Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

in which his higher life seemed to be in his constitution. If the force that is buried, to a new career of fruitful, sunlit behind all the phenomena of life is reactivity; even as the Saviour prophesied, sponsible for all that is, it must be re* The hour is coming, and now is, when sponsible for this also. Somehow man, the dead shall hear the voice of the Son the masterpiece of the Creation, has got of God, and they that hear shall live.' himself wedded to the belief that all

The exceeding readiness and joyful- things here have relations to issues which ness with which the truth was welcomed, lie in a world that is behind the shadow and the measure in which Christendom of death. This belief has been at the -and that means all that is most power- root of his highest endeavor and of his ful and progressive in human society, keenest pain; it is the secret of his has been moulded by it, are the most chronic unrest. Now Nature through notable facts of history. Be it truth, be all her orders appears to have made all it fiction, be it dream, one thing is clear: creatures contented with the conditions it was a baptism of new life to the world of their life. The brute seems fully satwhich was touched by it, and it has been isfied with the resources of his world. near the heart of all the great movements He shows no sign of being tormented by of human society from that day until dreams; his life withers under no blight now. I do not even exclude 'the Revo- of regret. All things rest, and are glad lution,' whose current is under us still. and beautiful in their spheres. Violate Space is precious, or it would not be the order of their nature, rob them of difficult to show how deeply the Revolu- their fit surroundings, and they grow tion was indebted to the ideas which this restless, sad, and poor. A plant shut gospel brought into the world. I entire- out from light and moisture will twist itly agree with Lord Blachford that Reve- self into the most fantastic shapes, and lation is the ground on which faith se- strain itself to ghastly tenuity; nay, it curely rests. But the history of the will work its delicate tissues through quickening and the growth of Christian stone walls or hard rock, to find what its society is a factor of enormous moment nature has made needful to its life. in the estimation of the arguments for Having found it, it rests and is glad in the truth of immortality. We are assured its beauty once more. Living things, that the idea had the dullest and even perverted by human intelligent effort, basest origin. Man has a shadow, it revert swiftly the moment that the suggested the idea of a second self to pressure is removed. This marked tenhim! he has memories of departed dency to reversion seems to be set in Nafriends, he gave them a body and made ture as a sign that all things are at rest them ghosts! Very wonderful surely, in their natural conditions, content with that mere figments should be the strong- their life and its sphere. Only in ways est and most productive things in the of which they are wholly unconscious, whole sphere of human activity, and and which rob them of no contentment should have stirred the spirit and led the with their present, do they prepare the march of the strongest, noblest, and most way for the higher developments of life. cultivated peoples; until now, in this What then means this restless longing nineteenth century, we think that we in man for that which lies beyond the have discovered, as Miss Martineau range of his visible world? Has Nature tersely puts it, that 'the theological be- wantonly and cruelly made man, her lief of almost everybody in the civilised masterpiece, alone of all the creatures world is baseless. Let who will believe restless and sad? Of all beings in the it, I cannot.

Creation must he alone be made wretch: It may be urged that the idea has

ed by an unattainable longing, by futile strong fascination, that man naturally dreams of a visionary world? This were longs for immortality, and gladly catches an utter breach of the method of Nature at any figment which seems to respond in all her operations. It is impossible to his yearning and to justify his hope. to believe that the harmony that runs But this belief is among the clearest, through all her spheres fails and falls broadest, and strongest features of his into discord in man. The very order of experience and history. It must flow Nature presses us to the conviction that out of something very deeply iinbedded this insatiable longing which somehow she generates and sustains in man, and which ghastly drearihood of such a vision of is unquestionably the largest feature of life. his life, is not visionary and futile, but There seems to me to run through Mr. profoundly significant; pointing with firm Harrison's utterances on these great subfinger to the reality of that sphere of be- jects-I say it with honest diffidence of ing to which she has taught him to lift his one whose large range of power I so fully thoughts and aspirations, and in which he recognise, but one must speak frankly if will find, unless the prophetic order of this Symposium is to be worth anything the Creation has lied to him, the harmo- -an instinctive yearning towards Chrisnious completeness of his life.

tian ideas, while that faith is denied And there seems to be no fair escape which alone can vivify them and make from the conclusion by giving up the them a living power in our world. There order, and writing Babel on the world and is everywhere a shadowy image of a its life. Whatever it is, it is not confu- Christian substance; but it reminds one sion. Out of its disorder, order palpa- of that formless form, wherein what bly grows; out of its confusion arises a seemed a head, the likeness of a kingly grand and stately progress. Progress is crown had on.' And it is characteristic a sacred word with Mr. Harrison. In the of much of the finest thinking and writprogress of humanity he finds his longed- ing of our times. The saviour Deronda, for immortality. But, if I may repeat in the prophet Mordecai, lack just that livother terms a remark which I offered in ing heart of faith which would put blood the first number of this Review, while into their pallid lineaments, and make progress is the human law, the world, them breathe and move among men. the sphere of the progress, is tending Again, I say that we have largely ourslowly but inevitably to dissolution. Is selves to thank for this saddening feathere discord again in this highest re- ture of the higher life of our times-we gion ? Mr. Harrison writes of an im- who have narrowed God's great kingmortal humanity. How immortal, if the dom to the dimensions of our little theglorious progress is striving to accomplish ological sphere. I am no theologian, itself in a world of wreck? Or is the though intensely interested in the themes progress that of a race born with sore with which the theologians occupy thembut joyful travail from the highest level selves. Urania, with darkened brow, of the material creation into a higher re- may perhaps rebuke my prating. But I gion of being, whence it can watch with seem to see quite clearly that the sad calmness the dissolution of all the per- strain and anguish of our life, social, inishable worlds ?

tellectual, and spiritual, is but the pain The belief in immortality is so dear to by which great stages of growth accomman because he grasps through it the plish themselves. We have quite outcomplement of his else unshaped and grown our venerable, and in its time imperfect life. It seems to be equally large and noble, theological shell. We the complement of this otherwise hope must wait, not fearful, far less hopeless, lessly jangled and disordered world. It while by the help of those who are workis asked triumphantly: Why of all the ing with such admirable energy, courage, hosts of creatures does man alone lay and fidelity, outside the visible Christian claim to this great inheritance ? Be sphere, that spirit in man which searches cause in man alone we see the experi- and cannot but search 'the deep things ences, the strain, the anguish, that de- of God,' creates for itself a new instrumand it, as the sole key to what he does ment of thought which will give to it the and endures. There is to me something mastery of a wider, richer, and nobler horrible in the thought of such a life as world. ours, in which for all of us, in some form

Dr. W. G. WARD. or other, the Cross must be the most sacred symbol, lived out in that bare, Mr. Harrison considers that the Chrisheartless, hopeless world of the material, tian's conception of a future life is so to which Professor Clifford so lightly gross, so sensual, so indolent, so selfish,' limits it. And I cannot but think that as to be unworthy of respectful considthere are strong signs in many quarters eration. He must necessarily be intendof an almost fierce revulsion from the ing to speak of this conception in the

shape in which we Christians entertain the consideration, what it is which at it; because otherwise his words of rep- this or that period God desires at his rehension are unmeaning. But our be- hands. On the whole (not to dwell with lief as to the future life is intimately and unnecessary detail on this part of my indissolubly bound up with our belief as subject) he will be ever opening his to the present; with our belief as to heart to Almighty God; turning to Him what is the true measure and standard for light and strength under emergencies, of human action in this world. And I for comfort under affliction ; pondering would

urge that no part of our doctrine on His adorable attributes ; animated can be rightly apprehended, unless it be towards Him by intense love and tenviewed in its connection with all the derness. Nor need I add how singularrest. This is a fact which (I think) in- ly-how beyond words—this personal fidels often drop out of sight, and for love of God is promoted and facilitated that reason fail of meeting Christianity by the fact

, that a Divine Person has ason its really relevant and critical issues. sumed human nature, and that God's

Of course I consider Catholicity to be human acts and words are so largely exclusively the one authoritative exhibi- offered to the loving contemplation of tion of revealed Christianity. I will set redeemed souls. forth therefore the doctrine to which I In proportion then as a Christian is would call attention, in that particular faithful to his creed, the thought of God form in which Catholic teachers enounce becomes the chief joy of his life. The it; though I am very far indeed from thought of God,' says F. Newman, and intending to deny, that there are multi- nothing short of it, is the happiness of tudes of non-Catholic Christians who man; for though there is much besides hold it also. What then, according to to serve as subject of knowledge, or moCatholics, is the true measure and stand- tive for action, or instument of exciteard of human action ? This is in effect ment, yet the affections require a somethe very first question propounded in thing more vast

and more enduring than our English elementary Catechism. “Why anything created. He alone is sufficient did God make you ?' The prescribed for the heart who made it. The contemanswer is, 'To know Him, serve Him, plation of Him, and nothing but it, is and love Him in this world, and to be able fully to open and relieve the mind, happy with Him for ever in the next.' to unlock, occupy, and fix our affecAnd St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises- tions. We may indeed love things crea work of the very highest authority ated with great intenseness; but such among us-having laid down the very affection, when disjoined from the love same foundation, presently adds, that of the Creator, is like a stream running

we should not wish on our part for in a narrow channel, impetuous, vehehealth rather than for sickness, wealth ment, turbid. The heart runs out, as it rather than poverty, honor rather than were, only at one door; it is not an exignominy ; desiring and choosing those panding of the whole man. Created nathings alone, which are more expedient tures cannot open to us, or elicit, the to us for the end for which we were cre- ten thousand mental senses which belong ated.'. Now what will be the course of to us, and through which we really love. a Christian's life in proportion as he is None but the presence of our Maker can profoundly imbued with such a principle enter us; for to none besides can the as this, and vigorously aims at putting it whole heart in all its thoughts and feelinto practice? The number of believ- ings be unlocked and subjected. It is ers, who apply themselves to this task this feeling of simple and absolute conwith reasonable consistency, is no doubt fidence and communion, which soothes comparatively small. But in proportion and satisfies those to whom it is vouchas any given person does so, he will in safed. We know that even our nearest the first place be deeply penetrated with friends enter into us but partially, and a sense of his moral weakness; and hold intercourse with us only at times; (were it for that reason alone) his life whereas the consciousness of a perfect will more and more be a life of prayer. and enduring presence, and it alone, Then he will necessarily give his mind keeps the heart open. Withdraw the with great earnestness and frequency to object on which it rests, and it will re

[ocr errors]

lapse again into a state of confinement of reason and the facts of experience, so and constraint; and in proportion as it far as it comes into contact with these. · is limited, either to certain seasons or to Yet I admit that various very plausible certain affections, the heart is straitened objections may be adduced against its and distressed.'

truth. Objectors may allege very plausNow Christians hold, that God's faith- ibly, that by the mass of men it cannot ful servants will enjoy hereafter unspeak- be carried into practice; that it disparable bliss, through the most intimate im- ages most unduly the importance of aginable contact with Him whom they things secular; that it is fatal to what have here so tenderly loved. They will they account genuine patriotism ; that it see face to face Him, whose beauty is has always been, and will always be, indimly and faintly adumbrated by the jurious to the progress of science; above most exquisitely transporting beauty all, that it puts men (as one may express which can be found on earth; Him it) on an entirely wrong scent, and leads whose adorable perfections they have in them to neglect many pursuits which, as this life imperfectly contemplated, and being sources of true enjoyment, would for the fuller apprehension of which largely enhance the pleasurableness of they have so earnestly longed here be- life. All this, and much more, may be low. I by no means intend to imply, urged, I think, by antitheists with very that the hope of this blessedness is the great superficial plausibility; and the sole or even the chief inducement which Christian controversialist is bound on leads saintly men to be diligent in serving occasion steadily to confront it. God. Their immediate reason for doing there is one accusation which has been so is their keen sense of His claim on brought against this Christian theory of their allegiance; and, again, the misery life—and that the one mainly (as would which they would experience, through seem) felt by Mr. Harrison—which to their love of Him, at being guilty of any me seems so obviously destitute of foundfailure in that allegiance. Still the pros- ation, that I find difficulty in underpect of that future bliss, which I have so standing how any infidel can have per: imperfectly sketched, is doubtless found suaded himself of its truth : I mean the by them at times of invaluable service, accusation that this theory is a selfish in stimulating them to greater effort, and one. There is no need of here attemptin cheering them under trial and desola- ing a philosophical discussion on the retion.

spective claims of what are now called Such is the view taken by Christians egoism' and ' altruism :' a discussion in of life in heaven; and surely any can- itself (no doubt) one of much interest did infidel will at once admit, that it is and much importance, and one moreprofoundly harmonious and consistent over in which I should be quite prewith their view of what should be man's pared (were it necessary) to engage. life on earth. To say that their antici- Here, however, I will appeal, nct to phipation of the future, as it exists in them, losophy but to history. In the records is gross, sensual, indolent, and selfish, is of the past we find a certain series of so manifestly beyond the mark, that I men, who stand out from the mass of am sure Mr. Harrison will, on reflection, their brethren, as having pre-eminently retract his affirmation. Apart, however, concentrated their energy on the love from this particular comment, my criti- and service of God, and pre-eminently cism of Mr. Harrison would be this. looked away from earthly hopes to the He was bound, I maintain, to consider prospect of their future reward. I refer the Christian theory of life as a whole; to the Saints of the Church. And it is and not to dissociate that part of it a plain matter of fact, which no one will which concerns eternity, from that part attempt to deny, that these very men of it which concerns time.

stand out no less conspicuously from the And now as to the merits of this Chris- rest, in their self-sacrificing and (as we tian theory. For my own part I am, of ordinary men regard it) astounding lacourse, profoundly convinced that, as bors, in behalf of what they believe to on the one hand it is guaranteed by Rev. be the highest interests of mankind. elation, so on the other hand it is that Before I conclude I must not omit a which alone harmonises with the dicta brief comment on one other point, be

on

cause it is the only one on which I can ducible from a combination of these and not concur with Lord Blachford's mas similar truths. The antitheist will of terly paper. I cannot agree with him, course deny that they are truths. Mr. that the doctrine of human immortality Greg, who has himself 'arrived at no fails of being supported by conclusive conviction on the subject of immortalireasoning.' I do not, of course, mean ty, yet says that considerations of the that the dogma of the Beatific Vision is same kind as those which I have enumediscoverable apart from Revelation; but rated 'must be decisive' in favor of imI do account it a truth cognisable with mortality 'to all to whose spirits commucertitude by reason, that the human soul nion with their Father is the most absois naturally immortal, and that retribu- lute of verities.'*

lute of verities.'* Nor have I any reation of one kind or another will be son to think that even Mr. Huxley and awarded us hereafter, according to what Mr. Harrison, if they could concede my our conduct has been in this our state of premisses, would demur to my concluprobation. Here, however, I must ex sion. plain myself. When theists make this

Mr. FREDERIC HARRISON. statement, sometimes they are thought to allege that human immortality is suffi [I have now, not so much to close a ciently proved by phenomena; and some- symposium, or general discussion, as to times they are thought to allege that it reply to the convergent fire of nine sepis almost intuitively evident. For my- arate papers, extending over more than self, however, I make neither of these fifty pages. Neither time, nor space, nor allegations. I hold that the truth in

the indulgence of the reader, would enaquestion is conclusively established by ble me to do justice to the weight of this help of certain premisses; and that these array of criticism, which reaches me in premisses themselves can previously be fragments whilst I am otherwise occupied known with absolute certitude, abroad. I will ask those critics, whom grounds of reason or experience.

I have not been able to notice, to believe They are such as these : (1) There that I have duly considered the powerful exists that Personal Being, infinite in all appeals they have addressed to me. And perfections, whom we call God. (2) He I will ask those who are interested in has implanted in His rational creatures this question, to refer to the original the sense of right and wrong; the know papers in which my views were stated. ledge that a deliberate perpetration of And I will only add, by way of reply, the certain acts intrinsically merits penal following remarks which were, for the retribution. (3) Correlatively, He has most part, written and printed, whilst I conferred freedom on the human will; had nothing before me but the first three or, in other words, has made acts of the papers in this discussion. They contain human will exceptions to that law of uni what I have to say on the theological, form sequence, which otherwise prevails the metaphysical, and the materialist asthroughout the phenomenal world.* (4) pect of this question. For the rest, I By the habit of prayer to God we can could only repeat what I have already obtain augmented strength for moral ac- said in the two original essays.] tion, in a degree which would have been Whether the preceding discussion has quite incredible antecedently to experi- given much new strength to the doctrine ence. (5) Various portions of our di of man's immaterial Soul and Future exvinely given nature clearly point to an istence I will not pretend to decide. eternal destiny. (6) The conscious self But I cannot feel that it has shaken the or ego is entirely heterogeneous to the reality of man's posthumous influence, material world : entirely heterogeneous, my chief and immediate theme. It therefore, to that palpable body of ours, seemed to me that 'the time had come, which is dissolved at the period of death. when, seeing how vague and hesitating

I do not think any one will account it were the prevalent beliefs on this subextravagant to hold, that the doctrine of ject, it was most important to remember human immortality is legitimately de- that, from a purely earthly point of view,

* I shall not, of course, be understood to deny the existence and frequency of miracles.

New SERIES.- Vol. XXVI., No. 6

* See his letter in the Spectator of August 25.

42

« ПредишнаНапред »