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perhaps, to be turned in upon itself now and then, it
also needs self-expression which the vast majority
of the hymns referred to cannot provide. These
hymns appeal rather to the melancholic tempera-
ment, which is given to feeling rather than to action,
to contemplation of ideals rather than of means and
ends, to future rather than present good, and to sub-
jective rather than to objective standards for the
measurement of values.

Without undertaking the ungracious as well as
ungrateful task of dictating inspirations to poets,
we may, nevertheless, venture to describe a need in
hymnology. For, assuredly, poetry does enter into
the dynamics of our life, and why should it not add
its power to whatever in life is worth striving for?

Truth and goodness and beauty can never be so

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THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

separated in reality as to make art entirely superflu-
ous at any point. Our greatest present unfulfilled
need seems to be poems of social goodness. Un-
derstanding religion to be essentially love to God
and love to man, and understanding love to be a
matter of the will as well as of sentiment the basis f
of the family and of society we may say that we
need the dynamics of a poetry of active love. And^
this in no narrow sense, such, for instance, as is con-
noted by the traditional use of the term "charity."
For the immanence of God in the whole of nature
and of human life, together with the supremacy
nay, adequacy of love as a motive for life in all its
ramifications, lifts the whole of life out of the dust
and into the clear air and sunlight of beauty. One
can even find it in one's heart to sympathize with
eccentric Professor Blackie, who sings to God as the
God of glee. 1 Much more, then, is it true

" That, in a world, made for whatever else,
Not made for mere enjoyment in a world
Of toil but half-requited, or, at best,
Paid in some futile currency of breath," 9

we need the voice of song to transfigure all into that
beauty which is the truth of things. We need songs
ad rein, infusing love the interpreter, the fulfiller
of the law into the occupations of hand and of
brain. Indeed, when we learn what it means to do
all to the glory of God will not the consciousness

Songs of Religion and Life, New York, 1876, 60.
Lowell, "The Cathedral."
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of the divine presence inevitably break forth into
song?

The Spirituality of Prayer-Meeting Songs.

If we turn, now, from the recognized hymns to
the popular revival, prayer-meeting, and Sunday-
school songs, we shall find a slightly different species
of one-sidedness. Feeling is still in the ascendency,
but it is of a mobile and superficial kind. There is
nothing of the profound emotion and stately move-
ment of the standard hymns. The water is shallow,
and light and shifty winds raise ripples everywhere
upon its surface. I speak now particularly of the
psychological effect of the musical compositions.
Instead of the solemn procession of those who as-
cend into the hill of the Lord, to stand in his holy
place, we have a mere hop, skip, and jump, or a
game of tag. The thought is equally weak and
disconnected. There is no foresight, hindsight, or
proportion, and no sense of consistency. What is
intended for thought is a mere jumble of pious
ideas. The composition of the verse corresponds.
It is purely mechanical. Meter is held in light es-
teem, and any crime against sense or syntax is com-
mitted for the sake of making rhymes.

Here and there in these popular collections are
songs worthy of better company, but the class as a
whole tends to the type just described. As an ex-
ample, I will take, not the worst, but the best, of

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THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

the recent revival songs that have come to my at-
tention "Let Him In:"

44 There's a stranger at the door,
He has been there oft before ;
Let him in ere he is gone,
Let him in, the Holy One,
Jesus Christ, the Father's Son.

" Open now to him your heart;
If you wait he will depart.
Let him in, he is your friend,
He your soul will sure defend,
He will keep you to the end.

" Hear you now his loving voice,
Now, O, now make him your choice ;
He is standing at the door,
Joy to you he will restore,
And his name you will adore.

*' Now admit the heavenly Guest,
He will make for you a feast.
He will speak your sins forgiven,
And when earth ties all are riven,
He will take you home to heaven."

You perceive that the thought and composition,
especially after the first stanza, are decidedly patchy.
With the omission of two "ands," the second, third,
and fourth stanzas could be read in the inverse order
of the lines as well as in the order given. More than
that, leaving out the last two lines the only ones
having any obvious rhetorical connection we could
take the remainder, write one line on each of thir-
teen slips of paper, shake the slips in a hat, draw
them out indiscriminately, and, taking them in the

new order, have nearly, if not quite, as good a poem

230



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as the one before us. And yet this composition is
probably less open to serious objection than the
majority of the songs of its class.

This analysis has been made, not in the interest
of art, whether musical or rhetorical, nor even in
the interest of logic, but solely to raise the question
whether these popular sacred songs do not express
and appeal to a particular temperament rather than 1
to the heart of humanity as a whole. Surely only |
a fraction of those who need comfort, inspiration,
or conversion can respond to such invitations as that
just analyzed, and yet this is the kind with which
we are trying to draw the whole world to Christ.

Lotze has called attention to a parallel between
the four temperaments and four ages of man's life.
The sanguine temperament, he says, corresponds to
childhood, the melancholic (which he calls the sen-
timental) to youth, the choleric to maturity, and the
phlegmatic to old age. We have just seen that the
tendency of too many of the standard hymns of the
Church is to express the sentimental temperament.
It is now even more obvious that our popular
revival songs correspond to the sanguine tem-
perament. The sanguine personality is character-
ized less by depth of feeling than by ready response
to every kind of impression. Rapid changes from
one mood or activity to another are common. Im-
pressions predominate over action. The sanguine

person lives in the present rather than the future,

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THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

and tends to cheerful rather than to serious moods.
Now, do you not see that these traits exactly de-
scribe the songs in question ? They are mere fleeting
impressions, and lack continuity and consistency.
In other words, they tend toward childishness.

Popular Notions of Spirituality.

In order to pursue still further the hypothesis that
a certain psychological one-sidedness pervades much
of what is called spiritual life, I have undertaken to
make a direct analysis of the notions of spirituality
entertained by a considerable group of persons. To
a large class of college students, chiefly seniors, I
made the following oral requests: "First, think of
some one whom you would call spiritual in the re-
ligious sense. Let it not be Christ or one of the
apostles. Then [after a pause], write down, with-
out revision or criticism, what it was in that person
that seemed to show his spirituality."

The exercise was entirely impromptu, and the
whole process consumed only a few minutes. The
purpose of the exercise was to get at the actual
working notions of spirituality rather than at .the-
ories of what ought to be called by that name.
Hence a concrete object was brought before the
mind, and the first impression was recorded.
Seventy papers were received, but enough of them
named more than one quality to raise the number

of specifications to 109. We have, then, 109 speci-

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SPIRITUALITY

fications of what is spontaneously looked upon as
constituting spirituality by 70 college students. The
qualities specified and the number of times each was
named may be exhibited as follows :

1. The physical man, such as Christlike face,

shining face, eyes that seem to see things
not of this world, etc 9

2. Otherworldliness, such as not of this world,

given up the world, absorbed in God,
thinking of life to come, etc 7

3. Passive virtues, such as gentleness, peace,

even temper, meekness, humility, pa-
tience, trust, cheerfulness 1 1

4. Communion with the divine, living near

God, thinking about God, reverence. ... 6

5. Religious exercises, such as faith in prayer,

delight in prayer, interest in spiritual
things or in religious exercises 9

6. Beautiful personality, beautiful character,

Christlike spirit 3

7. Scattering : love of nature, love of Bible, fer-

vor of religious feeling, excessively con-
scientious 4

8. Social feeling and activity, such as unselfish-

ness, living for others, sympathy, chari-
table, kind, influence for good 24

9. Daily life, consistent Christian living 7

10. Truthfulness, sincerity, hatred for wrong,

ideal conception of character, high char-
acter, something that attracted one .... 6

11. Fidelity to duty, loyalty to God, sense of

duty, earnestness in religious work or in

everything 9

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THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

12. Religious work, such as evangelistic effort,

speaks of religious things, exhorts
others, enthusiastic in religious work ... 9

13. Intellectual qualities, such as broad and just

views, a man of culture and a seer, sim-
ple, yet had great mind, superstitious,
narrow-minded, self-centered 5

The largest single group in this list is that of
social feelings and activities. This is, doubtless, a
sign of a healthful trend of thought in our colleges.
Yet, on the other hand, the proportion in which
social virtues here come to recognition is not what
we should expect from persons who have learned
from Him who revealed to us the meaning of life
as summed up in love. It will be noticed that the
first seven groups in the table form one consistent
set, while the remaining groups form another and |
contrasting set. In the former we have otherworld- I
liness, passive virtues, the contemplative life, and ;
spiritual exercises. In the latter the altruistic feel- <
ings, the active virtues, and intellectual qualities are
gathered together. The former set contains 49
specifications, the latter 60. In all probability the
proportions would be changed if we could only
know what was in the minds of writers who men-
tioned religious work, enthusiasm in religious work,
speaking of religious things, exhorting, etc. These
expressions may represent the active life less than

they do emotion and contemplation. Yet even as

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SPIRITUALITY

the two sets of groups stand they reveal an interest-
ing state of the popular mind. Here are seventy
young persons who have drunk not merely of the
average religious teaching, but also of the newer
spirit which puts emphasis upon the social virtues;
yet it appears probable that, for every six times that
these persons think of either the altruistic feelings,
the active virtues, or intellectual qualities as con-
stitutive of spirituality, they think of something
negative, passive, introspective, or private five
times.

Furthermore, of the 70 papers, 24 mentioned not
one of the altruistic, active, or intellectual qualities.
When we realize that under these three terms are
included not only what is sometimes called mere
morality, etc., but also religious work, kindness,
sincerity, consistency, sense of duty, and even in-
fluence for good, the result becomes little less than
astounding.

It will be recalled that the directions to -the writers
of these papers were to think of some spiritual per-
son and then name the quality in which the spiritual-
ity manifested itself. A third request was to say
whether the spiritual person thought about was a
man or a woman. Of the 70 writers, 36 were men
and 34 women. But 40 of the writers thought of a
woman, and only 30 of a man, as a type of spirit-
uality. The distribution of the answers is as follows:
Of the 36 men returning answers, 21 thought of a

235



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

man, and 15 of a woman. Of the 34 women re-
turning answers, 9 thought of a man, and 25 of a
woman. Thus there appears to be a clear tendency
for the men to think of a man as representing spirit-
uality, but a much more pronounced tendency for
women to think of a woman. This may or may not
be very significant, for the number examined is too
small to base a generalization upon. But it at least
suggests a most significant question, that of the re-
lation of masculine to feminine qualities in Church
life and Church ideals.

The "Eternally Feminine" in the Church.

It has not escaped popular observation that there
is some sort of difference between the religious life
characteristic of women and that characteristic of
men. Women are commonly said to be more re-
ligious than men, but I think it can be shown that
the real difference is less in the degree of religious-
ness than in the general make-up of the mind. Sex
is certainly a fact of mental as well as of physical
constitution, and the mental peculiarities of each
sex naturally and necessarily appear in religion as
well as elsewhere. Two of the best established
general differences between the male and the female
mind are these: first, the female mind tends more
than the male to feeling; and, second, it is more
suggestible. 1

* Havelock Ellis, Man and Womnn, London, 1898, chaps, xii, xiii.
236



SpIkltUALltY

Granted that this generalization is correct, what
religious differences should we expect to find be-
tween the sexes? We should expect that women
brought up under continuous religious incitement
and suggestion would exhibit greater continuity in
religious feeling and less tendency to pass through
religious crises. And this is, in fact, what we ap-
pear to discover. With men religion tends more
to focus itself into intense crises. Women yield
sooner and show more placid progress, while men
pass through more definite periods of awakening.

One of the very striking things about the reli-
gious autobiographies presented to me is that, while
religion seems to be a sort of atmosphere in the
life of women something all-pervasive and easily
taken for granted with the men it is more sharply
defined, brings greater struggles, and tends more to
climacteric periods. Men are more likely than
women, it appears, to resist certain religious tend-
encies up to the point of explosion.

The following facts gathered by Starbuck illus-
trate this general view : The storm and stress
period, the period of doubt, struggle, etc., is of
shorter duration with women than with men. 1
Again, men display more friction against surround-
ings, more difficulty with points of belief, 2 more
doubt arising from educational influences, 3 more

1 Growth, American Journal of Psychology ; ix, 84.
Ibid. , Table V. 8 Ibid., Table VI.

16 237



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

readiness to question traditional beliefs and cus-
toms, 1 more pronounced tendency to resist convic-
tion, to pray, to call on God, to lose sleep and appe-
tite in a word, to experience the more turbulent
manifestations. Women, on the other hand, show
greater tendency to the less intense emotions, such
as depression, sadness, meditativeness, humility,
sense of helplessness. 2 Again, among Starbuck's
cases, twice as large a proportion of men as of
women were converted at home, and generally
alone, while six times as many women as men were
converted at the regular church services. This
shows the greater dependence of women upon ex-
ternal suggestion. 3 Furthermore, the disturbances
are greater for the women in the nonrevival cases,
in which external suggestion is relatively lacking,
but for the men in the revival cases, in which
it is most abundant. 4 Thus women go more
easily with the tide, while with men questions of
religion go deeper more deeply, that is, into the
region of clear self-consciousness, decision, initia-
tive. 5 Finally, men tend more than women to re-
gard forgiveness and divine aid as central in their k
conversion. 6

From the cases I have myself examined I am able
to add some further facts. Thus, while the two

1 Growth, Table VII, American Journal of 'Psychology \ ix.
8 Conversion, Table V, American Journal of 'Psychology , viii.
Ibid. % Table I. 4 Ibid., Table V. Comp. Growth, Table V.

6 16id. t Table VII. 6 Ibid., Table VI.

2 3 8



SPIRITUALITY

sexes report practical doubts that is, doubts of
their personal religious status in about the same
proportions, more than twice as many men as
women report theoretical doubts that is, doubts
concerning doctrines. Again, among those who
definitely sought for a striking transformation, the
proportion of those whose expectation was com-
pletely satisfied is decidedly greater among the
women than among the men. Once more, in re-
sponse to a question as to what was found perma-
nent in their religious experience, nearly every
woman who gave an answer mentioned some kind
of satisfactory feeling, while less than half of the
men did so. Moreover, men were alone in men-
tioning forgiveness or anything connected with it,
and almost alone in mentioning anything connected
with right or wrong. 1

All this goes to show that women respond to re-
ligion more feelingly, and in some respects more
continuously, but men more energetically and with a
higher potential of self-conscious reflection and
choice. With women religion is more like the in-
tuitive tact that helps them so much in all the rela-
tions of life; with men it requires the clumsier
instruments of deliberation. Any attempt, there-
fore, to determine which sex is the more religious
would simply end in a dispute as to the relative
rank of different sets of faculties.

1 See pp. 252f.
239



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE



Our results may be summarized and exhibited as
follows :

RELIGIOUS TRAITS OF MEN AND OF WOMEN
COMPARED.



Men.



Women.



Intellect more prominent ; hence, more
theoretical doubts.



Emotion focuses on definite objects and
at definite periods ; hence, more tur-
bulent.

Less suggestible, resist more, have more
intense struggle, and less fulfillment
of expectation. Attain more in soli-
tude.

Active virtues more prominent.



Sensibility more prominent ; hence,
doubts of personal status, but rela-
tively few theoretical doubts.

Emotion more constant, more diffused,
more gentle.



More suggestible ; yield more readily to
ordinary influences; attain less in
solitude ; have less intense struggle,
and more fulfillment of expectation.

Passive virtues more prominent.



It should be said that the evidence for this con-
clusion rests not merely upon the relatively few
cases that I have examined, but upon all the results
thus far gathered in this particular field. The
strength of the conclusion lies in the fact that all
lines of investigation converge upon the same point.

It would be interesting to know, if possible, just
what psychical forces, as distinguished from doc-
trinal reasonings, have given the Virgin Mary the
place she holds in the worship of Christendom. In
any case, we shall not go far astray by assuming
that Mariolatry is, among other things, an effort to
provide in the object worshiped certain gentler qual-
ities that are more characteristic of the female sex
than of the male. The same impulse has led re-
ligious persons here and there, and occasionally a

240



SPIRITUALITY

whole sect, to teach the doctrine of the motherhood
as well as fatherhood of God. These gentler quali-
ties we may, for convenience' sake, designate under
the single term "compassion."

There is no reason to doubt that the act of wor-
ship, on the part of imperfect creatures like our-
selves, requires for its highest perfection some con-
ception or sense of compassion felt by God toward
his worshiper. When Spinoza proposed a kind of
love for God that made no demands upon God for a
sympathetic response he proposed something that
has never met the needs of man and never can meet
them. We may, indeed, assert, and glory in the
assertion, that Christianity has brought into wor-
ship and religious life generally a feminine element.

But when this instinctive demand of human na-
ture, instead of expressing itself as Jesus expressed
it, sought satisfaction in the worship of Mary
normal proportions were destroyed. Feminine
qualities came to outweigh the masculine in the pre-
vailing conception of divinity, and, of course, femi-
nine virtues came to outweigh masculine in the
Church's ideal of the good life.

Nor has Protestantism wholly cleared itself from
this moral obscuration. In theory we reject the
worship of Mary ; but in practice do we not still hold
the passive virtues in disproportionate esteem? I
am inclined to think that Romanes did not belie the

common thought when he wrote these words : "But

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THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

when the ideal was changed by Christ when the
highest place in the hierarchy of the virtues was
assigned to faith, hope, and charity, to piety, pa-
tience, and long-suffering, to forgiveness, self-denial,
and even self-abasement we cannot wonder that,
in so extraordinary a collision between the ideals of
virtue, it should have been the women who first
flocked in numbers around the standard of the
cross." "The whole organization of woman is
formed on a plan of greater delicacy, and her mental
structure is correspondingly more refined; it is
further removed from the struggling instincts of the
lower animals, and thus more nearly approaches our
conception of the spiritual." 1 It is the same under-
standing, or rather misunderstanding, of the round
sphere of Christian principle that induces Brinton to
define the cardinal principle of the Christian faith as
"the holiness of suffering and self-abnegation." 2

That this feminine element has an essential part
in the Christian ideal of life is one of the glories of
Christianity. A feminine element is as necessary
to religion as woman is to the life of the species.
But, in the spiritual as in the natural realm, what-
ever tends to isolate this element tends also to make
it barren and unfruitful. Neither the man alone
nor the woman alone is a perfect type, but rather the
family, in which the two complementary qualities

1 " Mental Differences between Men and Women," in Essays, London and Nevtf
York, 1897, 123, 125 ; also in Nineteenth Century for M?y, 1887.
a Religions of Primitive Peoples, New York, 1898, 181.
242



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are balanced the one over against the other. The
practical question that results from this view is
whether the Church is to be simply a Sister of Mercy
or preferably a family. Is its mission any more
that of sympathy, or even of salvation in the nar-
rower sense of this term, than it is such active par-
ticipation in the world's work as shall constitute
the whole of human life an incarnation of the
divine? And our saints are they to be distin-
guished from other human beings by sex and tem-
perament, or by something more divine ?

Some Results of a Temperamental Interpretation

of Christianity.

Including under the one convenient term "tem-
perament" all the differences of sex and individu-
ality discussed in this chapter, we may now ask
whether the proposition with which we started has
not been abundantly made out the proposition,
namely, that Jesus' simple and universally human^
conception of spiritual life has been warped into
particular temperamental forms in organized Chris-,
tianity. This has been shown by an analysis of
sainthood as traditionally understood; of prevalent
spiritual exercises; of our hymns and songs; of
popular conceptions of spirituality, and, finally, of
the historical influence of Mariolatry. The conclu-
sion upon which all these diverse lines of investi-
gation converge is that organized Christianity in

243 . v



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

general, Protestant as well as Catholic, places insuf-
ficient value upon the more masculine, active, or
practical qualities of goodness; or, to speak in di-
rectly psychological terms, that the forms of reli-
gious life natural to the choleric temperament are
habitually discounted in favor of those natural to]
the sanguine and melancholic temperaments, par-]
ticularly the latter.

The results, which are at the same time a part of
the evidence that the diagnosis is accurate, are com-
prised in the group of facts presented again and
again as churchmen have asked whether the Church
of to-day can yet adjust itself to modern life. There


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Online LibraryGeorge Albert CoeThe spiritual life : studies in the science of religion → online text (page 14 of 16)