 

o 

will be ! 

Is this the hill, is this the kirk, 
Is this my ain countree? 

Oh, let me be awake, my God, 
Or let me sleep alway. 

And any one who has drunk in the splendid 
imaginations of the Bible, who believes in God s love, 
in Christ s redemption, in immortality, in final victory 
over sin, in a character lifted by God s grace to a divine 
purity, in the eternal city of the saints, with its streets 
of gold and gates of pearl if told that these are nothing 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 169 

but idle dreams, might well ask never to be awakened 
from them ! 

But who wants to live in a fool s paradise ? Let 
us know the truth at any cost. If religion is woven 
of illusions, if it is a kingdom of unrealities, what 
honest mind will not renounce it ? 

But when this hypothesis which turns the Bible 
into a book of dreams has been accepted, there remains 
the question : Where did these dreams come from ? We 
have somehow, it seems, contrived to build in our 
imagination a better God than really exists ! We have 
dreamed of Him doing nobler things than He actually 
has done, or could do. He is a God who cannot reach 
the scale of our imagination, who is not so big, so rich 
in faculty, so lofty in purpose and action as our dreams 
picture Him. How did He come into existence ? 

We have been able to dream of a love divine and 
eternal, which stoops from the crown of the heavens to 
save God s wandering children, and saves them by 
suffering for them. And the very dream" of such a 
love, in its reflex effects on us is, by the test of actual 
facts, the noblest force that has ever touched human 
character. But God, alas ! is smaller than our dreams. 
We have endowed Him, it turns out, with a loftiness 
and a tenderness of love of which He is, as a matter 
of fact, incapable. This is surely the most amazing 
paradox yet invented! No miracle recorded in the 
Bible requires so much faith for its acceptance. 

Is it a dishonour to God that, being great, He 



1 70 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

stoops to us ? Does it make Him less ? Having made 
us so that we long for Him with the strongest passion 
human nature knows, is it a reproach to Him that 
He gives Himself to us ? Would it be more to His 
glory if He mocked us ? It is this very wedlock of 
the wisdom that planned the heavens, the measureless 
power that guides the stars, with the tenderness that 
stoops to the whispered prayer of a child, that counts 
the tears of the widow, that hears the sigh of the 
prodigal, which makes the inconceivable greatness of 
God. It completes the mighty curve of His attributes. 
And is it credible that we can conceive this amazing 
greatness, and God not be capable of it ? 

Like as a father pitieth his children. So runs the 
ancient Psalm. And such pity ought to exist. It 
makes God Himself more divine. Pity sitting crowned 
beyond the stars, pity linked to infinite power and 
making that power its servant if this be true, the 
universe shines with a new glory, and God Himself 
is more god-like. If we could be God, and choose 
what kind of God we would be, it would be this I Have 
we, then, imagined a nobler God than actually exists, 
and has our fancy framed a grander universe than He 
has been able to build ? 

And the New Testament reading gives scale and 
definiteness to the pity of the Old Testament. God 
so loved the world, runs the great message, that He 
gave His only begotten Son. . . . Here, in brief, is 
a revelation that opens a new moral kingdom to us, a 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 17 1 

kingdom of unimaginable tenderness and grace. And 
we are asked to believe that it is the mere creation of 
our broken fancy ; that outside that kingdom the actual 
God sits, a Being too small to fill its horizons, too petty 
to sit upon its throne, unworthy so much as to cross its 
threshold. And can human dreams outrange God s 
facts in this fashion? This is not credible. The 
message of redemption is a light breaking in on us 
from great realms above us. It is a revelation which 
proves itself. The Incarnation/ says Illingworth, is 
its own evidence. It is here; and how did it come 
here, and why has it remained here except by being 

true ? 

The Bible represents God as saying, My thoughts 
are not as your thoughts, nor My ways as your ways. 
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so are My 
thoughts above your thoughts and My ways than your 
ways. And this ought to be true! The realities of 
God ought to be nobler than the dreams of man. It 
would be the perplexity and the despair of reason if 
this were not so. But, on the theory of unbelief, it is 
man who is able to say to God, My thoughts are 
higher than your thoughts ! We have pitched our 
conceptions too high. Our poor dreams are fairer than 
God s realities ! 

Yet, according to unbelief itself, this incredible 
inversion of ratio betwixt God and ourselves an 
inversion which makes man s thoughts too high for 
the scale of God s acts or God s character obtains in 



1 72 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

only one realm. It is visibly false throughout all the 
mighty chambers of the physical universe. If we con 
sider the scale, the transcendent forces, the measureless 
greatness of the visible universe, God s thoughts in 
that region outrun ours as the planet exceeds the atom. 
Our utmost science is only beginning to spell out the 
first letters in the great alphabet of God s material 
works. We are catching a broken vision of the 
illimitable horizon of the physical universe. The 
vastn6ss of that universe, its mysterious heights and 
depths, the forces that beat in it, from the fires of the 
far-off sun to the mysterious energies throbbing in an 
atom of radium, all are great beyond our dreams. 

But, on the theory of unbelief, when we enter the 
still loftier realm of the moral universe a strange thing 
happens. God shrinks in stature ; man expands ! In 
all the great forces of that realm, in love, in goodness, 
in pity, God s facts are smaller and poorer than man s 
dreams ! In the physical realm our highest science 
cannot comprehend God s lowest works. What do we 
really know of space, of matter, of force, or of life ? 
But in the spiritual order unbelief asks us to believe 
that a hundred nameless and forgotten impostors have 
been able to imagine more than God has ever been 
able to perform. They have dreamed of a loveliness 
to which God Himself has never attained ! 

Where did we get this power of imagining some 
thing greater than there is in our Creator ? Was there 
ever such a paradox offered to the sane intellect ? ID 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 173 

is askin^ us to believe that the ocean itself has a 
narrower curve than one of the drops buried in its 
depths. 

Even the most obstinate of sceptics, it may be 
claimed with confidence, might well wish religion to 
be true. For the illusion is lofty. If it were true, God 
would be greater than He is, man happier, goodness 
easier, the outlook for the race infinitely nobler. And 
it may be asked in an astonished whisper, How does 
it come to pass that a lie is nobler, loftier, and more 
beneficent than the truth ? 

Christianity, it is to be observed, is the one moral 
theory which could be translated into universal practice 
without destroying the world. If Plato s republic sud 
denly became the pattern of universal society, slavery 
would re-emerge ; the brothel would take its place 
everywhere as a decorous piece of social machinery. If 
the Koran miraculously and suddenly shaped the world 
to its pattern, a religion of cruelty would take the place 
of a religion of love. One-half of the human race, the 
feminine half, would sink in the scale of being to the 
level of the dogs. Woman, on its teaching, is denied 
a soul here and a heaven hereafter. 

But suppose that by some strange chance, and in 
the course of a single night, the Bible stole into the 
imagination of the whole world! It took possession 
of every human life; it reshaped to its own pattern 
the ideals, the wills, the tempers, the politics, the 
literature, the appetites of mankind; and to-morrow 



174 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

morning the whole planet awoke with Christianity 
supreme everywhere. 

Whether the Bible be a reality or a falsehood, it is 
clear that certain things would immediately follow. 
There would not be a liar s tongue, a rogue s brain, 
a thief s palm left in the world ! Henri Quatre s dream 
of a French millennium was a fowl in every peasant s 
pot ; but the sudden and universal supremacy of 
the Christian religion in the world would put peace 
at every man s fireside and love in every human 
heart. There would be no scolding wives, no faith 
less husbands, no wrecked homes, no broken-hearted 
mothers, no fallen women. Hunger and strife and 
hate would vanish. If every man acted on the Golden 
Eule, the immemorial quarrel betwixt the haves and 
the have-nots would end at a breath. All social 
hates would die. The want of the world would dis 
appear. Greed and selfishness would perish. The 
strife betwixt nations would come to an end. Milton s 
dream of a time when 

No war or battle s sound 
Was heard the world around 

would come true, and the idle spear and shield* 
would be high up-hung for ever. 

No one can doubt that if Christianity became the 
master force in every human life this is what would 
follow. But let us take the other hypothesis. Let us 
suppose that the conviction of the absolute untruth of 
the Bible suddenly became universal. It was a detected 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 175 

and universally abandoned fraud. Its conception of 
God was known to be a drearn, its ethics ceased to be 
binding ; its conception of the eternal world, of an im 
mortal life hanging on these few broken, hurrying 
moments of time, of measureless penalties for wrong 
doing, and infinite rewards for righteousness all was 
as idle as a child s fairy tale. Heaven was known to 
be a dream. God, it was finally discovered, had nothing 
to do with us. 

Now, it is certain that such a triumph of scepticism 
would call into instant existence a world in which no 
sceptic would desire to live. Worship would perish, 
and all that goes with worship. Prayer would be 
universally abandoned; it would die on the lips of 
little children ; it would be heard no more in the hush 
of great sorrows, in the worship of great congregations. 
The Churches, with all their beneficent offices for the 
young, for the sick, for the outcast, with their great 
service to society, their witness for righteousness, their 
restraining power against vice, would crumble into 
ruins. The last hymn would have been sung, the last 
missionary recalled, the last sermon preached, the last 
leaf of the Bible dismissed to a museum or to a dust-heap. 

Under such conditions no one can doubt that 
human society would suffer an instant and limitless 
injury. Life would lose its horizon. For grief there 
would be no consolation, for morality no binding 
authority, for undeserved wrong no eternal compensa 
tions. All the disruptive forces of society would gain 



176 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

a new and strange energy. Would morality itself 
survive, with no throne of judgement waiting for us 
beyond the grave, no infinite equity inexorably binding 
punishment to wrong-doing, and measureless rewards to 
right-doing ? 

The ethical trend of the new materialistic theory 
of man, as a matter of fact, is already visible. In 
Ilaeckel s latest work, Tlie Wonders of Life, for 
example, he praises suicide. It is a form of social 
redemption. A man, he declares, has an unques 
tionable right to put an end to his sufferings by death. 1 
Nay, we have a moral right to kill, not only ourselves, 
but other people. We shoot or poison a faithful dog 
who has grown too old for comfortable life, and why 
should we not, on the same principles, shoot or poison 
our friends when they grow bald-headed and lose their 
teeth ? We have a right, if not a duty, says Haeckel, 
under such conditions to put an end to the sufferings 
of our fellow men. To dismiss the too obstinate invalid 
by a dose of morphia or cyanide of potassium, Haeckel 
assures us, * would very often be a blessing both to the 
invalids and their families. He calculates 2 that in 
Europe alone there are two million lunatics, many of 
them incurable, to say nothing of lepers, people with 
cancer, &c. ; and these are kept in life at a huge 
public and private cost. How much of this pain and 
expense could be spared, Haeckel reflects, if people 
could only make up their minds to administer to 
1 Wonders of Life, p. 116, Ibid., p. 123, 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 177 

every incurable a sufficient dose of morphia. He 
admires the ancient Spartan habit of strangling new 
born children if they were weakly, and urges its general 
adoption. 1 

A moral world reflecting these ideas would be a 
somewhat alarming place of residence. But Haeckel 
is quite logical. If men are mere ferments of chemical 
forces, with no more of free will, and of the responsi 
bility born of free will, than, say, the effervescence of 
an acid and soda compound, what room is left for pity 
or morality ? What obligations of help or forbearance 
does one bottle of chemicals on a shelf in a laboratory 
owe to the bottle beside it ? And, does any one think 
that the morality which sanctions the strangling of 
sickly infants would not produce fruits in other realms 
of human life as alarming ? 

Now, let the whole creed thus offered to us be con 
sidered. At every point it is an affront to reason. It 
asks us to believe that life is a transitory by-product of 
the blind play of unconscious forces ; so that which 
knows is born of that which is unknowing ; the moral 
blossoms on the stem of the non-moral; pity emerges 
from the clash of forces that are pitiless. This wonder 
ful universe is a mechanical process with no discover 
able purpose, an eternal gyration of mechanical energies 
with no trace of moral order in it. But a moral order 
does exist, with its roots in our conscience, and its 
verifications in our consciousness, and therefore it is 
1 Wonders of Life, p, 124, 

8 



178 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

part of the system of things. Yet we are asked to 
believe it represents no principle in that system. 

This creed is a direct menace to morals. According 
to its teaching, all moral qualities courage, goodness, 
pity, self-sacrifice are nothing better than labels on 
the jars of a chemist s shop. A mother is a mere com 
bination of carbon, phosphorus, lime, and water, with 
a few salts thrown in. The whole interval betwixt 
greed and love, betwixt the lust that prompts to sin 
and the conscience that rebukes sin, can be measured in 
the terms of chemistry. A few grains, more or less, 
say, of mercury, make the whole difference betwixt 
the saint and the harlot. Why, then, should we admire 
the saint or blame the harlot ? 

Some rare souls, it is true, even after all this had 
been proved, might say, like Huxley or Clifford, If 
there be no God, let us live as if one existed. If 
goodness is not mandatory, if it may even be disastrous, 
yet for its own sake we will follow it. But for the 
common mass of mankind, in the rush and competition 
of life, with all the clamour of appetite, the evil fires 
of passion and greed, in them and about them, what 
chance would there be of virtue surviving when sepa 
rated absolutely from the authority of a divine Law-giver, 
and from the great motives which belong to the tender 
ness of Christ s redemption, the holiness of God s 
character, the awfulness of eternity ? 

The world, as a matter of fact, did once try the 
experiment of living without belief in God or a future 



The Logic of an Hypothesis 179 

life. And what the result of that dreadful experiment 
was let the morality, the literature, the social corruption 
of the later Eoman Empire tell ! 

Let not the logic of all this be misread. If a lie 
is advantageous and beautiful, in no matter what degree ; 
if the truth is, no matter how, disastrous in its conse 
quences yet in God s name let us reject the lie and 
hold fast the truth ! But how does it come to pass that 
a lie is infinitely more beneficent than truth itself? 
Is it credible that truth would kill morality, and 
a lie reinforce it ? Yet, if we accept the hypothesis 
of unbelief, this is what happens. Christianity is a 
delusion, but it creates in human society and character 
the grandest realities. It is a delusion, but while it 
lasts it is the safety of the world. If it were universally 
found out, it would destroy the world. 

This is a paradox too monstrous for the sane reason. 
It is like inviting us to believe that the sun is the 
secret cause of darkness, and the only way of sufficiently 
illuminating the world is to extinguish it ! 

I will not believe, says Sir Oliver Lodge, that it 
is given to man to think out a clear and consistent 
system higher and nobler than the real truth. Our 
highest thoughts are likely to be nearest to reality, 



CHAPTER II 
The Logic of Human Speech 

Language alone illumes tho vast, monotonously coloured chart 
of the universe. RICHTER. 

Language ! By this wo build pyramids, fight battles, ordain 
and administer laws, shape and teach religion, are knit man to man, 
cultivate each other and ourselves. Jcmy STERLING. 

Language, as well as the faculty of speech, ia the immediate 
gift of God. NOAH WEBSTEK. 

"\A7 7 - E are a11 a g n ostics now/ according to tho 

\A/ news papers, and the doctrine that any 

knowledge of God the Infinite, by man 

the finite, is philosophically impossible, is certainly 

welcomed by many as a sort of gospel. They label 

themselves agnostics with an air of gladness. The 

word serves, at least, as an excuse for dismissing God 

from the realm of their affairs, and for treating Him as 

non-existent in His own universe. 

It is not that this particular book of the Bible, or 
that particular message from God, is regarded as histori 
cally disproved. Multitudes have as a working creed 
the theory that any relations of knowledge betwixt 
God and man are unthinkable. It is a metaphysical 
incredibility that the Infinite can be translated into 



The Logic of Human Speech 181 

terms of knowledge for the finite. And in this vague 
assertion, which wears a delightful look of philosophical 
finality, thousands discover a discharge from all obliga 
tions to give God a place in their scheme of life. They 
take as their motto Watson s words, though not in 
Watson s spirit : 

Above the cloud, beneath the sod, 
The Unknown God, the Unknown God. 

The history of agnosticism is instructive. Huxley 
invented the word ; Herbert Spencer supplied it with 
logic. But agnosticism does not begin with either 
Huxley or Spencer. 

The recognition of the fact that some things lie for 
us beyond the possibility of complete knowledge is as 
old as the history of thought. The limits of the human 
mind are undeniable; every system of psychology 
recognizes them, though they may differ as to the area 
of things unknowable, or the conditions which forbid 
them to be known. The last step of reason, says 
Pascal, is to know there is an infinitude of things that 
surpass it. And some clever wits have been eager 
to use this inevitable limitation of human knowledge 
to rule God out of human life. 

Hume, for example, was an agnostic before the title 
was invented ; and if Locke s psychology was not the 
root of his scepticism, it was certainly the weapon lie 
used for its defence. Locke taught that the mind is 
a mirror; it simply reflects the impressions brought 
to it by the senses; and ideas are only remembered 



1 82 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

impressions. Hume turned Locke s theory to uses of 
which its author never dreamed. We ourselves, he 
contended, are nothing more than a stream of such 
remembered impressions ; our consciousness is only a 
succession of images which we mistake for ourselves. 
We can never get beyond or behind this shadow-dance 
of impressions to reality, to Space and Time and God. 
So the supreme realities must be for ever beyond the 
reach of knowledge. 

Kant had a profounder psychology than Locke, but 
it is inconsistent with itself, and that inconsistency 
gives point to Haeckel s sneering question, Which 
Kant do you mean ? 

Kant held all knowledge to be limited to phe 
nomena, the office of the understanding being to collate 
the perceptions of the senses, and that of the reason to 
regulate the methods of the understanding. All our 
knowledge/ says Kant, begins with sense, proceeds to 
understanding, and ends with reason. And the reason 
knows only three ultimate conceptions the Soul, the 
Universe, and God. Yet these three sublime and ulti 
mate ideas are for the human soul illusions, though 
they are illusions from which we cannot escape. They 
are illusions, not because they do not represent objec 
tive facts, but because we are incapable of comprehend 
ing them. The soul is, even to itself, an illusion. The 
universe is an illusion. God is an illusion. The 
philosopher who believed in the categorical imperative 
of the moral law, yet, by his theory of the nature of 



The Logic of Human Speech 183 

knowledge, was compelled to treat the soul, the universe, 
and God as lying beyond knowledge. 

Hamilton held that the mind can only know the 
limited and the conditioned. The Infinite and the 
Absolute/ he said, are only the names of counter 
imbecilities of the human mind. l They are imbecili 
ties of the mind, because they represent the effort to 
comprehend what transcends the sweep of its faculties. 
We must believe, he said, in the infinity of God; 
but, being finite, we can never grasp the Infinite. 
Hansel, in the same way, taught that the Infinite is 
merely a name for the absence of those conditions 
under which thought is possible ; but he held that 
it is a duty enjoined by reason itself to believe in that 
which reason cannot grasp/ 

It is true that behind that tangle of metaphysical 
subtleties Kant and Hamilton and Hansel alike find 
room for God ; only He stands in the category of faith, 
not of knowledge. He is the Unknowable, and the 
Absolute. 

This, of course, is a harmless form of agnosticism 
for the unlearned man. The refinements of meta 
physics, the subtleties of much-meditating philosophers, 
are for him nothing more than a web of unmeaning 
phrases. Hill, however, accepted one half of the 
Kantian philosophy that which declared God to be 
for ever outside the realm of human knowledge but 
rejected the other half, which taught that belief in God 
1 Discussions on Philosophy, p. 21. 



1 84 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

was the highest reason. His philosophy has, somehow, 
stained through to the average mind, and it hides God 
finally from human thought or human concern behind 
the label of the Unknowable. We are obliged to 
suppose/ Herbert Spencer concedes, that there is a First 
Cause. It is a postulate of the sane reason. We are 
driven, he goes on to say, by an inexorable logic/ to 
the conclusion that He or It must be infinite and 
independent. Spencer affirms, indeed, that the omni 
presence of Something which passes comprehension is 
that belief which the most unsparing criticism of all 
religions leaves unquestionable or makes even clearer. l 
Spencer thus does not banish religion from the system 
of things. Eeligion, he says, expresses some eternal 
fact/ Eeligious ideas of one kind or other are almost, 
if not quite, universal ; but, according to Herbert 
Spencer, the ultimate religious truth of the highest 
possible certainty, is that the Power which the universe 
manifests to us is utterly inscrutable/ a 

Ignorance/ according to the monkish adage, is the 
mother of devotion ; and Herbert Spencer s theory, 
that the religion which nothing can banish from the 
system of things is founded upon the glorious truth 
a truth of the highest possible certainty that we can 
never by any possibility know anything about God, 
is but that same much-abused aphorism disguised in 
philosophical language. 

i Preface to First Principles, p. 45. 
1 Ibid., p. 46, 



The Logic of Human Speech 185 

If any terms of knowledge betwixt man and God 
are impossible, it is difficult to see how religion ex 
presses any eternal fact What we do not know, 
what must for ever remain to us unknown, will by 
plain sense, and by men who are in a hurry, be dis 
missed as a factor from human affairs ; and this is 
what agnosticism as a working creed really means. It 
explains, it is to be feared, the content not to say 
the gladness with which multitudes label themselves 
agnostics. 

It is, of course, an obvious criticism that agnosti 
cism is a creed which refutes itself. No one can quite 
succeed in holding it consistently and logically. 
Herbert Spencer himself said we are obliged, by the 
very constitution of our minds, to suppose that a First 
Cause exists ; that He or It is infinite, independent, 
and omnipresent. These, surely, are large affirma 
tions ; they represent a very wide, area of knowledge. 
How can that be unknowable, of which so much is 
known ? How much, too, must be known about the 
Unknowable before we reach the certainty that no 
revelation to us is, or ever can be, possible ? 

The finite, it is true, cannot comprehend the Infinite. 
But agnosticism really undertakes to explore the capa 
cities and limits of the Infinite ; and on the authority 
of that exploration to declare that there is something 
the Infinite never can do. It can never reveal itself 
to the intelligence it has created. Agnosticism thus, 
on the authority of its intimate knowledge of God, 



1 86 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

announces in stentorian tones that nothing whatever 
about God can ever be known ! 

The self-contradictions of agnosticism, however, are 
its most harmless feature; the deadly poison hidden 
in it lies elsewhere. It lies in the fact that while 
announcing that any knowledge of God is impossible, 
it undertakes to give enough information about God 
to make Him hateful. For agnosticism carries with 
it some implications which make it as a religious 
theory more hateful by measureless degrees than 
atheism itself. 

Atheism says the throne of the universe is empty; 
we are orphans. Agnosticism says Something sits on 
the throne, Something infinite and omnipresent. This 
infinite Something is our creator, but It sits with 
veiled face, shrouded in darkness. He hides Himself 
or Itself from His or Its own offspring. What 
a riddle the jest of a cruel God would be the eye 
without the element of light which corresponds to it ! 
And on the theory of agnosticism the human soul itself 
is exactly such a jest. There is planted in it an in 
extinguishable longing for God a longing which 
He who gave it to the soul meant to be for ever 
unsatisfied. 

Imagine a human father who sits before his blind 
child, looking on the pitiful face, the sightless eyeballs 
He could give vision to the sealed eyes, but he will 
not ! Nay, imagine a father who deliberately took the 
power of vision from the eyes, the faculty of speech 



The Logic of Human Speech 187 

from the lips, the sense of hearing from the ears of his 
child, and thus shut up his child s soul, meant for light 
and speech and knowledge, in darkness and silence! 
There never was such a human father ! If he existed 
he would be a devil. 

And agnosticism says, in effect, that God is such 
a monster. He planted in us these indestructible 
yearnings after Himself, and then for ever He dooms 
them to be mocked. There are things He hates, and for 
doing which He will punish us, but He will not tell us 
what these things are. There are things He loves, and 
which will bring to us infinite rewards ; but He denies 
to us all knowledge of their character. Eeligion, says 
Herbert Spencer, expresses some eternal fact/ but on 
the agnostic theory, behind all the worship of all races 
through all the ages, behind the hymns and prayers of 
all the saints, and the smoke of all sacrifices, there is 
nothing but a lie. 

Now, whatever else is credible, this theory is 
incredible. The mere inconsistency of agnosticism 
destroys it. While declaring that any knowledge of 
God is impossible, it yet assumes to know enough 
about God s resources to affirm what He cannot do, 
and enough about God s character to know that He is 
hateful. 

But to show that agnosticism as a philosophical 
theory is absurd and incredible does not help us 
much. Is there any proof lying close at hand, and 
clear to even the unphilosophical intelligence, which 



1 88 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

makes communication betwixt God and ourselves 
credible ? 

As an answer to that question, let the significance 
of that unique faculty of language, which is the special 
characteristic of man the faculty which perhaps more 
than any other separates him from the beastbe con 
sidered. In one sense, his own personality is for each 
man a sealed kingdom. Each soul sits within its own 
limits, solitary, alone, a thing apart. The separateness, 
the inviolable loneliness of human personality, is one 
of its most striking and significant characteristics. 
The impenetrability of matter is its faint analogue. 
Souls are more separate than are planets. Each human 
consciousness is a sealed world, dwelling apart from 
any other consciousness. 

But it is not inaccessible. The boundaries that 
part one human spirit from another can be crossed. 
The separate spirit of man can touch, can become in 
telligible to, other spirits. We take the faculty of 
speech as a thing of course ; but Professor Max Miiller 
calls it our Eubicon, on the hither side of which men 
alone are found. It is the boundary between the 
domain of the human race and that of the brutes. 

There have been idle speculations as to the evolution 
of speech betwixt the lower animals, born of the mere 
expressiveness of sounds; but the common sense of 
mankind rejects the theory that speech the expression 
of thought could develop itself, even in millions of 
years, out of inarticulate sounds which merely express 



The Logic of Human Speech 189 

feelings of animal pain and appetite. All serious 
thinkers/ says Professor Max Miiller, l agree with 
Bunsen that the specific difference between the human 
animal and all other animals consists in language. 
/ Man is man/ says Humboldt, only through speech ; 
but, in order to invent it, he must already be man. 

And what is the significance of speech ? It is the 
act of the human spirit unveiling itself to a fellow 
spirit. Man can take a cluster of air- waves, beating in 
more or less intense vibrations on the stretched mem 
brane of the ear, and make it a vehicle of all the 
heights of thought, the depths and tenderness of 
emotion, the linked processes of reason. And the 
wonder does not merely lie in spoken language. "With 
the help of a few visible symbols the human mind can 
record itself so that it will be intelligible to other 
minds thousands of years afterwards. A few dim 
characters are found on an ancient stone upon which 
desert sands have blown for forty centuries, and through 
them the thought of some long-dead conqueror or law 
giver becomes audible afresh to us. 

And it is nothing less than marvellous in what 
multiplying degree, and by what various devices, the 
power of human spirits to touch, and reveal themselves 
to, other human spirits, is exercised. A few electric 
vibrations sent through thousands of miles of dead 
wire, hung in the sea depths, will transmit thought, 

1 Presidential address before the Anthropological section of the 
British Association, 1889, 



190 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

purpose, intelligence to a whole nation. A few danc 
ing gleams of light flung on to the blackness of the 
night-sky will convey a message to a besieged city 
across hostile armies. 

Now, the logic of human speech is clear. Why 
should that which is so abundantly and variously 
possible to man be impossible to God ? If spirit can 
talk to spirit the spirit of man to the soul of man 
in spite of separating walls of flesh, across wide gulfs 
of space and thousands of years of time, how can it be 
impossible for the Supreme Spirit of the universe, the 
Father of all spirits, to speak to His own offspring? 
That man is capable of receiving, that he longs to 
receive, such messages is certain. And can we think 
that God is incapable of sending such messages, or is 
unwilling to send them ? Shall we possess these 
things/ says Sir Oliver Lodge, and God not possess 
them ? If man be not dumb to his fellow men, why 
should we think God must be dumb to us all ? If we 
can speak to each other, is it credible that the God 
who endowed us with that faculty has nothing in 
Himself which corresponds to it ? 

To know the infinite God, if by such knowledge is 
meant to comprehend all that lies in the mysterious 
infinitude of His nature, must be, for a finite spirit, for 
ever impossible. In that large and absolute sense we 
do not know each other. The mother does not know 
the infant she holds to her breast. Our largest science, 
in that sense of the word, knows nothing not the 



The Logic of Human Speech 191 

flower in the crannied wall, nor the blowing wind that 
shakes its leaves, nor the light which gives it colour. 

But there is knowledge which is short of perfect 
comprehension. No human spirit comprehends all that 
lies within the consciousness of any other human spirit. 
Yet knowledge does exist from man to man ; speech 
exists. Mind touches mind and interprets itself to 
mind. And agnosticism, since in the last analysis it 
means the denial to God of the power which He has 
Himself given to His creature man, is a theory which 
the sane reason instinctively and absolutely rejects. 
No sophistry can make it credible. The mystery of 
speech in us makes credible the mystery of speech from 
God to us. 



BOOK V 
IN SPIRITUAL LIFE 



CHAPTER I 
The Logic of Answered Prayers 

Speak to Him, then, for He hears, and spirit with spirit can 

meet, 

Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands or feet. 

TENNYSON. 

NO one thinks of prayer, or of answers to 
prayer, as a branch of Christian evidences. 
And yet, deep hidden in that sweetest of 
all human experiences, the communion betwixt the 
personal soul and God, there is an unrecognized logic 
which constitutes one of the strongest attestations of 
the Christian faith reason can desire. 

The force of the argument from design, as we have 
shown elsewhere, lies in the thrill of personal recogni 
tion betwixt mind and mind. It is the discovery of 
intelligent purpose controlling force in the physical 
order ;and intelligent purpose is the attribute of mind. 
So the argument from design, when analysed, resolves 
itself into the answer of the Mind of the infinite 
Creator to the finite mind of the creature through the 
medium of material things. Kepler s cry-already 

2 



196 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

quoted expresses it God, I am thinking Thy 
thoughts after Thee ! 

But can we recognize and decipher the rnind of 
God only when set before us in such dim hieroglyphics 
as the physical universe knows ? If we were a dumb 
race we could only speak to each other by signs and 
gestures. If we were a race both blind and dumb we 
could only communicate through actual touch of fingers. 
And is the spiritual world such a realm of broken 
faculties and clouded senses ? We belong to the 
spiritual order; and it cannot be we are on such 
terms with God, who is a Spirit, and is the Father 
of our spirits, that He can only reveal His mind to 
us through the rude cipher of material things. There 
must be some direct and personal discovery of Himself 
to us which the Infinite Mind is capable of making 
and we are capable of receiving. And the proof of 
that lies too faintly recognized, alas ! in the separate, 
countless, accumulated, and perpetual answers to prayer, 
which form the most sacred part of the experience of 
all devout souls. 

Prayer fills so large a space in human experience, 
it is so vitally and essentially the very atmosphere of 
religion, that, unless we assume that our experience in 
this, the highest realm, is a mere dance of illusions, 
there must be some great reality in prayer ; some deep 
philosophy behind it; some wide and perpetual use 
which justifies its existence. Prayer, says Carlyle, 
is, and remains always, the native and deepest impulse 



The Logic of Answered Prayers 197 

of the soul of man. It is incredible that such an 
impulse, the purest and most characteristic our nature 
knows, can be nothing better than a trick ; a thing as 
idle and empty of meaning as the rustle of leaves in 
a wind-shaken tree. Has the God who made us and 
He is Himself, we must believe, a God of truth set 
in the very centre of our lives a longing, an impulse 
nay, a passion which is only a lie? And, by some 
bewildering paradox, has He made that lie the root of 
all noblest things ? 

No prayer, says Carlyle, no religion, or at least 
only a dumb and lamed one. And it is certain that 
prayer has in religion the office of oxygen in the 
atmosphere. It is the first condition of life. No 
human soul would venture to undertake a religious 
life, to expect the ardours, the emotions, the inspira 
tions of religion, on the condition that prayer must be 
dismissed from it. 

On the Christian theory prayer has behind it a 
profound philosophy, and the facts correspond to the 
philosophy. Its reason lies in the roots of our nature. 
We are persons, and God is a person ; and however 
wide the interval of mere scale, the analogies of human 
personality best interpret to us what God is. And 
nothing is more certain than that self-communication 
is the essential impulse of personality. This is the 
human fact; and on the Christian belief that God 
has made us in His likeness, the desire of self-com 
munication must be in Him. Personality in us is the 



198 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

faint shadow of personality in God ; and the Christian 
theory is that in us the need, in God the desire, of 
self-communication are fundamental. 

This, it may be said, is only a guess, but the facts 
correspond to the guess. Prayer runs through all 
history, exists in all religions, is as natural as 
breathing. Blessings, cried Sancho Fanza, on the 
man who invented sleep ! And prayer is as little 
a human invention as is sleep. On its human side 
prayer is the cry for communion with God ; on its 
divine side it is the response to that cry. It repre 
sents a relationship which finds its reason in the 
very make of our own nature, and in the essential 
attributes of God. 

But it is commonly said that prayer is a purely 
subjective exercise, and it is questioned whether the 
human mind in the act of prayer actually touches the 
divine Mind. Are there, in a word, any such things 
as answers to prayer; the response of the divine love 
to human need ; the touch in the darkness, the whisper 
in the silence, the answer of the heavenly Father to 
the cry of His children ? 

Every one remembers the story of how Marconi 
set up on the American coast the first installation for 
wireless telegraphy ; while on a point on the coast of 
England stood the corresponding installation. Betwixt 
the two rolled the desolate waters of the Atlantic, a 
grey space swept with many winds. Could an electrical 
vibration carry a message from one mind to another 



The Logic of Answered Prayers 199 

across that vast interval ? And Marconi has told us 
how he watched and listened to the faint and vagrant 
rapping of the instrument. A single letter, flung from 
the station on the English coast across thousands of 
leagues of sea, was to be caught and registered on the 
American coast. 

There came a moment when Marconi heard, or 
thought he heard, the triple tick which was the agreed 
signal! Mind and mind across so many thousand 
miles of space had touched. But no second signal 
came, or has ever come since. The interval was too 
wide, the instruments too crude, or the electrical 
waves too vagrant ; and, naturally enough, the world 
has since grown sceptical as to that alleged first signal. 
But suppose the signal had been repeated con 
tinuously; that it could be repeated to-day at will. 
Suppose that a thousand Marconis had set up in 
stallations along every shore washed by the sea, and 
the messages passed from land to land intelligibly 
and incessantly. In spite of sea-space and blowing 
winds, souls talked to souls ; questions were asked 
and answered, messages were daily sent and received. 
The fact of such a conquest of the separating power 
of space, such a manifestation of the power of human 
minds to speak to each other without any material 
link of contact, would be scientifically established. 
No one would doubt it, though they could not under 
stand it, any more than we doubt, though we cannot 
understand, the telephone. 



200 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

And if this illustration be transferred to the 
spiritual world, and translated into spiritual terms, 
it almost exactly describes the phenomena of prayer. 
In true, believing prayer, as millions of godly men 
and women know by the witness of their consciousness, 
the soul of man and the very being of God touch. 
There is appeal and response, petition and answer, the 
cry of need and the swift coming of help ; the upward 
impulse of adoration from the human side, the clearest 
gift of blessing from the divine side. 

The facts can only be rejected on grounds which 
would pronounce all human testimony unreliable, and 
bring to wreck some of the most confident generaliza 
tions of science. The sea-cable which in 1865 was 
being laid betwixt America and England snapped at 
one stage of the process, and the broken end sank in 
the depths of the Atlantic. The broken cable lay 
there for nearly a year, but the shore end at Valentia 
was still connected with the recording instrument. 
While the cable was being laid, intelligible messages 
betwixt ship and shore ran incessantly. When the 
cable was broken these, of course, ceased; but their 
place was taken by a stream of meaningless and idle 
vibrations, born of the vagrant earth-currents that 
poured themselves into the broken wire and kept the 
far-off needle rapping. No intelligence governed them, 
or could be read in them ; they were simply the play 
of mindless force. 

Meanwhile, ships were patiently groping in the 



The Logic of Answered Prayers 201 

dark sea depths for the cable. Suddenly along the 
lost and broken wire there came to Valentia a mes 
sage ! The restless needle spelt out a word two 
words. Here was thought coming along the wire. 
Some one was speaking. It was only a mutilated 
sentence that was spelt out, the words Got it a 
verb without a subject. But this was sufficient. It 
proved that there was mind at the other end of the 
wire. Only two syllables whispered out of the mind 
less sea depths, from unseen lips or fingers, across 
hundreds of miles ; yet nobody doubted the cable was 
found and was being used. When intelligence speaks 
to intelligence through dark depths of sunless waters, 
the recognition is instant ! A syllable is enough. 

Men tell us there is only a broken wire betwixt 
us and God. What we think are answers to prayer, 
we are assured, are nothing but vagrant echoes out of 
empty space; the wandering currents of our own 
thoughts somehow coming back to us, reverberated 
out of eternity. But to a sceptic who doubted whether 
there was a mind at the other end of the broken 
sea-cable the two syllables, suddenly and mysteriously 
reporting themselves, would have been a sufficient 
answer. For quick, beyond all realization, is mind 
to recognize mind. And exactly this is what, by the 
testimony of myriads of human souls in all ages and 
under all skies, takes place in prayer. There are real 
answers, clear, sure, repeated ; the response of a personal 
Mind to our mind. 



202 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Answers to prayer! Who shall classify them, 
remember them, or measure them? They are made 
up of deliverances, comforts, pardons, illuminations ; 
strange endowments of strength to the weak, of courage 
to the fearful, and of guidance to the perplexed. The 
lives of all good mothers are rich in them. Little 
children know them. Strong men live by them. They 
have put an atmosphere of triumph round innumerable 
death-beds. They have dried how many tears, and 
comforted how many sorrows! They form part of 
the daily experience of multitudes. The days come 
and go to their music. 

What explanation is possible for phenomena like 
these ? In that silence which lies about the feet of 
God, when we wait in the hush and awe of prayer, 
shall men tell us that no voice has spoken to us ; no 
hand has touched us, no love has blessed us ? Are all 
these rich and deep experiences nothing better than 
a trick of the senses, a lie of the spiritual faculties ? 
If that is so, the finest qualities of human nature its 
sweetest tempers, its noblest flowers, the fruit of pure 
lives and of happy deaths are but a form of mental 
disorder. For these things are born of prayer ; and if 
answers to prayer are mere illusions which cheat us, they 
are nothing but a variety of mental disease. But what 
disease is that which creates the strength, the clean- 
blooded gladness, the exultant energies which health 
itself can only envy ? What delusion is this on whose 
stem blossom such flowers as reality itself does not bear ? 



The Logic of Answered Prayers 203 

Let it be remembered who are the witnesses in this 
matter. They are a great multitude of every people 
and nation and tongue ; of every century and of every 
clime. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him 
and delivered him out of all his troubles. And in 
every age, under every sky, uncounted voices repeat 
that testimony saints and martyrs, soldiers and states 
men, great scholars and simple-hearted women. Nay, 
in the whole succession of the devout, the saintly, the 
pure, throughout all the Christian centuries, there is 
not one but would affirm that prayer finds its answer. 
Here, then, is a great, unvarying, and multiform tradi 
tion. It represents the most overwhelming verification 
the human intellect can know. 

Of course, it may be replied that in each instance 
the supposed answer to prayer is a purely subjective 
experience ; valid, perhaps, for the person to whom it 
comes, but for no one else. But each witness testifies 
to definite phenomena in the realm of human con 
sciousness ; and each separate witness must be multi 
plied by all the generations that have gone by, and all 
the saints that live to-day. 

Science, to go back to our illustration, would accept 
absolutely half a dozen letters coming mysteriously out 
of the unsunned sea depths as a proof that Some one 
was speaking at the other end of the wire. For the 
blind earth-currents do not clothe themselves in intel 
ligible speech, any more than the vagrant winds could 
compose Paradise Lost, or the vibrations of the light 



204 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 
paint the Madonna of Kaphael. If the spiritual 
experience of all the saints is to be rejected as an 
illusion, what of certain knowledge in any realm is left 
to the human intellect ? 

Prayer is like the sea-cable. Some one certainly 
is speaking, is speaking every moment to uncounted 
human souls, from the other end. The material uni 
verse, with which our senses deal, is only a veil- 
behind it is the great kingdom of the spiritual universe 
to which we belong, and into which in a few swift 
moments more we must pass. That is the kingdom 
God s open presence. Prayer is the electric wire 
mining into that kingdom. We speak to God through 
it; we hear His voice in answer. That He exists 
that He stands in personal and living relations with 
as, is surely proved afresh, and throughout every 
moment of time, by the answered prayers of aU the 
uncounted multitudes of praying hearts, since the 
drama of human history began. 



CHAPTER II 
The Logic of Design in the Spiritual World 

The essence of mind is design and purpose. There are some 
who deny that there is any design or purpose in the universe at 
all ; but how can that be maintained when humanity itself 
possesses these attributes ? SIB OLIVER LODGE. 

NO one denies the logical force of design in the 
material world. Paley s argument from the 
watch to the watchmaker is still final for 
the healthy intellect. It is a form of reason which a 
child can understand. The house proves the builder. 
Intelligence in us recognizes that intelligence has 
planned floor and roof, walls and windows; and this 
logic does not stop short with the house roof. It runs 
to the roof of the heavens. It is as wide as the very 
sweep of the universe. No one can pretend to believe 
that behind St. Paul s Cathedral there was not the 
brain of a great architect, determining every line and 
curve and detail of the great structure. And by the 
same sure proof we know that behind the mighty 
architecture of the star-crowded heavens there must 
be some contriving Mind, If we cannot trust the 



206 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

logic which links design everywhere to a designing 
intelligence, reason itself has no authority. 

What is the exact logic of design ? It is the dis 
covery of conscious and intelligent purpose, that chooses 
its end and works towards it by fit and intelligent 
contrivance. And mind in the observer recognizes 
mind in the worker. If there is, for example, in the 
physical universe a discovery of purpose, of purpose 
using force as its servant and instrument, this is, and 
must be, the revelation of an Intelligence in or behind 
Nature to intelligence in us. So we have the thrill of 
conscious mind answering the touch of mind. 

Now, the presence of design in the material 
universe is constant and undeniable. Science itself, 
and scientists in every school, proclaim this. Newton 
declared that the existence of an intelligent Creator 
was a necessary inference from the study of celestial 
mechanics, and that the study of God was therefore an 
essential part of natural philosophy. Science, says 
Lord Kelvin, positively affirms a creating and direct 
ing Power; she compels us to accept this as an article 
of belief. l Sir G. G. Stokes a finds the phenomena of 
vision stained through and through with evidence of 
design, and he says, Design is altogether unmeaning 
without a designing mind. 

To think in terms of mathematics is the highest 
sign of intelligence, and, lo ! the whole physical universe 
is built on terms of mathematics, and represents 
1 Nineteenth Century, June, 1903, * Burnct Lectures, p. 327. 



Logic of Design in the Spiritual World 207 

mathematical harmonies. A crystal is but a bit of con 
crete geometry. The law of numbers runs through the 
colours in the rainbow, the intervals of music, the pistils 
of flowers. Mathematicians centuries before Christ, 
says Hill, 1 discussed the problem of what is called 
extreme and mean ratio ; and they invented a process 
for dividing the line in this ratio for use in the business 
of inscribing a regular pentagon in a circle. But 
modern science discovers that the mathematical idea of 
extreme and mean ratio runs through the material 
universe. It is expressed in the angles at which the 
leaves of plants diverge from the stem ; it is found in 
the revolutions of the planets about the sun. And, 
says Hill, how can we compare the reasonings of 
Euclid upon extreme and mean ratio with the arrange 
ment of leaves about the stem, and the revolutions of 
planets round the sun, and not feel that these pheno 
mena of creation express Euclid s idea as exactly as 
diagrams or Arabic digits could do, and that this idea 
was, in some form, present in the creation ? 

But the fact is that the very table of the elements 
is the chart of a keyboard of vibrations which, like the 
intervals in music, have a numerical basis. The dis 
tribution of the stars themselves represent numerical 
harmonies. Colour and music are built on numbers, 
the law of gravitation works in ratios which can be 
expressed in terms of numbers. What is all this but to 
say that matter in every form is built on laws of mind ? 
1 Natural Foundations of Theology, p. 369. 



208 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Clerk-Maxwell, in his lecture on Molecules, says : 
They continue this day as they were created, perfect 
in number and measure and weight, and from the 
ineffaceable characters impressed on them we may 
learn that those aspirations after accuracy in measure 
ment, truth in statement, and justice in action, which 
we reckon among our noblest attributes as men, are ours 
because they are essential constituents of the image of 
Him who in the beginning created, not only the heaven 
and the earth, but the materials of which heaven and 
earth consist. * 

If we consider the whole universe, says Darwin, 
the mind refuses to look at it as the outcome of 
chance. He says of the eye, that, as a living optical 
instrument, it is as superior to one of glass as the 
works of the Creator are to those of man. a He after 
wards regretted having used such a theological term as 
the Creator ; but he never varied his accent in speak 
ing of the inimitable contrivances of the human eye ; 
and these contrivances surely imply a Contriver. 

Kant says : It is absurd for a man even to conceive 
the idea that some day a Newton will arise who can 
explain the origin of a single blade of grass by natural 
laws uncontrolled by design. Haeckel himself, while 
he denies design in the inorganic world, confesses it 
exists in organic life. We do undeniably perceive, 
he says, a purpose in the structure and in the life of 
an organism. The plant and animal seem to be 

1 Bradford, 1873, Origin of Species, 5th edit., p. 226. 



Logic of Design in the Spiritual World 209 

controlled by a definite design in the combination of 
their several parts, just as clearly as we sep in the 
machines which man invents and constructs/ l 

But the witness of individual scientists is un 
necessary. The great presupposition on which science 
itself stands is that the visible universe is intelligible, 
or why should it be studied ? And what is intelligible 
must be the work of intelligence. It can be known, or 
why should we strive to know it ? Mind must be in a 
thing before mind can know it. We can ifead type 
when set up in the pages of a book and in the shape of 
a poem or a story. But who could read type flung by 
chance on the floor, or piled in clusters by an anthropoid 
ape? 

But somehow it is assumed, and conceded, on 
almost every side, that design only exists in the 
physical realm. It is to be discovered in the eye, 
but not in the mind to which the eye brings its 
reports. It is to be found in the skeleton of a bird s 
wing, in the imitative and protective colours of an 
insect, but not in the structure of the human soul. 
That is dismissed as outside science. There is no 
answer of mind to mind in what may be called the 
native realm of the intelligence. The spiritual universe 
is silent. Or if any one declares that for him it has 
many voices, he is dismissed as unscientific, or as 
being tricked by the echoes of his own voice ! 

And yet if there be a creative Mind behind the 
1 EiddU of the Universe, p. 93. 

P 



2io The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

things created, it must surely be most clearly visible in 
that part of creation which is highest and closest in 
structure and faculty to the Creator. The mind in us 
ought to discover traces of the creative Mind in its own 
structure, and in the laws and forces of that spiritual 
realm to which God Himself belongs, and in which, on 
the theory of religion, He has given us a place. If the 
watch reveals and proves the watchmaker, the soul 
ought to reveal and prove God. And religion as a 
phenomenon, if it be true and comes from God, ought 
to show that perfect adaptation of means to ends which 
is the signature of the Creator on all His works. Let 
us see, briefly, if this is the case. 

There are certainly all the marks of design in the 
moral sense, that chord of our nature which responds 
with deep, involuntary, far-heard vibrations to the 
challenge of right and wrong. Kant, in a familiar 
quotation, declares that two things move his deepest 
wonder the starry heavens and the moral sense in 
man. And moral sense is the point of separation 
betwixt man and the orders beneath him. Man s dis 
tinction lies, not merely in the faculty of speech, nor 
in any special range and height of intellectual power. 
It lies exactly at this point, the vision of right and 
wrong ; the capacity for moral character. That faculty 
exists nowhere else in organized life as known to us. 

A scientist so detached, and so little under the direct 
influence of the Christian faith, as Professor W. K. 
Clifford, yet says : The idea of an external conscious 



Logic of Design in the Spiritual World 211 

being is unavoidably suggested, as it seems to me, by 
the categorical imperative of the moral sense; and, 
moreover, in a way quite independent, by the aspect of 
nature, which seems to answer our questionings with 
an intelligence akin to our own. l 

The witness of our own highest faculty, in a word, 
and of our own deepest consciousness, assures us of the 
existence of a Mind which is concerned for moral ends, 
and has made us for those ends. And this Mind 
has strung our nature with sensibilities which vibrate 
to the touch and challenge of moral forces. Just as 
the eye reveals to us the world of form and colour, 
or the ear makes possible for us the sense of sound, 
and turns the vibrations of the physical atmosphere 
into a channel of thought and sense, so the moral 
sense in us links us to that world of moral qualities 
and forces in which God Himself dwells. 

And mind in us can read, written on the moral 
sense within us, the purposes of the creative Mind. We 
can discover the end for which He made us. There is 
no logic more convincing than that of the correspon 
dence betwixt an organ and the element in which it 
works. The structure of the eye presupposes the 
existence of light and proves it. And the structure 
of the conscience is as definite as that of the eye ; and 
the evidence of its sensibilities is as convincing. 

But let us take, as another illustration, the story of 
Jesus Christ considered as a schome of philosophy ; a 
4 Lectures and Essays, p. 388, 



212 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

force addressed to a given end; a machinery which 
undertakes to produce certain results. As a physio 
logist studies a bird s wing in relation to the medium 
in which it has to work and the end it has to accom 
plish, or as an oculist judges the eye, as an optical 
instrument, in relation to light, so let the story of 
Christ be considered. The question of its truth or false 
hood may be laid aside ; let it be looked at simply as 
a cause intended to produce a specific effect. Has it a 
true philosophy? Does it show intelligent purpose, 
choosing a clear end, and working towards that end by 
the fittest means ? This, surely, is a question of which 
our reason is a competent judge. 

And it is certain that if religion is a delusion, born 
in the dreaming brain of some forgotten poet, or shaped 
by the ravings of some unknown fanatic, it still, as a 
matter of fact, has somehow caught the art, and learned 
to use the accents of the divinest wisdom. 

What is the end it seeks ? It is, reduced to its 
elements, to bring the human will into rhythm, into 
deep, eternal, rejoicing harmony, with the real or 
supposed will of God. The end, then, is noble ; none 
loftier can be so much as imagined. What are the 
means used to reach this end ; what forces are called 
into existence? There is, on any true reading of 
human nature, only one force which the will obeys 
inevitably, gladly, unweariedly. It is the master force 
of love ! 

All other motives ambition, greed, desire of power, 



Logic of Design in the Spiritual World 213 

hunger for knowledge or for fame are partial and 
temporary ; they lack the note of universality. Love, 
provided it can only be kindled, is the master-force 
of the human soul. And, as a question of fact, it 
is the exact force to which religion addresses itself. 
Somehow, the rogues or fools, the dreamers or 
fanatics, who, on the theory of unbelief, invented 
the Christian story, read the deep philosophy of the 
human soul aright. They undertook to rule conduct 
by love ! 

But how must love be created ? It cannot be 
bribed, or bought, or compelled. Glory of heaven or 
terror of hell is vain to awaken love. It has its own 
unalterable conditions and laws. 

Love, for one thing, can only be awakened by a 
person. We cannot love in the deep, personal, supreme 
sense a theology, a book, a code of laws, a system of 
philosophy, or any abstraction, no matter how beautiful. 
Love must be personal. And what is perfectly true, 
and yet most strange, is that mere loveliness in a person 
does not always and necessarily awaken love in the 
beholder. It may affect us only as a statue does, or a 
painting. If it is remote it is ineffective. It is love 
that creates love. At love s touch and breath and 
whisper, love awakens ! 

And yet not every form of love will create love. 
Love itself may, indeed, as human experience some 
times sadly proves, be only an irritant. But granted 
the love of some one stronger, nobler, better, greater 



214 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

than ourselves, some one on whom we are depen 
dent, and suppose that love utters itself in love s 
highest mood, the mood of self-sacrifice, it speaks to 
us in accents of suffering, and of suffering endured 
for us. Then we have, tried by the highest philo 
sophy human nature knows, the force best fitted to 
awaken love. 

And exactly this is what Christianity brings to us. 
It is love redeemed from weakness by being the love of 
the infinite Lord and Maker of the universe. It has 
conscience as its servant and advocate, since it is love 
for the wrongdoer by the One who has been wronged. 
And it is love which utters itself in suffering. Its 
symbol is the cross and the sepulchre. 

If a committee of philosophers not to say arch 
angels were appointed to devise a plan which should 
attain what is admitted to be the essential end of 
religion, what more fitting means could be imagined ? 
And on the theory that religion is not true, an in 
credible thing follows. Here is a group of dreamers, 
or fools, or impostors, who lived nobody knows where, 
and died nobody knows when, who yet somehow read 
the secrets of the human soul more profoundly than all 
the philosophers have ever done ! And they invented a 
scheme which, whether fact or fiction, does fit into the 
human soul as the key fits into the lock ! 

If there be design an intelligent purpose which 
seeks a great end ; which works towards it by the 
fittest means and with the mightiest known forces 



Logic of Design in the Spiritual World 215 

recognizable by the human intelligence anywhere, it is 
here. It actually does what all the logic of all the 
philosophers, or the legal codes of all the statesmen 
known to history could not do. It changes human 
nature I It has not only built cathedrals, inspired 
a great literature, changed the course of history, 
and reshaped civilization. It creates saints ! It has 
done this throughout whole centuries, and does it still 
under every sky, and with men of every race and of 
every stage of civilization. If the men and women who 
have surrendered themselves to the forces of religion, 
and are the witnesses of its power, were collected 
together, they would be recognized as constituting the 
very flower of the human race. 

Shall we find design the answer of mind to mind 
in the tissues of the eye, in the membranes of the 
ear, in the skeleton of a bird s wing, in the nerve 
system of a frog, in the spinnaret of a spider ? and shall 
we not find it in the great and magnificent structure of 
religion ? Not to admit the evidence of some great 
contriving Mind there is the last disloyalty to reason. 
It is to accept the curve and refuse to complete the 
circle. It is to say that the law which is true in 
one realm is false in another, and this is to unwrite all 
science. 

God s signature, in those characters we recognize 
everywhere else, is assuredly written deep and inefface- 
ably on the very fabric of religion. Its sign is found in 
its profound correspondence with our own moral sense, 



216 The Unrealised Logic of Religion 

in its fitness to achieve the ends for which it exists. 
To say that these supply no proof of the divine origin 
of religion is to accept the major and minor premisses of 
a syllogism, but to reject the conclusion. It is an 
absurd example, in a word, of arrested logic. 



BOOK VI 
IN COMMON LIFE 



CHAPTER I 
The Logic of Unproved Negatives 

The natural world, then, and natural government of it, being 
such an incomprehensible scheme, so incomprehensible that a 
man must, really in the literal sense, know nothing at all who ia 
not sensible of his ignorance in it this immediately suggests and 
strongly shows the credibility, that the moral world and govern 
ment of it may be so too. BUTLER S Analogy. 

1 Ignorance and doubt afford scope for probation in all senses 
as really as intuitive conviction or certainty. Ibid. 

IN the secular realm in the logic of everyday life, 
of the shop, of the street and the exchange we 
all recognize the profound difference in practical 
force betwixt positive and negative evidence. In the 
scales of life they are not of equivalent weight. They 
affect action in totally diverse ways. For Eobinson 
Crusoe on his desert island, a positive fact of the tiniest 
size a single naked footprint in the sand was enough 
to fill him with alarm. It needed only that solitary 
print, a patch of disturbed sand, to show that some one 
had passed along what he thought was the empty shore. 
But to prove the opposite, that the whole island hid no 
hostile figure, quite another sort and scale of evidence 
was necessary. To be sure that he was alone the 



220 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

castaway must know every foot of the island, every 
hiding-place, cave and valley, hill slope and creeping 
stream, and depths of shadowy wood. A universal 
negative, as every logician knows, can be built on 
nothing less than universal knowledge. 

Bishop Butler, through his great book more 
praised, alas ! than read to-day argues that probability 
is the law of life. Perfect knowledge is impossible to 
us. "We must, in any realm, act on incomplete evidence. 
Tried by the test of absolute metaphysical proof, we are 
not certain that the world of form and colour and 
sound the world the hand touches, the feet press, the 
eyes see really exists. Wise men have doubted its 
existence. They have written volumes to prove it has 
no existence. But in daily life we learn to act on 
evidence short of metaphysical certainty; and we 
recognize that the force of incomplete proof varies by 
measureless degree according to the side on which it 
stands. Incomplete disproof is no release from the 
obligation to act. It is consistent, indeed, with direct, 
complete, and urgent necessity for action. Probabilities, 
to go back to Butler s words, are of quite unequal value, 
both in logic and morals. We admit this is true ; we 
act on it where money is concerned, or health, or 
safety. 

There is a certain vague risk, a probability of low 
order difficult to measure, that a man s house may take 
fire and be burnt There are still greater probabilities 
that no such calamity will happen, for not one house 



The Logic of Unproved Negatives 221 

in a. thousand actually takes fire. But the negative 
probability in the scales of a wise man s brain does not 
count. It does not cancel the obligation to act, and so 
he insures his house. The miner does not know that 
gold lies in the reef deep below the surface. There is 
only a certain convergence of probabilities which points 
in that direction. But on the strength of those pro 
babilities he fights his way with steel and dynamite 
down through two thousand feet of rock and clay. 
He expends toil and time and wealth on evidence far 
short of certainty ; evidence, indeed, only reaching a 
moderate degree of probability, and discredited already, 
in a hundred cases, by failure. 

But in no realm of life do we wait for mathematical 
certainty, and postpone action till it arrives. A shop 
run, a ship sailed, a campaign fought, a science pursued 
on that principle would be a jest. In life, we repeat, 
duty and logic do not walk with equal steps. Duty 
may be created by merely shadowy probabilities. It 
leaps into existence long before a perfect syllogism is 
reached. 

Keligion, it is sometimes complained, is a kingdom 
of half-truths ; of truths only half known, and often less 
than half proved. We have not for its doctrines the 
evidence we have for, say, mathematical propositions. 
That is perfectly true. But the law of the practical 
authority of incomplete proof runs into the great 
realm of religion. There, as nowhere else, in regard 
to its obligations and duties, only that impossible, 



222 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

unattainable, unthinkable thing a limitless negative- 
is a discharge to the conscience. Short of that universal 
and final disproof the conscience may be pledged, 
and duty be peremptory. Incomplete proof is con 
sistent with the highest measure of obligation; but 
nothing less than universal disproof a disproof that 
leaves not one poor peeping doubt in existence is a 
release from duty. 

And let it be noticed that through all the moods 
of infidelity a final and universal disproof of religion 
is never claimed. There are multitudes who askfor 
some more absolute, direct, and overwhelming evidence 
of God s existence than anything yet offered to them ; 
though there are thousands who know God exists 
by a surer test than that by which they know the 
sun shines or the earth stands. For the existence of 
external things they have only the witness of their 
physical senses; for facts of the spiritual order they 
have the direct testimony of their spiritual conscious 
ness. But what proof far-stretching, measureless, and 
final is there in existence sufficient to sustain the 
tremendous and universal negative, There is no God ? 
What height and depth, what eternity and universality 
of knowledge, must be assumed as a warrant for such 
an assertion! Who is entitled to announce such a 
negative ? 

The mere sense of humour makes, or ought to make, 
such a performance impossible. Here is a little creature 
who was born yesterday and will die to-morrow. He 



The Logic of Unproved Negatives 223 

comes he knows not whence ; he is hastening he knows 
not whither. He is hedged round with mysteries, im 
prisoned in ignorance. He knows only one little patch 
on the surface of only one little planet. He knows, 
and that only dimly, a few of the mysterious laws 
touching him and shaping his life. He cannot tell how 
his own nails grow, or why his hands obey the impulse 
of his thoughts, or whether, when to-morrow s sun rises, 
he will be in existence. He cannot say of his own 
knowledge whether there is not a man in the moon. 
And shall he undertake to proclaim to the astonished 
race that there is no infinite God in the immeasurable 
universe ! 

John Foster s writings, it is to be feared, are for 
gotten; but one overwhelming passage survives in 
which he proves that the tremendous negation on which 
militant atheism stands is necessarily and confessedly 
beyond proof. 

The wonder turns on the great process, by which a man could 
grow to the immense intelligence that can know there is no God. 
What ages and what lights are requisite for this attainment ? This 
intelligence involves the very attributes of Divinity, while a God is 
denied. For unless this man is omnipresent, unless he is at this 
moment in every place in the Universe, he cannot know but there 
maybe in some place manifestations of a Deity by which even Aewould 
be overpowered. If he does not absolutely know every agent in the 
Universe, the one that he does not know may be God. If he is not 
himself the chief agent in the Universe, and does not know what is 
BO, that which is so may be God. If he is not in absolute possession 
of all the propositions that constitute universal truth, the one which 
he wants may be that there is a God. If he cannot with certainty 
assign the cause of all that he perceives to exist, that cause may be 



224 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

& God. If he does not know everything that has been done in the 
immeasurable ages that are past, some things may have been done 
by a God. Thus, unless he knows all things, that is, precludes 
another Deity by being one himself, he cannot know that the Being 
whose existence he rejects, does not exist. 

To say that there is no God, in brief, is to assert 
that all the chambers of the universe are empty, all 
the kingdoms of space are silent; that in no world 
amongst all the unnumbered hosts of the stars is to be 
seen any print of God s foot, any touch of His hand. 
How shall we reach the height of that great certainty ? 
To be able to say there is no God, we must, says 
Chalmers, walk the whole expanse of infinity, and 
ascertain, by observation, that trace of Him is to be 
found nowhere; that through every known and un 
trodden vastness in His illimitable universe there is no 
sign of His presence. Who shall undertake to speak 
for all the unknown hosts of beings in other worlds, in 
other ages, and assert that no one has ever heard the 
whisper of God s voice, or found such signs of His 
power as make doubt impossible ? 

No one, in a word, can assure us that God does not 
exist. And the mere unproved probability the very 
possibility that He is, that He sits on the throne, that 
we live under His laws, that we must give account to 
Him of our actions, creates a degree of obligation which 
is in itself a religion. It puts us on probation. It is 
sufficient to morally test our characters, and, in testin^ 
our character, to fix our destiny. On any sane reading 
of facts the possibility that God may exist is a fact 



The Logic of Unproved Negatives 225 

which has a right to colour our lives, even while the 
argument for that existence is yet incomplete. While 
doubt is possible, and certainty yet unattained, there is 
still, to quote Chalmers, a path of irreligion and a 
path of piety ; a moral temper which befits the proba 
bility of God s existence, and a moral temper which is 
an offence against it. 

To disregard the will of God when we have found 
He exists is wickedness; but to be careless of the 
knowledge of God, to whom, if He does exist, we are 
bound by measureless ties of gratitude, that, too, is 
impiety. We need not open the Bible to learn our 
obligations to God. The facts of the world about us 
a world adjusted to our happiness, that gives light to 
the eyes, and soft air to the lungs, and beauty to every 
sense ; a world adjusted with exquisite care, with com 
plex and infinite correspondences to our existence 
are sufficient. To think of all these myriad adaptations, 
these touches and signals of care, these gifts that come 
in silence and go unacknowledged, and yet to care not 
whether, anywhere in the space above us, or in the 
unseen realms about us, there exists a Being who has 
planned it all, and maintains it; this is wickedness. 
No one doubts that to resist God after He is known is 
impiety; but to be satisfied that He should remain 
unknown is a baseness that aggravates impiety itself. 

To the reason and to the conscience alike, in short, 
there is no escape from the obligations of religion 
except by the unattained and unattainable device of a 

Q 



226 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

universal negative. In this realm, duty, vast in scale 
and peremptory in authority, finds standing-ground on 
an unproved negativa 

No one to-day, or no one who need be taken 
seriously, will, as we have said, make himself re 
sponsible for the confident and tremendous negative, 
There is no God. But let us take a sister denial of 
almost equal size, the assertion that historical Christi 
anity with its story of redeeming love, with the great 
duties, and the measureless hopes born of that story 
is not true. It is a scheme disproved. Christ may at 
last be dismissed from history and from human respect 
as a myth, a dream, or an impostor. The literature of 
Christianity is a forgery. Its ethics have no authority. 
Its history is a mere procession of delusions. The 
great hopes of which it whispers are idle dreams. 

Now, many ingenious artists are busy at work 
trying to exhaust Christianity of all solid contents, and 
to whittle down its evidence to the vanishing-point. 
But what range and energy of evidence is sufficient to 
absolutely disprove Christianity ? The human intellect 
certainly knows of no such evidence. No one even 
pretends to know it or to produce it. The whole 
civilized world about us is the creation of Christianity ; 
its disappearance would leave the civilized order in 
which we live without explanation. The most courage 
ous performance of modern unbelief is the assertion 
that Christianity is not proven; that it is definitely 
and finally disproved no one seriously ventures to say. 



The Logic of Unproved Negatives 227 

And betwixt the two propositions : Christianity is 
not, with mathematical certainty, proved to be true ; 
and Christianity is finally, and with absolute logic, 
proved to be untrue there is an interval almost 
measureless ! 

If Christianity is indeed proved to be untrue, we 
may dismiss it from our thoughts. But if that vast 
negative is not yet reached, and reached with the cer 
tainty of one of the propositions of Euclid if, in brief, 
there is only evidence enough to make Christianity 
probably true, that bare probability creates a religion 
with the peremptory duties and the inevitable penal 
ties of religion. 

The logic that finally disproved Christianity must, 
of course, in the very act of doing it, prove some 
astonishing, not to say incredible, things. If, for ex 
ample, Christianity is demonstrably untrue, then all 
the saints are wrong, and all the rogues are right. The 
truth is on the side, not of John, who laid his head on 
the bosom of Jesus, but of Judas, who betrayed Him ; 
of the soldiers, who mocked Him ; of Pilate, who 
scourged and crucified Him. Paul, who preached Jesus 
Christ and died for Him, was mistaken. Julian, the 
apostate, who warred against the Galilean/ was right ! 
If Christianity is, indeed, proved to be a lie, then the 
Bible the flower of all our literature, the most won 
derful book the eyes of man has ever read, the text 
book of the only morals we know, the root and source 
of all civilization must be either the dreams of fools 



228 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

or the forgery of rogues. How did fools come to dream 
loftier wisdom than wise men can reach even in their 
waking moments? By what art did rogues invent 
the greatest force for righteousness history has ever 
seen? 

Tor Christianity is not a book, a creed, a history, 
a theology, a system of ethics. It is a force reaching 
through all history, and shaping the world, a force 
without which the living world about us is left 
without an explanation. The denial of its truth does 
not merely leave the greatest event in history without 
a cause ; it leaves it which is a much greater affront 
to science with a cause which is in conflict with its 
character ! 

The system which enjoins truth is itself a lie ; the 
religion which demands righteousness was itself born 
of a fraud. Behind the sweetest, purest, noblest things 
human nature knows ; behind the hymns of worshipping 
multitudes and the prayers of little children; behind 
all saintly lives and all happy death-beds, there is 
nothing but a vast and age-long imposture. 

A flower without a root would be an offence to 
science. But a flower which in every characteristic 
and detail is in quarrel with its own root would 
be an even more grievous scandal to both reason 
and science. And if Christianity is untrue it is 
exactly such a flower. It is in open quarrel with 
its origin. It was born in falsehood, yet it enacts 
truth. It had its cradle in some rogue s brain, but 



The Logic of Unproved Negatives 229 

in every syllable it is an energy that makes for 
righteousness. 

Where is the tremendous logic that proves a paradox 
so confounding to the human intellect ? It does not 
exist. No one, we repeat, affects to produce it. In 
fidelity, so long at least as it pretends to talk in terms 
of reason, does nothing more than deny the force 
of this or that particular evidence for religion. It 
nowhere makes itself responsible for its universal, abso 
lute, and triumphant disproof. On the lowest reading 
of the evidence for Christianity it is, at least, possibly 
true. 

For multitudes, indeed, of the sanest, noblest men 
and women the world has ever known, or knows 
to-day, the truth of Christianity is certain. It is 
verified in every fibre of character, in every chamber 
of experience, and throughout every waking moment. 
But let the happy experience of these rejoicing 
multitudes be laid aside. Let us be content with 
saying that when the argument for Christianity has 
been reduced to its lowest value, enough survives to 
justify the assertion that Christianity is possibly true. 
And that bare possibility challenges the conscience! 
Nay, it binds the conscience ! 

If such a figure as Jesus Christ has come into 
human life ; if such a relationship with God as that 
to which Christianity calls us is possible; if it is 
even faintly credible that its history is true ; that the 
eternal Son of God has taken our flesh and so made 



230 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Himself our kinsman; that He has carried our sins 
and so become our Eedeemer; that such a destiny 
beckons us, and such great heights of character are 
possible to us the mere possibility that these things 
may be is a resistless moral appeal. It instantly 
creates great duties. 

"We have not seen with mortal eyes the holy city, 
the new Jerusalem, descending from God out of heaven ; 
but if it is even possible that such a kingdom of God 
is being built up about us, and we may become its 
citizens, ought the thought to leave us unstirred? 
If these things are dreams, they are dreams we 
ought to wish were true. But undeniably they are 
more than dreams. For multitudes, it must be re 
peated, they are certainties. Nothing the senses know, 
not solid earth under our feet, nor radiant sunlight 
over our heads, is more certain. But for even those 
who label themselves sceptics these things are possi 
bilities. And that is enough to bind the conscience. 

To dismiss Christ from the realm of serious con 
cern; to treat His story and His claims as not even 
worth earnest curiosity before the great Disproval ia 
finally reached ; this, surely, on any standard of ethics, 
is an offence almost past forgiveness. 

It is all a question of common sense; a question 
of acting in the most sacred realm of life, in the region 
where the highest obligations prevail, on the principles 
on which we act in our daily business. We must run 
no unnecessary risks. We must conduct our lives on 



The Logic of Unproved Negatives 231 

the principle that truths not yet fully proved are 
sufficient to shape conduct ; are enough to make search 
in the direction in which they point a peremptory 
duty. And honest search will bring the soul under 
the shining sky of that great promise, verified in 
the spiritual consciousness of thousands : If any man 
will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether 
it be of God. 

Euskin, in a letter to his father, tells the story of 
his religion: I resolved that I would believe in 
Christ and take Him for my Master in whatever I 
did ; that assuredly to disbelieve the Bible was quite 
as difficult as to believe it ; that there were mysteries 
either way ; and that the best mystery was that which 
gave me Christ for a Master. And when I had done 
this ... I felt a peace and spirit in me I had never 
known before, at least to the same extent ; and every 
thing has seemed to go right with me ever since, all 
discouragement and difficulties vanishing, even in the 
smallest things. 



CHAPTER U 
Lofic off 



: 

- . - 



F 



- - " 



-7 



The LOCK of Half-knowfcdge 2 33 

-- - :i:_ if :: !_-:_: :.".-. - D laws of conduct 
H1 jy t stand in. alighi as unshadowed and intense 
as the genoralizatiaQS of science. Sbbody doubts i^e 

c a \.u 

law of zrsvifcatioa, and 2 Iftmr an divine laws fir 

- .-.:.- :.- :r: . J - . : .-- - i - -""-- - ; -": 

I"_ ^ : ._ _: -..*:----. .-: . . f : i ~: - :--7 "--t -. - --- 
a ""^ii.iVaT ccnscifince. Wo. j s&onld not iie COIL- 
acieace wifihin us, cbe fijculcy by which, she soul is so 
be mded across the mT^cerioTis seas : comiacc, be as 

^ " 

least as obvious and undeniable as she qrrivprfrTg needle 
in the eomra^s-case ? 

If there be an eternal world, on wke <2m Voviers 
we sand, and into whc?se awfol realms we niosc in a 
fe-r momencs jnm, why are iis gates mat; so dose ? 
Whj do even those who come back from its myscery 
bring with them sealed lips? Where wert then, 
brother, those tihree days ? Tennyson puituiw Maty 
: . , : ^ 1. j ._-: : .!: _--:--:?: .-.:-.-: Way, in 
bti^ aro we gjcani^ ia tibe kig^iflst walm of all^ less of 
knowledge titan we possess in lower realms ? 

The answer, of eoorse, is thakmnoMrf the worlds 
ve toodk. and into wttdk onr actans otter, do we watt 
Jl kBowfedgft, or u foil knowledge poaaH to us. 
We move, to borrow Wordsworth s porase, in worlds 
% naltaadL We see only im Icagjnencs. We work 
with the unknown, or wiA lift fedf kBOwn as our 



Terr 




234 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

forces of the intellect. We find certainty the cer 
tainty bora of full-orbed knowledge nowhere, and 
uncertainties everywhere. We must live and act in 
all realms on nothing better than probabilities. Daily 
life is full of examples of knowledge fading into 
mystery ; of action based on the half seen or on the 
half comprehended. If at each step we waited for a 
knowledge exhausted of mystery knowledge clear-cut 
as a crystal, and as translucent we should die of mere 
inertia. 

At the present instant ten thousand ships are toss 
ing on the sea, their sole guide across its grey wastes 
being that mystery we call the compass. All naviga 
tion is built on the fact that a tiny, quivering rod of 
steel, under certain conditions, will point north. We 
do not in the least know why it does this. To the 
test of the senses the needle in the compass-box is 
exactly like any other bit of steel. But it is touched 
by forces that come we know not whence, and work we 
know not how. It has invisible relations with the 
earth, the stars, and with strange currents of energy 
thrilling through all space. That little shaken bit of 
steel is the symbol of a mystery which baffles our 
science. The forces which tremble in it are hidden 
perhaps in the secret places of the earth, perhaps in the 
far-oif heights of the stars we cannot tell. 

The needle, as a matter of fact, does not always 
point north. The chart of the variations of the compass 
is the signature, in some strange cipher we cannot 



The Logic of Half-knowledge 235 

read, of forces which move to the impulse of energies 
beyond our guessing. Yet, in faith on the quivering 
rod of steel, and the hidden forces which make it, in 
spite of a thousand variations, point to one quarter of 
the heavens, men risk every day uncounted wealth and 
uncounted lives. 

The world of science, too, though the fact is com 
monly forgotten, is a realm where knowledge in the 
absolute sense lies beyond our reach. It is a kingdom 
of half-knowledge. What we know is a tiny circle of 
light, itself broken by many shadows, and shut round 
by a wide curve of encompassing darkness, born of 
things we do not know. The laws of science are 
merely convenient shorthand records of the observed 
sequences of phenomena. The area of observation is 
narrow, the forces hidden behind the sequence are 
unguessed. 

The largest and surest generalization of science is 
that known as the uniformity of natural order. If 
there is any proposition which can claim to be univer 
sally true, a certainty beyond doubt, it is this. But 
this truth of science, like every other, rests on ex 
perience; and how can limited human experience 
prove universal truth? The uniformity of nature, 
says Huxley, in a mathematical sense, cannot be 
proved. It is an assumption, a working hypothesis, 
the great working hypothesis of science, but still 
only a hypothesis, justified, no doubt, by a thousand 
fruitful results, but essentially incapable of proof, 



236 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

Yet the august fabric of science rests on that 
hypothesis ! 

The law of gravitation is another of the certainties 
of physical science. It is a force that can be tested at 
any point in space known to us, and at any moment of 
time. But gravitation is only the name of a fact whose 
cause lies beyond our knowledge. It explains all 
the movements of the planets, but itself lies beyond 
explanation. The law of gravitation/ says Professor 
Huxley, is a statement of the manner in which ex 
perience shows that bodies which are free to move do, 
in fact, move towards one another. But it is only the 
record of an observed phenomenon; the reason of 
that phenomenon is an unpierced mystery. Herschel 
has described gravitation as the exerted will of God/ 
and what better explanation can science offer ? 

What is ether ? All the phenomena of light are 
born of it. The latest guess of science is that it must 
be the ultimate form of matter, the very stuff of which 
the physical universe is constituted. And yet ether 
lies beyond the grasp of our intelligence. It is, to use 
Lord Salisbury s phrase, a half-discovered entity. It 
evades our tests; it mocks our senses. But science 
has to accept that half-known fact as the explanation 
of a thousand diverse phenomena. 

Science, at the present moment, is preoccupied with 
electricity, and in a hundred forms this force is being 
yoked to the everyday service of mankind. But, 
when the greatest living authority, Sir Oliver Lodge, 



The Logic of Halkknowledge 237 

undertakes to describe electricity, he can only speak in 
negatives. It is not a form of energy, it cannot be 
manufactured; it may, he vaguely guesses, be a formal 
aspect of matter. Nay, matter itself is composed of 
electricity, and of nothing else. But if it is asked 
what is positive electricity, the answer, says Sir 
Oliver Lodge, is still " we do not know." For myself, 
I do not even guess, beyond supposing it to be a 
manifestation, or a differentiating portion, of the 
continuous and all-pervading ether. 1 But ether 
itself, as we have seen, is a mystery, and this is only 
explaining one mystery by a mystery still greater. 

Our own natures are mysteries to us. The faculties 
we have in familiar use run back into the unknown. 
What, for example, is memory ? "We must trust that 
faculty ; on its trustworthiness all history and all 
science hang. Human business and society would 
perish without it. Yet what is memory? In what 
cipher does something, we know not what, record we 
know not when or how, and report at what bidding 
we cannot guess, the events and scenes and words of 
the past ? 

Do we really know the external world exists, the 
world of colour and sound and form ? Surely we may 
claim that what the fingers touch, what the eyes see, 
what the ear reports, lies within the realm of absolute 
knowledge. And yet, if we analyse our supposed 
knowledge of the external world, we find it shades 
1 Harper s Magazine, 



238 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

off into mystery. It rests on nothing better than our 
belief in the veracity of certain reports brought to us 
by our senses, we know not how, and translated into 
terms of consciousness by methods we cannot under 
stand. The mysterious vibrations of the unknown 
ether race along the nerves, they make some changes 
in the grey matter of the brain. The nerves that 
bring these vibrations know nothing of them, the 
brain which receives them knows nothing. But to 
the consciousness behind the brain conies the sense 
of form or of colour. The colour varies according to 
the greater or less intensity of the vibrations. But 
what is the link betwixt the vibrations of the nerves, 
and the consciousness of form and colour in the soul ? 

To that question there is no answer. It all runs 
back into darkness. Tyndall says the passage from 
the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts 
of consciousness is unthinkable. A definite thought 
and a definite molecular action of the brain appear 
together, but we do not know why. The chasm 
betwixt physical processes and the facts of conscious 
ness remains intellectually impassable. Huxley says : 
I really know nothing whatever, and never hope to 
know, anything of the steps by which the passage 
of molecular movement to states of consciousness is 
effected. 

No one, indeed, talks more humbly of the range 
and certainty of science than does a true and wise 
scientist. Newton, after all his shining discoveries, 



The Logic of Half knowledge 239 

draws that touching picture of himself as a little child 
gathering shells on the border of some great sea, 
unsounded and unknown; and the picture would be 
accepted to-day by every wise mind in science. 

What does man know of the reality of things ? 
asks a distinguished living scientist in the Saturday 
Revieio ; l and he answers the question himself : Man 
is conscious of his own mind and of certain shadow 
shapes projected thereon; but outside these limits he 
cannot travel. If there is anything which science 
thinks it knows it is matter. This is its special field ; 
it lies open to its tests, it can be analysed to its 
innermost structure. And yet what does science know 
of even the structure of matter ? For convenience/ 
says the authority already quoted, matter is regarded 
as atomic in structure, yet it is inconceivable that the 
atoms are indivisible, just as it is equally inconceivable 
that they are continuous and divisible for ever. Both 
theories are untenable. It is as illogical to hold one 
as the other. We have simply reached one of the 
limits of the mind where no decision is possible. 
The atomic constitution of matter, science has to con 
fess, is only a working hypothesis, and every thinker 
knows its inadequacy, and that it is a mere term for 
something transcending our experience. 

The atom, in a word, was supposed to be the 
ultimate form of matter, the resting-place for the 
mind, which marked the utmost limit to which 
1 December 31, 1904. 



240 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

analysis could be pushed. But the boundary has 
given way. The molecule consists of atoms ; the 
atom holds in its mysterious and unthinkably minute 
curve a planetary system of electrons, and the electron 
is a strain in the ether. What the ether is science 
cannot even guess ; still less whence comes the strain. 
Matter/ says Dr. Saleeby in the Academy, is no 
more than a transient expression of a transient elec 
trical relation. Here is a catalogue of mysteries and 
of un intelligibilities ! 

Can anything seem more absolutely certain than 
the indications yielded by the spectroscope? They 
prove the presence, say, in the photosphere of the 
sun, of certain elements iron, sodium, &c. And yet 
nothing but invisible vibrations reach the spectroscope. 
That the actual metals are there is only an inference 
drawn from a certain cluster of coincidences. 

Dubois-Eeymond finds no less than seven un 
solved problems in the physical universe, enigmas 
which are the puzzle and the despair of science. 
These are (1) the nature of matter and force, (2) the 
origin of motion, (3) the origin of life, (4) the designed 
order of nature, (5) the origin of sensation and con 
sciousness, (6) the origin of speech and thought, (7) 
free will a sufficiently spacious catalogue of things 
not known ! 

It is easy to multiply confessions of the ignorance 
of science by great scientists. Is the physical life 
that beats in our very blood exhausted of mystery? 



The Logic of Halkknowledge 241 

Does no shadow of the unknown lie about its roots ? 
When Herbert Spencer wrote his Principles of 
Psychology, he was confident that life could be 
explained. The chasm, he wrote, between the 
organic and the inorganic is being filled up. Haeckel, 
he said, had detected a type of protogenes distinguish 
able from a fragment of albumen only by its finely 
granulated character. The difference betwixt the 
living and the non-living, Spencer exulted to think, 
was simply a question of more or less fine granulation. 
Bat in the last years of his life 1 Herbert Spencer 
wrote : In my revised Principles of Biology I have 
contended that the theory of a vital principle fails, 
and that a physico-chemical theory of life also fails ; 
the corollary being that in its ultimate nature life is 
incomprehensible. 

life is incomprehensible the life of the blood, 
the nerves, the brain ! This is the last word of science. 
But we do not doubt life exists. And why should we 
complain that the subtler life of the invisible spirit is 
also incomprehensible ? 

The human understanding, according to Kant, is 
an island, and by its very nature is enclosed within 
unchangeable boundaries. It is the country of truth, 
but surrounded by a wild and stormy ocean, the special 
abode of phantoms, where many a bank of mist and 
much ice, soon to melt away, hold out the lying promise 
of new regions ; and while it perpetually deceives the 
1 Nature, October 20, 1898. 

B 



242 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

roaming seafarer with the faint hope of discoveries, 
continually entangles him in adventures from which 
he can never get loose, and which he can never brin^ 
to any result. 1 

If any one objects to receive Kant as an authority, 
let him listen to Haeckel, in his latest work, The 
Wonders of Life. Science, he admits (p. 56), like 
religion, cannot do without faith; but scientific faith 
fills the gaps in our knowledge of natural law with 
temporary hypotheses a very poor compost; while 
religious faith contradicts natural law a statement 
which assumes the whole matter in dispute. But, 
according to Haeckel, science has as many gaps as a 
picket fence, and it is the office of faith to fill 
them up. 

Hoffmann puts the same truth in more sober terms : 
Faith, considered as a mental act, is exercised in 
the formation of every science. . . . Gravitation, 
motion, force, atom, ether, and the like are veritable 
products of faith, and in no sense matters of absolute 
knowledge. 

Now, we can see some, at least, of the reasons 
which explain these conditions of imperfect knowledge 
under which, in every realm our life touches, we are 
compelled to act. We are finite, and perfect knowledge 
is possible only to the Infinite. We live under a law 
of development, and half-knowledge is a condition of 
progress. Moreover, we cannot know, in the fullest 
1 Maurice, Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, p. 62. 



The Logic of Half knowledge 243 

sense, anything without knowing everything. Tenny 
son has a vision of this in his lines : Flower in the 
crannied wall, &c. 

The flower of which Tennyson sings was wind 
blown, a vegetable accident, a seed caught in the 
crannied wall, and owing nothing to the gardener s 
care or skill. t And yet nothing less than the whole 
physical universe is involved in the explanation of 
that seemingly accidental flower. It is the index and 
symbol of a thousand mysteries ; the mystery of the 
seed itself, with its strange energy of life that baffles 
all science; the mystery of the wind that blows the 
seed. To give that wind another direction, or greater 
or less force, would mean new conditions of heat and 
cold running back to the creation of the world. Then 
comes the mystery of the rain, and of the forces which 
produce the rain ; the mystery of colour, colour mixed 
in the far-off fountains of the sun, borne on the 
vibrations of ether across 93,000,000 miles of space, 
and absorbed or refracted by mysterious susceptibilities 
in the tissue of the flower, which are the puzzle of 
science. 

Eeflecting on this, with the brooding imagination 
of a poet, Tennyson says 

Little flower but if I could understand \ 

"What you are, root and all, and all in all, 
I should know what God and man is. 

This is exact science as well as true poetry. No 
one can completely and profoundly know what the 



244 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

flower is without knowing what the whole physical 
universe is, nay, what God Himself is. For all the 
processes of that universe, and all the methods of 
God, have co-operated to make the flower possible. 

Knowledge, then, for man, on any subject, can 
only be a tiny and limited disc with an engirdling 
circle of darkness ; and the wider the area of light 
the vaster the sweep of the encompassing shadow. 
We cannot give, says Butler, the whole account 
of any one thing whatever, of all its causes, ends, and 
necessary adjuncts, without which it could not have 
been. . . . The natural world, then, and natural 
government of it, being such an incomprehensible 
scheme, so incomprehensible that a man must really, 
in the literal sense, know nothing at all who is 
not sensible of his ignorance in it this imme 
diately suggests and strongly shows the credibility, 
that the moral world and government of it may be 
so too. 

In the daily business of life to sum up in our 
relations to the world of sense, in the most familiar 
tasks and processes of our existence, we must deal with 
the unknown or with the half known. And we do not 
quarrel with these conditions. We do not regard the 
narrow horizon of our knowledge, with its encom 
passing curve of mystery, as an argument for idleness. 
Science builds its stately fabric on a foundation of 
incomplete knowledge. It works in every realm with 
an hypothesis as its tool. Men conduct their daily 



The Logic of Half knowledge 245 

business, and risk their property and their lives every 
hour, on half-knowledge. 

Now, religion is the highest realm in which we 
move. It touches God; it links us to the spiritual 
order ; it outruns time, and breathes the airs of eternity. 
It is concerned with moral, not with physical, relations. 
Its forces are more subtle than the viewless ether. 
They thrill with stranger energies than electricity 
knows. And shall we complain that in this loftiest 
realm of all, open on every side to wider realms than 
space knows, stretching to vaster distances than Time 
can touch, and beating with the pulses of loftier 
energies than those which hold the stars in their 
courses, we do not possess a light on which rests no 
shadow ? Shall we ask that here we shall have less 
of mystery than in the little and familiar realm of 
physical life and forces ? 

We find half-knowledge inevitable everywhere else. 
By what title do we demand the white light of an 
absolute knowledge in this realm ? We cannot under 
stand the process by which the world of form and 
colour reports itself to our consciousness ; but we do 
not doubt its existence on that account. Shall we 
complain because we cannot understand the process 
by which our spirits are reached and touched by the 
Father of our spirits ? If in the realm in which our 
bodies move we rejected everything outside the area 
of absolute knowledge, we should bring life to an 
abrupt stop. Shall it be a complaint an argument 



246 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

for unbelief or for inaction that in the mysterious 
kingdom of spiritual facts and forces we are not given 
a light which certainly does not burn in the physical 
heavens ? 

A sea in which we could wade, and never get 
beyond our depth, would be one in which no great 
ship would float. And why should we complain that 
the great spiritual ocean flowing about us has depths 
beyond our sounding ? 

We do not quarrel, we repeat, with the necessary 
limitations of our knowledge in other realms They 
leave us room enough for all the processes and interests 
all the achievements and joys of life. Nay, these very 
limitations are part of the necessary discipline of our 
existence. We can climb to perfect truth only through 
a procession of half-truths. And why should we not 
accept with cheerful submission that law of incomplete 
knowledge under which we live in the spiritual realm ? 
Let us exaggerate neither the certainties of science 
nor the uncertainties of religion. When we have 
wisely assessed both, it remains clear that the two 
realms are set in the same key. They are linked 
together by profound correspondences which show that 
they are the work of the same Mind. 



CHAPTER III 
The Logic of the Unlearned 

We live by Faith; but Faith is not the slave 
Of text and legend : Beason s voice and God s, 
Nature s and Duty s, never are at odds. 

WIHTTIEB. 

Think not the Faith by which the just shall live 
Is a dead creed, a map correct of Heaven, 

Far less a feeling fond and fugitive, 
A thoughtless gift, withdrawn as soon as given. 

It is an Affirmation, and an Act 

Which bids eternal truth be present fact. 

HARTLEY COLERIDGE. 

IN secular things we are accustomed to act on a 
rough, swift, imperfect logic that is not scientific 
or systematic or even very conscious of itself; 
but which, in spite of that, is sufficient for daily 
conduct. We act, to use a term of formal logic, not 
on syllogisms, but on enthymemes, an enthyrneme 
being a mutilated syllogism ; a syllogism with one of 
its premisses omitted, or taken for granted. We ac 
cept, that is, imperfect proofs, or proofs imperfectly 
stated. We take a great deal for granted. 

Suppose a man in England wishes to go to New 



248 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

York, an undertaking that, for a certain number of 
days, involves the committal of his life to forces he 
does not in the least understand. How does he proceed 
to make sure that the ship in which he is about to 
embark offers all reasonable conditions of safety? 
Being a sane man, he does not set out by rediscovering 
for himself the whole theory of shipbuilding. He 
accepts that as being already in existence. He does 
not go all over the ship from stem to stern with a 
little hammer, and tap every bolt and rivet in her to 
satisfy himself that the vessel is sound. He does not 
put the captain through an examination to judge of his 
knowledge of ships. He does not make any in 
dependent scrutiny of the charts. He does not take 
the nautical tables under his arm and hasten to the 
nearest observatory to have them tested ; still less does 
he undertake to verify them himself by abstruse 
mathematical calculations. If he did all this before he 
set out for New York he would die without getting 

.-, o o 

there. 

If he thinks about the matter at all, he says in 
effect to himself : This ship belongs to a good line ; it 
has crossed the Atlantic safely a score of times ; the 
captain would not be in command of her except he 
were competent ; many of my own friends have sailed 
in her. This is enough for me. And he embarks 
with the most cheerful confidence. He takes, in fact, a 
whole world of things for granted. As he steps on 
board the ship and sails out into the mysterious and 



The Logic of the Unlearned 249 

trackless sea, the act represents a venture of faith 
rather than a demonstration of knowledge. But he has 
evidence enough for common sense. 

This is the rough, hasty logic of practical life ; and 
for the average man this represents and must repre 
sent his logic in religion. Life is too short, death too 
near, duty too urgent, the rush of affairs too swift, to 
make it possible for him to wait till he has built up a 
creed, fact by fact, article by article, and by a process 
of tedious and elaborate reasoning. He borrows, as he 
must necessarily borrow, the homespun logic of practi 
cal life, and carries it to the realm of duty and faith. 
Behind the things he takes for granted there is, of 
course, a weight of unconscious and inarticulate logic 
not easily realized, still less for the man whom it 
influences, put into speech. But it is enough for him 
to take the broad, general, unanalysed but undeniable 
facts of the case. 

He has never seen New York. How does he know 
there is such a city ? He will tell you that everybody 
acts on the assumption that it exists. Great ships sail 
to and from it. Through every hour of the day and 
night cablegrams bring news of it. The newspapers 
cannot be explained except on the theory that it exists. 
It is incredible that all the geographies could lie ; that 
there is, in fact, with regard to New York a vast object 
less conspiracy of lies stretching through generations, 
and in which the entire human race takes part. That 
such a confederation of lying should exist, so ancient, 



250 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

so vast, so motiveless, so successful, is the most absurd 
of incredibilities. 

A resident in one of the outer provinces of the 
empire has never seen the King; he perhaps has never 
talked with anybody who has seen him. How does he 
know that Edward VII is a real person ? If asked for 
proof of his faith the man would smile. The laws run 
in the King s name; the courts sit by his authority; 
the coins with which we buy and sell bear his image. 
That he should not exist involves such stupendous and 
concerted lying on the part of such a multitude of 
people that the possibility may be dismissed as a 
jest. 

And all this represents the unconscious and justifi 
able logic of the average man about Christianity. 
Christianity is interwoven with the whole fabric of 
human life. The moral laws which have authority 
over every man s conscience run in Christ s name. You 
cannot explain civilization, or the daily newspaper, or 
the very almanac, and leave Christ out. There is no 
need, indeed, to appeal to such impersonal abstractions 
as civilization and literature for proof of religion. 
The streets of every city are full of Christ s witnesses- 
men and women who know Him, love Him, serve Him, 
and would die for Him. All the best forces the man in 
the street knows, from the earliest sound of his mother s 
voice to the face of his little child lying in its grave, 
somehow stream from Christ, and lead back to Christ. 
This logic, we repeat, is not scientific, it is not 



The Logic of the Unlearned 251 

borrowed from books, it has not even a nodding ac 
quaintance with metaphysics. It is rough, swift, 
imperfect ; and yet it is enough for conscience ; enough 
for conduct ; enough for everyday life. 

But when analysed, the effective working logic 
behind the unlearned man s religious faith will be 
found to have certain definite and sufficiently reason 
able elements. First, there is what may be called the 
artist s logic of beauty. And beauty for the human 
soul has a logic of its own. There is something in the 
very make of our nature which, in the presence of any 
thing visibly noble and gracious, yields instant and 
silent tribute. It is one of the primary instincts of our 
being, an impulse independent of logic, and stronger 
than logic. 

Now, here is the scheme of life, of belief, of duty, 
that we call the Christian religion. The question of 
its origin or of its evidences may be for the moment 
put aside. Let it be judged as a landscape, or a 
flower, or a great painting is judged, simply by the 
element of beauty in it ; by the grace, the scale, the 
dignity that awaken the admiration of the artist. 
And it is certain that, by the test of the single quality 
of beauty, its mysterious harmony, its shining aspect 
of grace, the Christian scheme challenges the acceptance 
of every faculty in us. If this great inter-knitted 
scheme of belief and duty and hope is the product and 
birth of a fraud, then somehow there exists a miracle 
stranger than anything told in the Gospels the miracle 



252 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

of a lie which wears a fairer countenance, and is clothed 
with a more perfect grace, than any truth the human 
mind knows I 

And this quality in the Christian scheme, as it 
appeals to the unlearned man, may be judged at a 
thousand points. Take, for example, the Christian 
account of the origin of man. The man in the street, 
who has no time to be scientific, and who translates what 
of science he does know into a very unscientific verna 
cular, does not completely understand the evolution 
theory, and what of it he does understand, as far as it 
applies to himself, he dislikes. That theory, as he reads 
it, teaches that we began, a sufficient number of ages ago, 
as a mere chemical ferment, or as a bubble in the 
spawn and slime of the sea. Our ancestors were little 
floating atoms in the salt spume of the dark primaeval 
waters. Next they became ascidians, little bags of 
unorganized jelly ; then they attained to the dignity of, 
say, the oyster; and in process of ages, creeping out 
from betwixt its shells, they reached the loftier height 
of the tadpole. In due course they shed their tails, and 
mounted to the dignity of frogs. Then followed a great 
leap, or even a succession of leaps. Our ancestors 
became monkeys, and, in some mysterious manner, got 
their tails back again. Once more they got rid of 
them, say by the process of sitting on them fora certain 
number of centuries ; and so at last, and by some such 
process, infinitely varied, manhood was reached. 

This, of course, is little better than a translation 



The Logic of the Unlearned 253 

of the evolution theory into terms of humour; it is 
absurdly unjust to what may be called the Theistic 
version of that theory. It is possible to have a 
reading of evolution that satisfies the imagination; a 
reading which conceives of God as putting empires, 
philosophies, civilizations, literatures, into some far-off 
primary germ, and guiding their evolution from it. 
Evolution plus God, and as a mode by which God has 
worked, may, or may not, be scientifically proved; 
but no one can contend that the theory is ignoble. 
But the description we have here given represents the 
average man s conception of it. And if we take 
Haeckel s reading of evolution which brings man up 
from the slime of the sea, or from a chemical ferment, 
by a chain of purely animal ascent, with no touch 
of a divine Hand, or of conscious purpose, at any 
link the man-in-the-street version of it is not so very 
unjust. Man, according to Haeckel, is an affair of 
chance ; the froth and fume at the wave-top of a sterile 
ocean of matter. l Is it strange that such an account 
of his origin disquiets him ? It affronts his self-respect, 
it shocks his common sense. 

But the Bible takes him by the hand and leads 
him back to the dawn of the worlds ; it lifts the great 
veils of space and of time, and in the wondering hush 
of heaven bids him hear God say, Let us make man 
in Our image and in Our likeness. The average man 
doei not stop to nicely consider how much of this is 
> Bibbert Journal, vol. iii., No. 2, Jan. 3GO&. x>. 293. 



254 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

parable and how much historic fact ; but he contrasts 
the two theories. The evolution theory in its anti- 
theistic form is only an hypothesis, a scientific word 
for a more or less reasoned guess. And if the Christian 
account of man, as read in the simplicity of the open 
ing chapters of the Bible, is only a parable, or even 
a guess, which of the two has more of the accent of 
greatness ? If the Bible story is a delusion, it is a 
splendid delusion! And without weighing evidence, 
without determining, as indeed he cannot determine, 
how much of the evolution theory is proved, and how 
much guessed; or how much of the story in Genesis 
is mysterious parable, and how much concrete history, 
by the mere logic of its loftier accent, of the nobler 
account it gives of his own origin, the unlearned man 
accepts it. 

Or, take the Christian account of God ; and is there 
any other theory comparable with it, not merely for 
scale and awfulness, but for tenderness and grace and 
beauty? God is light ; God is love ; a God of 
truth and without iniquity. The radiant light as 
even Plato guessed is but His shadow. When Charles 
Kingsley lay on his death- bed, and there came to him 
a gleam of that vision which death brings sometimes 
to dying eyes, he said suddenly, after lying long silent, 
How beautiful is God ! And what may be called the 
mere convincing beauty of God, as revealed in the 
Bible is, as a force making for faith, almost better than 
any logic. 



The Logic of the Unlearned 255 

The unlearned man reads in an old psalm, Like 
as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them 
that fear Him. And under the music of the words 
strange emotions stir in the heart. Why, this/ he 
feels, ought to be true. It must be true ! Let the 
conception of God as presented in the Christian scheme 
be realized: the wedlock of measureless power with 
infinite tenderness ; the unstained holiness which for 
sin is a consuming fire, and yet the love beyond 
imagination which for the sinner is a redeeming force ; 
God revealed in Christ, speaking to us in Christ s voice, 
touching us with Christ s hands. Unless the very 
sense and instinct of beauty in us be destroyed, 
this account of God, by mere loftiness and sweet 
ness, stirs the human soul that meditates on it to 
adoration. 

Or, take the Christian doctrine of heaven, the 
existence beyond death, with its eternal compensations ; 
its glow of perfected life and faculty, its splendour of 
environment, its great companionships. If it be a 
dream, is there any other vision that ever awoke in 
the chambers of a sleeping brain to compare with it ? 
Suppose we say that gates of pearl and streets of gold, 
strains of music and garments of saintly white, are 
mere earthly symbols, as no doubt they are. Yet what 
unguessed, unrealized glow shines through the symbols ! 
What spiritual splendour burns behind them! If it 
be a dream, alas for the moment of waking 1 

For the uncontroversial, not to say unlearned mind, 



256 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

the artist s logic of beauty is a force on the side of 
religion not easily realized. 

Then there comes a more prosaic test what may 
be called the gardener s logic of fruit. The one evi 
dence by which a tree is tested, and classified, is the 
fruit it bears. Scale of trunk, beauty of leaf, fragrance 
of blossom, all have their value; but they are mere 
preludes to something more than themselves some 
thing for the sake of which they exist. A botanist, it 
is true, will, for scientific purposes, classify a plant by 
a hundred secondary and irrelevant details; but the 
ultimate logic, the logic of the street and of the market, 
the logic of practical use, knows only one test. It is 
the test of fruit. 

Now, as the unlearned man reasons, here is this 
great tree we call Christianity. Nobody can deny the 
tree ! Its roots wrap the round world in their grasp ; 
its widespreading branches overshadow whole nations. 
But there are many voices assuring us that it is only 
a upas tree ; we are invited to cut it down, and assured 
the world will be the sweeter for the process. Before 
we cut it down, let us stop a moment, and ask, What 
fruit in history and in life does this tree bear? and, 
the plain man reflects, one need not be a botanist in 
order to judge of the fruit of a tree. 

Now, the fruit of Christianity in history, taken in 
general terms, and allowing for a thousand accidental 
failures, is undeniable. It is a fact to which all 
history bears witness, that two thousand years ago 



The Logic of the Unlearned 257 

the civilized world was dying. The human race, say 
at that moment when, beneath the daggers of the 
assassins, Julius Caesar fell in the senate-house, was, 
tried by any moral test, a dying world. Freedom 
was dying; humanity was dying, or dead; civiliza 
tion was corroded through and through with decay. 
And from the line of the Caesars down to the later 
Eoman Empire, this dreadful process of death and 
decay spread. 

But the curious thing is that the world, after all, 
is not dead to-day ! It may be almost said to be in 
its youth. There has come to it a second youth, a 
rebirth of civilization, an emergence of nations whose 
standard of law and humanity obeys some strange 
upward impulse. What has wrought this marvel, so 
that the world which, twenty centuries ago, was visibly 
dying, is to-day full of living, purifying, and ascending 
forces? There is only one possible answer. Nearly 
two thousand years ago, in an obscure village, in an 
obscure land, a Jewish peasant was born. For thirty 
years He lived a poor man s life, working at the 
carpenter s bench in a village workshop. For three 
years He was a reformer and a teacher; and then He 
died and died the death of a criminal. 

And it is the theory of Christianity that those 
thirty years of silent life, those three years of patient 
teaching, and that criminal s death, turned the world 
clean round. It changed the very formula of the 
curve on which the world is travelling. Since then 

s 



258 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

the path of the race has been upwards into ever- 
increasing light. And, as we have already argued, 
there is one odd, direct, and unmistakable proof of 
this fact. It is written afresh every morning on every 
newspaper in the land. It is the mere date in the 
calendar! We acknowledge afresh with each sunrise 
that the world must date its history from that morn 
ing when Christ was born. The nations never con 
sulted together and agreed to do this; but by some 
mysterious instinct, by the silent compulsion of plain 
fact, the human race to-day agrees to reckon its 
history from that far-off morning when, lying low 
amongst the beasts, a Jewish mother pressed the new 
born Christ to her woman s bosom. This is the fruit 
of Christianity in history. It saved the race from 
perishing. 

And what is the fruit of Christianity in the life 
actually about us ? To an extent unrealized, or even 
forgotten, all the things of which we are proudest 
are the direct fruit of Christianity. If from the 
pictures in the art gallery of any great city all of 
noble thought and emotion that religion creates were 
taken, how much of art would survive ? Or if from 
the shelves of a great library could be withdrawn 
all of poetry and song, of lofty thought, and 
kindling speculation, and moving story religion has 
called into existence, the library would be left rifled 
and well-nigh valueless. What force has built the 
hospitals that are the pride of great cities, and the 



The Logic of the Unlearned 259 

orphanages that shelter the outcasts ? These institu 
tions are found nowhere except where the foot of 
Christ has trodden, and the breath of Christ has 
passed. If from the very gravestones under which 
sleep the dead could be taken all the words of hope 
borrowed from the pages of the Bible that shine there 
amid the records of human grief, what a new and deeper 
blackness would lie on the very grave ! 

Let the man, again, that Christianity makes, or 
ought to make and does make, if its ideal is reached 
be considered. There are many men, of course, who 
are infidel in faith, and yet have a certain nobility of 
life men like John Stuart Mill, or Huxley, or Fitz- 
james Stephen. But these men resemble cut flowers. 
They carry the bloom of the earth in which they grew, 
the perfume of the plant on which they blossomed. 
But it is only for a moment. They are broken off 
from the parent stem. They have no right to the 
perfume or bloom which are native to it. The grace 
of their lives really borrows its energy from the faith 
they have forsaken. Unbelief ought to be judged by 
its second generation. 

But let the true moral product of Christianity be 
compared with the type of character which infidelity, 
when it has come to its kingdom, and evolved its own 
ethics, has produced, and must produce. Let Eousseau, 
stealing, under the shadow of night, through the streets 
of Paris to drop his seventh infant into the receiving- 
box of a foundling hospital, and then hastening back 



260 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

to add a new page to his Contrat Social, be compared, 
say, with Silas Told, the prisoners friend, labouring 
in the foulness of London prisons; or John Howard, 
flying across Europe to help the outcasts of every land. 

But it is an ungracious task to contrast names, and 
there is no need to ask for anxiously balanced proofs. 
For the plain man the plain fact is sufficient, that 
in history, in national institutions, in men s lives 
Christianity has that best form of practical logic the 
logic of visible and richest fruit. 

There is, in addition, what may be called the philo 
sopher s logic of tendency. A philosopher can take 
a principle, and if his logic is sufficiently true and 
penetrating, can deduce from it its inevitable conse 
quences. He can take an acorn at least he thinks 
he can and deduce the oak. Now Christianity, it 
may be frankly confessed, is not always translated 
into perfect concrete form. Who judges Christianity 
always by Christians, might well draw some melan 
choly conclusions. Yet the whole tendency of the 
Christian system is undeniable. It is plain, as a 
matter of fact, that it makes for righteousness. It is 
a force working for human happiness. 

Take, for example, what is generally regarded as 
the crudest and harshest of its ethical forms the Ten 
Commandments. It is unnecessary to ask whether they 
really were spoken by God s voice on Mount Sinai, and 
written by divine fingers on tablets of stone. Let this 
question alone be asked: What is the drift of these 



The Logic of the Unlearned 261 

ten words? What would be their practical effect if 
they were universally adopted ? The answer must be 
that they visibly make for the world s order and happi 
ness. Not one could be taken away without leaving 
human life both poorer and less safe. Thou shalt 
not steal ; that puts a guard round every man s house. 
Thou shalt not kill ; that is a divine fence built 
round every man s life. Thou shalt not commit 
adultery. ; that guards the purity of wedded life 
Honour thy father and thy mother ; on the founda 
tion of those words stands the sweetness of the home. 

Some wit, in the sad days of the eighteenth century, 
proposed to start a society for taking the not out 
of the Commandments and putting it into the Creed. 
We have a number of practical philosophers always 
amongst us, who conduct their lives on the principle 
of leaving the not out of the Commandments ; and 
what do we do with these artists in ethics ? We col 
lect them, as far as we can ; we cut their hair short ; 
dress them in useful moleskin, marked with a broad 
arrow, so that we shall know them again; and we 
build a stone wall round them to keep them together. 
A world that rejected the Ten Commandments would 
be one vast prison without the stone wall ! In every 
gaol is kept a book of photographs, and each criminal 
who passes through its cells leaves his likeness behind 
him. And to turn over the pages of one of these 
books of dreadful photographs is to find a new argu 
ment for religion. This is the type of human face 



262 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

which leaving the not out of the Commandments 
produces; faces scorched with lust, bitter with hato, 
dark with murder, scribbled over with the signature of 
every evil passion. We have only to imagine a world 
filled with these faces, and no God above it, and this 
would be hell ! 

Philosophers have always delighted in pictures of 
an imaginary world, an ideal and perfect state ; from 
the Atlantis of Plato to the Utopia of Sir Thomas 
More. Now, it is easy to imagine a fairer world, one 
immeasurably better than ever poet imagined or philo 
sopher constructed. It is simply a world in which 
everybody is a Christian ! Imagine walking down the 
streets of one of the cities of such a world ! Let it be 
still a city of earth, with its tumult of business, its 
hurrying crowds, its eager faces, the changeful skies 
above it, the commonplace soil beneath. Let every 
thing be the same as before ; the one tremendous 
change being that every man and woman is a Christian ! 
Every home is the kingdom of love and purity. The 
Golden Rule knits all lives together. Trust has taken 
the place of suspicion, charity of greed. Macaulay 
sings of early Roman days 

Then none were for a party, 

Then all were for the state; 
Then the great man helped the poor, 

And the poor man loved the great. 

As a matter of sober fact, there never were such days 
in the stormy history of our race. But that golden 



The Logic of the Unlearned 263 

time would dawn to-morrow if Christianity became 
instantly and perfectly authoritative in every human 
life. 

It cannot be denied, in brief, that Christian ethics 
and Christian teaching, if suddenly made supreme 
amongst us, would, at a breath, bring in a golden age. 
And its tendency, and the goal towards which it is day 
and night working, constitute part of the title-deeds 
of Christianity. 

Another form of what may be called the homespun 
logic of the Christian faith is the business man s argu 
ment of prudence. Prudence is the sane man s Bible. 
His first principle is that he will run no needless risks. 
He does not know that his house will be burned down ; 
but it may be, and so he insures it. His second prin 
ciple is that he will neglect no reasonable chances. 
He does not know that if he buys a big line in wheat 
it will rise, in six months, 20 per cent, in value ; but 
if he sees a chance of making a profit on that scale, 
he will not go to sleep before he grasps it. Eun no 
needless risks, neglect no reasonable chances : these 
are the principles on which a great business is built. 

How those principles reinforce Christianity it is 
needless to state. As we have argued elsewhere, no 
one can prove, or ever has proved, the stupendous 
negatives of infidelity. No one can guarantee that its 
guess as to God, and our relation, or want of relation, 
to Him ; as to eternity, and the degree in which our 
acts in this life must influence us throughout that 



264 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

eternity, is true. On the lowest reading of Christian 
evidence it is probable God exists. Sin may involve 
eternal death. It may cost us heaven. No one has 
ever crossed the dark frontiers of death, explored the 
world beyond, and come back to say, I have trodden 
all the paths of eternity, and found there nothing 
to make a bad man afraid. There is, let us say, a 
chance that the Bible may be true; and on mere 
business principles it is, of course, ignoble ground to 
take yet, on the lowest reading of prudence, we ought 
not to run the tremendous risks involved in sin on the 
slender chance that the Bible may not be true. 

A couple of miners on an Australian goldfield will 
stand on the slope of a hill and study the contour of 
the landscape to find what they call the lie of the 
reef. When they have put together all the evidence 
available, and there seems a certain probability, less or 
greater, that by sinking a shaft at a certain point they 
will strike the reef, they mark out the shaft, give to 
the business of sinking it the patient toil of months. 
They fight their way through stone and gravel and 
clay for two thousand feet on the chance the pro 
bability measured by a balance of chances of gold 
being there. This is the miner s logic. It is the logic 
of the man of business. 

And we have only to apply that logic to religion to 
find in it an ample title for the acceptance of all its 
laws. It is not, we repeat, the loftiest ground to take; 
but it is solid enough. 



The Logic of the Unlearned 265 

Then there is what may be called the practical 
man s logic ; the final test of action. No man has a 
right to doubt Christianity until he has tried it ; and 
when he has honestly tried it he certainly will no 
longer doubt it ! He who takes Christianity and trans 
lates it into conduct: takes it to the shop and buys 
and sells by its laws ; builds his home upon it, and 
trains his children by it he proves religion. 

What is the musician s logic ? You gather round 
a harp a jury of philosophers, says Henry Ward 
Beecher, and ask them to decide whether, as an instru 
ment, it is perfect. One judges it by its form, and 
reports it has the true curved outlines of a harp. 
Another tests it by the materials of which it is made. 
Here are the vibrating metal strings ; the true materials 
of a harp. But there comes a simple man who knows 
nothing about the laws of sound, the properties of 
metals, or the science of music. The only thing he 
knows is how to play the harp. He draws his hand 
across the strings, and the rich music slumbering in 
them awakens ; it floats out on the trembling air, it 
charms all ears. What need is there of any report of 
philosophers ? The music proves the harp. 

And the great system of Christianity is a divine 
harp, an instrument that can fill human life with 
music; and the only proof needed is to touch with 
obedient fingers its strings. The answering music is 

its own logic. 

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EPILOGUE 

THE foregoing chapters simply give examples 
of the innumerable correspondences which 
link the spiritual and the secular realms to 
gether ; instances of profound agreement, yielded alike 
by history and science and philosophy, at whatever 
point, and by whatever method, they may be tested. 
As the key fits the lock, so the great things of religion 
answer to the deep things of the heart and the great 
things of the physical universe. And the chapters here 
written, it may be claimed, do not represent a cluster 
of what may be called unrelated credibilities. The^e 
manifold justifications of religion signs of its energy 
in history, analogies in science, correspondences in 
nature and in the soul these have a cumulative 
force ; and they might be reinforced by facts gathered 
from every field of knowledge open to the human 
mind. The chapters, too, are a study in what may be 
called contrasting credibilities. They show hpw, in 
any form in which the question can be tried, the re 
jection of religion carries with it difficulties infinitely 
greater than its acceptance. 

Christianity, it is true, does not solve all puzzles. 



270 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

It does not pretend to find an answer to every question. 
If it did, that very characteristic would prove it to be 
of human origin. That it shades off into mystery at a 
thousand points ; that it tests us by difficulties ; that 
it requires us to walk by faith, and to deal with forces 
half known, and less than half comprehended, shows 
its agreement with the general scheme of human life. 
These conditions of incomplete knowledge are part of 
our discipline. A world in which everything was 
known, that had not a mystery that challenged our 
wonder, or a discovery to tax our intelligence, would 
leave us with half the motives for effort slain. 

But even those who remain unconvinced of the 
truth of historic Christianity must admit that it 
answers all the ends of a true religion. It sweetens 
life ; it creates saints ; it inspires missionaries ; it brings 
gifts of divine peace to dying hours. It is an energy 
lifting the whole race up to new heights of goodness. 
It is a barrier to all the forces which would destroy 
society. All this is written in history; it is visible 
in the living world about us. 

And Christianity may well be set at this point in 
contrast with any of the forms of unbelief. The re 
jection of Christianity solves no problems. It adds a 
new perplexity to them all. It deepens all the 
shadows of life; it loosens all the deep anchorages of 
morality. The ethical trend of materialistic belief is 
clearly visible in Haeckel and his school He, at 
least, has the courage of his logic. If man is only a 



Epilogue 271 

chemical ferment, an albuminous compound, a little 
patch of plasm as destitute of either will or responsi 
bility as, say, a seidlitz powder, what has he to do with 
morality, or morality with him ? What moral obliga 
tions link together a handful of seidlitz powders packed 
into the same box ? 

Haeckel holds that morality in man, like the tail of 
a monkey or the shell of a tortoise, is purely a physio 
logical effect. A moral habit resembles, he says, 
nothing so much as the action of nitric acid on the 
lower oxydes of nitrogen. Nay, the categorical im 
perative itself that sublime sense of duty which 
moved, as deeply as the vision of the starry heavens 
themselves, the sense of wonder in Kant is resolved 
by Haeckel into a long series of phyletic modifica 
tions of the phenomena of the cortex. The moral 
sense thus disappears, or is resolved into a spray of 
meaningless words. 

Now, this is a creed which, as it stains through to 
the popular mind, must create a morality or, rather, 
an immorality after its own pattern. The process is 
already visible in the philosophers themselves. In his 
New Conceptions of Science, for example, Mr. Carl 
Snyder announces a new criminology, a moral code 
in which not a knavish brain, but a defective pair of 
lungs, will be the true crime. We shall not punish, 
he says, but the deformed, the defective, the diseased 
must be incessantly weeded out. Haeckel, in his 
latest book, The Wonders of Life, as we have already 



272 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

shown, argues for the poisoning of the aged and of the 
incurable sick. He records with admiration that 
many experienced physicians who practise their pro 
fession without dogmatic prejudice have no scruple 
about cutting short the sufferings of the incurable by a 
dose of morphia or cyanide of potassium, and he asks 
us to think what a blessing this is both to the invalids 
and their families. In the same work he argues that 
the tenderness with which a mother fights for the frail 
life of her sickly baby is nothing less than an offence 
against society. She ought to put a string round the 
tender little throat, and draw it tight till the fluttering 
breath ceased. This is her plain duty to the race. 

How much of what the world to-day counts precious 
pity for human pain, the tenderness that ministers to 
the weak, the charity that cares for the helpless, the 
patience that watches over broken and failing life 
this new belief about man would destroy ! It would 
reshape society on the ethical ideas of the brothel and 
of the slaughter-house. Yet all this is the logical and 
inevitable goal of materialistic unbelief. When full 
grown it would destroy the world, and it would fit the 
world for destruction by making it hateful. 

Truth, of course, is sacred, no matter what its con 
sequences ; and we might accept even a theory about 
ourselves and the universe so dreadful, if the evidence 
on which it stood were sufficient. But the creed of 
materialistic unbelief has absolutely no authoritative 
evidence. Its acceptance represents the triumph of 



Epilogue 273 

unreasoning credulity. Haeckel, for example, quotes 
with scorn the opening sentence of the Apostles Creed : 
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of 
heaven and earth/ and he offers us as a substitute for 
God and as the true starting-point of life and on 
nothing better than his own private authority a 
chemical substance of a viscous character, having albu 
minous matter and water as its chief constituents. 
The chemical process which first set in, he announces, 
. . . must have been catalyses, which led to the for 
mation of albuminous combinations. The earliest 
organisms to be thus formed can only have been " plas- 
modomous monera," &c. (p. 355). With a spray of 
words like these, and a procession of assumptions and 
suppositions as long and various as the tail of a 
comet, Haeckel thus constructs a rival credo to that of 
Christianity. 

But it is absolutely without proof! All known 
proof, indeed, is in the other scale. The whole authority 
of science, as represented by its wisest minds, is in 
opposition to it. 

If a man of science, says Sir Oliver Lodge, seeks 
to dogmatize concerning the Emotions and the Will, 
and asserts that he can reduce them to atomic forces 
and motions, he is exhibiting the smallness of his con 
ceptions, and gibbeting himself as a laughing-stock to 
future generations. l 

Lord Kelvin pronounces the attempt to account for 
1 Hibbert Journal. 

T 



274 The Unrealized Logic of Religion 

life in this fashion as utterly absurd. Scientific 
thought, he says, is compelled to accept the idea of 
Creative Power. Forty years ago I asked Liebig, 
walking somewhere in the country, if he believed that 
the grass and flowers which we saw around us grew by 
mere chemical forces. He answered, " No, no more 
than I could believe that a book of botany describing 
them could grow by mere chemical forces." 

But we do not need the authority of scientists or of 
science in this matter. The very structure of the 
human mind rejects this theory of a chain with only 
one end to it, an infinite succession of effects with no 
cause to explain them. It is possible to put together a 
set of words describing phenomena so wonderful, but 
the mind refuses to picture an unending series of 
antecedents with no starting-point. It cannot strip 
itself of that obstinate and primary instinct which 
demands a cause which shall have no antecedent. 
The consciousness of cause/ says Herbert Spencer, 
can only be effaced by the destruction of conscious 
ness ; and Haeckel s theory leaves all the phenomena 
of the visible world in the category of things un 
caused. 

To accept his theory represents a more violent effort 
of faith than is required for belief in the Old and New 
Testaments put together. For that theory is only a 
crude human guess, disguised in learned words, destitute 
of a scrap of evidence, disavowed by all serious science, 
and in quarrel with the very nature of the human mind. 



Epilogue 275 

Its sole evidence is found in the stentorian tones in 
which it is proclaimed. 

He who accepts Christianity, on the other hand, 
opens his life to a creed which has behind it a vast and 
manifold body of evidence ; a creed which finds its 
verification alike in science, in history, and in the 
human consciousness itself, and which is accepted by 
the general reason of the race. Its own grace and 
loftiness, the place in the universe it gives to man, 
the moral ideals to which it is shaping him, the forces 
with which it touches him these are its title-deeds. 

mighty love I Man is one world, and hath 

Another to attend him. 
Since then, my God, Thou hast 

So brave a palace built, dwell in it, 
That it may dwell with Thee at last! 

Till then, afford us so much wit, 
That, as the world serves us, we may serve Thee, 

And both Thy servants be. 



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