PHlLOSOPHY AND RELlGlON.*
On the last page of "Tom Brown at Rugby" there is a vivid and soulful picture of Tom's return, years after his school-days are ended, to the scene of his early scrapes and trinmphs. He enters the chapel and once more takes his seat on the lowest bench, in the very place he occupied as a little boy on his first Sunday at Rugby. On the oaken paneling he sees scratched the name of the youngster who sat that day by his side. Upon the great painted window the same shadows of the trees seem dancing that drew his thoughts from service and sermon long ago. The chapel is empty now. No rows of boys fill the benches. The solid English face that burned with such intensity of love for truth and such noble scorn of moral cowardice looks down no longer from the pulpit. "The Doctor," the great Arnold, sleeps now under the stone pavement of the chapel-floor. As Tom Brown meditates, there seem to rise before him the forms of the living and the dead whom he once met there — many of them braver and purer than he, yet scarcely known till now. Now, for the first time, he comprehends his debt to them and to him whose commanding spirit bound them all together. The lofty teachings of that sacred place assume an aspect of ideal grandeur that awes, inspires and rebukes him. Humbled in spirit, and melted to grateful tears, he kneels before the altar, at the grave of Arnold, and renews his vows of -consecration to that greater Master to whom Arnold led him.
The day of our return to these haunts of our early learning, brethren of the Alumni, is in like manner a day of mingled sorrow and joy. There is a reverent regard for those at whose feet we sat which makes these scenes sacred to us, though in the presence of the living it finds only a faint expression in words. There is thankfulness of spirit, as we gather from different parts of the great harvest-field and rejoice together over the blessing that has followed our labors. Though the sheaves we bring are not so many nor Bo large as we had hoped, and "old Adam has proved too strong for young Melancthon," yet there is a confidence within us, which we never could have had without these years of experience, that old Adam is not too strong for Christ. Before us too there rise the faces of some whose work is all complete and whose souls have entered into rest. A little musing, a little forgetfulness of the sights and sounds around us, and
"The forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true hearted,
Come to visit us once more.
* An Address before the Alumni of the Rochester Theological Seminary, at their annual meeting. May 20th, 1868, and printed in the Baptist Quarterly, 2 :393 ar/.
They, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,—
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary of the march of life."
In the presence of these memories we are subdued and yet exalted. Our noblest resolves are strengthened by the thought that "such as these have lived and died." But a more than mortal presence is here also. Christ is here — the same Christ into whose hands we gave our lives as we went out into the world's great strife. His truth remains — the same truth of which we gained glimpses during those early years of preparation, but which now nils a larger arc of our vision. It would seem that the only fitting employment for such an hour as this must be the consideration of some one of those great relations which affect our success as ministers of Christ, and which have to do with the defense and propagation of the faith. I am sure that no preacher who has received his training here will deem me unpractical when I propose as the theme of the evening: Philosophy And Religion. I ask your attention to three separate divisions of my subject: first, the debt of religion to philosophy; secondly, the dangers of philosophy the dangers of religion also; and thirdly, an impartial philosophy essential to the perfect triumph of religion.
Religion may be viewed in two aspects, according as we look upon its speculative or its practical side. It may exist in the mind of a child, in the shape of revereuce, love, and trust towards God, long before the child has given any conscious account to itself of its faith. It may exist, on the other hand, in the mind of the scientific theologian, in the shape of a thoroughly digested doctrinal system, though the system may not yet have melted the heart and run the activities of the life into its moulds. Let it never be forgotten, however, that either one of these sides of religion tends to complete itself by the production of the other. Like positive and negative electricity, the one attracts the other, and without the other cannot be made perfect. The child, for example, grows to maturity of years. Every step of that growing maturity is marked by an increasing habit of introspection. The faith that once seemed intuitive assumes definite form and order to the reason. The truths once held by the intellect in a state of solution are precipitated and crystallized about some centre. As the nebular hypothesis supposes a revolving fire-mist diffused throughout the universe, which condenses as it whirls, until the worlds are thrown off with their harmonious movements and their perfect beauty, so the child's faith, once vague and unreasoning, cannot exist forever in the form of nebula, but turns and seethes and solidifies, until it comes to be a little solar system for interdependence and order. And, in like manner, the student of scientific theology must shut his ears continually to the voices that fill the air of that lofty region of thought, if he would prevent the religion of the intellect from becoming a religion of the heart. Both Chalmers and De Wette were men with whom the scientific interest became at last a practical interest, and who found theology a school-master to lead them to Christ.
Now religion, as a scientific system, rests upon a basis of philosophy. The inevitable tendency of the mind to form to itself a definite and connected scheme of knowledge impels it, not only to bring its religious beliefs into connection and order, but to search for the foundations of those beliefs. It cannot content itself with theology proper. Besides giving to the truths of revelation a scientific form, it desires to know what are the proofs of revelation, and what are the evidences that a God exists from whom a revelation might come. There can be no peace to the logical understanding until these questions are answered; but the answer to them is impossible without philosophy. For, this is the difference between theology and philosophy: Theology begins with the revelation of God and the consciousness of God, and from these, by a synthetic method, constructs her system. Philosophy, on the other hand, begins with those underlying facts of mind and matter from which we argue the existence of a God, and the authority of revelation. Pursuing an analytic method, it asks whether we have any real knowledge of these facts; it seeks to give an accurate and complete account of these facts; it aims to determine whether these facts warrant the erection upon them of so vast a superstructure. Any one who has traveled in Holland will remember those marvelous cities that have risen from the beds of ancient marshes, supported upon myriads of piles driven into the yielding soil. Many a church is towerless there, because the foundations cannot be trusted to bear a greater weight. Many a wall on private streets is cracked from top to bottom by the settling of the piles beneath it. Many a grain-merchant, with tons of golden corn stored in his granary, passes his days and nights in fear, lest some unusual weight may reveal a weakness in the supports beneath. Let it be whispered that the foundations of the Town-Hall of Amsterdam are sinking, and there is no quieting the town until men of experience have examined those foundations, and found them sure. Now it is a most serious question whether religion, so far as it is a scientific system, is like one of those immense structures in the Netherlands that are built upon the sand, and may, some years from now, give way and tumble to the ground; or whether, like St. Peter's at Rome, its foundations go down to the everlasting rock. And philosophy is the science of foundations. It busies itself with the examination of the grounds of faith. It seeks to determine whether religion has a safe basis and support in the facts of consciousness.
There is still another service which philosophy renders to religion, namely, that of defining and correlating the great primary conceptions of revelation. The ideas of conscience, virtue, liberty, providence, God, are given to us by revelation in the concrete. Philosophy seeks either to analyze them or to show that they are incapable of analysis, and having ascertained their intrinsic significance, aims to set them in reconciliation with the remaining facts of our mental constitution, and with our observation of the world. So far as theology argues from the mental constitution of man, indeed, she must get her facts from philosophy. Her doctrine of the will, and her determination of the limits of the human faculties, her application of realism to the unity of the race, and her theory of the true end of being, must all be ultimately given her by the prior philosophy with which she sets out in her investigations. Both in her account of the universe and in her account of God, theology is obliged to combine with the facts of revelation the facts of consciousness, since only through consciousness have we any personal knowledge of either. We stand between God and the world. We must interpret matter by mind, and God by mind, and that interpretation is impossible without a philosophy of mind. Upon the front of the temple of Apollo at Delphi, Plutarch declares that the two Greek letters Epsilon Iota were inscribed. It was the word "Thou art!"— and this, John Howe, in his preface to the "Living Temple," interprets to be an assertion of the eternal existence of the god. But upon that same temple-front, according to an old tradition, was another inscription,—this namely: "Know thyself!" May it not be that the Puritan divine gave the Epsilon Iota a wrong interpretation, and that both the inscriptions had one common object — to admonish him who entered the sacred fane that all knowledge of divinity must proceed from self-knowledge ?" Thou art, O soul! Know then thyself! Understand first thine own existence and attributes, so shalt thou best know the divine, of which thou art the image." So at the gate of the temple of Theology the inscription might well be placed: "Thou art! Know thyself!" for a true knowledge of mind is indispensable to a scientific exposition of religion.
I do not forget, however, that something more than abstract reasoning is needed, to set forth convincingly the debt which religion owes to philosophy. Let me ask you for a moment to look at the matter in the light of history. Have you ever reflected upon the remarkable difference in form that exists between Augustine and Calvin,— between the massy ore of Augustine's theologizing and the stamped and minted coin of Calvin's Institutes? Both held the same great fundamental doctrines, but Calvin has put them into a scientific order and organized them into a comprehensive system which would have been utterly impossible in Augustine's day. No one can fail to see that between the fourth and the sixteenth centuries theology has made a great advance in arrangement, in compactness, in logical force, in practical power. And to what shall we attribute this advance? To nothing more or less than the influence of that Aristotle, whom Luther called "anaccursed, mischief-making heathen." It was the study of Aristotle which first made theology a science, and rendered possible a Calvin. That mighty movement of the human mind which we call Scholasticism, with its noble attempts to define and prove every doctrine of religion on principles of reason, and its rich results for modern philosophical theology, was a child of Aristotle's logic. By it, the matter of theology, received from Augustine, and full therefore of his Platonic realism and soaring contempt for matter, was worked up into new shape for the uses of the coming times. Thus both the Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies, one at heart though different in method, have disciplined the forces of theology and made them available. And their influence is felt the moment we compare Augustine, in whose works the truths of religion lie scattered about like raw recruits bivouacked for the night, with Calvin, who draws up those same truths like soldiers in line of battle, ready on the instant for attack or defense. Men may decry philosophy, but it is only by ignoring what philosophy has wrought. Still those sceptred kings of abstract thought control the minds of living men, and rule us from their urns. Take away the influence of Plato and Aristotle, and you put a scientific theology where John of Damascus found it eleven centuries ago.
There is little time to mention the services of modern philosophical thinkers to religion. Who can overestimate the magnificent contribution to our knowledge of the ethical nature of God which Bishop Butler made, when he propounded and demonstrated his celebrated doctrine of the supremacy of conscience in the moral constitution of man? What but the works of Coleridge, splendid even in their incompleteness, rescued the theological thinking of England from the slough of utilitarianism and materialism into which Locke and Paley had led it, and by setting it upon the rock of a true spiritual philosophy, gave it a foothold and vantage-ground from which to contend against the incoming flood of German pantheism? The mere mention of these facts is sufficient to show that there is no possibility of understanding the history of theology without a previous study of philosophy. Nor is the effect of philosophy confined simply to the modification of systems of abstract theology. Whatever affects theology comes ultimately to affect the practical experience and working of Christianity. Through its influence on theology, philosophy exercises the most potent influence upon the whole religious life of the church. I find Bancroft, himself no theologian, depicting in these words the influence of Jonathan Edwards' speculations with regard to the nature of virtue and the freedom of the will. "Edwards," he says, "makes a turning-point in the intellectual, or as he would have called it, the spiritual, history of New England. The faith condensed in the symbols of Calvinism demanded to be subjected to free inquiry, and ' without dodging, shuffling, hiding, or turning the back,' to be shown to be in harmony with reason and common sense. In the age following, the influence of Edwards is discernible upon every leading mind. He that will trace the transition of Calvinism from a haughty self-assertion of the doctrine of election against the pride of oppression, to its adoption of love as the central point of its view of creation and the duty of the created,—he that will know the workings of the mind of New England in the middle of the last century, and the throbbings of its heart, must give his days and nights to the study of Jonathan Edwards." Thus a single philosophic mind may change for the better the style of religion for a whole generation, or a whole century. The number influenced consciously and directly by him may be few; the great mass of men who come after him, may be quite unaware of his existence; still his power over them is no less sure. There is a slow movement of the glaciers in the Alps by which the snow that fell years ago upon the summit of Mont Blanc or the Jungfrau comes down at last in the shape of solid ice to the valleys far below, and by its melting furnishes a refreshing draught to the tired laborer in the meadows as he throws himself upon the earth for his noonday meal. It is so with the speculations of abstract thinkers. Conceived upon the very mountain-tops of thought they may be, yet by a law as irresistible as that of gravitation they find their way downwards, through subordinate interpreters, and by a thousand channels of the printed page and the spoken word, until they reach the homes and hearts of common men.
I have thus indicated the debt which religion, both as a system and a life, owes to philosophy. It cannot have escaped your notice that the same weapon which has struck such stout blows for Christianity has often been used against her. And this brings me to the second division of my theme, namely this: The dangers of philosophy are the dangers also of religion. I say the dangers of philosophy, for I cannot conceal from myself the fact that through the whole history of speculation there has been a constant tendency to one or the other of two extremes. The great principle, which Robertson so remarkably illustrated in the better portion of his teachings, that truth is made up of two opposite propositions and is not found in the via media between the two, is a principle which both philosophy and theology have quite too often neglected. Theology, for example, has two factors given to her, both indisputably true, yet logically irreconcilable with one another — I mean, divine sovereignty and human freedom. Between these two poles the world of theologic thought has been swinging for ages like a pendulum. And yet how often has an inveterate and unregulated passion for unity led the theologian to construct his system about one of these poles as its centre, while the other was virtually ignored or forgotten. So, in philosophy, all consciousness involves duality. There are two things different in kind — matter and spirit. To accept the veritable existence of the one, and to deny the other, is to falsify the most palpable of facts. Yet an overweening logic has sought, in every age, to build a scheme of knowledge upon a single one of these two elements, while the other has been pared down to fit into some odd niche in the temple where its twin-brother was the sole object of worship. Thus have risen systems of Idealism, declaring virtually that matter is spirit; systems of Materialism, declaring that spirit is matter; and then for those who could not find either of these schemes to their taste, systems of Absolute Identity, declaring that both matter and spirit are but forms of one substance which underlies both, a sort of substantia una et unica. All of these systems, as has been well said, are seductive from their seeming simplicity, but are simple only through mutilation. Let us acknowledge that there is not only a passion for unity, which is native to the mind, but that there must be in all science a real unity of which that same mind furnishes us the type; but let us never fail to allow the facts of consciousness to decide the nature of that unity. Let the modern chemist, like Youmans, believe if he will that all the elements of matter which have hitherto been considered simple are merely modifications of some one ultimate substance which exists in forms even more unlike each other than the black charcoal and the glittering diamond; let him insist, as much as he pleases, that science already proclaims this to be her belief by expressing the atomic weights of all her elements in multiples of hydrogen, and by her hypothesis that heat, motion, light and electricity are all forms of some one ultimate force into which they are mutually convertible, — but there let him stop. When he goes further and asserts that mind is but this same force liberated and transformed by chemical changes in the brain; when he declares that this search for unity is so irresistible a feature of our mental constitution that we cannot believe in the existence of spirit and matter, but must by a necessity of mind resolve one into the other, or both into one, he is simply throttling the facts of mind, with the hope that, as dead men tell no tales, he can build up a complete system solely upon the facts of matter. Such a manipulation of facts to suit a preconceived theory falsifies the very principle of induction upon which all science is based. To dispose of half the facts of consciousness by denying that mind is essentially distinct from matter is to achieve unity at the sacrifice of all our knowledge. Such a method of solving the great problem of the universe reminds us of that grim familiar tale of the cannibal-chief who professed conversion, but was informed by the missionary that he must renounce polygamy by giving up his second wife, before he could receive the ordinance of baptism. On the return of the missionary the following year, the chief presented himself with smiles for the holy rite, and on being interrogated as to what he had done with his wife, he replied with a glow of satisfaction: "Me eat her!"
Any theory of philosophy which is based upon a monistic hypothesis, and which denies the facts of either matter or mind, must exert a deadly influence upon theology and religion. The ultimate conclusion must be that God is the universe or that the universe is God — in other words, there is no God separate from the soul or the world. And in the precise proportion to which the view of mind leans to one or the other extreme, will the religious thinking of the individual and the age lean towards Materialism or Pantheism. There are two men who have figured largely in theological controversy whose opposite conclusions may illustrate this two-fold danger. There is John Henry Newman—apparently concerning himself but little with philosophy, yet having his whole theology and life dominated by a purely metaphysical notion. In his "Apologia Pro Vita Sua," he tells us that from his very boyhood he carried with him a certain constitutional frame of mind resembling the Berkeleian Idealism. "All the external universe" (I quote from a late writer), "seemed to him a deception, an angelic extravaganza, a spangled phantasmagory of zodiacal signs and hieroglyphics, a vivid environment of sacramental symbolisms and picture-writings, speaking to him of a Great Being, besides whom and his own soul there was no other. Dwelling long within the blazing cabalistic ether of this cosmological conception, till his soul had learned its language and could think in no other, but tenacious of a principle which had also strongly possessed him from an .early age, that of the necessity of dogma, Dr. Newman passed on gradually but logically to his peculiar ecclesiasticism, and became what he has become "— one of the most unquestioning adherents and advocates of the Romish faith. And there, on the other hand, is Joseph Priestley—beginning with a tendency precisely the opposite, fixing his faith on nothing which had not the evidence of sense impressed upon it, and unable even to conceive of a spiritual idea until he had cast it into a material mould. As you watch his mental progress you perceive him getting his notions of mind from retorts and -electrical machines, until Hartley's theory of vibrations, with slight modifications, seems to include and explain all the facts of our mental constitution. And from this sensational philosophy what theology was evolved? Nothing more nor less than a bald Socinianism which ignored all the profounder truths of revelation, left nothing in Christ which could be worshiped, and reduced Christian experience to a mere matter of the reason. Newman and Priestley are examples of the pernicious influence upon theology of a philosophy which, without avowing it, leans to one of the two extremes of Idealism or Empiricism. I surely do not need to point you to the malign influences which have been exerted on a wider scale by whole systems of philosophy. The Sensationalism of Locke, developed and carried to its extremest results by Condillac and the French Encyclopaedists, poured over France like a torrent, sweeping away all belief in man's spiritual dignity, and with the conviction of human accountability and immortality, burying beneath the flood all idea of a God, until the Revolution came to clear away the rubbish and make room once more for the faiths that had been destroyed.
And on the other hand the Kantian philosophy, with its extreme subjective tendencies developed by Schelling and Hegel, declared that man could know all by being himself the All in miniature, even as the drop of water can reflect upon its surface the earth beneath and all the constellations of the cope of heaven. While Empiricism ended in the absolute denial of a God, Idealism found its consummation in a Pantheistic scheme which confounded the universe with God, and made all human lives and actions but the brilliant bubbles that rise for a moment and then disappear upon the endless current of impersonal and unconscious being.
With these systems before us, and with the practical evidence of their power for evil in the pervading tendency and tone of modern Continental theology and religion and in the general skepticism of the French and German mind, it is vain to ignore the dangers which rise from a false philosophy. Yet I suspect another danger is before us, as great or even greater than any which Christianity has met and conquered. There is a philosophy now rising to power which seems to me more deadly than any other, because it consists in the denial of all philosophy. A philosophy of Nescience is worse than a philosophy of Omniscience. The one still leaves us the reality of mind from which to argue the existence of a God. The other, like Nero, when he wished that all the people of Rome had one neck that he might at one blow behead them all, gathers all the facts of mental consciousness together and by a single stroke puts them out of existence. By that same stroke that destroys all knowledge of the human mind you have destroyed all knowledge of Him who made the mind. In every production of writers of this class, as Lewes and Draper, you seem to hear the jubilant refrain: "Great Pan is dead. The age of Metaphysics has happily ended. Philosophy is forever impossible." A spontaneous vegetative life is substituted for the apprehension of spiritual realities. Mind is but a product of organization and thought is only cerebration. Thus in effect man is bidden to act the part of the wretched miser of Bunyan's dream who bends ever toward the earth, gathering straws with his muck-rake, while all the while a golden crown hangs suspended just above him, unseen and unregarded. God, heaven, freedom, conscience, immortality, are all the diseased imaginations of an unscientific age. These are the logical results of a philosophy which starts with the denial of any direct knowledge of the mind. But there are thousands who accept its principles without foreseeing these results. The array of investigators and followers who may be classed as Positivists in philosophy is very great. There are great names among them. Mill and Bain and Spencer in England are minds of rare erudition and acumen. But there are lesser satellites that revolve about these suns of the system and reflect their light. The youthful writers for the London Times quote John Stuart Mill as the only authority in philosophy. There are itinerant lecturers among us who winter after winter deliver, to audiences innocent of all suspicion of their drift, lengthy tirades against metaphysics, and arguments to show that the observation of our own mental states is as impossible and absurd as to stand still and walk around one's self. There are in all our Sabbath congregations men who drink in this philosophy of Nescience from magazines and scientific periodicals, and who are prepared thereby to look upon the sermon from the pulpit as so much pleasant moonshine for purblind intellects that cannot bear the sunlight. There are few of us, I am persuaded, who realize to what extent this godless philosophy has taken hold of the educated minds of the generation, and has warped their views of religion. You see the results of it in the disposition of certain divines to accept Mr. Huxley as an authority with regard to the creation, and to sit at the feet of Baden Powell for teaching with regard to the possibility of a literal destruction of the world by fire. Outside the ministry it appears in the popular hue and cry against metaphysics, and in the increasing lack of sympathy with the Christian church on the part of those whose pursuits bring them most in contact with physical science. There has been a vast change in this respect in twenty years. Time was when philosophy and history brought the results of their investigations and laid them upon the altar of religion. The tendency now is to deny that there exists such a thing as metaphysical or moral science, and to treat as a weakness of intellect any attempt to interpret the world of matter by the world of mind.
I do not need to tell you that the coryphaeus of this new philosophy of Nescience is Auguste Comte. Scarcely recognized as a thinker during his lifetime, he promises, now that he is dead, to be the master of the scientific thought of the next twenty years. His classification of the sciences, though chargeable with many errors, proves him to be one of the leading minds of the age. Every one of the fundamental principles of his philosophy, however, is at war with a sound psychology. As a notable illustration of the necessity of beginning our theological thinking with correct principles of mind, let me point out to you two of the fundamental errors of Positivism, and the results to which they logically lead in our notions with regard to religious truth. Take for example his postulate that we know nothing but the phenomena of matter, and that mind, if there be such a thing, lies wholly out of reach of direct observation. Nothing could more plainly than this contradict the consciousness of men. In the same act by which I know matter, I know myself as distinct from matter and as knowing matter. I can see two things at a time, namely, self and not-self. I have knowledge of my own mental states by memory. I know what I was, as well as what I am. To deny these deliverances of consciousness is to declare that I know nothing; for I have the same evidence for the existence of my own mental states that I have for the existence of outward phenomena. The mind is just as open to inspection as the world around me. The same rule that excludes as invalid my knowledge of myself must exclude as invalid my knowledge of matter. It is singular, as Mr. Martineau has somewhere said, that certain philosophers take such unconscious delight in knocking out their own brains. Comte seems quite unaware that the same scythe with which he mows down the psychologists cuts off his own legs also. For how can science be built up of the phenomena of matter? Observation of facts is not science. The mere grouping of facts is not science. Science is a thing of the mind, and not of matter only. Unless there be a mental potency prior to all experience, no experience is possible. A structural pre-equipment of mind is necessary in order to correlate and arrange phenomena. The very idea of unity by which we classify facts must come to us from the unity of our own self-consciousness. Unless the primitive beliefs of substance, resemblance, power, which are a part of the original endowment of the mind, and which flash oat from latenoy into living energy the moment we are brought in contact with the phenomena of the outer world,— unless these primitive beliefs by which we mould external facts into shape and clothe them with meaning are just as much objects of knowledge, and have as much validity, as the outward facts which we know through the testimony of the senses,— all science is forever impossible. You might as well collect together a heap of arms and legs and heads from a dissecting room and call them living men, as to collect together mere facts and call them science. Science is made up of facts and ideas. If we cannot know anything but facts, if there be no such thing as phenomena of mind, if the mind be not an organism whose workings can be observed in consciousness, then the foundations of all knowledge are swept away, and the whole structure sinks "deeper than plummet ever sounded." In the Arabian Nights, there is a curious story of a mountain of loadstone, which the sailors greet with delight as the sign of some hospitable shore, where they may rest from the tempests of the deep. But as they draw near, the mighty mass of loadstone exerts its magnetic attraction upon every particle of iron in the vessel, until every nail and bolt is drawn from its place, and the ship goes to pieces, a miserable wreck. M. Comte has discovered a mountain of loadstone in this principle that all our knowledge is confined to the phenomena of matter,— it draws every fastening from his bark, and brings his new philosophy to total dissolution.
A similar absurdity is involved in another great principle of this philosophy, namely, the denial of causes, both efficient and final. What we call cause aud effect is, it seems, only regularity of sequence. Dr. Hickok has given us an ingenious illustration of the principle of causality which may serve to set forth the precise nature of Comte's denial. Suppose two cog-wheels, with interlocking teeth. Each of these wheels is connected with a steam engine, which moves it. Both engines are working at the same rate of speed, so that the wheels revolve without interfering with each other. Each wheel obeys the impulse of its own engine, and neither is moved by the other. Interlocked though the cogs are, the relation between their motions is simply one of resemblance. But let one of these wheels be detached from the engine that just now moved it. To all appearance, the wheels move as before, yet it is plain that there is a new relation between their motions,—a principle of causality has come in,— the motion of the one is now the cause of the motion of the other. Now Comte denies the reality of any such notion as cause. He declares that the wheels move together in the one case just as they do in the other — there is no new relation established between them when one engine ceases its motion. The simultaneous movement of the wheels in the first case, as in the last, is the sum and substance of the whole. What can be meant by law — where is the place for law upon this theory? Law must be something fixed and not phenomenal — something behind phenomena which produces phenomena. But the only law which such a theory as this admits is the arbitrary succession of phenomena, without method or cause. In other words, instead of accepting the old axiom, ex nihilo nihil Jit, he seems to insist that ex nihilo omnia flunt. And so the causal judgment which we form the moment we observe phenomena, and which is just as strong in the mind of the child as in the mind of the mature man, is resolved into a persuasion that because we have observed that each event follows some other event, it will probably be so again. It is not too much to say that this confounding of the necessary with the customary is contradicted by the consciousness of every man and child upon the planet. By an irresistible law of thought, every change whatsoever is recognized to be the result of some power that effects the change — a power behind the phenomena and separate from them,— a power of which we have the type and proof in every effect which our own wills produce upon our own organism or upon the outward world. The natural result is that Comte has no such thing as an Inductive Logic, and can have none. Where there is no Causation, there can be no law; where there is no law, there can be no logic. And this is not all. By this same rule which excludes the idea of Causation, all the grandest intuitions of the soul are immolated, for they all rest upon the same evidence. We lose all proof that either spirit or matter exists back of the phenomena open to the senses. We have no warrant for believing that matter is anything more than a possibility of sensations, or that mind is -anything more than a series of feelings aware of its own existence. Even mathematical truth is purely phenomenal. Two and two, it is true, make four with us, but it is only because we are used to it. In the planet Jupiter, where the customs of society are different, two and two may make five. There is no such thing as absolute truth. 'Right and wrong themselves are matters of convention. There is no eternal necessity in our nature which makes the right praiseworthy and the wrong condemnable. We have perceived the consequences of lying to be bad — we call it a vice therefore. But in the star Sirins, or even in the moon, where the consequences are more happy, lying may be a virtue. The universe is a Cosmos no longer. There is no will binding its parts together. The world and its events are but a procession of phantoms without connection or order, of whose origin, significance and destination we know absolutely nothing,— a conclusion of absolute skepticism which Lord Neaves justly ridicules in the persons of Mill and Hume, its advocates, by the following humorous lines :—
"Against a stone you strike your toe:
You feel't is sore, it makes a clatter;
But what you feel is all you know
Of toe, or stone, or mind, or matter.
Mill and Hume of mind and matter
Wouldn't leave a rag or tatter:
We feel the blow?
That doesn't show there's mind or matter.
"Had I skill like Stuart MM,
His own position I could shatter;
The weight of Mill I count as nil.
If Mill has neither mind nor matter.
Mill, when minus mind and matter,
Though he make a kind of clatter,
Just mount the shelf,
And there be laid with mind and matter."
As if these conclusions were not sufficiently absurd, we have the direct denial that there is such a thing as purpose in the Universe. What are called marks of design are only accidental coincidences. Final causes are merged in the totality of secondary causes. The sole explanation of the wondrous adaptations of nature to the good of man is that these are simply the result of mechanical laws. There is no sense in wondering at the order of the heavenly spheres, — with the laws that govern nature, how could there be any disorder? Thus the lofty thought of the classic poet that the highest link of nature's chain must needs be tied to the foot of Jupiter's chair is exchanged for the blasphemous assertion that the heavens declare, not the glory of God, but the glory of the Astronomer. But the followers of Comte convict themselves of folly by their unintentional use of language which implies adaptation in nature. Darwin is obliged to speak continually of the design of such and such a series of arrangements, as for example, that required for the fertilization of orchids. On Comte's own showing, there has been a curious design in the arrangement of all things from the very beginning with reference to the development at last of a true philosophy— a wonderful series of adaptations by which, when time was ripe and the world's needs greatest, a Comte was brought forth, and humanity delivered from its metaphysical and theologic folly. Surely a design like this, executed too only through unnumbered subordinate adaptations and arrangements of human character and history, proves a designer of endless wisdom and goodness. But says Maudsley, one of the Positivist camp-followers: "Design, according to Spinoza's sagacious remark, would imply imperfection in the designer—a necessity of adding something to himself to make up his sum of blessedness — and this notion involves you in a self-contradiction, for imperfection of any sort is inconsistent with your very idea of God." But what sort of a God would be Mr. Maudsley's perfect God? His only notion of a God must be that of a being not so great or free or active as ourselves—an Asiatic Brahma, as "idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean." No,—the forthputting of designing wisdom and of creative power is not inconsistent with infinite perfection, since it is voluntary se?/-limitation, for the sake of revealing his glory. God is limited by nothing outside himself, but only by the decrees of his own most free and blessed will; and such a self-limitation is only a proof and fruit of infinite perfection. Or again, when the Positivist argues that the imperfection of the design proves the absence of all purpose in the Universe, it is hard to tell which is to be most condemned, the ignorance of the objection or its presumption. It is the old boast of Alphonso of Castile, that if he had been present with the Almighty when the Universe was planned he could have suggested to him some valuable improvements. The Universe, it seems, can with all its imperfections produce a Comte, but cannot equal his intelligence. Or, if a serious reply must be made to an argument Bo shallow, we might show that the whole tendency of modern science, nay, the very principle that guides her in all her researches, is to take for granted that there must bo adaptations and uses in things whose purpose and design have hitherto been hidden. Increasing knowledge has only taught her that everything is for some end,—and even if it were ultimately discovered that there was organic imperfection in the System, it would only prove a deeper adaptation of that system to man's state of conscious moral discord and evil, an adaptation revealing to him the ruin sin has wrought, and exciting in him longings for the deliverance from bondage of the whole creation of God.
The tendencies of a philosophy built upon such' principles as these are too manifest to require elucidation. They tear up Philosophy by the roots, and Religion must share the fate of Philosophy. One of Comte's grandest generalizations indeed is this, that theology and metaphysics are relics of the race's infancy, necessary stages in human progress, but to be regarded in these days only as stepping-stones which may be removed, now that we have risen by them from infancy to manhood. Biology is only a part of physiology; brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile; man, to use Dr. Holmes' simile, is only "a drop of water imprisoned in a crystal, one little particle in the crystalline prism of the solid universe." All his higher ideas of that Universe, its forms of beauty, its divine arrangements, its moral influences, are cast aside as worthless. All his noblest intuitions — substance causation, law, freedom, conscience, accountability, immortality — are metaphysical or theological chimeras. There is no place for sin nor for repentance. There is no God to direct the blind, resistless forces of nature, or to hear and answer the cry that rises from the desolate heart of man. In the terrible language of Holyoake, one of the advocates of this Atheistic creed: "Science has shown us that we are under the dominion of general laws, and that there is no special Providence. Nature acts with fearful uniformity; ster n as fate, absolute as tyranny, merciless as death ; too vast to praise, too inexplicable to worship, too inexorable to propitiate ; it has no ear for prayer, no heart for sympathy, no arm to save." With such a picture of the Universe before us, we seem enshrouded by the darkness of Byron's dream:
"The bright sun is extinguished, and the stars
Do wander darkling in the eternal space,
Hayless and pathless; and the icy earth;
Swings blind and blackening in the moonless air.
Morn comes and goes — and comes, but brings no day,
And men forget their passions In the dread
Of this their desolation, and all hearts
Are chilled into a Hellish prayer for right.
The waves are dead; the tides are in their grave;
The moon, their mistress, has expired before;
The winds are withered In the stagnant air,
And the clouds perished; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them — She was the Universe."
And Comte himself has given us proof, if any such were needed, that the human soul revolts at the picture of a universe without a God, and has an instinct implanted in its very constitution which cannot be satisfied without some semblance of worship. The later speculations of the great Positivist aimed at nothing less than the establishment of a new religion which should dispense with the notion of a Deity or a revelation, a religion of which Comte himself was to be Sovereign Pontiff and Supreme Lawgiver. The object of adoration is Collective Humanity or the totality of all the forces engaged in the perfecting of the race, embracing therefore the solid earth itself which supports this race,—the former to be designated as the " Great Being" and the latter as the "Great Fetish." Three hundred and sixtyfive of the world's benefactors are chosen to represent humanity as objects of worship, and the statues of all these are set up in the Pantheon of the new religion that each day of the year may have its special saint for commemoration. For the separate weeks and months there are dii majores, or greater gods, and among them Confucins, Voltaire and Mahomet, though no place is found for Christ. For private devotion, there is the adoration of the mother, the wife, the daughter. An ejaculatory prayer is proposed consisting of the following words: "Love as our principle ; order as our basis; progress as our end." Instead of the sign of the Cross, so common in the Romish Church, the three principal cerebral organs are to be thoughts fully touched by the finger. For priests there is a College of Savants; for sacraments there are birthday, wedding and funeral rites; for the last judgment there is a posthumous decision of learned men upon the merits or demerits of the dead; the fame of this decision stands for immortality, and a civilized earth is made to serve for heaven. Such is the substitute for the religion of the Bible, proposed by the Atheistic philosopher. Revolting at the childishness of worshiping God, he constructs a religion in which the race shall worship man. With such poetic justice is the truth avenged. With such unconsciousness of its own nature does the wisdom of this world prove itself to be foolishness in the sight of God.
What has been said will prepare you for the few words in which I shall present the last thought of my subject. It is this: An impartial philosophy is essential to the perfect trinmph of religion. If the universal sway of Christianity is to be brought about in accordance with the common laws of mind, it would seem that a true philosophy must be one of God's chosen weapons for subduing the world to Christ. Christianity has not only nothing to fear from a true science of the mind, but she must recognize in such science her indispensable coadjutor and ally. The stress of the argument against Christianity among investigators of physical truth is not so much theological as it is philosophical, and this fact is but the illustration of that wider principle enunciated by Sir William Hamilton, that "there is no difficulty emerging in theology which has not first emerged in philosophy." In spite of M. Comte, philosophy will exist while the world stands. It is time for the Christian church and the Christian ministry to understand its power, and instead of deploring its influence or treating it with shallow contempt, to use every effort to bring it into the service of Christ. As the greatest thinker of New England said a century ago: "There is no need that strict philosophical truth be at all concealed from men — no danger in contemplation and discovery in these things. The truth is extremely needful to be known, and the more clearly and perfectly the real fact is known, and the more constantly kept in view, the better. The clear and full knowledge of the true system of the universe will greatly establish the true Christian Scheme of divine administration in the City of God." Let us have done then, once for all, with the notion that metaphysical studies are beside the proper work of the preacher, and by necessity mystify his brain and destroy his practical power. The history of the church has shown that philosophy, instead of weakening the grasp and corrupting the principles of her preachers, has been their great discipline and strength. No man can clearly present or successfully defend the truths of religion without knowing them in their principles. A teacher of religion who sneers at metaphysics, as if it were a fog-bank in which only fools would risk their lives, is simply playing into the hands of infidelity and virtually declaring
that all true philosophy is on the side of the enemies of religion. To fill his place as a preacher in these days he must know the foundations of his faith in the human consciousness; must have some proper sense of those grand primitive affirmations of the soul, which,
"be they what they may.
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet the master-light of all our seeing."
He must be able to show the dabbler in an Atheistic philosophy whither the principles he has ignorantly adopted will lead him; how completely these principles affront the reason and mock the religious nature of man; how they are based upon a single primary misconception with regard to the sources of our knowledge ; how a simple confidence in the original intuitions of the mind will restore to us the world, the soul and God ; how that confidence is the indispensable basis of all science, while a denial of a single one of these original convictions is like
"the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the inusie mute,
And, ever widening, slowly silence all."
It is the business of the preacher to know the false philosophy which threatens to leaven society, in order that in its place he may put the true. And this he can do in a thousand ways. Formal metaphysical disquisitions in the pulpit will never accomplish anything; but the incidental statement in sermon and correspondence and conversation of the fundamental errors of a false philosophy, accompanied by a simple reductio ad absurdum, will open the eyes of many who have unconsciously imbibed notions hostile to the true faith. The preacher is not only bound by his duty to God never to despair of philosophy himself, but is under obligation to labor and to pray that a true philosophy may uproot the false, and prepare the way for the final trinmph of religion.
A true philosophy! It has been the dream and quest of earth's noblest spirits. But have they discovered the object of their search? Must not the world still ask: "Where shall wisdom be found, and where is the place of understanding?" We answer both yes and no. There has always been a true philosophy in the world side by side with the false. Side by side with the philosophies of Epicurus and the Stoics, partial in their sources and their results, dwelt for ages the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, both spiritual and both theistic, though differing largely in their methods and their spirit. And between our modern philosophies of Nescience and Omniscience there exists a sober philosophy represented by men like James McCosh, that aims to give to all the facts of human consciousness their proper weight and to maintain the faith of those sublime intuitions by which we cognize the existence of the World, the Soul, and God. As in theology, there are a thousand questions yet to solve, and with regard to many that are fundamental there is still diversity of opinion among the best of thinkers. Yet still the priests of God and the priests of Baal are easy to distinguish from each other, and in philosophy as well as theology the cry may still be echoed: "If the Lord be God, serve him; but if Baal, serve him!" Nor was there ever yet a day when the signs of the times were more hopeful for a true philosophy. As error with regard to the person of Christ reached its extremest results in both directions and exhausted itself in the first centuries of Christianity, so error in philosophy seems to have rendered this service for the truth, of showing to what heights and depths of folly and ruin a partial philosophy in either direction may lead. The day has dawned already in which philosophic investigation is carried on in the true inductive method and begins with the fundamental facts of consciousness — the intuitive knowledge of matter, of mind, of God, and of each as distinct and differing in nature from the others. Let a man hold fast to the deliverance that he has a face-to-face knowledge of the external world, of his own mind, and of the existence and presence of God, and he may defy all the arts of a false philosophy to lead him astray.
Just in proportion to the extent to which these fundamental convictions are ignored or obscured does fatal error creep into our reasonings. Philosophy is just beginning to settle her debt with Sir William Hamilton, who, with all his splendid contributions to a true science of the mind, still, by bis notion of the relativity of human knowledge and his virtual denial of a direct knowledge of matter, left the door ajar for a subtle Idealism to enter and prepared the way for Mansel's resolution of the whole material of our religious faith into sheer contradiction. I know matter as something external to myself. I may learn a thousand things about it, but my knowledge of its existence can never be more perfect. To say that the external substance furnishes six of the twelve parts of my conception, while the organs by which I perceive it furnish three, and the mind itself three, is virtually to deny that we have any face-to-face knowledge of matter at alL And so to relegate our idea of the divine existence to the realm of faith, because, forsooth, any proper knowledge of God would require an apprehension of the manner in which his infinite attributes coexist to form one object is to deny one of the simplest facts of consciousness. There may be a thousand facts about God, of which I am ignorant, but my mind cognizes his existence and presence for all that. As another has said: "The African on the banks of the Niger may be altogether ignorant of its source and termination, but it would not be right on that account to deny that he has any knowledge of the river, and it would be equally wrong to deny that we can know God, merely on the ground that we do not and cannot grasp his infinite attributes." To tell me that this knowledge of God, "wherein standeth my eternal life," possesses no external validity, and to inscribe upon the temple of religion the legend, "To the Unknown God," is simply to sweep away the foundations of all knowledge. The clearness and power of this intuitive knowledge may be dimmed and blunted by sin. To see God revealed to my soul as distinctly as I see the forms of my fellow-men may belong to me only in those clearer moments to which here and hereafter the pure in heart may come, but still the fact remains that an intuitive knowledge of God, distorted, blunted, overlaid with a thousand superstitious fancies though it be, belongs to man as man, revealing itself in his consciousness of the Infinite around him and in his fears of the judgment before him. This conception of God is not the straining forward of the soul into an unknown abyss, as Kant maintained, nor is it a mere negation of all bounds and limits, as Hamilton fancied; for both these philosophers, in their constant declarations that God is, and that he is a God of truth, declare in effect that, apart from -all faith, they have substantial knowledge of God and of certain of his attributes. As "there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding," the very height and glory of his nature is that he may look into the face of God and say: "My Father!" To waken this intuition into living power and to restore the actual communion of the soul with God, Christ has come, and in him who is "the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person" we who once were so involved in "the dark windings of the material and earthy " that we dared scarcely say, "we have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear," can declare with joy that "now our eye seeth Thee." This grandest intuition of the soul it is ours to interpret, to illustrate, to defend, by voice and pen, in heart and life. Men may mistake it and deny it, but its establishment upon a scientific basis is the test and the goal of a true philosophy. We may each do something toward the grand result, not only by the service of the intellect, but by living every day "as seeing Him who is invisible," and from our own certainty of the truth commending it to others. The noble lines with which Wordsworth concludes "The Prelude" set forth the preacher's work no less than the poet's:
"Prophets of nature, we to them may speak
A lasting inspiration, sanctified
By reason, blest by faith; what we have loved
Others will love, and we will teach them how;
Instruct them how the mind of man becomes
A thousand times more beautiful than the earth
On which he dwells, above this frame of things
In beauty exalted, as it is itself
Of quality and fabric more divine."
Upon the side of the great entrance-hall of the Royal Museum in Berlin is painted a colossal picture of Kaulbach's, which unites more than any other picture in the world the interest of history and poetry, of weird imagination and symbolic lore. It represents that last battle between the Romans and the Huns, which decided the fate of European civilization. The story goes that the hosts on either side fought desperately for three long days, until the greater part of the combatants were slain, and the rest, worn out with the conflict, fell to the ground in heavy sleep. But as the night came on, the spirits of the slain, still fierce and restless even in death, rose from their bodies and held a still and awful battle in the air. This shadowy combat Kaulbach has painted. There, on the right, comes Attila, the "scourge of God," borne aloft upon a shield, and leading on his barbarians to death or victory. And there Theodoric, the Roman leader, advances to meet him, with sword in hand and the cross behind. The picture is wonderful for its vivid portraiture of deadly conflict, but far more for its symbolic teaching that the battle which determined the future of Christianity and of the world was not so much a battle of men and spears as a battle between the spirit of two opposing civilizations, a battle in which subtle and shadowy principles contended for the mastery of the world. So, brethren, let us never forget amid the practical noise and strife of our lifework, that above our heads another battle is going on, in which our struggling finds its only true significance. The battle of the ages is a battle of principles, and he who has most possessed himself of the knowledge of that upper warfare will best conduct the fight amid the clang of arms and the shock of opposing battalions. Let us thank God that the issue is not doubtful. Though the armies of error are more subtle and more fierce than those shadowy barbarians that follow after Attila, the hosts of God are stronger still, for the Cross is with them, and by that sign they conquer!