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EDITED BY THE REV. WM. C. PIERCY, M.A.

DEAN AND CHAPLAIN OF WHITELANDS COLLEGE



CHARACTER AND RELIGION

EDWARD LYTTELTON, M.A., B.D.



LIBRARY OF HISTORIC THEOLOGY

Edited by the Rev. Wm. C. PIERCY, M.A.
VOLUMES NOW READY.

THE PRESENT RELATIONS OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION.

By the Rev. Professor T. G. Bonney, D.Sc.
ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

By Professor Edodard Naville, D.C.L.
MARRIAGE IN CHURCH AND STATE.

By the Rev. T. A. Lacey, M.A. (Warden of the London Diocesan Penitentiary).
THE BUILDING UP OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

By the Rev. Canon R. B. Girdlestone, M.A.
CHRISTIANITY AND OTHER FAITHS. An Essay in Comparative Religion,

By the Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, D.D,
THE CHURCHES IN BRITAIN. Vols. I. and //.

By the Rev. Alfred Plummer, D.D. (formerly Master of University College, Durham).
CHARACTER AND RELIGION.

By the Rev. the Hon. Edward Lyttelton, M.A. (Head Master of Eton College),
MISSIONARY METHODS, ST. PAUL'S OR OURS ?

By the Rev. Roland Allen, M.A. (Author of " Missionary Principles ").
THE RULE OF FAITH AND HOPE.

By the Rev. R. L. Ottley, D.D. (Canon of Christ Church, and Regius Professor
of Pastoral Theology in the University of Oxford),
THE RULE OF LIFE AND LOVE.

By the Rev. R. L. Ottley, D.D.
THE CREEDS : THEIR HISTORY, NATURE AND USE.

By the Rev. Harold Smith, M.A. (Lecturer at the London College of Divinity),
THE CHRISTOLOGY OF ST. PAUL (Hulsean Prize Essay).

By the Rev. S. Nowell Rostron, M.A. (Late Principal of St. John's Hall, Durham).
MYSTICISM IN CHRISTIANITY.

By the Rev. W. K. Fleming, M.A., B.D.
RELIGION IN AN AGE OF DOUBT.

By the Rev. C. J. Shebbeare, M.A.

The following works are in Preparation : —

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION! ITS
PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE.

By the Rev. Prebendary B. Reynolds.



AUTHORITY AND FREETHOUGHT
IN THE MIDDLE AGES.

By the Rev. F. W. Bussell, D.D.
EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE.

By the Rev. Wm. C. Piercy, M.A.
GOD AND MAN, ONE CHRIST.

By the Rev. Charles E. Raven, MA.

GREEK THOUGHT AND
CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE.

By the Rev. J. K. Mozley, M.A.

THE GREAT SCHISM BETWEEN
THE EAST AND WEST.

By the Rev. F. J. Foakes-Jackson, D.D.

THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL IN
OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY.
By the Rev. A. Troelstra, D.D.

Full particulars of this Library may be obtained from the Publisher.



THE CATHOLIC CONCEPTION OF
THE CHURCH.

By the Rev. W. J. Sparrow Simpson, D.D.
COMMON OBJECTIONS
TO CHRISTIANITY.

By the Rev. C. L. Drawbridge, M.A.

THE CHURCH OUTSIDE THE EMPIRE.

By the Rev. C. R. Davey Biggs, D.D.

THE NATURE OF FAITH AND THE
CONDITIONS OF ITS PROSPERITY.

By the Rev. P. N. Waggett, M.A.
THE ETHICS OF TEMPTATION.

By the Ven. E. E. Holmes, M.A.



NEW YORK: FLEMING H. REVELL CO.



CHARACTER AND
RELIGION



BY THE REV. THE HON.

EDWARD LYTTELTON, M.A., B.D.

HEADMASTER OF ETON COLLEGE
AUTHOR OF "THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT," ETC.



" Plutarch has left a tract, kindly and sensible, on
' How a man may recognise his own progress in virtue, '
but there is no native Christian product of the kind."

— Glover.



4







NEW YORK CHICAGO

FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

MCMXII



mm



ASTOR, LE JOX AND
TILDE



THIS BOOK I» DEDICATED WITH MUCH GRATITUDE TO

EDWARD STUART TALBOT,

LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.






EDITOR'S GENERAL PREFACE

IN no branch of human knowledge has there been a more
lively increase of the spirit of research during the past few
years than in the study of Theology.

Many points of doctrine have been passing afresh through
the crucible ; " re-statement " is a popular cry and, in some
directions, a real requirement of the age ; the additions to
our actual materials, both as regards ancient manuscripts and
archaeological discoveries, have never before been so great as
in recent years ; linguistic knowledge has advanced with the
fuller possibilities provided by the constant addition of more
data for comparative study, cuneiform inscriptions have been
deciphered and forgotten peoples, records, and even tongues,
revealed anew as the outcome of diligent, skilful and devoted
study.

Scholars have specialized to so great an extent that many con-
clusions are less speculative than they were, while many more
aids are thus available for arriving at a general judgment ; and,
in some directions, at least, the time for drawing such general
conclusions, and so making practical use of such specialized
research, seems to have come, or to be close at hand.

Many people, therefore, including the large mass of the parochial
clergy and students, desire to have in an accessible form a review
of the results of this flood of new light on many topics that are of
living and vital interest to the Faith ; and, at the same time,
" practical " questions — by which is really denoted merely the
application of faith to life and to the needs of the day — have
certainly lost none of their interest, but rather loom larger than
ever if the Church is adequately to fulfil her Mission.

It thus seems an appropriate time for the issue of a new series
of theological works, which shall aim at presenting a general
survey of the present position of thought and knowledge in
various branches of the wide field which is included in the study
of divinity.

vii



viii EDITOR'S GENERAL PREFACE

The Library of Historic Theology is designed to supply such
a series, written by men of known reputation as thinkers and
scholars, teachers and divines, who are, one and all, firm upholders
of the Faith.

It will not deal merely with doctrinal subjects, though pro-
minence will be given to these ; but great importance will be
attached also to history — the sure foundation of all progressive
knowledge — and even the more strictly doctrinal subjects will
be largely dealt with from this point of view, a point of view the
value of which in regard to the " practical " subjects is too
obvious to need emphasis.

It would be clearly outside the scope of this series to deal with
individual books of the Bible or of later Christian writings, with
the lives of individuals, or with merely minor (and often highly
controversial) points of Church governance, except in so far as
these come into the general review of the situation. This de-
tailed study, invaluable as it is, is already abundant in many
series of commentaries, texts, biographies, dictionaries and mono-
graphs, and would overload far too heavily such a series as the
present.

The Editor desires it to be distinctly understood that the
various contributors to the series have no responsibility whatso-
ever for the conclusions or particular views expressed in any
volumes other than their own, and that he himself has not felt
that it comes within the scope of an editor's work, in a series of
this kind, to interfere with the personal views of the writers. He
must, therefore, leave to them their full responsibility for their
own conclusions.

Shades of opinion and differences of judgment must exist, if
thought is not to be at a standstill — petrified into an unpro-
ductive fossil ; but while neither the Editor nor all their readers
can be expected to agree with every point of view in the details
of the discussions in all these volumes, he is convinced that the
great principles which lie behind every volume are such as must
conduce to the strengthening of the Faith and to the glory of
God.

That this may be so is the one desire of Editor and contributors
alike.

W. C. P.

London.



Preface

THIS book is an attempt to show that while human
character is greatly impoverished and perverted
if the graces summed up as Humility be wanting to it,
yet it is impossible to see how they can ever have been
fostered into vigour and duly recognized in their beauty,
except under the influence of strong clear belief in Christ
as God, and in His work as a redeeming work, revealing
to us the infinite Love of God.

To bring this out certain forms of popular Christianity
have been examined, and their inadequacy in respect of
the encouragement of Humility noted. In particular
the value of the teaching and human example of Christ
under any hypothesis other than that of Christianity has
been weighed in Appendix A. Brief investigations into
the possibility of Humility, as a recognized virtue, being
derived from Greek philosophy have been added.

In the chapter entitled " A Year After," I have ex-
patiated into subjects somewhat away from the main
theme of the book, into the question whether the claim
advanced for " dogmatic " religion can be acceptable to
a simple-hearted, practically-minded man ? Is it not too
mystical ? Any reader on coming to the conclusion of
the other chapters might feel this difficulty, and cer-
tainly it is commonly felt nowadays. I have, there-
fore, dealt with it in a dialogue, and included a further
enquiry, whether from the " morality " starting point,
hopefulness is possible.

Perhaps a caution is needed. As Humility is taken
as a convenient title for the group of such qualities as
self-forgetfulness, lack of self-assertiveness, humble esti-

iz



x PREFACE

mate of self, it may be found that in one part of the
discussion one of these virtues is treated more specially
than in another ; and that consequently the definition
of Humility is not very clear cut. This, which was hardly
to be avoided, will not be a disadvantage to the discus-
sion, if it is remembered that the main argument applies
in reality to a rather larger area of ethics than that covered
by the word Humility, however broadly understood.
Such virtues as Hopefulness, Perseverance and Charity
might be equally used as illustration of the principle as
is here set forth and discussed, though of course the line
of argument would not be the same.

In other words, this treatise is a contribution to the
question recently come into prominence, how far are we,
ordinary people, justified in believing that character can
be trained on moral principles alone. My conviction is
that all that is noble and satisfying and fruitful in human
life is not only God's gift, but lives and grows in propor-
tion as man recognizes that it is His gift. Also that all
serious-minded " moralists " are religious, sometimes
without knowing it. Writing, then, in support of this
conviction, I have tried to isolate one group of good
qualities instead of dealing with an indefinite number.

The larger part of the discussion is cast into dialogue
form, simply for the purpose of making it less monotonous
to the reader. I have tried to avoid the fault of under-
stating adverse arguments, though probably only a few
readers will think the attempt successful.

My thanks are due to the Rev. Dr. Ulingworth and
Canon L. Ragg for kindly reading the manuscript and
making suggestions.

E. LYTTELTON.
Eton,

March, 1912.



CONTENTS

(The numbers refer to pages.)



PAGES



CHAPTER I
Introduction ....... r-8

Prevailing modern preference for Conduct as distinct
from dogma or mysticism in Religion. The
difficulty presented by the training of children,
and by the general interest in Religion. Possi-
bility of harmonizing two views

CHAPTER II

The Essence of Virtue ..... 9-19

The absence of Egoism : delineated in 1 Cor. xiii.
How much admired : instances in public and
private life : the mystery connected with it.
Humility in this sense beautiful rather than
useful : uncongenial to ordinary men

CHAPTER III

Some of the Plain Man's Principles . . . 20-61

Can any of them account for the high estimate of
Humility ? Possible influence of Evolution
investigated. Humility described. How far
in agreement with the creed of the " plain "
man ? The creed described (30 sqq.). The
bearing on Humility of a bare belief in con-
science. Dialogue between B and a con-
scientious man A. Dialogue between B and
a Theist C on the basis of Humility (38-44).
Dialogue between B and an " orthodox " Chris-
tian D (47-61). A possible basis for Humility
still wanted : Christ's Example and moral
xi



xii CONTENTS

PAGES

Teaching. The burden of the Moral Law. The
demand of man for reasonableness in moral
precepts. Historical aspect of question (54).
The Greek contribution. In the absence of a
ground-principle, Humility unattractive and
useless (57). Is Ambition always wrong ? (59

CHAPTER IV

The Discussion Continued ..... 62-67

B presses for some foundation for morality in
general, and for the possibility of moral
improvement. The difficulties of Prayer. D
is silenced.

CHAPTER V

The Rector's Guest ...... 68-79

B's misgivings, especially as to his training of his
children. Suspects Christianity may be right
after all. Meets E. Discussion (72-79).
Has the Divinity of Christ any connexion
with the subject of Humility ? E upsets
B's self-complacency on the subject of
hypocrisy, and blatant self-assertion, by
applying the false principle to his son.

CHAPTER VI
The Key in the Divinity of Christ . . . 80-134

Discussion Continued.

B thinks over the situation, and craves for more
light. Discussion renewed : what basis can
there be for the gentler virtues ? (83-87).
E begins his exposition : warning about the
function of reason (87). The answer not to
be found in Christ's Example, for on the
human hypothesis humility is absent (88-93).
So on same hypothesis the warrant for other
virtues fails (95) and heroism generally (96-99).
Then could the hypothesis be a delusion



CONTENTS xiii

PAGES

divinely permitted ? Answer in the negative
(99-102) : E presses home the point that all
edification in the example presupposes a theory
of divinity. So in the earliest days this was
brought home to men by the Gift of Pente-
cost : its place in Revelation (103-107). Effect
of the enlightenment on man's sense of sin
(108-9) : and on the rudimentary feelings of
Humility, and the changed view of human
life (109-112). B objects that E's view
makes more of the Death of Christ than most
modern teachers. E insists on the two sub-
jects being combined ; both being essential
to the fostering of the idea of Humility,
through developing the sense of sin, and
unwillingness to be censorious : but the
Atoning Sacrifice is the more important doc-
trine for purposes of this inquiry (113-121) :
and though the realization is confined to a
few, they affect the mass (121-127). Nar-
rative, B's state of mind now in presence of
life's perplexities. Conception of the Church
and the Eucharist (127-134).

CHAPTER VII
A Year After 135-187

B's development : (135) meets a practically minded
old friend : divergence of opinion shown,
between the merits of the practical and the
contemplative or markedly religious life. F a
votary of the former, respects the latter, but
feels it is not for him, except in a second hand
kind of way (135-140). B asks if he thinks
the doctrinal part of Christianity esoteric : and
corrects F's misunderstanding by explaining
the meaning of Love. F objects that there
may be inability to return love. B's answer,
drawn from human childhood (140-142). Fur-
ther attack on the non-religious position of a
professing Christian: and the obligation of
deep consideration of subject. F demands



X1V CONTENTS

PAGES

warrant for B's theory from the New Testa-
ment. B gives first the argument from the
mere nature of a revelation, then the practice
of the Church, as shown by St. Paul and the
Apostles, viz. to plant the truth and let the
fruit come : then the Example of Christ com-
pared with that of the Prophets (142-150).
The method adopted was religious : the spirit-
ual quickening came first. Further, every
discourse was a stimulus to thought. F
thinks this means thought about practical life.
" By their fruits," etc. B replies with the
meaning of Christ's question about the Bap-
tism of John. The incident explained : the
punishment pronounced by Christ. The
application to our generation (150-158).
Further teaching to be learnt from the Rich
Young Man. The " one thing wanting."
Men's preference for a " safe " life : which
yet is really wanting in certainty as to results.
Illustrated by a few facts in history, and by
some verdicts of Science. Public opinion a
bad guide. F disputes this. Answered by
the instance of the Unfaithful Servant with
one talent (158-169). Application to Chris-
tians : the non-religious duty-creed generally
inconsistent but properly speaking quite
barren. The friends glide into the subject of
Hope ; how maintained in face of disaster,
public or private. F reveals his profound
misgivings as to the future of England :
how is hope possible ? (169-177). B sets
aside certain shallow notions. F emphasizes
the difficulty of the question: and the
severity of the trial for patriots : especially
in regard to the Decline of the Birth-rate :
the feeling of a dying community : can a
really religious man feel hopeful through this ?
(177-182).

B's answer. First, many notions only become
real through communion with God and the
limiting of its effect means want of faith.



CONTENTS xv

PAGES

But there are two answers: (i) the Abstract
which assumes the pessimistic view correct,
and fits it in with God's scheme. Good out
of evil. The danger of seeking a sign : dis-
loyalty to God. (2) the Concrete or optimis-
tic interpretation of present day symptoms,
unconnected with mysticism (182-187).

CHAPTER VIII
Conclusion ....... 188-204

EXCURSUS I
The Teaching and Example of Christ . . 205-221

EXCURSUS II
The Influence of Greek Philosophy . . . 222-231

EXCURSUS III
Some Difficulties in Prayer .... 232-237



CHARACTER AND
RELIGION

CHAPTER I
Introduction

THE relation between Religion and Morality is a
subject of never-ceasing importance and interest.
It is quite certain that there is a close connexion between
the two, and while people, in England at least, who wish
to make anything of their lives, may be roughly divided
into those who set most store by the former, and those
who pin their faith on the latter, all combine in exhibiting
their own idea of this connexion with a view to justify
their preference. Take for instance the view of the
Moralists. Broadly speaking and if they are to be
judged by their utterances, they would estimate all
religious belief by what they discern of its moral outcome.
" By their faith ye shall know them " is to them a saying
to be so interpreted. Whatever religion is professed by
any one, if it issues in good living nothing serious can be
said against it : and per contra if there is anything un-
satisfactory in the life of an orthodox Christian, so far
there is evidence, not presumptive, but positive, against
the doctrines that he holds. The underlying primciples

1 B



2 CHARACTER AND RELIGION

of this very prevalent way of estimating religious doctrine
is that Conduct is all-important, religious belief of secondary
value.

But the two departments of human life are there, and
neither can be ignored. Hence, then, grows up a natural
wish to discern clearly what is the nature of the relation
between this all-important matter of Conduct and this
intrusive and mysterious subject of Religion. No think-
ing man can for long acquiesce in a muddled and confused
view of the question. If he sets Conduct above every-
thing in human life, he would be glad to make it clear to
himself that Religion is merely an accessory, of a somewhat
ornamental kind, to the things in life best worth doing.
But this, it happens, is not easy to do.

It might be possible for grown-up people to consent,
for a long period and over a wide area of the earth's sur-
face, to devote their whole energies to Conduct and the
establishing of a right public opinion as to what ought to
be done in divers emergencies, but, oddly enough, the
resistance to this corporate action comes from an unex-
pected quarter and is extremely stubborn. It comes from
children. Children, as we all agree, have to be trained
by their elders, and as the latter are concerned with in-
ducing the little ones to be obedient and law-abiding, they
soon discover that something more is necessary to secure
this end than the ipse dixits of grown-up people, and that
the task, incredibly difficult in most cases, is rendered
nearly impossible, unless behind the human command
there is something of mystery : and that this element
of mystery, for which children have a practically univer-
sal and almost insatiable appetite, is secured by religious
influence, which means religious teaching. This con-
tention is very widely admitted in England, though there



INTRODUCTION 3

are some dissentients. But, wherever it is admitted, the
adult moralist is reduced to the humiliating position of
having to base the teaching of his child in what he con-
ceives to be the first thing in life, conduct, on something
which to him is of quite secondary importance, and beyond
anything hard to put into words, viz. religion. In this
position there is something grotesque ; but the attempts
to cut the knot of the difficulty by ignoring religion
altogether in the bringing up of a family, cannot be said
so far to have been widely successful. The matter is
too serious to be tampered with, and while a great many
men secure for themselves a temporary freedom from
embarrassment by leaving the religious teaching to their
wives, the intrusion of the question into the tenor of their
lives is not infrequent and causes a good deal of unavowed
disquiet.

Hence we may trace the interesting fact that though
during the last forty years the gulf between religion and
morality may be thought to have widened considerably,
there never has been a time when religious questions have
excited a deeper or more widespread attention. It is
true that scores of men, of undeniable probity and real
loftiness of character, flout the demands of religious con-
formity in a more open way than would have been
tolerated by our fathers. It is true also that leaving out
of account all who may truly be considered frivolous and
shallow-pated, or mere wordlings and hedonists, there
are many serious-minded people prepared to maintain
that man can subsist on morality alone, who, accordingly,
after the question of the children has been somehow
shelved, hesitate not to promulgate vigorously a merely
moral view of man's deepest obligations, and public
opinion in this easy-going tolerant age does not say them



4 CHARACTER AND RELIGION

nay. None the less we hear that, among the educated
classes, if a magazine is to be sure of being sold there must
be at least one article in each number dealing with some
religious question ; and, as far as our observation goes,
the report is accurate. That means that a hugely greater
number of thoughtful men than could be certified by the
evidence of what, they say or what they write, are deeply
concerned with religion. The upholders of morality by
itself may be and are more outspoken than ever before,
but the number of people who listen to them respectfully
and then go their way to reflect more carefully than before
on religion seems to be increasing every year. Thus, in
spite of a vast mass of adverse influences, there is much
truth in a saying not unfrequently heard, that the country
has never been so religious as it is now.

It may, I think, be taken for granted that this interest
in religion is not at all purely speculative, but what we
call practical ; in other words, men are labouring to
discern the connexion between religion and the claims
of duty, i.e. of their conduct as citizens. Probably this
has been true at all times, since the love of philosophical
investigation has never been a characteristic of more than
a very small minority of our countrymen. The differ-
ences between ourselves and the ancient Romans of Cicero's
time are many and great ; but it is certain that in this
respect we resemble them more than the Greeks of the
time of Demosthenes. The practicality of the Romans
was far more civic and corporate than ours, and our minds
are concerned far more than theirs were with truth. But
there is and always has been a certain affinity. More-
over of late years the demand for national self-sacrifice
and devotion, in presence of tremendous dangers within
and without, has greatly quickened our sense that, come



INTRODUCTION 5

what may, the claims of this present life are urgent and
formidable, and impossible, to put aside as trifling or
transitory ; and that hence we are right in insisting that
our religious beliefs, if they are to be justified, must be
able to stand the test " how do they work ? " Thus, for


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Online LibraryEdward LytteltonCharacter and religion → online text (page 1 of 19)