Chapter Xviii


It is one thing merely to believe in a reality beyond the senses and another to have experience of it also; it is one thing to have ideas of 'the holy' and another to become consciously aware of it as an operative reality, intervening actively in the phenomenal world. Now it is a fundamental conviction of all religions, of religion as such, we may say, that this latter is possible as well as the former. Religion is convinced not only that the holy and sacred reality is attested by the inward voice of conscience and the religious consciousness, the 'still small voice ' of the Spirit in the. heart, by feeling, presentiment, and longing, but also that it may be directly encountered in particular occurrences and events, self-revealed in persons and displayed in actions, in a word, that beside the inner revelation from the Spirit there is an outward revelation of the divine nature. Religious language trives the name of 'sign' to such demonstrative action* and manifestations, in which holiness stands palpably self-revealed. From the time of the most primitive religions everything has counted as a sign that was able to arouse in man the sense of the holy, to excite the feeling of apprehended sanctity, ami stimulate it into open activity. Of this kind were those factors and circumstances of which we have already spoken—the thing terrible, sublime, overpowering, or astounding, and iti an especial degree the uncoiriprehonded, mysterious thing, which became the 'portent' and ' miracle'. But, as we. saw. all these were not ' signs .n the true sense, but opportunities, circumstances, prompting the religious feeling to awake of itself; and the

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