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of religion, are indeed nowhere else but in their own
deformed and misshapen apprehensions. It is no wonder
when a defiled fancy comes to be the glass, if you have an
unlovely reflection. Let us therefore labour to purge our
own souls from all worldly pollutions ; let us breathe after
the aid and assistance of the Divine Spirit, that it may
irradiate and enlighten our minds, that we may be able
to see divine things hi a divine light : let us endeavour to
live more in a real practice of those rules of religious and
holy living commended to us by our ever-blessed Lord and
Saviour. So shall we know religion better, and knowing
it love it, and loving it be still more and more ambitiously
pursuing after it, till we come to a full attainment of it,
and therein of our own perfection and everlasting bliss.' l

In the eighteenth century Lord Shaftesbury propounded
in attractive style a theory of ethics which is predominantly
sesthetical. His philosophy is little more than an easy-
going pantheism, but he has won considerable fame as the
chief English exponent of this type of theism. Hutcheson,
who is usually mentioned with him, claimed that the sense
of beauty is universal and immediate, a view which I have
maintained in these lectures.

The English poetry of the nineteenth century has borne
noble witness to this side of religion. Shelley and Words-
worth, in spite of the vast chasm which divides them, are
at one in their insistence on the sacredness of natural beauty.

1 John Smith, The Nobleness of True Religion.



XIL] THE ESTHETIC GROUND OF FAITH 219

Both are, in a sense, pantheistic; but while Shelley gives
us a kind of non-ethical Platonism, Wordsworth is strong
in his severe self -discipline and moral earnestness. No lover
of the beautiful has escaped more triumphantly the pitfalls
which beset the direct worship of beauty than the great
poet of the English Lakes. His purity, unworldliness, and
high seriousness give him an exalted rank among religious
teachers; and, as has been observed more than once, he
stands the practical test of being resorted to, and not in
vain, by many troubled spirits.

Ruskin describes four sources of beauty: the record
of conscience; the symbolising of divine attributes in
matter; the felicity of living things; and the perfect
fulfilment of their duties and functions. 1 ' External
nature is glorious as a symbol of God's nature; the felicity
of animal life is evidence of His kind presence; excellent
working is evidence of obedience to His will; and con-
science is His approving voice/

Professor Seeley 2 points out that science and art are
both l religions'; which is the reason why they clash so
violently, at times, with what is commonly called religion.
In other words, the worship of the true and the beautiful
is as much a worship of God as the worship of Him under
the form of goodness. This again is in accordance with the
view taken in these lectures. Seeley very properly pro-
tests against the abuse of the word 'atheism/ which was
more common when he wrote than it is to-day. 'Art and
science are not of the world, though the world may corrupt
them ; they have the nature of religion. ' ' If we look at
the history of the modern theory of culture we shall per-
ceive that its characteristic feature is precisely the assertion
of the religious dignity of art and science. Goethe and
Schiller habitually apply the language of religion to art.
... In their minds beauty, truth, and goodness are of one

1 Modern Painters, vol. ii. ; Caldecott, The Philosophy of Religion, p. 190.

2 Natural Religion, passim.



220 FAITH [CH.

family ; only they oppose the Puritanism which sets good-
ness at an unapproachable height above its sisters, and they
are disposed rather to give the highest place to beauty.'
Seeley gives us no theory of the beautiful ; he only bids
us observe that its votaries pursue it in the spirit of the
genuine worshipper.

On the Continent, the philosophers who have laid most
stress on the sesthetical ground of Faith are perhaps Fries,
Novalis, and Cousin. For the first two I will be content to
refer you to histories of philosophy, or to the writers
themselves. Cousin (1792-1867) is a good modern example
of the type which we are now considering. All natural
beauty, he says, is an image of ideal beauty, which is
realised only in God. The physically beautiful is the
wrapping of the intellectually and morally beautiful.
Moral beauty comprises two elements, Justice and charity.
He who is consistently just and charitable is in his way the
greatest of artists. God is the principle of all three orders
of beauty, physical, intellectual, and moral. Moreover,
the sublime and the beautiful meet and amalgamate in
His nature.

Enough has now been said to show that in the opinion
of many great minds the beautiful is one of the chief avenues
to the knowledge of God. I believe that in this country
we have neglected it to our great loss. We have been too
prone to throw away one of the chief antidotes to worldli-
ness and lowness of aim. Neglect of beauty is stamped
on our whole civilisation, which still presents far too many
coarse and unlovely features. Commercialism has helped
to destroy what might be a source of inexhaustible spiritual
wealth. For, Like all the best gifts of God, beauty is
within the reach of all, and there is no limit to its store.
The aesthetical sense refines and gladdens life, making
poverty dignified, and wealth no longer vulgar.

But, more than any other type of religion, this needs
discipline and true seriousness. ' Romanticism ' the







THE ESTHETIC GROUND OF FAITH 221

movement which began with Novalis and survives in
many supporters of the ' Catholic revival ' is too often
a somewhat frivolous mental attitude, a mode of mild
sensuous pleasure. It is most agreeable, perhaps, to
those who have time on their hands, and who wish
to enjoy their religious sensations. The whole romantic
movement, on its religious side, bears the marks of a
revival an imitation of the past. In its earlier stages
the most conscientious efforts were made to recover the
entire religious atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Just as
pseudo-Gothic castles were erected by pacific nineteenth-
century squires and retired stockbrokers, so the ecclesi-
astical fashions of the centuries before the Reformation
were carefully copied, and the beliefs and disciplines of
our semi-barbarous ancestors were held up for our accept-
ance and imitation. The temporary success of so artificial
a creation is a measure of the loss which the human spirit
feels when worship is divorced from beauty.

The deepest service which Christianity has rendered to
art is closely connected with the ground of their frequent
estrangements. The Incarnation means that the universe
shares man's relation to its Creator. As the world is the
living vesture of God, so when the Logos, through whom
all things were made, assumed human form, in exalting
humanity He ennobled also the whole of man's environ-
ment. In proclaiming this truth, Christianity introduced,
potentially, a new force and freedom into art. Deeper
notes were sounded ; discords, formerly ignored, were
caught up into a higher harmony. Suffering was recog-
nised as divine, and thereby transmuted ; death was faced,
welcomed, and conquered. Henceforth the facile grace
and symmetry of ancient art were impossible, and each
pagan revival has viewed Christianity askance, as intro-
ducing ugliness and discord into the new Olympus. But
the stone gods can never live again. Beauty is too large
and too divine a thing to ignore any part of reality. It was



222 FAITH [ca

not given us to use as a decorative adjunct to life. Faith
bids us go through the whole of our life in the spirit of a
worshipper ; and, as in the ancient mysteries, the fairest
and fullest visions are reserved for the end of the course.
Faith, meanwhile, has to grapple with much intractable
ugliness, only secure of her final victory.



XIIL] HAEMONIOUS SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT 223







CHAPTER XIII

FAITH AS HARMONIOUS SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT

WE have now reached the last stage of our inquiry into
the nature of Faith. We have found that it is a divine
endowment of human nature, which operates through our
natural faculties. It emerges into consciousness as a
vague instinct a prompting which impels us to look for
a meaning in life to seek behind the veil of ever-changing
phenomena some permanent and solid reality which shall
be proof against ' the wreckful siege of battering days, 1
and which, by setting before us an absolute standard, shall
give us the right always to aspire. This instinct is of vary-
ing intensity, but at first it is without form and void. It
seeks for forms, for a mould which it may enter, and
generally finds it in one or other of the creeds which are
presented to it as authoritative. But whereas it is potentially
rich in varied contents, capable of correspondences which
link our complex human nature with the divine, and where-
as all these correspondences are at first wrapped up and
withdrawn from consciousness, Faith can never come to
its own except by being lived into experienced in a life
which should be as full and rich and as many-sided as
possible. There are no short cuts to a perfect Faith,
though there are many provisional and avowedly prematur"
syntheses of which we may and must avail ourselves.

' Faith is life,' as Mr. Skrine says in his beautiful little
book, What is Faith? 1 'What to the vine-branch if



224 FAITH [CH.

> living, that to man is believing. We, like the branch, are
saved if we abide in the Vine, that is, if we are alive. If
life is the adjustment of the internal relations of a living
thing to the external relations, Faith is the response of the
organism which we name the soul, to that environment

O *

which we call God. Souls are kept hi life by their obedience

ito one law their true response to all the forces touching
them, which come from God.' ' A man's salvation is
measured by the degree in which he is alive. Is he in
definite, full, various, increasing correspondence with God ?
Is he alive on the side of mind ? Does the organ, by which
he is sensible to the world of fact, adjust its activities to the
arrangement of those facts ? Does it mirror things as
they are and not as he would wish them to be ? Does it
' weave on the magic loom of consciousness the true pattern
of the landscape beyond the window of self ? Is he alive
on the side of emotion ? Is there an answer of the heart
to the relations of that nearest environment, Humanity ?
Has he love, which is the response to the fact of a brother-
hood encircling him ? Are his sympathies quick, and does
a neighbour's grief stir pity in him, and his Joy a joy ? Is
he alive on the side of action ? Does the movement of the
practical order the thing that is done upon earth stir a
vibration in his will ? Do the things that God doeth Him-
self His works seen in the process of nature and hi the
state find him a fellow- worker ? Does he by his activity
propel, and by his passivity smooth, the march of better-
ment ? To do and be these things is to be alive ; and to
live is to be in Faith.'

I am glad to quote these eloquent words, which express
very well the general view of the normal growth and life
of Faith which I have upheld in these lectures. All
through I have been deprecating that tendency to snatch
at some creed or formula or theory which will save us any
more trouble. We have found guides who say to us :
Take this vague Faith-consciousness as it is. Intensify it



XIIL HARMONIOUS SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT 225

and enjoy it, but do not analyse it or test it. Or: Tell it
to endorse, unexamined, the creed which we present to
you. Let Faith back the bill, recklessly, and you will
then be happy. Or: Make Faith the sworn ally of your
moral sense, which is the most important part of us, and
let the rest go. Regard the l world as will/ and all that is
non-moral in it as merely instrumental, even unreal. Or:
Pin your Faith to science or philosophy, and let your
religion be 'the intellectual love of God.' Or, lastly:
Love harmony and beauty within and without. Let your
life be a poem in God's honour. These premature syn-
theses all leave out some essential part of our nature.
We cannot acquiesce in them, just because we are one our-
selves, not a collection of independent faculties. We are
driven to aim at unifying our outward experience as well as
our inward lives. So strong is this craving for unity that
it seems to me a faithless act to refuse the quest.

The belief that Reality must be one does not rest on any
fancied superiority of the number One over the number
Two, but on the fact that inclusiveness and harmony belong
to the idea of reality. If there is such a thing as a Divine
Mind, it must be at unity with itself, and it must embrace
all things.

But though our object is to discover the underlying unity
of reality, we do not wish to fall into the error attributed
by some to Greek philosophy that of regarding the
individual as something to be explained away. We under-
stand a thing in proportion as we recognise its unique
features, the things which make it different from all other
things. If we begin by saying that since all things are
one, all dividing lines must be illusory, our minds will be
reduced to a blank. It is only in the dark that all colours
agree. There is a sense in which the only way to know
the whole of reality is to know one part, no matter how
small, through and through. This is why the quietistic
mysticism, to which I referred in an early lecture of this



226 FAITH [OH.

course, is so unsatisfactory. It shuns and distrusts all
particular truths, and in consequence gives us only a blank
sheet of paper, at which we may gaze if we will till we fall
into a trance. If any definite form emerges from the
trance, it is certain that it was not created by the trance,
but that it is a vivid picture of something which we
have been taught; probably the product of ages of
reflection upon the eternal world. Moreover, the fact that
the whole may be known by thoroughly knowing one part,
is a principle of great practical importance. For complete
all-round self-culture is an impossibility, and we cannot
even aim at it without danger of becoming futile dilettanti.
We have to limit ourselves strictly and narrowly. We
have to be something particular, which excludes the possi-
bility of becoming a hundred other particular things.
Some real self-sacrifice is a necessary consequence of being
members of a body and we must accept it. What we miss
in this way we must supply as best we can from authority
by borrowing, that is to say, from others. But the loss
is not very great. For all thorough work has an universal
quality about it ; so that the man who can do any one
worthy thing well, is not generally narrow-minded. He
knows far more about God, the world, and his own soul
than the dabbler who is Jack of all trades, and master of
none. This is one of the things which justifies us in holding
a reasonably optimistic view about human society. No
civilisation is possible without division of labour, and all
division of labour involves one-sidedness, and, in a sense,
the mutilation of personality. But as the theologians of
the Divine Immanence have insisted that God is not only
everywhere, but in omnibus totus, so it appears that faithful
devotion to any worthy pursuit does open to us avenues
extending to the Infinite. Browning's grammarian found
this even in the study of Greek syntax. If this case is
historical, some of you will think that no one need despair.



xiu.] HARMONIOUS SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT 227

Every one may follow Emerson's advice and ' hitch his
wagon to a star.' l

At the same time this division of labour naturally pro-
duces religious difficulties. * Specialised values/ as Hoff-
ding says, ' attain a self-dependence over against that
concentration of all values which characterises religion.'
The very fact that we have found a measure of universal
truth in our chosen pursuit that it has been a means of
grace and revelation to us makes us jealous of granting the
same kind of value to other pursuits which have taught us
nothing. If we have made the order of nature, or art, or
active social service, the frame for our picture of the Deity
(and ' every concept of God is,' as Fichte says, ' the con-
cept of an idol, an et'SwXov, not the whole reality), we are
apt to regard ourselves as the only true worshippers, and
those who have come to the truth from another side as
robbers who climb into the fold ' some other way ' instead
of through the door. Every exclusive object of interest
acquires a spurious universality, which is the progenitor
of intolerance.

I referred briefly in one of my earlier lectures to
what I called the threefold cord the ideas of truth,
beauty, and goodness, which emerge as ideals when Faith
becomes conscious of its aims. The life of God, so far as
we can apprehend it, is the sphere in which the ideals
of wisdom, beauty, and goodness are fully realised and
fully operative. I say fully realised and fully operative,
though the two may seem difficult to harmonise. We
think of God under the two modes of essence (or substance)
and existence. Under the first mode He appears as pure
Thought, perfect, unchanging, completely victorious over ,
evil. Under the form of existence the * moving image
of eternity ' He appears as pure Act or Will involved in

1 Nevertheless it is true that Christianity, as a social religion, has renounced
the Greek aspiration after urd/>Keta.



228 FAITH [CH.

temporal and spatial inter-relations, in which He energises
and ' works His sovereign will.' In this second mode the
thought of God's action is split up doubly, as it were, (1) into
past, present, and future ; (2) into power and resistance.
As regards the former, if the time-process is fully real, and
if it is the externalisation of the conscious life of God, we
are driven to the hypothesis of a God who is really in a
state of becoming, of self-evolution. But this, besides the
objection justly taken on the religious side to the con-
ception of a God who is not yet fully divine, involves, I
believe, a radically unscientific view of progress. Science
knows nothing of universal progress, nor of a world-process
which is only valuable for the sake of its last term. A
truer philosophy holds that there is no development in the
life of God Himself, but only in the changing phenomena
which represent His thoughts under the form of self-
fulfilling activity. The divine in the creation is only
adequately represented when the whole of the time-process
is gathered up into its final meaning and purpose, when, in
' fact, the mode of becoming is united with the mode of
^ being. This I conceive to be the eternal world not a
world of immobility in contrast with a world of change,
but a world in which the antinomy of becoming and being,
of motion and rest, is transcended. A system of thought
without will and action has a merely potential reality ;
and on the other hand will and action are nothing without
a permanent background which is not in a state of flux.
Thus, as I have tried to show, static intellectualism and
empirical positivism are both wrong they are one-sided
systems which ultimately destroy themselves. To view
things sub specie aeternitatis is not to view them as abstrac-
tions, floating in the air, and only illustrated by ' the
things that are made,' but to penetrate to the inner mean-
ing and permanent value of phenomena, giving them their
proper rank and spiritual significance, separating that in
them which has only a transitory importance, and realising



Till.]



HABMONIOUS SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT 229



their connection with larger aspects of the divine plan,
which stretch out in all directions beyond our ken. And
as the object perceived by Faith is neither a pure idea nor
a pure activity, but an idea embodied in an activity, an
activity expressing an idea ; so the energy of Faith is not
thought detached from action, nor action detached from
thought, but what St. Paul calls a AoyiKr) AaT/wta. 1
Hartley Coleridge's lines are worth quoting :

I Think not the Faith by which the just shall live

Is a dead creed, a map correct of heaven,
Far less a feeling fond and fugitive,
A thoughtless gift, withdrawn as soon as given ;
It is an affirmation and arf act
That bids eternal truth be present fact.

The eye of Faith tries to discern this eternal significance,
this absolute value, in all our varied experience. And, as
I have said, there are three aspects or attributes of God's
nature which glow like a constellation of three stars, whose
light is blended, but which remain distinct, not to be fused
with each other.

I wish also to guard against the error of supposing that
goodness is solely the affair of the will, truth of the intellect,
and beauty of another separable faculty. Will, thought,
and feeling are present in every mental process. By Good-
ness I mean a certain disposition of the whole man, which
in the intellectual sphere manifests itself as a Just apprecia-
tion of moral values, a clear insight in the discerning of
spirits, an enlightened conscience. In the sphere of the
will it is a sincere and steady purpose to make the moral
ideal actual, to favour the positive values and suppress the
negative. (Remember that the law of the conservation
of energy, precluding any real increase of force, which
prevails in the mechanical order, has no validity in the

* Cf. E. Caird, Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers, vol. ii.
pp. 2-5, on the Aristotelian conception of 6ewpta as transcending the opposi-
tion of theory and practice.



230 FAITH [ca

spiritual order. There is no fixed limit to spiritual gains,
, which do not involve any corresponding loss in another
quarter.) In the realm of the affections, goodness is an
emotional attraction to all that is pure and noble and of
good report, and (as a necessary correlative) a repulsion
from the opposite qualities.

By Truth or Wisdom I mean the correspondence of
thought with fact, external fact, until we have thoroughly
mastered it. ' Everything is to be called true according
as it has its proper form, which is the copy of the idea hi
the mind of the great Artificer.' l Therefore all things are
' true,' as God sees them, or as they are in reality, and their
' truth ' consists in the fact that they are possible objects
of intellectual perception. In the sphere of thought the
quest of truth means humble and patient discipleship to
the laws which God has made for the universe. In the
sphere of will and feeling, it means loyal obedience to them
and Joyful acceptance of them. Virtue is ' truth,' or
* reality ' (aA>j0eia), in the language of the Fourth Gospel,
and sin a lie, as the translation into act of a false idea.
Obedience and acceptance do not mean passive resignation
to a dispensation which we cannot alter. Stoicism some-
times interpreted duty in this way ; but for Christian
Faith the choice and worship of the truth is an active
co-operation, not a passive acquiescence. The world is a
world of living beings, whose nature it is to act. We
ourselves are actors in the drama, as well as spectators of
it. And, being parts of the nature which we are studying,
it is our privilege to make, as well as to observe, history.
Law is not an external limitation which prevents us from
being as free, as good, and as happy as we should be if

1 St. Thomas Aquinas, using Platonic language. The old definition of truth,
adaequatio intellectus et rei, is rejected by Kantians and positivists. But
though correspondence between thought and its object is, from the nature of
the case, undemonstrable, since thought cannot ' step out and look at itself,'
it is a matter of reasonable faith that our highest faculties do not deceive us,
and our faculties certainly assure us that there is an objective world closely
corresponding to our ideas about it.



xmJl HARMONIOUS SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT 231

there were no law. The Author of nature is one cui servire
regnare est. We have only to remember that He is the
legislator, not we, and that our ' claims ' are not the
measure of all things.

Beauty, as I have said, seems to consist in the suitableness
of form to idea the Just translation of an idea into an
appropriate symbolic form. We must not narrow the
Beautiful into what we admire in external nature or in art ;
whatever is admirable falls within its scope. There is
beauty of thought and action as well as hi the objects of


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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngeFaith and its psychology → online text (page 19 of 21)