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Copyright, 1895,
By M ACM ill an AND CO.

Set up and electrotyped November, 1895. Reprinted October,
1896; January, 1899 '■ January, 1902.

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During the last twenty-five years there have
been great changes in the thought of the world.
At the beginning of that time the doctrine of
evolution was just coming to the front and had
hardly begun to be applied to the sciences of
theology and of human society. The very word
sociology was nearly if not quite unknown. The
method of human reasoning was largely a priori.
But during the last few years all has been
changed. Now the science of sociology has
taken its place beside theology, and even dis-
putes its claim to be queen of the sciences ; now
theology itself is studied inductively. Its teachers
no longer form their theories and then endeavour
to adjust facts to them; but they study the facts
of human nature and divine revelation and from
them derive their theories. In some respects
the progress of science has affected theology
very little. It has in no way altered our doc-
trines of God, of the need of human redemption,
or of the fact that such redemption has been



provided. But, on the other hand, it has given
a philosophical basis for what the early theo-
logians loosely called " original sin ; " it has made
necessary an entirely new study of the doctrine
of the will and of human accountability. More
than most persons dream, the old ways of pre-
senting such truths have disappeared, and would
no longer be tolerated even by those that call
themselves conservc^tives. There is no philo-
sophical basis for the ideas of reprobation and
condemnation for sins never committed. There
is no longer need of arguing against such teach-
ing ; it has gone, and would nevermore be heard
if it were not raised from its grave every now
and then by over-zealous opponents, who igno-
rantly imagine that they are fighting against
living antagonists. It would be a great gain
in Christian pulpits if there could be a clearer
understanding of what is already dead and buried.
The living forces of evil are so numerous and
so vital that no time should be spent in battling
against exploded theories.

Among all the changes wrought by science,
no fact is clearer than that it has made essential
an entirely new system of education. The old
educators studied books ; the new study life : the
old emphasized knowledge; the new say, Not


less knowledge but more careful study of the
pupil. Formerly the world asked, What do
these teachers know about arithmetic, grammar,
geography, etc. .-" but now the inquiry is also,
What do these teachers know about children ?

In the same way, all that belongs to the sphere
of penology has undergone a radical transforma-
tion. The old theories were that the offender
was an object of vengeance, and that it was the
duty of government merely to protect itself and
punish law-breakers ; but the new teaching is
that no criminal ceases to be a man, and that
government is charged not only with the pro-
tection of its citizens but also with the salvation
of its offenders. This teaching is yet only dimly
realized, and is still vigorously denounced by
many v/ho have not fully grasped the teachings
of Christ ; but it is steadily making headway, and
it cannot be long before the redemptive duties
of government will be better appreciated. In
order that that duty may be properly discharged,
the criminal classes must be carefully studied in
themselves. What are these men in their essen-
tial nature .-• What tendencies are in them ?
Where did their tendencies come from .-• What
forces are at work upon them .-' No man is fit
to make laws for criminal classes that has not


made a study of heredity and the circumstances
in which human life is passed.

Moreover, in these days, in theological circles
at least, much is being said about "the return
to Christ," and the demand is that all questions
of theology and sociology should be referred to
Him for adjustment. All this is well; but the
return to Christ means not only a return to His
teaching but a new study of His person. Why
should He be trusted more than others ? If He
is to be ranked in the category of the world's
teachers, the return to Christ means one thing ;
if He was a unique Being who cannot be classi-
fied with the seers, sages, and masters of the
past, the answer will be altogether different.
This book is not an attempt at anything original
in the way of scientific investigation ; it takes
facts that are now the commonplaces of science
and endeavours to apply them to some of the
problems that face every Christian thinker and
worker, and, indeed, almost every man of every
phase of faith who seeks the welfare of his
fellow-men. It is not offered as a solution of
ever-recurring problems, but it is hoped that it
may help at least a little toward their solution.
The problems of the ages are the same. Each
generation as it passes adds a little to the sum



of human knowledge, and some time in the long
future, as the result of the labours of those that
have gone before them, we may hope that men
will no more see " through a glass darkly, but
face to face." In the meantime, it is occasion
for devout thanksgiving that, largely as the re-
sult of recent scientific progress, the views con-
cerning duty and responsibility are becoming
juster and more humane ; the outlook on the
world's weakness and sorrow, its vice and crime,
not quite so discouraging ; the doctrines concern-
ing God and human destiny far more worthy of
His immortal children.

It remains for me only to say that this book
condenses many years of study and thought.
Its chapters have been written at different times
and for different occasions ; some of them have
seen the light in magazines and reviews, but
it is my hope that they may be found not without
unity in thought and aim, even though their form
may sometimes suggest the diverse circumstances
under which they have been prepared. In almost
every case I have made full acknowledgment
of my indebtedness to various authors. In a
few instances, however, the full reference has
been lost. In such cases I have still referred
to the authors, when known, without attempt-


ing to say exactly where the quotations may be

I would seem ungrateful did I not here ac-
knowledge the valuable assistance that I have
received in the way of revision from my friend,
the Rev. William Forbes Cooley, of Chatham,
N.J., who has rendered me most efficient ser-
vice, and from my tireless secretary. Miss J. E.
Lockwood, who has read and worked over these
chapters until she must almost know them by


First Congregational Church,

MONTCLAIR, New Jersey,

June 29, 1895.




The Law of Heredity i

Theories of Heredity 14

Physical Heredity 23

Intellectual and Moral Heredity 35

Environment 53

The Problem of the Will 70


The Problem of the Home ...... 102



The Problem of Education

I 20

The Problem of Pauperism . . . • • -139

The Problem of Vice and Crime I73

The Problem of Sin and the Race . . . • ^97

The Problem of Faith 214

The Problem of the Person of Christ . . . .242


Conclusion ^7°

Index ^77




The problem of which this book is a study is the
relation of heredity and environment to thought
and conduct, with especial reference to the facts
and theories of religion ; or, phrasing it differently,
heredity and environment as factors to be con-
sidered by students of theology and ethics, and
by servants of humanity. My object is purely
^ practical. While I have studied the subject care-
t fully for many years, I cannot claim to be, in the
*^ strict scientific sense, an original investigator.
^ In these pages the well-attested results of the
researches of others are gathered and weighed,
not so much for a more exact knowledge of the
subjects themselves, as for a clearer understand-
ing of their bearing upon the life of man and the
modifications they call for in the theories concern-
ing human duty and responsibility.


No careful observer can have failed to note that
there is a growing freedom and an ampler knowl-
edge in the treatment of all the problems that
most clearly concern the individual and society.
The sanctity of facts is now unquestioned. It is,
no doubt, easier to study man from the standpoint
of the speculative philosopher or the dogmatic
theologian than by inductive research into our
essential nature and actual environment, but the
result of the former process is only deeper dark-
ness. Inductive study alone can furnish reliable
knowledge concerning duty and responsibility —
what man ought to do and to answer for.

I begin with a definition of terms, though that
is hardly necessary, since few words are now
better understood than heredity and environ-
ment. Heredity is the law through which the
individual receives from his parents by birth his
chief vital forces and tendencies, his physical and
spiritual capital ; environment consists of " all the
events and conditions " ^ surrounding him after-
wards that modify his nature and change the
tendency of his life.

Two laws govern the transmission of life, viz.
the law of uniformity, and the law of diversity.
The latter is shrouded in mystery. It is the sub-

1 The Jukes, Dugdale, p. I2.



ject of much controversy, and will be considered

"Heredity," says Ribot, "is that biological law
by which all beings endowed with life tend to
repeat themselves in their descendants ; it is for
the species what personal identity is for the indi-
vidual. By it a groundwork remains unchanged
amid incessant variation ; by it Nature ever copies
and imitates herself." ^ According to Weismann,
it is " the process which renders possible that per-
sistence of organic beings throughout successive
generations, which is generally thought to be so
well understood and to need no special explana-
tion." ^ It is "that property of an organism by
which its peculiar nature is transmitted to its
descendants."^ Each child not only is related
to the whole race as a species, but is in a peculiar
sense the offspring of individuals, bearing within
him signs of his parentage, not only in his bodily
organism, but also, with equal clearness, in his
mental and spiritual constitution.'* And this an-
cestral influence is so prevailing that the charac-
teristics of the child and all his tendencies, if not

^ Heredity', Ribot, ji__u

2 Essays on Heredity, Weismann, Oxford Translation, p. 71.

8 Ibid. p. 72.

* A Physician's Problems, Elam, p. I.


determined before his birth, are at least so clearly
defined, that for him to go outside the lines laid
down by his ancestry will be very difficult.

The law of heredity I make no effort to estab-
lish ; I assume it. It is not doubted by careful
students of human nature, any more than by stu-
dents of biology. The mistake should not be
made of supposing that it is a new discovery, one
of the as yet unproven hypotheses of modern
science ; or that we owe our knowledge of it to
Charles Darwin, August Weismann, and a few
other scientists. These men have indeed done
much in this field of research, but heredity and
environment have been recognized as the most
potent forces in the development of life as long
as history has been written.

In what sense is there a law of heredity }
Laws in nature are known only as the results
of processes of induction. From the phenomena
of nature and life an invariable order is inferred.
The something in obedience to which that order
results we call laws, and to a knowledge of these
we rise by the study of apparently isolated facts.
" Suppose," says Ribot, " all the facts of the
physical and moral universe reduced to a thou-
sand secondary laws, and these to a dozen prim-
itive laws, which are the final and irreducible


elements of the world ; let us represent each by
a thread of peculiar colour, itself formed by a col-
lection of finer threads ; a superior force — God,
Nature, Chance, it matters not what — is ever
weaving, knotting, and unknotting these, and
transforming them into various patterns. To the
ordinary mind there is nothing besides these knots
and these patterns ; for it these are the only
reality ; beyond them it knows nothing, suspects
nothing. But the man of science sets to work ;
he unties the knots, unravels the patterns, and
shows that all the reality is in the threads. Then
the antagonism between fact and law disappears;
facts are but a synthesis of laws, laws an analysis
of facts." ^ If, now, we unravel the fabric of
human life, shall we find the threads of heredity
in its warp .-' Without doubt we shall. There
are easily verified facts in abundance which
make it evident that heredity is a veritable law,
holding true at once in the physical, the mental,
and the moral spheres.

(i) By the act of generation all that distin-
guishes species as species is invariably transmit-
ted. " Like produces like." Monkeys always
give birth to monkeys ; birds to birds ; fish are
the offspring of fish ; and human beings inva-

1 Heredity, Ribot, p. 136.


riably spring from human parents. No question
is ever raised as to whether "like produces like"
so far as it concerns the transmission of the char-
acteristics of the species.

(2) Race peculiarities are also invariably trans-
mitted. The child of Caucasian parents — of the
pure stock — is always Caucasian in colour, in
figure, in mental aptitudes, in moral tendencies.
"A spaniel was ne'^er produced by a bull-dog,"
nor a canary by an eagle. A Shetland pony
never gave birth to an Arab steed, nor a South-
ern mustang to the great dray-horses whose legs
of iron transport the produce of our cities. Pure-
blooded whites never have negro children, or vice

(3) Family and individual characteristics are
also hereditary. The aquiline nose of the Bour-
bon family, the fecundity of the Guises and Mont-
morencies, the taste for natural history of the
Darwins, and the faculty — not to say genius —
of the Bachs for music are too well known to need
more than mention. On the fact that purely in-
dividual characteristics are hereditary are based
many of the rules of life insurance. Men expect
that children will resemble their parents, or not
very remote ancestors, as regards tendencies to
health or disease.



Therefore I think we may say with Ribot,
" Heredity always governs those broadly general
characteristics which determine the species, always
those less general characteristics which constitute
the variety, and often individual characteristicSo
Hence the evident conclusion that heredity is
the law, non-heredity the exception. Suppose a
■father and mother — both large, strong, healthy,
active, and intelligent — produce a son and a
daughter possessing the opposite qualities. In
this instance, wherein heredity seems completely
set aside, it still holds good that the differences
between parents and children are but slight as
compared with the resemblances." ^

Heredity acts in four ways:^ —

(i) Direct- Heredity, when the qualities of both
parents are transmitted to their offspring. Of
this there are two forms : — •

ia) When the child takes after both parents
equally. Of this there are probably no perfect
examples. The disturbing conditions are so nu-
merous as to make this type all but impossible ;
so that practically there is always in the child
a preponderance of one of the parents.

{b) When the child takes after both parents,

1 Heredity^ Ribot, pp. 144, 145.

2 Ibid. p. 147.


but more especially resembles one of them.
Here, again, there are two forms: (i) When
the heredity takes place in the same sex; and
(2) when it occurs between different sexes, —
the more common form.

(2) Reversional Heredity, Atavism, consists in
the reproduction in the descendants of the moral
or physical qualities of their ancestors. It occurs
frequently between grandfather and grandson,
grandmother and granddaughter.

(3) Collateral, or Indirect Heredity, which is
of rarer occurrence than the foregoing, exists,
as indicated by its name, between individuals and
their ancestors in the indirect line, — uncle or
grand-uncle and nephew, aunt and niece. It is
another form of atavism, and occurs where there
is " ' representation of collaterals in the physical
and moral character of the progeny.' We often
observe," Ribot continues, "between distant rela-
tives . . . striking resemblances of conformation,
face, inclinations, passions, character, deformity,
and disease." ^

(4) Heredity of Influence, very rare from the
physiological point of view, and probably not
proved in any single instance in the moral order.
" It consists in the reproduction in the children

'^Heredity, Ribot, pp, 170, 171.


by a second marriage of some peculiarity belong-
ing to a former spouse." ^ Of this I will not
speak. It has no special bearing on the present
line of thought.

It is not within the scope of this paper to show
that this classification is correct. It rests on an
extended induction of facts which has been made
with great care by such general investigators as
Lamarck, Darwin, Mivart, and Wallace, and such
special students of heredity as Lucas, Morel,
Ribot, Galton, Elam, and Brooks.

There are exceptions to this law, but they are
neither so numerous nor so inexplicable as are
sometimes supposed.

Spontaneity has undoubted play, and in cases
of genius seems to have supreme control; but it
is a question whether a more careful induction of
facts would not show what are called exceptions,
or spontaneous variations from the primitive type,
to be in thousands of instances only suppressed
or exaggerated heredity. In many other cases
they could doubtless be traced to the influence
of prenatal environment. It is true that beauti-
ful children are sometimes born of ugly parents.
So, also, there are on record numerous cases of
monstrosities, such as that of Edward Lambert

^ Heredity, Ribot, p. 147.


and his sons and grandchildren, which I will
mention again, where the conflict between the
tendency to return to the normal type and the
tendency toward reproduction is plainly discern-
ible. Besides these the following apparent ex-
ceptions to our law have been noted. Pericles
had two imbeciles and one maniac in his family.
Thucydides was the father of a fool and a block-
head. The great Germanicus was the father of
Caligula, Vespasian of Domitian, and Marcus
Aurelius of Commodus. "And," says Lucas, "in
modern history it is enough to mention the sons
of Henry IV., Louis XIV., and of Cromwell."

Concerning all exceptions to the law of hered-
ity there are two theories : (i) That of Lucas,
who holds that " the biologic fact of generation
is governed by two laws, — one of spontaneity,
the other of heredity." (2) That of Ribot, who
maintains that "the causes of spontaneity are
only accidental ; it is never more than a chance,
the result of the fortuitous play and concurrence
of natural laws ; but it is not the effect of any
distinct and special law. On this theory there
would be one law of heredity with its excep-
tions, not two laws, the one of heredity, the
other of spontaneity."^

^ Heredity, Ribot, p. 199.


Brooks inclines to the former view. Accord-
ing to him, " We find in all except the lowest
organisms that heredity is brought about by two
dissimilar reproductive elements, and we find that
each organism is the resultant of two factors —
heredity and variation." ^ Again: "The fact," he
says, " that variation is due to the male influence,
and that the action upon the male parent of un-
natural or changed conditions results in the varia-
bility of the child, is well shown by crossing the
hybrid with the pure species, for when the male
hybrid is crossed with a pure female the children
are much more variable than those born of a
hybrid mother by a pure father."^ In other
words, Brooks makes the predominant influence
of the male parent, and not mere chance, the
cause of variation. Heredity, then, would be
the special function of the female line.

The position of Schopenhauer in his purely
metaphysical system is substantially this, although
his starting-point is antipodal. As interpreted by
Ribot he held that " Whatever is primary and
fundamental in the individual — character, pas-
sions, tendencies — is inherited from the father;
the intelligence, a secondary and derivative fac-

^ Heredity, Brooks, p. 314.
"^ Ibid. p. 321.


ulty, directly from the mother. He was pleased
to imagine that he found in his own person the
irrefutable evidence of this doctrine. Intellectual
and subtle like his mother, who had literary tastes
and lived in Goethe's circle at Weimar, he was,
like his father, shy, obstinate, intractable ; he
was a man of ' scowling mien and of fantastic
judgments.' "^

It has been often affirmed also that sons re-
semble their mothers and daughters their fathers.
A careful examination of statistical tables, such
as those of Galton, shows that the reverse is so
often true as to vitiate all theories which rest on
that foundation. With the object of our inquiry
the causes of variation might seem to be of sec-
ondary importance. The relation of heredity
to the will, to character, to religion, seems at
first to be the same, whatever the theory as to
the cause of the exceptions. A very serious fact,
however, and a far-reaching question confront
us at this point. The fact is that the word varia-
tion is only a general term for the beginnings of
improvement or of decline. The question is,
whether man can so control or influence varia-
tion as to insure progress and prevent degenera-
tion } In other words, Can acquired traits be

^ Heredity, Ribot, p. 154.


transmitted to descendants ? This introduces us
to a great discussion in which, in our time, Her-
bert Spencer and August Weismann are the
leaders. Without entering into that discussion,
I shall in the next chapter endeavour to interpret
the two theories.



Students of biology have ranged themselves
into hostile camps, controversy between which
has at times raged with a severity almost worthy
of theologians in the days of bell, book, and
candle. On the one side are those that believe
in the transmissibility of acquired characteristics,
and on the other those that disbelieve in it.
Latterly, these parties have been led by Herbert
Spencer and August Weismann, the latter a pro-
fessor in the University of Freiburg ; Charles
Darwin being on the side of Spencer, and Hackel
on the side of Weismann. Of these masters of
science, the latter has probably the greater repu-
tation as an original investigator, while the
former is the pre-eminent English philosopher
of our time. It is not easy to state in simple
terms the exact difference between their theories.
They agree as to the fact of heredity, and differ
but little in their definitions. They are at vari-
ance chiefly in their explanations of the process

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Online LibraryAmory Howe BradfordHeredity and Christian problems → online text (page 1 of 15)