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in the sacraments, fatal to the spiritual health of preacher and hearer; or, if sacraments be abandoned as indigestible formalities, too tough for the feeble stomach of "Naturalism,” the mere statedness of worship will become at last an intolerable burden.
To make the ministry profitable, or even tolerable,-I mean the ministry in existing communions, I do not mean those exceptional associations which are formed on the simple basis of prophetism, there must be a decided preponderance of religious sensibility, and even of ecclesiastical consciousness, over speculative and critical tendencies of mind, a preponderance which shall make the positive truths and traditional requirements of the Church seem more important, in the preacher's estimation, than his private speculations or his critical doubts. There is a place for criticism, for thorough, unsparing criticism, and frank negation of all that criticism. finds untenable. I certainly have no quarrel with criticism: I am only speaking of the function of the pulpit in existing ecclesiastical relations. Not critical demolition, but practical edification, it seems to me, is the pulpit's true function. I would not have the preacher ignorant of the negative results of criticism; but they should not stick out in his preaching. He should know how to merge and absorb them in the positive doctrine of his broad and reconciling word. He should not, regardless of time and place, say all he knows, or thinks he knows, much less all that he fancies or suspects.
What! shun to declare the whole counsel of God? Not if you surely know what that counsel is. Who has that certainty? You deny that the whole counsel of God is contained in the Bible. You deny, in the words of another, "that the whole mind of God, as made known to man, has been put in print, and consigned to the bookbinder." Very true! but let this truth be impartially implied. Beware of supposing that the whole mind of God is contained in the text-books of science; that recorded observation embodies all that is, or can be. The dogmatism of theology is bad, but the dogmatism of unbelief is no better.
There is a wisdom, not of concealment (for that implies trickery), but of reticence. So far, I think, the distinction. of esoteric and exoteric is perfectly consistent with Christian simplicity and rectitude of purpose. "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." It takes two to make truth. The object presented is one of the factors; the mind to which it is presented is the other. Truth is a right relation between the two. Change the condition, the point of view of the mind that receives, and you change that relation. The proposition which is true to one mind, with its given conditions, may not be true to another with very different conditions. The truths of science present the same aspect, and therefore are equally true to every mind that is capable of comprehending the literal import of the propositions which contain them. No difference of mental condition can make the statement that an equilateral triangle has equal angles more or less true. But outside of the realm of exact science, and especially in the region of theology, you can hardly lay down a proposition which shall be absolutely true to all minds and times. Hence the separation which philosophy has sought to establish between the field of science proper and the supersensuous world of metaphysic and religion. In that separation consists the essence of what is called the "Positive Philosophy." It has recently been proposed to apply the principle of positivism to theology, and religion has been declared to be in danger of dissolution unless that application is made. The proposition mistakes, I think, the essential nature of the subject. The truths of theology are not topics of scientific knowledge, but of faith. We cannot know them as we know the facts of science, although the assurance of them may be as great or greater than that which science gives. In religion
"We have but faith, we cannot know;
We may systematize those facts of psychology on which the truths of theology rest, and may formulate inferences from them; but the gulf which divides the facts experienced from the facts inferred, the beliefs from the objects of those
beliefs, is one which no science can bridge. Respect "the deep irony of God," which baffles every attempt to fix his idea by scientific demonstration.
But, waiving all this, the proper element of religion, the only element in which religion can thrive and be a power in society, is an element of mystery and faith, the very opposite of positivism. Explode that element, and you have a caput mortuum, intelligible enough, but soulless and powerless, a mummy instead of a living organism. For here especially it is true that
"Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous forms of things
The world of knowledge and the world of faith are principially distinct. They are not even concentric circles. The world of science is a little epicycle which rides the deferent of an unknown orb.
It is a great mistake to suppose that religion is the offspring of theology. On the contrary, theology is the offspring of religion. Science would never give it: scarcely will science recognize it. Even now, in some of its prominent representatives, science prefers an atheology instead. You may substitute science for religion; but you cannot identify them, you cannot square them. It is like squaring the circle, an insoluble problem. Therefore I say, " The Bible. or the Mathematics," the spirit or the flesh, -as the basis of preaching.
"Theism and atheism," it is said, "are in the scales, and Science holds the balance." The saying reminds me of many things. "To-morrow, gentlemen, I shall make you a God," said Science, speaking through the lips of a German professor. And certainly Fichte was as well qualified for this species of manufacture as any Positive philosopher of our time. Carlyle once told me of a man who came to him with a cherished project. The age had lost its God, he said; thence all the woes of this evil time. Something must be done, and that straightway. He had hit upon a plan for remedying the difficulty, a cheap magazine, to be called the "Elah." Would
Mr. Carlyle be a contributor, and so aid the good work of restoring God to the people of Great Britain?
Heinrich Heine, whose sarcasms had not always so legiti mate an object, has satirized the application of science to theology, alike in its negative and positive results. He likens Kant to Robespierre, and thinks the former the greater terrorist of the two.
"The Critique of Pure Reason' was the sword with which Theism was beheaded in Germany." "You French are tame people compared with us Germans. The most you could do was to behead a king, and he had lost his head already before you cut it off. And, in doing that, you made a drumming and a screaming and a trampling with the feet that shook the whole earth. Really, it is doing Maximilien Robespierre too much honor to compare him with Immanuel Kant." "Kant far exceeded Robespierre in terrorism; but they had much in common. In both there was a spice of cockneyism. Nature had designed them to weigh coffee and sugar; but Fate willed that they should weigh quite other things, and placed for one a King, for the other a God, in the scales." "Since Kant's polemic, theism has been extinct in the realm of speculative reason. It will take some centuries to disseminate the doleful tidings; but we philosophers have put on mourning long ago. You think you can go home now. Wait a bit. There is another piece to be performed. After the tragedy comes the farce. Hitherto Kant has shown himself the inexorable philosopher. He has stormed heaven and earth, and made the whole celestial concern walk the plank. The Sovereign of the universe lies weltering in his blood, unproved. There is no infinite mercy, no fatherly goodness, no reward beyond the grave for continence here. The immortality of the soul lies at the last Everywhere death-rattle and death-moans; and old Lampe [Kant's servant] stands by, a mournful spectator, with tears in his But now Immanuel Kant has compassion, and shows that he is not only a great philosopher, but a good man. And he says to himself, half good-naturedly, half ironically, 'Old Lampe must have a God, he can't be happy without; and man was made to be happy. So says practical reason. Well, then, let practical reason vouch for
the being of God.'"
Alas for mankind if Science holds the balance between theism and atheism! I have a notion that He who "hath
comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales," himself holds the balance, where Science, with her shallow theisms and atheisms, the one as shallow as the other, are in one scale, and the everlasting Mystery in the other; and I rather think that wise men at present, after the example of Lessing, will cast their votes into the latter scale.
The first attempt to apply positivism to theology, according to an ancient myth, was made by a youth at Sais, who sought certainty behind a forbidden veil, and found death. The meaning of the myth is fitly expressed in the phrase "dead certainty." A very significant phrase! We say a calculation is reduced to a dead certainty. Observe the fatal propriety of the word "dead" in this connection. Absolute certainty belongs to the past,-fait accompli. And the past is dead. Dead certainty, the death of inquiry, the death of expectation, the death of hope.
Do you want absolute certainty in religion, the understanding's ultimate? You want death. Will you look into the sepulchre for the Lord of life? He is not there, "he is risen." Behold, he re-appears! Will you pin him now with your inquiries? A cloud receives him out of your sight. Will you peer into the blue for the vanishing assurance? "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" Go to work; and the Comforter, Truth, will come down out of the heavens, and work by your side.
The scientific mind of the age has fallen out with its ecclesiasticism. Whose is the fault? No blame to either party. It is a mutual misunderstanding, such as will sometimes arise in well-regulated families. For both belong to one family after all, — Christian society. A temporary misunderstanding. Mutual jealousy of each other's rights. Ecclesiasticism, good mother, refuses to perceive that her full-grown daughter, Science, having now arrived to years of discretion, can no longer be kept in leading-strings, and fed on pap, but must be allowed to judge for herself, and to regulate her own diet. And when the fond dame pursues the strapping lass with bib and porringer, "Here, my love, is the sincere milk of the word, better