ETHICAL MONISM ONCE MORE
In tne preceding pages I have endeavored to point out the possible advantage to Christian theology to be derived from the modern trend of philosophic thought. I regard it as the duty of the theologian to avail himself of all the helps which science, both physical and metaphysical, may from time to time furnish. The disposition which leads one first to ask what truth there is in a new movement of the human mind which may be recognized and utilized in the interest of religion is surely more believing and more Christian than the contrasted attitude which first asks what error there is to be opposed and attacked. Christ rules in the realm of truth; all truth is his province; he is himself the Truth. We do not need to fear the truth, even though it comes to us in unwonted shapes: the form that came to the disciples over the stormy sea was not a spirit from the abyss, but was Christ himself bent upon rescuing them. Nor does it follow that a thing is not true, simply because there are questions about it to which we cannot as yet give a full and sufficient answer: our Lord gave the disciples abundant reason to believe that he was with them, even though they were not yet able to understand the way in which he had come.
The title which I have given to the discussion is "Ethical Monism." All such titles are necessary evils; they can only hint at the real subject; they leave out quite as much as they include. In this case there was special need that the title should be interpreted by the discussion, and the discussion was intended to make the meaning of the title plain. While by the use of the word " monism " I intended to suggest an hypothesis which might throw light upon some of the outlying and hitherto unsolved problems of theology, I intended, by the use of the word "ethical," to suggest that the monism in which I believed was only such a monism as was consistent with the great ethical facts of human and divine personality, together with freedom, responsibility, sin, guilt, atonement, and retribution.
I wish gratefully to acknowledge the candid and generous treatment which has been accorded to my articles;1 it has been a proof that differing minds can conduct discussion calmly and with the sole aim of ascertaining the truth. And yet I have been somewhat misunderstood; and the object of the present chapter is to remove misapprehension, while at the same time applying the new principle in one or two new directions, in which, I trust, all may see its value as a solvent of difficulties. To make any further presentation of my view practicable, I must divide my critics into two classes: first, those who are unable to take seriously the latter half of my title; and, secondly, those who cannot take seriously the former half. Some have declared that I am no " monist " at all, for the reason that I am not a materialistic and deterministic monist; others have declared that I have no right to use the word
1 It may not be out of place to here repeat that these chapters have been previously given to the public in a series of essays. This will explain the references here and elsewhere to their reception.
"ethical," for the reason that I assert, in addition to the fact of individuality, a deeper fact of unity. My present purpose is to show that both of these words are used in their proper meaning, and yet that Ethical Monism is no contradiction in terms. In the course of this treatment I will briefly answer the principal philosophical objections that have been urged against my doctrine, and, after I have done this, I will speak of evolution and of atonement as interpreted by it.
Frankly and bluntly, then, Ethical Monism is dualistic monism. Dualism is a permanent and fundamental truth. If I did not believe that dualism was never to be eradicated from philosophy, never to be escaped by the sober intellect, I would never go on to add to the word "dualistic" the word "monism "; for, of the two, I am free to confess that the more practical, the more valuable, of the two parts of the title is the former. Whatever else we may be, or may not be, we must be dualists through and through, and we must never give up our dualism, because dualism is not only the necessary condition of ethics, but is also inseparably bound up with many, if not all, of those great truths which constitute the essence of the Christian scheme.
But let me define a little more clearly what I mean by dualism. There are two sorts of dualism, and in both of them I most heartily believe. On the one hand, there is the dualism of matter and mind. Matter and mind are two and not one; mind is not matter, matter is not mind; the two are inconvertible. On the other hand, there is the dualism of man and God. God and man are two and not one; man is not God and God is not man; the two are personally differentiated from each other. These two sorts of dualism, since they both postulate a soul, distinct from matter on the one hand and from God on the other, are only aspects of one truth, and I name that truth psychological dualism.
But psychological dualism is perfectly consistent with philosophical or metaphysical monism. Immensely important as is psychological dualism, it is not the whole truth, it is only half of the truth; it is a hemisphere which needs metaphysical monism for its complement to form with it the rounded globe of truth. Dualistic monism is not a contradiction in terms, because the dualism and the monism are asserted of different things; while in one respect I am a dualist, in another respect I am compelled to be a monist; in fact, a thoughtful dualism confesses itself to be partial and insufficient, and suggests the need of a monism which will bring the parts into a whole and give unity to what otherwise would be only fragments. While dualism truly asserts that matter and mind, man and God, are two, not one, monism with equal truth asserts that matter and mind, man and God, have underground connections and a common life, because all things, humanity included, live, move, and have their being in God.
Matter and mind are two, not one. But it does not therefore follow that monism is untrue. If the duality were absolute and unqualified, no interrelation and interaction between mind and matter would be possible. Dualists who have never yet learned to supplement their dualism with monism have absolutely no link of connection between mind and matter, and they are obliged to treat the relation of the two to each other as an insoluble mystery. That the two are inconvertible they re
gard as absolutely disproving the monistic hypothesis; that the two interact should rather be regarded as proving that these two have a common ground and principle of being. The very fact that matter and mind are inconvertible makes their interaction utterly inconceivable and impossible, unless they exist in a unitary Being who is not only their author, but who furnishes the constant bond of connection between them.
That the inconvertibility of mind and matter renders the monistic hypothesis untenable—or, in other words, that psychological dualism is incompatible with philosophical monism—is a very frequent assertion; but I venture to say that it is mere assertion, without a shred of evidence to support it. It assumes an antiquated conception of what matter is and then makes this conception the touchstone of a true philosophy. It regards matter as a dead somewhat, outside of God, while mind is a living somewhat, outside of God, and then it wonders how the two get on so well together. Let these absolute dualists reflect for a moment that no dead thing can be a cause, and that no finite living thing can come into communication with that which is around it, except as that communication is mediated by a common intelligence and life.
Although idealism is not the whole truth, it is a part of the truth, and it has given us a far better conception of matter than this one of a self-subsistent yet dead somewhat, outside of God. Matter is not dead but living; it is spiritual, in the sense of being the manifestation of spirit; it is not simply the thought of God's reason, but the product of his will. Nature is the manifestation of God under the law of cause and effect, while mind is the manifestation of God under the law of freedom. The moment matter and mind are conceived of as manifestations of God, we are rid of the notion that their inconvertibility is inconsistent with monism. Manifestations of mind are not convertible into each other. Conscience is not convertible into will nor affection into intellect. So God has decreed that mind and matter, the two manifestations of himself which constitute the universe, should be eternally inconvertible; yet this inconvertibility is not only no disproof of monism, but, when taken in connection with the fact that the two constitute a universe, this inconvertibility is itself an important link in the proof that monism is the only true philosophy.
From much recent writing it might be inferred that the combination of psychological dualism and metaphysical monism is a novel and absurd speculation. Those who occupy themselves in this criticism would do well to study Lotze and Ladd and Upton. Ladd at New Haven, in the United States, and Upton at Manchester, in England, are both teaching Ethical or dualistic Monism, and they are both following the German Lotze, the leader of the higher thought of our time. Upton says well that "no scientific account of the universe, based on the study of particular things and events, can be intelligible and adequate if it does not recognize as immanent in the plurality of atoms and of souls the presence and causality of the Eternal Self-subsistent One." And Ladd disposes of the whole objection from inconvertibility when he says that—
"The one Reality to which the contrasted phenomena, psychical and physical, are referred, may possibly choose to follow the prin
ciple of the conservation and correlation of energy in one of its contrasted aspects and decline to follow it in the other." "Monism in the macrocosmos, the universe, does not necessarily by any means imply monism in the microcosmos, man." Yet "dualism is not the final word, not the ultimate solution of the problem of body and mind, or of nature at large, in their complex relations to each other." "Nature and body and mind cannot be left by the mind itself in this condition of separateness. . . This dualism . . . must undoubtedly be dissolved in some ultimate monistic solution. The Being of the world, of which all particular beings are but parts, must then be so conceived of as that in it can be found the one ground of all interrelated existences and activities."
A witty friend, who is by no means a philosopher, has sought to travesty my doctrine by declaring that it makes the universe to be a mere pair of tongs. Dualistic monism, he says, regards the world as having two arms and one handle. My witty friend was building better than he knew, and I appropriate his illustration. Matter and mind are indeed the two arms of the great system; but, as in the tongs, the two arms are not alike: one is fixed and immovable, a mere continuation of the handle; the other is free within certain limits to move, and it often does move, in the opposite direction to the handle. So matter is but the projection or continuation of God's regular and automatic activity, while mind has in it the element of freedom and is capable of resisting God and resisting him forever. The necessity of matter is no more convertible into the freedom of mind than the rigidity of the one arm of the tongs is convertible into the flexibility of the other arm. Yet God can work in and through this dual universe and can make both elements of it accomplish his will, the one in virtue of its necessity and the other in virtue of its freedom.
I have been speaking thus far of the dualism of matter and mind. I desire now to acknowledge with equal emphasis the dualism of man and God. God and man are two persons and not one person. God's personality is not man's personality, and man's personality is not God's. The two stand over against each other, so that there is always the possibility of communion on the one hand and of antagonism on the other. A genuine dualism is the foe to all determinism, for determinism applies to mind the law of inertia, which belongs only to matter; it declares that mind has no power of initiative, that it acts only as it is acted upon, that it acts out its character, but has no power to change its character. Such determinism, if it be logical, must identify the will and personality of man with the will and personality of God; and we may truly say that determinism without monism has more in it of the essence of pantheism than has monism without determinism. Ethical Monism, on the contrary, asserts free-will, the power to choose between motives as well as the power to choose according to motive, and so accepts the testimony of consciousness before the evil act, that we had power to do the right, and the testimony of conscience after the evil act, that we are guilty for doing the wrong.
And yet Ethical Monism maintains that this dualism is not the whole truth. Both consciousn&s and conscience bear witness that we are bound to one another and to God by the ties of a common mental and moral life. They recognize a light within, which does not belong to the individual alone, but which is the heritage of all the members of the race. The higher reason, the perception of beauty, the moral ideals of mankind,
have a universal character, and are not products of the single soul. There is a light that lighteth every man, and that light is none other than Christ, the light of the world. We have a natural, intellectual, and moral union with him in whom all things, including humanity, were created and in whom all things consist. Our sins may obscure this light, and may even in some cases turn it into darkness; yet in no human soul does God leave himself wholly without a witness, in no soul does he wholly cease to speak. The admonitions of conscience are felt to be thunderings from an invisible Sinai, and every several bush is felt at times to be afire with God.
Not long ago I dined with Mr. Bell, the inventor of the telephone. I said to him: "Mr. Bell, have you made any advance toward telephonic communication without wires?" "I have been working at that for years," he replied. "I will tell you what we have done. I have stationed the 'transmitter' on shore at Washington and have put the ' receiver' in a boat and have let it drift down the Potomac, and we have communicated five miles without connecting wires. You know, perhaps," he continued, "that from the mast of a vessel messages have been sent to the shore fifteen miles away, though it cannot be done from the deck." Then < I asked: "What is the intermediary, Mr. Bell?" He answered indirectly: "If you have two tuning forks keyed to precisely the same note, and set one of them vibrating in one corner of the room, you know that the other in the other corner of the room will begin to vibrate also. There the common explanation is that the medium is the atmosphere. But when it comes to
transmitting sound for fifteen miles that explanation seems insufficient; we talk about ether instead." "But if you can communicate five miles or fifteen," I rejoined, "why not fifteen hundred?" "The Lord only knows," was his answer. And it set me thinking that if two brains were keyed precisely together we might possibly communicate with London or Yokohama, and all the wonders of telepathy might have a physical basis.
But all the more would such wonders need a further philosophical explanation. The physical interaction is no more wonderful than is the mental interaction. The philosophers who oppose monism have absolutely no explanation of the interaction of mind and mind, any more than they have an explanation of the interaction of mind and matter. The communication of intelligence is not a transference any more than the communication of motion is. Nothing is lost by the teacher; he rather gains. Intellectual causality is as inexplicable as physical causality, if there is not some unitary Being who binds all minds together. The influence of one finite intelligence upon another finite intelligence presupposes the existence and co-operation of an infinite Intelligence in which all finite intelligences have their being. And what are conscience and Scripture but means by which this same Intelligence lifts us up out of the region of our pettiness and isolation into the region of his universal and eternal truth?
This Ethical Monism is not pantheism, because it maintains the separate personality of man and the absolute transcendence of God. I have intimated this before, but I must be pardoned for once more insisting upon it. Pantheism is indeed monism, but monism is
not necessarily pantheism. Pantheism is monism coupled with two denials: the denial of man's separate personality and of God's transcendence. Pantheism, in other words, does not admit dualism into its system; Ethical Monism embraces it as of the very essence of truth. Pantheism is scarcely consistent with the belief in personality anywhere, whether in man or in God, for the denial of freedom is the virtual denial of personality. But such personality as pantheism does admit it grants to only one, not to two. Either God has personality and then all human personality is delusive, or man has personality and God comes to consciousness only in man. No pantheist can rationally say:
Our wills are ours, to make them thine,
for not only can the human will not be different from what it is, but the human will and the divine will are already one, and only rhetorically can they be said ever to have been two. I approve most heartily, therefore, the words of a recent writer: "A system of thought which allows no real dualism of will between man and God is not a religion at all; still less is it identical with Christian theism."
Yet it does not follow that these many wills of men may not have in God the ground of their being, while yet they are capable of independent activity. As another has intimated: "With a plurality of first causes— each the fons et origo of a new and never-ending stream of causality—the cosmos must sooner or later become a chaos by cumulative intersection of the streams, unless the theory of monism be true." The relation of manifold dependent human wills to the one ultimate and allembracing will is indeed a relation difficult of comprehension. But, as I have elsewhere said, the doctrine of the Trinity furnishes us with a hint of the possible solution. In the one divine substance there are three consciousnesses and three wills, or in other words three persons. And yet we do not conceive of the Godhead as divided into three parts. The whole of the divine essence resides in the Son and in the Holy Spirit just as fully as it resides in the Father. There is an abstract possibility of severance between the will of the Father and the will of the incarnate Son, and Christ says, "Not my will but thine be done." My contention is that what was only abstractly possible in the case of the Son of God has become an actuality in the case of sinful men, and that the actual sin of men cannot be regarded as incompatible with a Christian monism by any who grant that Christ had an independent will while yet he was of the same substance as the Father.
And yet I do not regard the doctrine of the Trinity as furnishing more than a hint of the possibility of multitudinous finite personalities within the bounds of God's being. Still less do I regard the existence of subordinate and "split-off" consciousnesses in man's being as more than a hint of the possibility of rebellious wills which nevertheless subsist from moment to moment only by virtue of the inflowing into them of the divine life. The fact before us is a unique fact, and we have no analogue for it as a whole. The most we can do is to illustrate successive aspects of it. I claim only that in the Trinity we have plural self-consciousnesses, though the essence of the Godhead is one; while in man's single nature we have consciousnesses and volitions that
are not only independent but abnormal. While we are monists as to substance, therefore, we may still be dualists as to personality, and may be as far from pantheism as heaven is from earth.
Ethical Monism is not pantheism, moreover, because it insists upon the transcendence of God—a truth which pantheism everywhere and always denies. Pantheism regards the universe as conterminous with God; God is only the obverse side of the universe; he manifests himself only in the universe; in the universe his wisdom and power exhaust themselves. Pantheism recognizes the immanence of God, but there it stops; since it sees in God no freedom and no reserves of power, transcendence is inconceivable and impossible. Pantheism shuts up God in the universe; nay, the universe is his everlasting prison; for the reason of God from eternity past has worked and could work in no other than this dynamic way. Matter is eternal, and has no more had a beginning than God himself. It is identical with God, for matter is no more the expression of God than God is the expression of matter. Now against this doctrine that the universe is as great as God, as eternal as God, as necessary as God, dualistic monism utters its continual protest. It traces back the universe to a beginning, while it declares of God that he is without beginning, as he is without end. It asserts that the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, but that contrariwise the whole universe taken together, with its elements and forces, its suns and systems, including all space and all time, is but a drop of dew upon the fringe of his garment, is but the light breath from his mouth, so insignificant is it when compared with its Creator, the transcendent and inexhaustible source of all being and of all life.
The universe is a manifestation of God, but it is not God; much less can we give the name of God to any single thing or any single being in the universe. All things, all persons, all nations, all worlds, are only the partial, temporal, graded, finite unfoldings of a Being infinitely greater than they. God is not any single thing in the universe, nor is he the whole universe put together, but he is infinitely above all and he infinitely transcends all. Dualistic monism cuts at the roots of pantheism, when it asserts man's freedom and God's transcendence. And yet it maintains that the whole universe finds its principle of existence and ground of being in God. In the earlier chapter, I said that there is but one substance, and that that substance is God. But I used the word substance in its proper etymological sense, as that which stands under, which underlies, which upholds, which furnishes the principle of life and being.
The misapprehensions of my position have originated in the fact that my critics have put into the term the meaning which it had in the old and outworn Hamiltonian philosophy, while I have been using it in the sense which it has acquired in Lotze and the modern idealists. To interpret my word "substance" after a materialistic fashion, as if I meant that God occupied space and divided himself up into parts, carving man and nature out of his own physical being, is to attribute to me a view against which my whole scheme of thought is a protest. The infinite One does not consist of parts, nor are finite and material things parts of the infinite
One. As my volitions are manifestations of my mind, but are not parts of my mind, so the works of God are manifestations of God, but are not parts of God. With Upton, I not only quote the poet's words:
Every fresh and new creation,
A divine improvisation,
From the heart of God proceeds;
but I adopt the philosophical explanation with which Upton follows them:
The Eternal is present in every finite thing, and is felt and known to be present in every rational soul ; but still is not broken up into individualities, but ever remains one and the same eternal substance, one and the same unifying principle, immanently and indivisibly present in everyone of that countless plurality of finite individuals into which man's analyzing understanding dissects the cosmos.
In other words, there is but one substance, one underlying reality, the infinite and eternal Spirit of God, who contains within his own being the ground and principle of all other being. And lest any should think this to be a piece of modern pantheistic speculation, I close this part of my essay by quoting the words of Anselm, who wrote eight hundred years ago and was no pantheist. In his "Proslogion," speaking of the divine nature, he says: "It is the essence of being, the principle of existence, of all things. Without parts, without differences, without accidents, without changes, it might be said in a certain sense alone to exist, for in respect to it the other things which appear to be have no existence. The unchangeable spirit is all that is, and it is this without limit, simply, interminably. It is
the perfect and absolute existence. The rest has come from non-entity, and thither returns if not supported by God. It does not exist by itself. In this sense the Creator alone exists; created things do not."
I have thus explained the meaning of the phrase Ethical Monism, and have shown that it is dualistic in distinguishing the soul both from matter and from God. and so is utterly opposed to pantheism. Yet Ethical Monism holds to but one ground or principle of being. While it regards finite spirits as second causes, it sees in the physical universe only secondary workings of the great first Cause. Let us consider what we mean when we use the term universe. Only the other day I was saying to one of my classes that we could not understand any one thing in the universe without understanding all things, that to know a part was impossible without knowing the whole of which it formed a part. A student whose name was not Smith, but whom I will call Smith for the sake of euphony, did not see why he could not understand a blade of grass without understanding the sun, moon, and stars. "But has not sunshine something to do with that blade of grass?" I asked. "Does not gravity influence its growth? By the way, Mr. Smith, what is gravitation? Is it the 'attraction of large masses for large masses?" "Yes," he replied; "but also of all masses for all masses." "Of the largest masses for the smallest masses?" "Yes." "Of the smallest masses for the largest?" "Yes." "When you throw a ball into the air, the earth attracts the ball and the ball moves toward the earth?" "Yes." "When you throw a ball into the air the ball attracts the earth and the earth moves toward the
ball?" Mr. Smith began to see that he was getting into difficulty, but he replied, "Yes, to some extent." "But," said I, "when the earth moves, the sun has to move also?" Mr. Smith hesitated, but at length he said: "Yes, sir." "And when the sun moves, Sirius moves?" Mr. Smith gasped, but he said: "Yes." "Now, Mr. Smith," I continued, "I have not done with you yet. Have you been taught in college that accompanying every thought of yours there is some molecular movement in the brain?" "Yes, sir." "And when that molecule moves, everything else moves?" "Yes, sir." "Mr. Smith," said I, "do you mean to say that every thought of yours shakes this whole universe?" Mr. Smith brought his fist down upon the desk with a crash and shouted: "Yes, sir, I do!" "Well," I replied, "I am glad you have the courage of your convictions. I do not see how you can get out of it." "It is a mathematical fact," says Thomas Carlyle, "that the casting of this pebble from my hand alters the center of gravity of the universe."
All this is but an illustration of the implications of the word "universe," a word which we have all our lives been using with very imperfect apprehension of its meaning. It is a universe. All things move together, all things are linked together, all things are not only in logical but in vital relations to one another. It is impossible that there can be these logical and vital relations unless there is a rational Spirit whose omnipresence unifies what otherwise would be fragments, an Intelligence and Will who orders their ongoings, an infinite Life who constitutes the principle of their existence and the ground of their being. And all this is but the republication of Scripture truth which has been neglected and ignored; the unfolding of the old orthodoxy of Paul and of John, when they tell us that in God we live and move and are; that in Christ, who is only God revealed, the universe consists or holds together; that whatever came into being was life in him; that he, the eternal Reason and Word of God, upholds all things; that he is all and in all.
Now it will not do to say that all this unity is explicable by the mere fact of external governance and control, as if God made this a universe by simply watching over it. Modern philosophy has made the old materialistic and deistic explanations no longer tenable. The bond between God and the universe must be a closer one than this, or we cannot logically believe in a universe or a God. Materialism regarded the universe as consisting of atoms and as explained by them; but we now perceive that atoms can do nothing without force and can be nothing intelligible without ideas. Materialistic idealism improved upon the old materialism by holding that the universe consisted of force and of ideas; but we perceive that ideas can only belong to mind and force can be exerted only by will. Pantheism grants this, but declares that the universe is simply immanent and impersonal mind and will. Our reply is that spirit in man shows that the infinite Spirit must be personal and transcendent mind and will. Ethical Monism accepts the good and rejects the evil in all these systems when it regards the universe as a graded and partial manifestation of the divine life; matter being God's self-limitation under the law of cause and effect; humanity being God's self-limitation under the
law of freedom; incarnation and atonement being God's self-limitation under the law of grace.
Matter, so far as we can know it, is nothing but force, and force is the product of will. Every impression of the outward world which we receive is mediated by some impact and vibration. This causal energy of the non-ego we are obliged to interpret by what we know of causal energy in the ego. It matters not how we produce effects, we know that we produce them, and the producing agency we call will. The effects which we call nature we are compelled to attribute to some producing agency analogous to our own, and there is no designation for this agency so simple or intelligible as the will of God. It does not matter that my volition is not itself physical force; it is enough that it is a cause. If physical forces are causes, then I must believe that they too are essentially exertions of will, and since they are not exertions of my will, I must call them exertions of the will of God. In the words of James Martineau:
Nature is not self-active and God is not intrusive. . . God is not a retired architect who may now and then be called in for repairs. . . What is nature but the province of God's pledged and habitual causality? And what is spirit but the province of his free causality responding to the needs and affections of his free children?
It is possible to take this, as both Martineau and Upton do, in a Unitarian sense and to talk of God alone as the life of the universe. But the only God whom the New Testament knows as active and manifested is Jesus Christ. In his capacity as revealer of God, Christ rules in nature and in history as well as in redemption, and we scarcely use a figure of speech when we say that the hand that was nailed to the cross now wields the sceptre over all. The laws of nature are but the habitual methods by which Christ our Lord manifests himself. Evolution is one method, though not the only method, of his manifestation. As there are two methods in which my own will exerts itself, so there are two methods in the exercise of his will: first, the absolute, unique, initiatory method; secondly, the relative, regular, automatic method. When I attend a church service and the benediction is pronounced, I give an illustration of the first. I put forth a deliberate and conscious effort of will. I say, "I will go home." It is a free, independent act. I can go somewhere else; I can do something else; but I determine to do this. After this decision, I put one foot before the other and there are successive acts that I perform in a sub-conscious way. These are habitual and automatic acts, yet they are acts of my will none the less. But my pursuing this course of regular action does not prevent me from changing my mind and stopping at any time I choose to do so. God's habitual actions, in like manner, are not a bar to unique and exceptional action. As nature was due in the beginning to an act of absolute origination, so the God who originated nature is not shut up to nature; he can transcend nature; he can substitute new beginnings for old regularities; he can transcend nature by miracle, and law by grace. Incarnation and resurrection are perfectly possible and credible, if we once grant that God's will is capable of a two-fold activity analogous to our own.
What we call second causes in nature, then, are only
secondary workings of the great First Cause. Miracle is no more divine than is law, and the ordinary operations of nature are workings of God just as much as is the raising of the dead. While miracle is God's unique action, natural law is his habitual action. All parts of the universe are bound together by the constant, regular, rational will of Christ. Evolution has new light thrown upon it from the point of view of Ethical Monism. It is disarmed of all its terrors for theology the moment it is regarded as only the common method of Christ our Lord. It is only the scientific statement of a great Christian truth, the truth that the ever-present Christ accomplishes his purposes gradually, making the past the prophecy of the future and building the complex future upon foundations of the simple past. From lower to higher is his rule. The transcendent God is working through Christ in the whole creation and revealing himself according to an ever-unfolding plan. Creation is just as much his act as it was before, but it is creation from within, if I may use a spatial term of that which has no relation to space. Why can we not believe in a God who creates from within as well as in a God who creates only from without? Why can we not believe in a God who is in the process, and who manifests himself through the process, but who is yet unexhausted by the process, and who reinforces the process, at times, in a miraculous way such as Darwinism and materialistic evolution make no allowance for? Let us look upon the breaks in the orderly progress of the world, such as the introduction of vegetable life, of animal life, of man, of Christ, together with conversions like that of Paul, and reformations like that of Luther, simply as movements of the Spirit of God from within. I do not deny creation; I believe in it with all my heart. The world has had a beginning, and it is the work of God's sovereign power in Christ. But I no longer conceive of the successive acts of creation as the bringing into being out of nothing of new substances that are outside of and different from God. I believe in creation, but I have a new conception of the method of creation. I interpret it from the point of view of God's immanence, and I regard God's transcendence as inexhaustibleness of resource rather than as mere outsideness in space.
How long a time is occupied each year by the actual growth of the tree? Some people have the notion that the tree grows all the year round. But the trained observer knows that the deposit of woody matter between the bark and the trunk goes on for less than six weeks. There comes a month of sunshine and south wind in the springtime, and suddenly the long winter's quiet is broken and the work of a whole year is done. Outward influences are occasions, but the cause is within, and the uniqueness and rapidity of the effect do not blind us to the fact that intermittency may be the method of immanency. So all physical elements are perfectly plastic in God's hands, and miracle is just as credible as regular and uniform action, if the need of it in the moral development of the universe is only demonstrated. If natural law is only the common activity of God, then miracle becomes comprehensible, for there is a present God to work it, and what seems a sudden break and change is only the putting forth in greater energy of the same divine will that constitutes the essence of nature.
It is this unification of all things in God that gives religion its new claim upon our time. George John Romanes could not see the cogency of the argument from special design, but at last the conviction was borne in upon him that it was irrational to deny design in the whole.
"How is it," he says, "that all physical causes conspire, by their united action, to the production of a general order of nature? It is against all analogy to suppose that such an end as this can be accomplished by such means as . . . mere chance or the fortuitous concourse of atoms. We are led by the most fundamental dictates of our reason to conclude that there must be some cause for this co-operation of causes."
And Romanes, after twenty-five years in which no prayer was uttered because second causes seemed to exclude a First Cause, was brought back to prayer and faith and Christ and the church by considering that, "if there be a personal God, no reason can be assigned why he should not be immanent in nature, or why all [natural] causation should not be the immediate expression of his will. . . It is no argument against the divine origin of any thing or event to prove that it is due to natural causation."
"How true it is," as this long struggling but finally triumphant seeker after truth declares, "how true it is that God is still grudged his own universe, as far and as often as he possibly can be." It is a great gain to religion to learn that second causes are but secondary workings of the great First Cause Ethical Monism finds this Cause in Christ—it is he alone who makes this a universe. And this is true even in spite of the existence of moral evil. The regularities of natural law are teaching us something of the solemn uniformity of moral law. Heredity is making comprehensible the doctrine of original sin. The principle of evolution is enabling us to understand the development of the race in its apostasy as well as in its renewal by divine grace. Darwin acknowledged that natural selection might lead downward as well as upward, and so we have human history witnessing to a gradual deterioration of early religions and of early morality. Huxley declared that the moral and religious development of the race requires the bringing in of principles that antagonize and reverse its natural tendencies, and this is precisely what is made known by revelation as the method of Christ. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus frees us from the law of sin and death, and a new and holy evolution begins, the power and principle of which is the Son of God. Why should we regret the publication and acceptance of the doctrine of evolution, if it reveals to us the method of Christ's working both in nature and in grace? We can make use of means more intelligently, we can put up with the day of small things more patiently, we can see God in the world more universally, if we believe in a divine Christ who fills all things with his life and power, and who is conducting the movements of the planets and the march of human history.
Nature reveals a present God, and evolution is the common method of his working. It is from this point of view that we explain the imperfections of the natural world. These are partial and elementary lessons in God's great scheme of instruction, to be understood only in their connection with the whole. The plan of EVOLUTION THE METHOD OF CHRIST 75
God is a plan of growth—not first the spiritual and then the natural, but first the natural and then the spiritual. The process is to be interpreted not by its beginning, but by its ending. Only when we see man arriving upon the scene of action, and especially when we see Christ, in whom humanity assumes its divine form, do we see the meaning of the long succession of rock and fish and beast that went before. There was much of strife and pain and death in the animal creation, but we see that all this tended to the production of higher and higher forms of life. In spite of the apparent waste and warfare, there were already impulses to paternal and maternal self-sacrifice. In every lion's den and tiger's lair there was not only reproduction, but there was care for offspring. Before you can have natural selection, you must have something from which to select. As Professor Drummond has so beautifully shown in his "Ascent of Man," the struggle for life is accompanied and even preceded by struggle for the life of others. The dominating thought of the whole system is that of improvement by self-sacrifice, the subordination of the selfish to the social, the bringing in of larger and broader and better life by the surrender of individual and local and narrow interests. In short, the principle of the cross is seen in the whole creation. The final self-sacrifice and self-surrender of the Son of God is already typified and prophesied in the self-abnegation of the lower orders of existence, and even the beginnings of altruism are explicable only when we remember that Christ is the life of all.
The critics of Ethical Monism are troubled because they fancy that the doctrine represents God as incarnated in the clod, the stone, the tiger, and the snake, not to speak of the idiot and the devil. But their fears are without foundation. These creations of God are only varied manifestations of his creative wisdom or of his punitive justice, while in Christ alone is he incarnated. Ethical Monism makes man and not God responsible for physical and moral evil.
We can meet the difficulty, however, only by going to the root of it, and this we proceed to do. We suppose that even the critics will agree that the lowest and the most abnormal types of creation derived their being originally from God, and, however much they may have fallen from their first estate, are still upheld by him from hour to hour. The only controversy is with regard to the method of this creation and upholding. The claim of Ethical Monism is that no creature of God is self-subsistent, but that all live in him. The opposite view is essentially deistic. It puts dishonor upon God's works by ignoring the life of God which is in them all. It is only because of this immanence of God in his universe that the study of the diatom and the rock, the chemical atom and the starry firmament, the infant mind and the developed soul, are of any dignity or significance. Not only do the heavens declare the glory of God, but all his works praise him; yes, even the wild beasts of the forest manifest his skill and wisdom. Sin has entered into the creation and has to a large extent warped and perverted it. The laws of nature, which are only the habits of God, are so ordained that they detect and expose and punish this sin—the earth itself, in fact, is devised as the congruous theatre for the great drama of moral apostasy and recovery. But just as
God ordains sin only in the sense of permitting it, so he ordains the tiger and the snake, in part at least, as incidents of sin and as illustrations of its consequences. The animal nature in man is a good thing; it becomes evil only when it rebels against the higher nature and subjects that higher nature to its control. If we can recognize a divine element in man, we can also recognize a divine element in the brute beasts which are mere appendages of man and share in his pain and degradation. The whole creation that groans and travails in pain together is but the inarticulate expression of the Spirit, who grieves over the ruin sin has wrought and fills with sympathetic groaning the heart of the Christian. God is not a simple being, lifted up above all the sorrow of the world; he is infinitely complex. As Tennyson has written:
All nature widens upward : evermore
The simpler essence lower lies;
More complex is more perfect, owning more
Discourse, more widely wise;
and it is only when we gather together the results of the study of the whole cosmos, animate and inanimate, rational and irrational, and see it dominated by a moral purpose and summed up in Christ, that we can begin to discern the manifold wisdom of God.
There is a dualism in nature, then, that reflects the dualism in man; or, rather, God's regular volitions, which constitute nature, only illustrate and reflect the warring state of man's soul. The beasts of the field and the fowl of the air and the fish of the sea have been put under man's feet. Since man is a fallen being, they participate in his abnormity. The same God who brings disease to man's body as the penalty of his sin reveals his justice in nature, man's larger tenement and dwelling-place, by involving it in blight and earthquake, pain and corruption and death. And it is no more beneath God's dignity thus to manifest himself in nature and in the brute than it was on the old theory for him to create nature and the brute. In fact the difference between the old theory and the new is not a difference in facts, but a difference in the interpretation of the facts. And my claim is that the monistic solution is in every way preferable to that of absolute and unqualified dualism. The problem is a difficult one at best, but a universe that manifests God is more intelligible than a universe that is forsaken by God.
And yet I accept Ethical Monism because of the light which it throws upon the atonement rather than for the sake of its Christian explanation of evolution. For many years my classes propounded to me the ques« tion: How could Christ justly bear the sins of mankind? The theories which held to an external and mechanical transfer of guilt became increasingly untenable, yet Scripture and the Christian conscience alike declared that only by his stripes we were healed. It was a great day for me when I first saw that there was a natural union of Christ with all men which preceded the incarnation—that all men in fact were created and had their being in him, and that therefore he who was the ground and principle of their life, though personally pure, must bear their sins and iniquities. I saw that the incarnation and suffering of the Son of God in history were only the manifestation and visible setting forth in time and space of a great atonement by the
Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. It was through the eternal Spirit that he offered himself without spot to God, and his historical suffering redeemed the race only because it was the manifestation of an everlasting fact in the being of God.
Three objections have been urged against this explanation of the atonement, and a brief consideration of them must conclude my discussion. It has been said that this view makes Christ's atonement compulsory; makes it universal and eternal both in the case of angels and of men; makes the offerer of it no more divine than all the sons of men are divine. To the objection that it makes Christ's atonement compulsory, I reply that the doctrine only puts Christ's original act of free surrender farther back and makes the sacrifice contemporaneous with creation. If the great plan of the universe held its own, then it must needs be that Christ should suffer. But the plan of the universe was conceived in perfect freedom. That free and eternal act of choice was ratified, moreover, in every successive act of Christ's human life. With every new exigency there arose the question whether present feeling or past consecration should rule, and in every case the decision was freely made to keep his will in accord with the will of the Father. There was ever the abstract possibility of inconsistency. The same freedom which initiated the plan might abrogate the plan; the same will that created humanity might annihilate humanity. Christ could call upon his Father and twelve legions of angels would come forth to rescue him. But his freedom was identical with moral necessity; the cup which his Father gave him to drink, should he not drink it? Just as we do not minimize the humiliation of the Son of God, but rather enlarge our conceptions of it by conceiving of it as determined upon in eternity in the bosom of the Father, so we do not minimize the atonement, but rather enlarge our conceptions of it when we say that the historical process was the manifestation and fulfillment of an age-long suffering endured by Christ on account of his connection with the race from the very first moment of their sin.
Indeed, I am persuaded that only when we regard Christ's suffering for sin in the flesh as the culmination and expression of his natural relation to humanity can we deliver his atonement from the charge of arbitrariness or claim for it the confidence of thoughtful men. But this suggests the second objection that, if the atonement is the result of Christ's natural union with humanity, then Christ's atonement has not ceased, his sacrifice is perpetual, and so long as sin exists Christ must suffer. I accept all the consequences and I affirm that the Scripture gives me warrant for so doing. A God of love and holiness must be a God of suffering just so certainly as there is sin. To say that he can look unmoved upon the impurity and misery of his creatures is to deny his essential deity. The Holy Spirit, who strove with men before the incarnation, is grieved by the sins of Christians since the incarnation, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Paul declares that he fills up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ for his body's sake, which is the church; in other words, Christ still suffers in the believers who are his body. The historical suffering, indeed, is ended; the agony of Golgotha is finished; the days when joy ATONEMENT GROUNDED IN CREATION 81
was swallowed up in sorrow are past; death has now no more dominion over our Lord. But sorrow for sin is not ended ; it still continues and will continue so long as sin exists. But it does not now militate against Christ's blessedness, because the sorrow is overbalanced and overborne by the infinite knowledge and glory of his divine nature.
There is a strange way of judging on the part of immature Christians. They fancy that joy and sorrow are incompatible. Hence they pursue joy only to find sorrow. It will help such Christians to know that only as they suffer with Christ can they reign with him, and that the reigning as well as the suffering are present facts and experiences. I need a present atonement as much as the patriarchs did. The knowledge that Christ now suffers for my sin is the strongest motive to keep me from my sin. And the duty of bearing the burden of souls will never be strongly felt until there is some understanding of the fact that Christ bears that burden and only asks us to share it with him. It is only when we know the fellowship of his sufferings that the joy of the Lord becomes ours. I know that the idea of Christ suffering in and with the whole sinning and groaning creation, bearing sorrow on account of wicked men and even of demons in hell, because he is the ground of their being and the source of their natural life, is far away from the thoughts of most men. But it is none the less rational and scriptural, for in him all things were created, in him all things consist, and he upholds all things by the word of his power. Bushnell and Beecher were right when they maintained that suffering for sin was the natural consequence of Christ's relation to the
sinning creation. They were wrong in mistaking the nature of that suffering and in not seeing that the constitution of things which necessitates it, since it is the expression of God's holiness, gives that suffering a penal character and makes Christ a substitutionary offering for the sins of the world.
Are angels then redeemed also? They too were created in Christ; they "consist" in him; he must suffer in their sin; God would save them if he consistently could. Yet the Scriptures declare that Christ did not "lay hold" of them to rescue them, though he did lay hold of the seed of Abraham. Why did he not? Perhaps because their sin was like the sin against the Holy Ghost, committed against the fullest light and leaving no susceptibility for redemption; perhaps, also, because their incorporeal nature gives no chance for Christ to objectify his grace and visibly to join himself to them. Whatever the reason for their exclusion from the provisions of redemption, we may be sure that that exclusion was not arbitrary, any more than is the election of believers. God does all for the salvation of all his sinning creatures that he can wisely and consistently do. To every sinner, even to Satan himself, it can be said, "Thou hast destroyed thyself." There is everlasting punishment, but it is not because of God's arbitrary decree. The sinner makes his own doom, in spite of all God can do to save him. Eternal punishment is the solemn correlative of freedom. The proof of man's original greatness is found in the depths of his fall. Because he was naturally a partaker of the divine nature and was made in the image of God, he could convert the process of evolution into a process of degradation, Christ's Relation To Angels And Men 83
could reverse the ascending spiritual movement and make it a descending movement, could by the abuse of free-will turn himself into a brute and a demon forever.
Though God be good and free be heaven,
Not force divine can love compel;
And, though the songs of sins forgiven
Might sound through lowest hell,
The sweet persuasion of his voice
Respects the sanctity of will.
He giveth day: thou hast thy choice
To walk in darkness still!
But finally, does not this doctrine make any true atonement impossible by regarding Christ as no more divine than any other of the sons of men? The answer is furnished to us in the words of Paul, "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Christ is not distinguished from men in Scripture by being of a different substance from humanity, but rather by having that substance in its completeness and perfection. Unlike our limitations, all his limitations were self-limitations. He was personally distinct from the Father, but he had a common nature with the Father, so that while in one sense he and the Father were two, in another sense they were one. As Doctor Stalker has said: "Christ was not half a God and half a man, but he was perfectly God and perfectly man." All men are physically and intellectually sons of God, but since the fall only Christ is morally and spiritually Son of God. The sinless and perfect man is such because the Spirit is given without measure to him. He is the representative and ideal man, because he is the fully manifested God. Divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive. In rough and popular language we may say that humanity is finite divinity and divinity is infinite humanity. But since the gulf between the finite and the infinite is itself infinite, the difference between them is not simply a difference of degree, it is also a difference of kind. The anthropomorphism which is so inevitable is the normal movement of mind by which we recognize the true nature of God. When we take human fatherhood and human sonship and make them ideal and infinite, we are not misinterpreting, but only interpreting, the Godhead. Christ is the only begotten Son, because he is not only finite but infinite, the archetype and source of humanity, the original and eternal humanity in the heart of God. Of him, the eternal Son, all finite sons of God are but partial and temporal manifestations. What the Unitarian calls God we call Christ, and if the consubstantiality of man and God had been recognized a century ago by orthodox believers, the Unitarian defection would have been impossible.
I cannot think that this identification of humanity with Christ works anything but good in our interpretation of the atonement. For we need now no complicated theory of the two natures and of the union between them. We have at the same time and in the same Being complete and sinless humanity combined with suffering and atoning divinity. Man needs a human Lord and King, and Christianity satisfies this need of the soul. But the universal worship of Christ is not idolatry, because in worshiping the complete and perfect man, we are worshiping the only complete and perfect manifestation of God. The Son of Man is also the Son of God, and his human life and sacrificial suffering are
the only adequate manifestations of that uncreated Being, that infinite perfection, that hidden trinitarian life, which is the ground and subject of all revelation. "No man hath seen God at anytime," and him "no man can see"; "the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed him." The individual man, however exalted his powers and however noble his character, presents but a detached and colored ray of the Sun of Righteousness, in whose infinite glory all these scattered rays find their source and are blended into pure white light. Once only in the history of this sincursed planet the Maker of all, the Life of nature and of man, took by supernatural conception an individual human form, lived a human life, and showed by his bearing of sin and death how he had been affected by human transgression ever since the fall. Both law and grace, penalty and redemption, became personalized, objectified, demonstrated, as they could never have been while hidden in the heart of God, and so Christ became the power of God for human salvation.
My doctrine, then, is psychological dualism combined with metaphysical or philosophical monism. I trust I have made upon my readers the impression that the doctrine is thoroughly Christian, in that it exalts and honors Christ by making him Lord of all. It does this not only theoretically, but practically. It makes plain that, since he is God manifested, Deity revealed, divinity brought down to our human comprehension and engaged in the work of our salvation, he is the only name given under heaven among men whereby we may be saved, the only way, the only truth, the only life, for our souls. Since he is the only revealer of God, to whom else shall we go for truth but to him? Since he is the only source of being, to whom else shall we go for salvation? To accept him is to accept God, and to reject him is to turn our backs on God. I have heard that during our Civil War, a swaggering, drunken, blaspheming officer insulted and almost drove from the dock at Alexandria a plain, unoffending man in citizen's dress; but I have also heard that that same officer turned pale, fell on his knees, and begged for mercy, when the plain man demanded his sword, put him under arrest, and made himself known as General Grant. So we may abuse and reject the Lord Jesus Christ, and fancy that we can ignore his claims and disobey his commands with impunity; but it will seem to us a more serious thing when we find at the last that he whom we have abused and rejected is none other than the living God before whose judgment-bar we are to stand.