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The will and intellect uniting bring forth act,
as Horus was born of Osiris and Isis. It is easy
to illustrate : A piano is heard, and the desire to
play upon it and bring forth like music is formed.
The intellect responds with information slowly
acquired. But daily practice is necessary to
bring will and intellect into act. When at last
this has been done in the plane of the body, the
end is gained. Or, a young man desires to enter
the ranks of some profession. The desire is not
enough. The intellect must respond, or he will
fail. If the intellect does respond, he will slowly
prepare himself His preparation is a constantly


perfected union of will with intellect, so that,
when he desires to do a professional act, he may
know how to do it, and so that, when he has
learned how to do this and that part of his work,
he may have the will which will give energy and
patience and power.

In the third the former two are one and effi-
cient. This is life, not to will only, nor to know
only, hut to go forth from the will by means of
the understanding into serviceableness.

It will be observed that, in this view of the
mental operations, the movement of life is from
above downward, from the spiritual into the
natural, and not the reverse. Of course it is not
denied that the organs of sense, afiected by ex-
ternal causes, often offer the first incentive to
action ; but that they do not control the action,
which they may advise, is evident from the fact,
already referred to, that the mind may, and often
does, reject the impulse to cry out, or to run
away, or otherwise to obey the prompting of
the flesh.

Spiritual influx from mind to body, therefore,

is here maintained instead of the physical influx

preferred by materialists. Thus man may be

described as will and intellect looking to act.



His qualities are love and wisdom looking to use.
His possessions are goodness and truth for the
sake of life, of that life which shall make him
useful, which shall vindicate his existence, and
which shall make all men rejoice in the exercise
by each of his own gift. " Life," nobly said Maz-
zini, " is a mission. Religion, science, philosophy,
though still at variance upon many points, agree
in this, that every existence is an aim." ^

•It is, however, in the power of man to will for
himself — that is, for some private enjoyment —
rather than for others and for useful service.
He may love that which is evil. His intellect
pointing out to him two possible ways, he may
choose that which is injurious rather than that
which is helpful. Thus he may refuse to listen
to conscience which would guide him, and may
degrade his intellect to serve his base desires.
In this case, the more intellect, the more harm
will result ; because the intellect must serve the
will, be it never so depraved. The man finds a
way for his anger or his greed. And now man
is not love and wisdom looking to use, but
lust and folly looking to sin and harm. The

* Life and Writings, Chap. v.


corrupt tree does not bring forth good frait. The
lisrht that is in him is darkness. And instead
of life, larger and larger, as the years go on, he
earns the wages of sin, which is spiritual death.

The origin of evil is not entered upon at
length here, but it may at least be said that
the possibility of sinning is bound up in man's
free-agency, and so a selfhood, not devoted to
use, reluctant in its obedience to laws which
exalt the good of others as of equal importance,
at least, with that of the individual, is a source
of disorder and danger. But man would not be
man were he deprived of this power to regard
self as paramount if he would; and that man
has misused this power, and has for a long time
been transmitting from generation to generation
a tendency to misuse it, must be granted at once
on historical grounds.

The history of human decline in innocence is
repeated in every wayward youth. It is a move-
ment to consult for self, which, imperceptibly
originating and increasing with increase of con-
scious power, separated and separates the soul
from its purity and makes it ashamed before its
judge. While men were infantile in intellect
there was no transgression. But the growth of


rationality opened the way to perversions of
every kind ; and that it was taken and pursued,
and is pursued, the wars, the crimes public and
private, testify on every hand. " So many laws
argue so many sins." ^

It is true that ways have been found to make
the selfish man useful, to make the wrath of man
to praise God; but this is only a palliation of
evil, not a cure of it ; and cure cannot be found
except in the formation in the evil man by means
of his own intellect, which can discern a better
life and is able to rise above his will, of a new
heart and a new spirit.

In so far as this is done, the self dies to live
again; it operates in the symmetry of human
order ; it is the image of its Maker ; it is such
that the king in Hamlet could say, " Try what
repentance can : what can it not ?"

Herbart in sad play on words said, " He who
was yesterday the best (beste) may to-day be the
worst (boseste) ;'' ^ but the reverse is also true,
and sins, though they be as scarlet, may be made
as white as snow.

1 Paradise Lost, xii. 283.

2 Lehrbuch, Book TV., chap, ii., sect. 130.


Man does not escape injury from his trans-
gressions ; but, with the change of his purpose,
the evil is remedied at its root. He is not only
forgiven, but rescued. The self, humbled, puri-
fied, becomes a house of God eternal in the

The disposition to regard evil as merely im-
mature good, as a transient phase of develop-
ment, is natural if, by a perversion of reason,
evil is associated only with the state of the
savage or the ignorant. The mild forms of sin
which men commit, knowing no better, are much
like the act of a child who throws a valuable
vase to the floor to hear its fragments rattle,
having no idea of the evil it is doing. The
serious sin is done wittingly and purposely.
Callicles was intelligent enough to know better
than to say to Socrates, " Greatness is providing
to the full indulgences of evil passions;" and
Socrates was able to show him that nothing
could be further from greatness, and to declare,
" I^one but a fool is afraid of death, but of wrong
doing. To go to the world below having one's
soul fall of injustice is the worst of evils." ^

* Gorgias of Plato.


Cjrenaic indifference to evil has found many
apologists. Herbert Spencer^ quotes Shake-
speare's saying, " A soul of goodness in things
evil," and seems to hold this as an ethical
opinion, but Henry Y. was speaking of circum-
stances then threatening him from without.^ To
say in any sense that moral evil is good is self-
contradictory. It is to say that things diametri-
cally opposite — a quality and its perversion — are
one. Epictetus was more just when, looking
upon the adulterer, he declared that he knew
not where there was a place for him, as there
was no place for a stinging wasp.^

The confusion of evil with good seems to be
due to the obscurity which arises from associ-
ating evil with ignorance and brutishness. Evil
is to be found in its genuine form and mature
development among the cultured, among those
who know perfectly the difference between good
and evil, and who are capable of instructing
others and perhaps are in the practice of giving
such instruction. It is Dr. Faust rather than
the untutored Marguerite who can grievously

* First Principle, chap. 1. ^ Henry V., Act IV., Scene 1.

•Book II., chap. iv.


sin, and who in sin presents evil in its true aspect.
If the men about the Christ had said that they
were blind, they had not had sin : ^ if He had
not come and spoken unto them, if He had not
done among them the works which none other
did, they had not had sin; but now, fully in-
formed trf the right attitude to take, they had
chosen to hate Him, and their sin was without

1 John ix. 41. 2 joim xv. 22, 24.




The self of man has been found to be a recipi-
ent, a reactive agent, and a free agent whose
freedom it finds but which it does not produce
by the exercise of power sufficient to govern the
rest of the universe and to hold it in equilibrium.
The implication of these facts is, to say the least,
most significant, and has not been sufficiently
considered by theistic writers. They seem gen-
erally to take too distant views of the Divine,
and to view it as if they had no relation with it.

In ancient times this was not so. " All is full
of Jove," said Yirgil, as Augustine relates.
"Jupiter is whatever you see, wherever you
move," said Lucan. " Think oftener of God
than you breathe," -said Epictetus. " God is
truth, and light is His shadow," said Plato.
" There is certainly a God who sees and hears
whatever we do," said Plautus. And this con-
ception remained while men grew sensual in


their lives. But at length their idea of God be-
came so degraded that the worship of Him con-
sisted of animal sacrifices, and He was thought of
as likely to show special favor to chosen peoples.
The question of polytheism, whether it or
monotheism preceded, and how, if it followed,
polytheism arose from monotheism, does not
require full consideration here; but the sug-
gestion may be offered that the more degraded
men become, the more superstitious they are,
and the more inclined to make deities to reign
over places and diseases and events. Primitive
Christianity, with its purity of thought and life,
was markedly monotheistic; mediaeval Chris-
tianity, with its priestcraft in place of ministry,
its defence by tortures of what was called faith
but which was ecclesiasticism, its indulgences,
its enormities of every kind, multiplied divine
persons and saints to be invoked at this place
and at that till the litany included as adorable
" Maria Dei geneirix, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael,
angels and archangels, holy orders of blessed
spirits, all the disciples, the innocents," thirty
others by name, all the popes, and the sanctm et
sancti not numbered, but said to amount to at
least twenty-five thousand.



The cliange from tliat one God to this pan-
theon may be safely regarded as having an actual
connection with the ignorance and depravity of
the later period; and the inference is that a
similar period in antiquity had like character-
istics, — priests in power multiplying objects to
be worshipped with costly offerings, and people
in ignorance accepting with superstitious com-
pliance the deities and sub-deities presented for
their prayers. A pristine state, however, free,
on the one hand, from priestly oppressions and,
on the other, from superstitious fears arising
from a sense of guilt on account of disorderly
practices, may be supposed to have been mono-
theistic from the lack of reason to be otherwise.
" The one is God," said Xenophanes, striving
to cure polytheism. " I am about to become
a god," said the dying, avaricious Vespasian,
showing the evil at its height.

Thus, not only does it appear that polytheism
arises out of monotheism when unfortunate con-
ditions favor its development, but it is also evi-
dent that the theistic conception, the recognition
of God, has been subject to marked vicissitudes.
To one like Augustine, who could find God
rather by ignorance than by knowledge, there


was no need of attempted demonstration. To
one of atheistic temper, however, arguments
seemed necessary, and in the formulation of
such arguments much mental effort has been
expended, with some success and some failure.
Some have undoubtedly been thus convinced;
others remain unm-oved in their doubts, not only
as to the pantheon claimed by the medisevalists,
but even as to the One of the best religious

These arguments have been stated over and
over again, and their respective claims have been
examined by friends and foes.

There is the ontological proof which Professor
Knight regards as having " a singular fascination
to the speculative mind," ^ but he finds it incon-
clusive. It holds that the notion of God, being
conceivable, must be true. The ground of Des-
cartes was that all which he could clearly and
plainly perceive was true. " Possible ideas are
true, impossible are false," is the dictum of
Leibnitz.^ But these are overstatements, and
would not be made at the present time when in-

1 Essay on Theism in Studies in Philosophy and Literature.
^Nouveaux Essais, Book II., chap. iii.


telligent scepticism lias forced theists to weigh
their words. Wolff was more cautious when
he made the declaration, " That is possible to
which some notion responds ;" ^ hut even then
he was on an insecure foundation for an ex-
tended argument, since it might he retorted that
it is as possible to think of a malign God as of
a merciful one. " Falsehood can never be clearly
conceived or apprehended to be true," ^ declared
Cudworth ; but this is also unsound, as the long
acceptance of the Ptolemaic theory shows. The
ontological proof will never satisfy a doubter,
who will not admit that the logical is actual,
that an idea well founded in reason is necessarily
as well founded in fact. Descartes, reasoning
that " necessary existence is contained in the
concept of God,"* is reasoning round a circle.
He put the contents into the concept and then
drew them out.

The cosmological argument seeks for the
cause of things. It enlarges upon the order of
the universe and concludes as to its Maker.
This has been the common way of appealing to

1 Ontologia, sect. 102. 2 Eternal Morality, p. 172.

' Meditations, Objections, 1.


scientists of atheistical turn. The student has
been appealed to on the ground of his own
discoveries. But the difficulty with this argu-
ment has been often pointed out. It is incom-
plete. Its first cause is not necessarily personal,
nor intelligent, nor even omnipotent. " In the
admission of a first cause," remarks Hamilton,
"atheist and theist are at one."^ This proof
may end in Spencer's Unknowable as well as in
the Christian's Father in heaven.

The argument from design, the teleological
proof, is well known. Kant called it "the
oldest, clearest, and most adapted to ordinary
human reason."^ Everything has a purpose.
The watch found on the sea-shore is not dumb,
but has a tale to tell of the intelligent designer
and skilful manufacturer. The preference has
been given by many to this argument because it
so fully presented God as personal. But there
is also difficulty here, for many phenomena
tempt one to infer an imperfect designer whose
plan did not exclude accidents and disorders,
and there is all the time the possibility of con-
cluding that Law, an impersonal working out of

1 Metaph , Lecture II., p. 19. ^ Kritik der E. V., p. 651.



a self-caused evolution, has produced what is in
itself so wonderful a universe. Professor Knight
wisely remarks that from this proof we get
Nature, which is not quite what was sought for.
He says, too strongly, " The conception of deity
as a workman could never lead to reverence,"*
for this is not impossible ; but it is true that skill
is not the best attribute to dwell upon in present-
ing the idea of God to a sceptical mind.

The argument from intuition, from instinct, is
preferred by Knight. He grants that the innate
idea of God is at first weak and dim, but claims
that it improves with mental growth. He re-
gards it as a revelation within the soul. This
revelation is not qualified by man's conceptions,
as in the case of other arguments, but comes
pure and perfect from above. It is not constant
in the mind, to be sure, but sometimes clearly
declares itself. He finds these recurring intui-
tions persistent in the individual, the same in
various generations, harmonious with all other
useful ideas, and vindicated from all suspicion
by their beneficent influence upon the mind.
He defends this instinct against the " cold

1 Essay on Theism.


nescience" of Comte, Bain, Spencer, and others,
and charges Sir W. Hamilton and Dean Mansel
with being of like tendency. He claims that, to
deny this, we must give up the omnipotence of
God, for we take away His power to reveal Him-
self. He holds that to find God revealed in this
instincfls to find Him, not in nature, but in man,
and thus in the most perfect image of God. He
finds the whole aesthetic or poetic sense respond-
ing to this view. Worship vindicates it, being
instinctive. With appeal to Fenelon and Cardi-
nal ISTewman, Professor Knight ends his essay.

On the other hand, Dr. Momerie, in the bright
little book previously cited,^ has a chapter on the
Infinite Ego, in which he favors the argument
from design.

Again, Dr. Hedge, in an essay on " Theism,"
questions all the arguments, concludes that reason
alone " does not sufi3.ce to prove the God whom re-
ligion craves," and looks to faith "which requires
the qualifying check of science, without which
she would lapse into monstrous superstition." ^

^ Personality.

2 " Theism of Keason and of Faith," in Luther and other



It would seem that an argument drawn from
nature must always be inferior to one drawn
from man, because the God of nature manifests
power, skill, or majesty, — some one quality or
other by no means foreign to a true conception
of God, but not by itself adequately representing

Is it then to be held that man knows God
transcendentally, that there is not only a con-
sciousness of the self and its operations, but also
of God and His relations therewith ; not only
a self-consciousness, but a God-consciousness ?
" When I become self-conscious," said Theodore
Parker, " I feel that dependence [upon God],
and know of this communion, whereby I re-
ceive from Him." ^

It is idle to claim a universal God-conscious-
ness in so sweeping a way. History will not
support the claim. Observation must reject it.
A general sense of dependence on man's part
may be admitted. A sense of personal relation
with God cannot be admitted as an integral part
of self-consciousness, or as a necessary concomi-
tant of it. If this were so, there would be no

^ Views of Keligion, p. 243.


atheists but the insane. If this sense of God's
presence came unbidden to every youthfiil mind,
free agency would be with some affected, and
with some at least prevented from development.
It is with Parker as with others: controversy
spoils calm reasoning and leads to too large a
claim fo^he intuitional proof of a mooted point.
The same claim is made by Mulford in his " Re-
public of God," though from another point of
view: " From the beginning, and with the growth
of the human consciousness, there is the con-
sciousness of the being of God and of a relation
to God,"^ to all which the answer is every
atheistic book.

But, when we return to the ground that man
is a recipient, a reagent and a free agent, we find
that he is adapted to, and dependent for his best
development upon, a rational recognition of the
Source of his life, the One omnipotent upon
whose inflowing life he and all conscientious
men react with prayerful co-operative energy,
the all-merciful One who preserves him in free-
dom from hour to hour, save as he voluntarily
makes himself slave to some citizen of the

1 Page 1.


country far from tlie Father's house, tlie 30untry
of tlie harlot and the swine.

With his sense of dependence he freely ac-
cepts everything which leads him to acknowl-
edge God. As a child, if properly taught, he
already confesses Him. If untaught, he has
this fact of a Father's care still to learn. If
taught a polytheism as the source of his life,
he accepts it. He is left of God free to ac-
cept Him or to reject Him. He is not com-
pelled in this or in anything. He is led, in-
deed, as hy a good shepherd; but he may go
astray, if he will, saying, in his folly, "There
is no God." ^

As revealed to the man who has been well
taught, and who has practised what he has
learned, such a man as Dr. Mulford had in mind,
God is a Father. He is wholly personal. He is
the infinite prototype of man. In Him the will
is full of infinite love, embracing all, even the
unthankful and the evil. In Him the intellect is
full of infinite wisdom, caring for no one to the
exclusion of others. In Him the union of these
is perfect, and they go forth, the Love by the

* Psalm liii. 1.


Wisdom, the Wisdom from the Love, in infinite
activity. God is seen to be humanity in its
source. In the imperfect image of weak and
wayward man He is dimly seen as having in
perfect form every attribute of an infinite Hu-

It may^also be seen that this infinite One, con-
cerned with all that He has made or will make,
dwells above the laws of space and time which
He has introduced into the world as the neces-
sary accompaniment of material conditions ; and
that He is omnipresent, in all space but not of
space, and in all time but not of time, so that the
here and the there, the past and the future, are
ever in His presence. " Before Abraham was I
am"^ is Divine language as to time; "where
two or three are gathered in my name, there
am I in the midst of them" ^ is Divine language
as to space.

" Kot circumscribed by time, nor fixed to space,
Confined to altars nor to temples bound." '

It is by a self-revelation that God is made

1 John viii. 58. 2 Matthew xviii. 20.

' Hannah More's poem, " Belshazzar."


known, whether directly to one entering into his
closet to pray in secret, or by the spoken word
of the prophet. To early innocent man the in-
ward conviction, to depraved man the spoken
word belongs. Had man been left without such
a revelation of God by Grod in some form, he
would not have known Him ; for the ignorance
of his infancy would, in this respect, have con-
tinued. And, having learned to know God, and
losing his light through neglect of it, man would
have remained unconscious of God if He had
not renewed the knowledge among men of His

But all revelation of God to man, through the
ear or in the heart, was incomplete till, in one
life, the infinite love and wisdom and gracious
activity of God were revealed in a day-by-day
manifestation. K the Christ failed to be tender
to all, if He failed to be so wise as to know the
future and to speak as never man spake, and if
He failed to be able to succor the fallen who ac-
cepted His aid. He failed to manifest God ; if He
were infinitely loving, even to enemies, so wise
that He was the very Word made flesh, so pow-
erful that no one's cry of anguish was in vain. He
was such that he that had seen Him had seen the


Father,^ — that in Him dwelt the fulness of the
Godhead bodily.^

This is not the place to consider the work of
the Christ, but it is proper to point out that, in
the Christ, when He had freed Himself by puri-
fication through temptation from all the infirmity
of the fl^sh, and when He had thereby made
Himself supremely victorious over all forces of
evil, — that is, when He had finished the work
given Him to do, — the Divine Being not only
declared His existence, but vindicated His provi-
dence. Thenceforward all arguments, from the
possibility of the conception, from the cosmical
demand, from the wonders of design, from in-
stinctive want, and from human history, must
yeld in power to the demonstration of the Divine
by the Divine in the Christ. The argument
from the Christ, — the Emanuel, *' God-with-us,"
— is, and forever will be, unmatched. He was
actually Jesus. — that is, Jehovah the Saviour.
He was " the image of the invisible God." ^

There are two probable reasons why this argu-
ment has not been used: first, the histories of
the Christ had been called in question ; secondly,

1 Jolin xiv. 9. ^ Colossians ii. 9. ^ Colossians i. 15.

in 17


He was not so much regarded in His constantly
declared representative, as in His supposed pro-
pitiatory, character. This was double surrender
to scepticism and to dogmatism. The past time

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Online LibraryTheodore Francis WrightThe human and its relation to the divine ... → online text (page 9 of 13)