small may be his speculative powers, his religion is on the way to become a theology.
Here, however, we meet with one of our greatest difficulties, a difficulty which, more than any other, has embarrassed the development of religion during the last two centuries. For it is an obvious fact that philosophy or reflective thought has often been regarded, and not seldom has regarded itself, not as the ally and interpreter, but as the enemy of the faith in which religion begins; not as evolving and elucidating, but as disintegrating and destroying, the beliefs which are the immediate expression of the
religious life. And sometimes also it has undertaken to provide a more or less efficient substitute for them. This was the claim put forward in behalf of the so-called Natural Religion by many represent tatives of the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, and it has been supposed to be put forward by the adherents of some later systems of. thought. On the other hand, there have been, and there arc, many who hold that the teaching of reason and philosophy upon religious subjects is mainly negative; that it» chief result is to show that all religious faith is what Matthew Arnold called extra-belief (A berglaube)} an illusion of the imagination and the feelings for which there is no rational evidence: or at least that, if it does substitute anything for the complex creeds of Christendom, it is something so vagrte and general that it cannot have any important influence upon the life of man. Thus the Supreme Being of Deism was so distant and abstract a conception that it could scarcely be said to do more than keep the place open for a possible G-od. And Mr. Herbert Spencer does not substantially alter the case, when he claims the whole sphere of attainable knowledge for science, and generously gives up to religion the infinite spaces of the Unknowable. For a worship of the Unknowable would at best only serve the purpose of the lictor who in the midst of a Soman triumph reminded the victorious Imperator that he too was mortal. Beligion, on such a basis, would be nothing but a recognition of the impassable bounds of the flammanUa moenia muwdi, the inevitable limits of human knowledge and human destiny. It could not be—what Christianity and all the higher religions have claimed to be—the great power that consecrates and idealises the life of man by relating it to that which is eternal and divine.
Such a view of reason as the rival or enemy of faith is naturally met, on the other side, by a proclamation of faith as the enemy of reason. If natural religion be set up as the substitute for revealed religion, it is eagerly pointed out by some theologians that the substitute is inefficient; that, as it rests upon abstract thought, it can at best meet the wants only of the few who live by thought, and that, even for them, it is a precarious and uncertain possession; since it is devoid of that power of interesting the feelings and transforming the life which belongs to the beliefs that come to us in a more direct way, prior to and independent of the deliberate action of the intelligence. On the other hand, if it be argued that reason is entirely opposed to the claims of faith, that its attempts i to deal with the problem of religion inevitably lead to a conviction that the problem is insoluble by any of the methods of human science, and that, therefore, the only rational creed is Agnosticism—this very argument is apt to be accepted by religious men as a confession of the incapacity of reason to deal with the highest interests of man's spiritual life. In this way many Roman Catholic writers like De Maistre, and many Protestant writers like Mansel and, to a certain extent also, Mr. Balfour, have tried to maintain the cause of religion on the basis of philosophical scepticism. They have contended that reason, except within the of empirical science, is a purely analytical and therefore disintegrating agency, which can create nothing and develop nothing, and which tears up the roots the tree of life in the effort to see how it grows. They have sometimes endeavoured, on the basis of the Kantian criticism of knowledge, to show that, in face of the great problems of life—
of all the problems, in fact, with which religion is specially concerned—reason is placed between:
« i alternatives, neither of which it is able to accept as true. And they have in various ways tried to exploit this incompetence of reason in the interests of faith, sometimes of faith in an external authority, at other times of a faith in some immediate or intuitive consciousness which is maintained to be prior to reason and above its criticism.
Now, whatever side we take in such a controversy, the result seems to be that there is a deep and apparently incurable schism in the spiritual life. of man, a schism between his unconscious and his conscious life; or, as we may perhaps more accurately state it—since man is always in a sense both conscious and self-conscious—a schism between man's immediate ex[>orionce and the reflexion in which lie is involved whenever he attempt» to understand himself. And instead of a fidca qmcrem intellectum, a faith which is simply the first direct grasp of the soul at truth, and which therefore leads on necessarily to the more adequate comprehension and appreciation of it, we have, on the one side, a faith that withdraws itself from criticism by raising a plea against the competence of the critic, and, on the other, a reason which treats faith , as another name for illusion.
Now, it seems to me that we can to some extent sympathise with the motives of both sides in this old controversy. On the one hand, a faith which is not seeking intelligence is a faith which is stunted and perverted; for, as we have seen, the very nature of religion, and especially of the Christian religion, involves and stimulates reflexion upon the great issues of life. Hence the attempt to defend
Christianity by questioning the right of the intelligence to criticise it, is suicidal. The bulwark which it sets up for the defence of religion is also a barrier in the way of its natural development; and a religion which does not develop must soon die. The faith that does not seek, but shuns and repels knowledge, is already losing its rational character. The exclusion of science from the sphere of religion m
-meaning, as it does, also the exclusion of religion from the sphere of science—necessarily leads to its withdrawal from other spheres of human life until, instead of being the key to all other interests, religion becomes a concern by itself, and, we might almost say, a private concern of the individual.
On the other hand, it seems difficult to admit the claim of science at all without making it so absolute as to leave no room for faith; and that whether religion be conceived as irrational or as rational. For while, in the former case, religion is set aside and Agnosticism takes its place, in the latter case it seems as if faith must equally disappear, because reason provides a complete substitute for it, a rtligio philosophi which is based on a definite philosophical conception of the nature of Go'd, and a definite proof of His existence. Thus, if it be admitted that a scientific interpretation of religion is possible, it might seem that this interpretation must take the place of religion itself; that, if faith can be explained by reason, reason must become the nemesis of faith. Moreover, it is impossible that religion can be rationalised without being greatly modified; and if such a transformation be justifiable, how can we regard the first form of religion as more than a temporary and provisional scaffolding which has to be removed when the building is completed? Thus, to treat the claims of knowledge as absolute seems fatal to faith; but, on the other hand, it is futile to admit the right of intelligence to examine and criticise up to a certain point and no farther, All such compromises between reason and faith must break down, because we can find no third power beyond both to determine their respective limits; while, if we allow either reason or faith to determine them, the power which does so is ipso facto recognised as supreme. In particular, if reason be limited by anything but itself, it is enslaved; it becomes, as the Scholastic theologians maintained it should be, the ancilla fidei; and the voice of a slave has no authority:
it can add no weight to the word of the master.
It is impossible that religion can receive any real aid or service from the activity of philosophical reflexion unless such reflexion is absolutely free. And if it be free, it seems as if it could recognise no right but its own, as if it must set aside as irrelevant all beliefs and doctrines which
have arisen independently of its own action, and as if, in building up its scientific creed, it must clear the ground of all that occupied it before. Yet, if it does so, the fate of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, and that of the Agnosticism of the present day, seem to show that religious belief is likely to
evaporate in our hands, or to reduce itself to something so vague and empty that it can hardly have
any influence upon the life of man.
I have been trying to put as sharply as possible a dilemma which has greatly exercised the minds of men during the last two centuries, and which is still the source of perplexity to many. On the one hand,
. / ' * » , it seems as if religious faith must seek reason, as a
, * i t condition of its own life ; and yet that, in seeking reason, it seeks its own destruction. It must seek
reason: for it is impossible that any real faith can live without attempting to understand itself or develop its own intellectual content; and when it has once
entered upon this course, it cannot stop short of the end. If it appeals to reason, to reason it must go. And if at any point it becomes apprehensive, and i i i endeavours to put a stop to the process of reflexion and criticism, above all if it calls in the Sid of scepticism to defend it against such criticism, it loses something of its sincerity, its wholeness of heart, and of the courage and freedom that goes only with such sincerity. Thus it is driven back upon itself and deprived of that firm hold upon thought and life * which it formerly possessed. The result is that religion, which should be the great principle of unity in human life, becomes the source of the most unhappy of all its divisions. Or if, again, the other alternative be adopted, and it is recognised that, in an age of science, religion, like everything else, must submit to criticism on pain of losing its moral influence, it seems as if, at the best, we were inviting such an idealistic re-interpretation of Christianity as has been attempted by Kant, by Schelling, and by Hegel: and then, it is alleged by many, we are substituting for a religion of the heart and will, a religion of the intellect that dissolves away all those personal relations of God and man which constitute the living power of Christianity. And if this be the best, what is the worst ? It is that all such attempts to explain or reconstitute religion upon a new basis should fail, or, like the Natural Religion of the eighteenth century, should dissolve away in abstraction, and leave us with nothing to correspond to 1 i religion except the consciousness that beyond all th$t can feel and know there is an infinite unknown, and that, in short, we ourselves
# u are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep."
Now there cannot be any doubt that this is a real difficulty, which has produced and is now more than ever producing a division in our life, and ranging us in opposite ranks, and that not on the ground of any individual or class prejudice, but on the ground of what are really the highest interests of man's intellectual and moral life: setting on the one side those who feel that the powers of man's spiritual nature can be fully drawn out only by a religion that makes the strongest personal appeal to his will and affections, and who therefore cling to forms of belief which they refuse to criticise and try to exempt from criticism: and setting on the other side those to whom the most vital of all causes is the cause of truth and intellectual honesty, and who are therefore prepared to accept the results of free enquiry, even if it should tear away from them everything they would wish to believe. Nay, this is a division which everyone who is open to the intellectual influences of the time must feel in himself, as a
conflict, or apparent conflict, between two claims, both of which rise out of his own nature. There are i many writings of the last century which might be
adduced as evidence of the prevalence of such a state of mind. Thus in reading Mill's Essays on Religion— a book which attracted much attention when it was first published—we can see that the author is continually asking himself how much he may still believe • and hope, how much of Christianity he may retain consistently with his scientific integrity. And there are at the present day numerous writers, like Professor James, who maintain that there is a point at which we have a right, without any other evidence, to take what we think most desirable for our own spiritual life as by that very fact sufficiently evidenced
to be true; a point at which, in short, belief may be safely founded on the ' will to believe.' Yet from this there is only a step to the acceptance of the principles of Newman's Grammar of Assent, which asserts the right—in the general impossibility of finding sufficient evidence for any kind of religious truth
—to treat insufficient evidence as if it were sufficient-
On the other hand, there are many who regard all such expedients for the establishment or restoration of faith as more or less refined adaptations of Pascal's straightforward counsel: " Ii faut iabttir "; and who,
therefore, think themselves obliged to accept the conclusion that our advancing knowledge is only
making us more clearly realise the limits of our life i t and the impossibility of our discovering either whence x \
it comes or whither it goes, or what is the unknown vol. i. b power that rules it; and that the intense life of religions faith, in which so much that is great in the past life of man had its source and spring, was based upon an illusion, with which, for good or evil, we must learn henceforth to dispense.
Now, it cannot be denied that much remains to • be done ere such difficulties as these can be solved or removed. But I think that there is already in our hands, in the idea of Evolution, a kind of Eirenicon or means of bringing the opposing sides nearer to an understanding with each other. In particular, that idea enables us to throw some new light upon the relations of the uncpnscious or unre-flective to the conscious or reflective life, as stages or factors in the development of man; and thus, as it were, to break off the horns of the dilemma of which we have been speaking—a dilemma which really arises from their being sharply and abstractly opposed to each other. For, in the first place, in the very idea that they are two factors or stages of one life, it is involved that they are not governed by two absolutely antagonistic principles, but that there is an essential link of connexion between t them. Their difference and opposition, however far it may reach, must ultimately be conceived as secondary and capable of being explained from their unity. Their conflict, in short, must be taken as analogous to the conflict of different members or t forms of vital activity in one organism, a competition which in the healthy organism is always subordinated to co-operation, or at least only ceases to be co-operation at a lower stage that it may become co-operation at a higher. It is thus that in organic evolution greater • differentiation of function proves itself to be the means to deeper integration and more concentrated unity. And in this unity nothing that was valuable in the lower stage of life is ultimately sacrificed, however much the form may be changed.
Applying this to the case before us, we cannot admit that there is any fatal opposition between the unconscious or unreflective movement of man's mind and that which is conscious and reflective. It is the same reason that is at work in both, and all that reflexion can do is to bring to light the processes and categories which underlie the unreflective action of the intelligence, and, in doing so, to make the use of them more definite and adequate. We must, therefore, maintain that, though reason may accidentally become opposed to faith, its ultimate and healthy action must preserve for us, or restore to us, all that is valuable in faith. Or, if it necessarily comes into collision with faith at a certain stage of development, at a further stage this antagonism must disappear, or be reduced within ever narrower limits. Nay, in the long run a living faith will absorb into itself the elements of searching fires may, indeed, burn up much of the wood, hay, stubble—the perishable adjuncts that attach th$nselves to the edifice of human faith —but they cannot touch the stones of the building, still less the eternal foundation on which it is built. I will not conceal my conviction that its * dissolving power must be fatal to many things which men have thought and still think to be bound up with their religious life, but I do not believe that it will destroy anything that is really necessary to it. Christianity is not, like some earlier religions, essentially connected with imagin-ative symbols, which must lose their hold upon man's mind so soon as he is able to distinguish poetry from prose. It had its origin, as we have seen, in an age which was, up to a certain point, an age of reflexion, and the first movement of its life was to break away from the local and national influences of the region in which it was born. It lived and moved from the beginning in an atmosphere of universality, and in spite of the reactionary influences to which in its further history it was exposed and which gradually affected its life and doctrine, it never lost its essentially universal character. Hence, when its official representatives had turned it into a system of superstition and obstruction, its own influences have often inspired
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