We can readily see in the early departure of the Church from the primitive order through the loss of the first love, what the line of subsequent development must be if there were no repentance and return. The Head unable to exercise the full prerogatives of His Headship; the Holy Ghost unable to lift up His voice to warn and instruct; the Church thinking to build up a kingdom in this world, and to rule in it; here are all the elements of a history full of peril and struggle. Of this history for eighteen centuries we are not now to speak. Looking backward, we may see its winding course, its mingled good and evil, the growth of the tares and wheat. But passing over the time intervening, we fix our attention upon the present tendencies and movements in the Church and in Christendom, and ask, To what goal are they leading? To know this, we must consider the new conceptions of God, of Creation, of the Incarnation, of the Person and work of Christ, of the relation of the Church to the world, and of the coming of the kingdom of God. As the marked tendency in our day is in Philosophy and Theology to spiritual Monism, we begin with Philosophy, that through it we may better understand the principles underlying and directing modern religious thought, and determining its outward expression.
The relation of philosophy to religion is in itself a very close one; and in modern Germany philosophy is equivalent to speculative theology. Philosophy has for its problem to bring all existence into unity, to find some first principle which is the ground of all, and embraces all. It looks behind phenomena to learn their causes; through the ever changing to find the unchanging; through the many to the One. The object of its search is the first great Cause, the ultimate Essence, the Absolute Being, or God; and thus get rid of all dualism. As philosophy necessarily affects the conception of men respecting God, and therefore the conception of their relations to Him, and of His actings toward them, it must affect their religion; hence we see the importance of our present inquiry: What does the most recent and current philosophy teach us of God?
It will hardly be questioned by any one competent to judge, that the tendency of modern philosophical thought is to undermine the faith of men in a personal God; and, in general, in all that system of religious doctrine which has the Incarnate Son as its centre, and is embodied in the Catholic Creeds. It needs scarcely be said that, so far as this is done, the way is being prepared for him who " exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped." So long as men have faith in a personal God, the Creator of the worlds and of man, One who governs all things according to His will, and exists apart from all, no man can seat himself in the temple of God " shewing himself that he is God "; such a claim would be instantly rejected as both blasphemous and absurd. Before such a claim could be listened to, there must be wrought in many minds such a change in their conception of God that this claim of Divinity would not offend them as something strange and incredible, but be accepted as wholly consistent with what they believe of the Divine nature, and of its relations to humanity.
The purpose of this enquiry, therefore, is to ascertain how far the orthodox Christian conception of God as personal, the Creator and Ruler of all, is being effaced, and that of an impersonal God substituted for it. So far as this is done, the conception also of the Incarnation of the Son of God as held by the Church, is radically changed. Instead of the union of "the two natures in one Person," the essential unity of the Divine and human natures is asserted, and the way thus opened for the deified man. Our enquiry relates chiefly to the tendencies toward the denial of the Father and the Son as seen in Agnosticism and Pantheism, but a few words must be said also of Atheism.
Atheism: The term Atheist is often applied to those who deny any supreme Being with intelligence and will, the Creator of the world, and distinct from it. It is often also applied to those who say that, if such a Being exists, we can have no knowledge of Him. But this is to confound Atheism with Pantheism, on the one side, and with Agnosticism, on the other. We can, strictly speaking, call only those atheists who deny any design or order in the universe, any first principle or cause, personal or impersonal. These may be classed as idealistic and materialistic atheists; the idealistic, who affirm God to be an idealistic fiction, an idea of their own minds; the materialistic, who affirm that all that exists is matter and motion, "atoms and empty space"; and that we need only atoms and their properties to explain the universe.
Atheism has never had any great number of advocates, for it is repugnant to the laws of our intellectual nature, and to all noble moral aspirations. Yet, in recent times, a good many scientific men have professed themselves materialists, finding support for their belief in the newly-discovered properties of atoms, and the supposed fact of the conservation of energy. Tyndall defines matter as "that mysterious thing which accomplishes all the phenomena of the universe," and in which is "the potency of all life." Huxley says, though his utterances are often inconsistent, that " the physiology of the future will gradually enlarge the realm of matter and law until it is coexistent with knowledge, with feeling, and with action." The materialistic school in Germany has been, of late years, especially aggressive, and has largely affected the popular mind. Probably the number of those who affirm matter to be self-existent, and find in it the substance of all being, is now considerable. The atoms are their God, and for a Creator and moral Ruler they have no need.
Atheism thus sets aside, not only the Christian religion, but all religion. As it has no ultimate spiritual principle, nothing but physical forces, there is nothing to worship. And, as there is no future life, as much as possible must be made of the present. According as it prevails among the people there must be seen increased devotion to material interests, with growing disregard of the intellectual and spiritual. Science, because it craves absolute and unchangeable law, is favorably inclined to materialism. It dislikes any Divine interposition ; its aim is physical, not moral.
Agnosticism: This term, claimed by Professor Huxley as a word of his coinage, is used to express man's necessary ignorance of God. In itself it is a negative rather than positive term. Agnostics do not, like atheists, deny absolutely that there is a God, but say, we cannot know whether He exists or not; and, if He exists, we do not know that we have any true knowledge of Him. The central principle of Agnosticism is thus the unknowability of God arising from the limitations of our minds. As this is a mode of thought already quite general, and bears directly upon the main point of our enquiry, we must briefly consider it; first, in its philosophical principle, secondly, in its religious applications.
Going no further back than to Hume (d. 1776), who has been called the father of modern Agnosticism, we find him denying that we have any true knowledge of the attributes of God, whose existence, however, he did not deny. But all our ideas of Him are, and must be, anthropomorphic. "The whole is a riddle, an enigma, an inexplicable mystery."
This Agnosticism was the logical result of the philosophical principle then generally accepted, that all knowledge is based upon experience.
It was reserved to Kant (d. 1804) to make Agnosticism an integral part of his philosophy. He affirmed that all we can know of things external to us is their phenomena; of what is back of these phenomena, and underlying them, we are, and must be, ignorant. Of the three great objects of knowledge, God, Nature, and Man, we can affirm nothing certain. Kant gives three antinomies — contradictory propositions — which, he affirms, can neither be proved nor disproved. 1. "There exists, either as a part of the world or as the cause of it, an absolutely necessary Being; Contra, An absolutely necessary Being does not exist." 2. "The cosmos had a beginning, and is limited in space; Contra, The cosmos had no beginning, and is not limited but infinite." 3. "The soul is an indissoluble and indestructible unity; Contra, The soul is dissoluble and transitory." (Critique of Pure Reason. Meiklejohn's Trans.)
Thus, according to the Kantian philosophy, reason is unable to attain any certainty as to these vital points; "it is hemmed in by a press of opposite and contradictory conclusions." It is true that Kant attempted in another way to prove the existence of a God, but only as a postulate or pre-supposition, made necessary in order that man may keep the moral law, which is imperative. God exists because a necessary means to enable man to gain the victory over evil. It is generally admitted that this attempt is unsuccessful, and that any positive affirmation of God's existence is inconsistent with the leading idea of his philosophical system. Dorner says of this system that "it leaves to the Divine, as compared with the Human, merely the semblance of existence." Professor Seth (" Scottish Philosophy ") remarks: "Kant is the fons et origo of the most cultured agnosticism of the day." Religion with Kant is simply morality, and Christ's significance is only that of a moral Ideal; and, therefore, our faith in Him is moral, not historical "A rational theology must be founded upon the laws of morality." Humanity is the true Son of God. Whether the Scriptures are historically true or not, is a matter of no real importance, since the ideal of reason alone has validity.
Thus Kant, by denying that we can have any true knowledge of God, of the world, or of man, laid the foundation of an universal skepticism. As the mind can think only under its limitations, our conception of God must be anthropomorphic, and, therefore, both unreal and unworthy. Nevertheless, "the notion of a Supreme Being is in many respects a highly useful idea."
As bearing upon this point of Agnosticism, two later writers should be mentioned, Hamilton and Mansel. The purpose of Hamilton, in opposition to the German pantheists, was to show that the Infinite and the Absolute are beyond the limits of our knowledge. He affirms that "All we immediately know, or can know, is the conditioned, the relative, the phenomenal, the finite." "We cannot know the Infinite through a finite notion, or have a finite knowledge of an Infinite object of knowledge." Hamilton thus placed himself in direct opposition to all who think that they can define and understand the nature of God. In this sense he was an agnostic; but he also affirmed that, "through faith we apprehend what is beyond our knowledge." "When I deny that the Infinite can by us be known, I am far from denying that it must, and ought to be believed."
Mansel ( " Limits of Religious Thought" ) takes in substance the same ground. "The conception of the Absolute and the Infinite, from whatever side we view it, appears encompassed with contradictions." "To speak of an absolute or infinite Person, is simply to use language to which, however true it may be in a superhuman sense, no mode of human thought can possibly attach itself." Yet Mansel believed in such an absolute and infinite Person. "We are compelled by the constitution of our minds to bebeve in the existence of an absolute and infinite Being." And this being is personal. "The highest existence is still the highest personalty; and the source of all being reveals Himself by His name, 'I am.'" Thus Mansel agrees with Hamilton that "Belief cannot be solely determined by reason." The seeming contradictions between reason and belief may exist only in our minds, and prove simply the limitations of thought.
But, however good in themselves the motives of these philosophers, it cannot be denied that their affirmations of the necessary ignorance of men in regard to God have given a strong impulse to Agnosticism.* The inference is that, as we can know so little of Him because of our mental limitations, it is useless to carry on the search.
*It is said by Pfleiderer (*' Development of Theology") that "in the course of the next decade, upon this agnosticism Matthew Arnold based his ethical idealism, Seeley his sssthetical idealism, and Spencer his evolutionism; three theories which, with all their dissimilarities, have this in common, that they all regard the impossibility of a Divine revelation, and of a revealed religion, to be the necessary consequences of the incognizability of God."
*It should be observed that many who call themselves agnostics, are not really such. The real agnostic simply affirms that he does not know about God, he is in doubt; this is a purely negative position. But to affirm or to deny a God is a positive act. The true agnostic neither affirms nor denies, he has no belief one way or the other; he simply doubts. How far from this position, for example, is Mr. Leslie Stephen in his recent book, "An Agnostic's Apology." He affirms that the limit* of human intelligence exclude all knowledge that transcends the narrow limits of experience. Theology is thus excluded, God is unknowable, the universe is a dark riddle. There is no revelation, no miracle, nothing supernatural, no future life. These are not negative, but positive affirmations; not those of an agnostic, but of a gnostic, of one who knows. The old Creeds, all statements in the Church symbols as to the nature of God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, he affirms can now "produce nothing but the laughter of skeptics, and the contempt of the healthy human intellect." And he affirms that " Agnosticism is the frame of mind which summarily rejects these imbecilities." Mr. Matthew Arnold is equally positive. He affirms that we cannot believe in God or angels, because "we absolutely have no experience of one or the other." He knows that God is not a Person, but merely a Force or Power. And, in general, it may be said that no men are more dogmatic in their utterances than most of the professed agnostics.
And, it is also objected, that to affirm faith without knowledge is credulity. Let us, then, they say, resign ourselves to ignorance. Some of those who thus speak are, doubtless, willing to be ignorant, and glad to find some philosophic grounds on which to stand ; but there are others, in their hearts seekers after God, who are burdened and perplexed by the intellectual difficulties which all questions connected with the Infinite and Eternal must present.*
Pantheism: As to know rightly this form of error is of the highest importance in our enquiry, it is necessary to state as clearly as possible its leading principle and to illustrate it; this will be best done by a brief outline of its modern historical development.
The essential element of Pantheism, as stated by Saisset ( " Pantheism "), "is the unity of God and nature, of the Infinite and the finite, in one single substance." The Infinite is not swallowed up in the finite, nor the finite in the Infinite, but both co-exist; and this co-existence is necessary and eternal. Thus we have the One and the many, the Absolute, the All. It will have no dualism, it will unify nature, man, and God. Let us trace the development of this principle, and for this purpose it is necessary to speak of Spinoza.
Descartes (d. 1650), the founder of modern philosophy, who distinguished God from nature as its Creator, divided nature into the two created substances, extension and thought. But these have nothing in common, and thus arose a dualism that he was not able to reconcile. Spinoza (d. 1677) attempted to set this dualism aside by affirming one Substance, embracing both thought and extension, both God and nature. This Substance, infinite and absolute, has an infinity of attributes; but of these we know only the two, thought and extension, each of which has an infinity of finite modes. This Substance, the permanent reality under all transient phenomena, is ever changing; all finite things are only passing modes of its being, transient manifestations of its essence, coming out of it and again absorbed into it. Spinoza called this substance God. Man, as to his body, is simply a mode of the Divine extension; as to his soul, of the Divine thought. Both are individualizations of the Infinite.
If this Substance be God, embracing in Himself all existence — the Absolute, the All in all — we ask, Has He consciousness, intelligence, will? No, says Spinoza. These are elements of personality, and He is impersonal. We cannot ascribe to Him purpose or design; He is without feeling; He cannot love or pity, reward or punish; of His own will He creates nothing; all things eternally exist, and are in a perpetual flow. He is the universal and impersonal principle of the universe, which has neither beginning nor end.
Thus there is one Substance in which co-exists the Infinite and finite. But here the problem meets us: How does the Infinite become the finite; the Absolute, the relative; the One, the many? How does the one impersonal Substance become personal in man? The dualism of Descartes is not set aside; God and nature, extension and thought, soul and body, remain distinct as before.
This pantheistic philosophy of Spinoza was for a time little understood, and generally regarded as atheism. That it wholly denies the Christian belief respecting God, need not be said. Man is not a creature of God made in His image, but a part of Him, a finite manifestation of His infinite essence; he has no free will, and cannot be morally responsible. No finite thing has any reality, all reality is in God.
So well satisfied was Spinoza with his philosophy that he could say: "I have explained the nature of God ;" and modern German philosophers have called him, "The god-intoxicated man."
The attention of philosophers following Spinoza was chiefly given to other questions, such as the origin of our knowledge, and the nature of our mental powers. Of Kant and his teaching notice has already been taken so far as is necessary for our purpose. He left the dualism between thought and being, subject and object, phenomenon and noumenon unsolved. Indeed, his distinction between the pure and the practical Reason made it more conspicuous.
Fichte (d. 1814) took up the problem, affirming that all things must be derived from a single principle, and solved it by making the subject or the Ego supreme; it creates the object. Everything external to itself exists only in the consciousness of the Ego, a form of its productive activity. Nature is reduced to a non-entity. "The conception of a particular substance is impossible and contradictory." The universe, and even God Himself, are of the mind's creation, so that Fichte could say to his class: "Gentlemen, now we will create God." The supreme Being in his system is no more than the Moral Order of the world: "We need no other, and can comprehend no other." This moral order is what Mr. Arnold calls "the Power that makes for righteousness."
This idealism of Fichte was in its principle rather atheistic than pantheistic, but became pantheistic in its later development. For our purpose it is important to note how it tends to the exaltation of man, on the one side, and to the annihilation of God, on the other. Of his philosophy Dorner says: "Each man per se is immediately, not through the mediation of Christ, but by nature, God. . . God is the only reality in any one." Christ has, indeed, an unique place as the first born Son of God, but "all men are equal to Him in that which constitutes their proper reality." It is said by Morell (Hist. of Phil.), "With Fichte the idea of nature and the idea of God absolutely vanished ; self became the sole existence in the universe, and from its own power and activity everything human was constructed"; and to the same effect Prof. Seth: "Self, as the eternal sustaining subject of the Universe, formed the beginning, middle, and end of the system."
In Schelling (d. 1854) the pantheistic element comes much more clearly into view. Of the two factors, subject and object, thought and being, God and nature, he will not with Fichte allow the one to swallow up the other;
but will identify them in one primary and eternal essence or first Principle, which is hardly to be distinguished from the Substance of Spinoza. This first Principle is ever developing itself, or "embodying its own infinite attributes in the finite." Thought and being cannot be separated, for thought is shown to be in all nature by the presence of law. But there are degrees of thought from unconscious matter to conscious man, and the law of the development of the infinite Essence is from lower to higher. "It developes itself sometimes with, and sometimes without self-consciousness." "Nature," says Schelling, "sleeps in the plant, dreams in the animal, wakens in man." "Mind in man is nothing else but nature gradually raised to a state of consciousness." The universal Divine life runs through a process, but can manifest itself only in finite forms, and so comes under limitations, each individual form being necessarily imperfect. But as being the Divine life in each individual, the finite is not merely finite; it is that in which God has His historical life. "It is God in his growth." The collective finite, or the world, is the Son of God. This incarnation of God in Nature is the principle of philosophy, everything is to be explained by it. But it is in man that this absolute essence, or God, comes to the full possession of itself, or to self-consciousness; and man, therefore, is the highest of beings. In him the process of the Divine development comes to its culmination. Of this development Morell remarks that " all difference between God and the universe is entirely lost. Schelling's pantheism is as complete as that of Spinoza." Of some later modifications of his philosophy it is not necessary here to speak.
It is at this point that Hegel (d. 1831) took up the problem, accepting much from his predecessors. He begins with pure undetermined being, or, what is equivalent, with Nothing, with zero; and this he calls the Idea, or God; and out of this must all things come. Creation is not an act. "Without the world God would not be God." It is, therefore, only an eternal process of becoming which he has to explain. He finds the law of this process to be the law of thought. As thoughts alone are real existences, and are creative powers, the laws of thought are those of being. Thus the two kingdoms of thought and being, or of spirit and nature, are one. In individual things there is no reality, man is a passing phenomenon ; the only reality is in the first Principle, the Idea; in other words, in God. In all its determinations this first Principle determines itself; in producing differences, it produces itself in them. The Infinite becomes the finite; the Absolute, the relative. In all these determinations there is progress, but man only of finite things attains to self-consciousness. In him the selfdetermining Principle, or God, who is everywhere in nature, comes to know Himself, or to self-realization; as distinct from the world, He has no self-consciousness; He attains to this in man. Thus man is both one with nature and with the absolute Spirit, and, therefore, the highest of beings, the last in the chain of development; in fine, man is God.
Thus we have, according to this philosophy, a spiritual principle or essence called God, which is eternally differentiating itself, or eternally becoming. All finite, or differentiated existences are simply necessary modes of His existence,— progressive manifestations of the One Infinite Essence. The law of this progress Hegel lays down as, "The identity of contradictions." It is not necessary to our purpose here to speak of this; we are now concerned only with the nature of the relation which he makes to exist between the Infinite and the finite, between God and man. And we see here his advance upon Spinoza. "With Spinoza there is no real progress, man is but one of the transient forms of finite being; with Hegel, he is the end of the series. Only in man does God fully realize Himself.
It is true, and should be said, that there has been much dispute among the students of this philosophy whethet Hegel meant to absolutely deny the personality of God, and the immortality of man, or not. But the most competent and impartial interpreters so understand his philosophy. It has been very recently said by Professor Seth ( " Hegelianism and Personality " ): "If the system leaves us without any self-conscious existence in the universe beyond that realized in the self-consciousness of individuals, the saying means that God, in any ordinary acceptation of the term, is eliminated from our philosophy altogether . the self-existence of God seems to disappear. . . Evidently this is to renounce the idea of anything like a separate personality or self-consciousness in the Divine Being." "Ab to immortality, Hegel shelves the question."
With Hegel the climax seems to be reached, the last word to be spoken. All dualism is resolved, God alone exists. He is the All, both the Infinite and the finite, the Absolute and the relative, the Eternal and the temporal. His life is an Eternal process of self-development. We know the law of His development, and that its ultimate term is man. Humanity is the consummation of Divinity.
Of the later developments of the Hegelian Philosophy in Germany it is not necessary here to speak. Its three great divisions into Right, Middle, and Left, are well known. The first attempts to reconcile this philosophy with the personality of God, and the immortality of the soul; the second holds God's personality "in a general pantheistic sense," but denies immortality, and the Christ of the Church; the last knows no God apart from the world, no immortality, and no Incarnation but that in which all men alike partake. In this school are Strauss and Feuerbach, whose position will be examined in another place.
Pessimism: The chief representatives of this philosophy are the Germans, Schopenhauer and Hartmann. The fundamental principle, as said by Professor Bowen (" Modern Philosophy"), is that "there is an universal, all-pervading Will, a blind, and incognitive, and unconscious God; coinciding in this respect with the one universal substance of Spinoza." Of this Will every individual human existence is but a transient phenomenon, and death is its annihilation. Christianity as a religion Schopenhaur wholly rejects, as, indeed, he does all religions except that of the Buddhists, which denies the existence of a God. He says (Religion and other Essays, Trans. 1893) that "Everything true in Christianity is found in Brah. manism and Buddhism." The world is the worst of all possible worlds; nothing is so good as to cease to be. "All qualities are innate, the bad as well as the good," and "a man's acts proceed from his innate and unalterable character": they cannot be other than they are. Of Hartmann, Professor Bowen says: "He is a thorough-going monist;" his unconscious "Principle" is the equivalent of Spinoza's "Substance" and Schopenhauer's "Will." In the universe is no mark of an intelligent free-will. The world, if not the worst possible, is so bad that we are "to will the annihilation of all things, and thus get rid of the misery of existence." "The blissful repose of nothingness " is the consummation, the haven of rest, to which we look forward.
That this pessimistic philosophy is gaining an increasing hold upon the public mind, seems to be shewn by the "larger circulation of its writings, both in Germany and elsewhere; but, if so, this must be ascribed chiefly to the loss of faith in God, and of the hope of a higher future life. None of its advocates openly commend suicide; but this mode of ending a miserable existence is one which must naturally suggest itself, and be more chosen as the gloom of the last days darkens over the earth.
Of the bearings of this pessimistic philosophy on morality, something will be said later.
Neo-Kantianism, or Hegelianism: Of this philosophy, which has within a recent period appeared in Scotland and England, and whose chief representatives are the late Professor T. H. Green, and the Professors E. and J. Caird, some words may be said. So far as we are here concerned with it, it does not differ in any essential point from original Hegelianism. Its central tenet, as we are told by Professor A. Seth ( " Hegelianism and Personality ") is "the identification of the transcendental self with a Divine or creative Self" ; or, in other words, the identification of the Divine and the human self-consciousness. As regards this Divine Self, or, as it is frequently called, "Spiritual Principle," there is much vagueness of expression. Professor E. Caird ("Evolution of Religion") speaks of it as "a self-determining Principle manifesting itself in all the determinations of the finite." It is said to be "somehow present and active in each individual." Is this "Spiritual Principle" the Christian God? Does it exist for itself, with a distinct self-consciousness, and with all that constitutes personality? Apparently not. Its self-consciousness is that of the individual man, separated from which it is nothing. But this takes away the individual self-consciousness ; and, as said by Professor Seth, "man's selfhood and independence are wiped out with a completeness which few systems of pantheism can rival." "There is only one self — the Universal or Divine — and this all-embracing subject manifests itself alike in the object and in the subject of human consciousness; in nature and in man. Both are God, though they appear to be somewhat on their own account."
Of the pantheistic character of this Neo-Hegelian philosophy, it is said by Professor Upton ( " Bases of Religious Belief "), writing of Professor E. Caird's "Evolution of Religion": "So far as I can understand his position, it is simply unmitigated pantheism, for, according to it, every moral decision to which man comes, noble or base, is an act for which no human being but only God is responsible." "Sin, repentance, moral responsibility, become only empty words."
Evolutionary Philosophy: Of this philosophy Mr. H. Spencer is the chief representative. He must be classed among the agnostics, as affirming that no definite conception of the Infinite or Absolute is possible. For a personal God he substitutes a Force or Energy which he calls "The Unknowable," but of which, he says, we have a dim but positive consciousness. We know it "to exist," to be a "reality," "the first cause of all," "the source of power "; in a word, "an infinite and eternal Energy by which all things are created and sustained." Yet he tells us, also, that it is "utterly inscrutable," "absolutely incomprehensible," "forever inconceivable."
In what relation does this Energy stand to the universe? It is its cause. There has been no act of creation, but an eternal evolutionary process, passing in endless cycles from "the imperceptible to the perceptible, and back again from the perceptible to the imperceptible." The law of this process is "the continuous redistribution of matter and motion." Nothing that exists can be other than it is; all life, intellectual and moral, as well as animal, comes under this law.
We are here concerned with this philosophy only as it bears upon religion. Having substituted for a personal God "an infinite and eternal Energy," can we worship it? Mr. Spencer thinks that the feeling of wonder and awe which it inspires, is worship. It has, indeed, no positive attributes, it is not good, or wise, or merciful, or just; it is merely a force working unconsciously and blindly; but we are told that this is better than the Christian God, and that if we cannot pray to it, or bow down in worship, we can fear and wonder as we behold its mighty workings in the universe.
It is apparent that belief in such a dynamic force can have no more practical bearing upon the moral conduct of life than the belief in gravitation. It has in it no religious element. It not only denies the personality of God, but the personality of man also; and presents to us (Jod, nature, and man, as under a process of Evolution which has neither beginning nor end. For immortality there is no place. Man being only one of the forms of expression of the Universal Energy, has no free will, and no moral responsibility. It need not be said that with this philosophy revealed religion has no possible points of contact, and least of all has Christianity.
Of the Hegelian philosophy a recent writer says: "In itself it is. unmixed anthropotheism, not the exaltation of a creature into the place of God, but the assertion that the creature is the sole and essential God. . . Alas! Herein lies its bad excellence, that while utterly expunging from creation, as a popular representation, a present Deity; while rejecting an Incarnate Saviour, an indwelling Spirit, an inspired record, a coming day of judgment; its subtlety is such that there is no point of Christian verity, no office of the adorable Trinity, no text of Holy Writ, for which it has not an appropriate niche in its temple of lies. It contradicts nothing, it stultifies everything; it confounds, neutralizes, and eliminates all objects of present faith. It is the first truly philosophical system which, denying the life to come, eternizes the present. . . The thought of man is the fountain, the judgment of man the judge, of all things. . . And man, though as an individual born and mortal, is as man the eternal essence." A German writer says of it that it is "a paganism dressed up anew, and sublimed to a self-adoring worship of mind." A very recent writer, Professor Wenley ("Contemporary Theology and Theism") says: "The warring of the pantheistic and monotheistic tendencies, both implicitly present in Hegel, ended, unfortunately, in a complete victory for the former."
In examining the anti-Christian influences now at work, we find the current pantheistic philosophy the most fundamental and powerful. Beginning with the century, it has now penetrated all regions of human thought. Theology, Literature, Science, Art, all bear its impress. Its growing influence has been often noted. It is said by J. S. Mill (1840): "The philosophical writings of Schelling and Hegel have given pantheistic principles a complacent admission and a currency which they never before this age possessed in any part of Christendom." Buchanan (1857) says: "The grand ultimate struggle between Christianity and Atheism will resolve itself into a controversy between Christianity and Pantheism." Saisset (1863) speaks of Pantheism "as having made, and daily making, the most alarming progress." "This is the beginning and end of German philosophy, it begins with scepticism, it ends with Pantheism." It is said by E. Caird (1883): "In the scientific life of Germany there is no greater power at present than Hegelianism, especially in all that relates to metaphysics, and thus to the philosophy and history of religion."
Fairbairn observes ("Place of Christ in Modern Thought"): "It were mere folly to attempt to understand modern movements in theology without Hegel, especially those that circle around the history of Christ." Christlieb (" Modern Doubt" ): "Fichte and Schelling made the idea of Divine personality to be absorbed in an all-confounding idealistic Pantheism, which received from Hegel its last development. This philosophy appears in German literature from Schiller to Heine. Hence, we meet at the present day so many educated persons whose faith in a personal Deity has resolved itself into faith in the moral order of the universe, or in some universal law or principle."
But no proof need be given of what is universally confessed. A mighty wave of Pantheism, beginning in Germany, has been sweeping over Christendom during the present century; and now finds but little to resist it. As Greek philosophy developed when the popular religions were in a process of disintegration, so is it now. It was then an attempt to replace the old faith by a new philosophic religion. So to-day, Christianity being regarded in many quarters as incapable of giving a satisfactory theory of the world and of human life, philosophy steps in and undertakes the task. It will give us a new religion based upon a new conception of God, a new Christianity based upon a new conception of Christ, a universe evolved, not created. How far the new will supplant the old, time only can show us, for we do not know how far faith in the Christian Creeds has been silently undermined. But Christianity meets a new enemy, a philosophic religion which boasts itself able to satisfy, as Christianity is not able to do, all the demands of the intellect; a religion more suitable to our advanced culture than one transmitted from an ancient and half-civilized people. It is a religion which many will gladly welcome, for it opens a wide gate and a broad way in which all men, of whatever race or belief, may walk without jostling one another.