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God, while retaining the conception of God as a regulative
idea or ideal, seem to me to be, strictly speaking, non-
religious. 1 If the idea of God is only a device, empirically
discovered to be serviceable for strengthening our wills
and straightening our aims Just as a man might use a
pair of spectacles to correct his faults of vision, or a pair
of dumb-bells to increase his muscular strength, God is
lowered to the position of an instrument ; and this is an

entirely outside it. Science can analyse the production of sound, and ignore
the soul of music ; it can ghow the cause of colour, and miss the joy of
beauty ; it can show the genesis of all manner of social institutions, and miss
the heart of love ; it may even find the conditions of life, but cannot ask
what life is ; it may sweep the heavens with its telescope, and fail to find
God.'

1 This limitation does not exclude Buddhism, though that religion believes
in no personal God. For in Buddhism the * Nothing ' to which all is reduced
is (in spite of its name) a positive conception. 'It is the absolute world-
ground, the fact behind the illusions of the world ; the absolute being, the
static basis of all phenomena ; it is the absolute world-aim, after which the
world-process strives and in which it finds its deliverance ; the bearer and
producer of the religious and moral world-order, which brings out what
alone is true and enduring in illusion, and turns the illusory world-process
into an actual salvation-process.' Hartmann, Religion de$ Qeistes, p. 5.
Buddhism is not atheism ; it only deifies the ' a-privative.'



in.] THE PRIMAKY GKOUND OF FAIT 45

irreligious Faith in God. Faith, we may perhaps say, is a
realist, as ascribing reality to ideas, but an idealist, since
it is ideas to which it ascribes reality.

Now on what principles do we construct our world of
values ? Why do we prefer some things above others ?
What qualities give or involve intrinsic worth ? Our
answers to these questions will determine the whole char-
acter of our Faith, and our whole judgment as to the mean-
ing and content of Faith generally.

The simplest and lowest standard of valuation is that
of pleasure and pain. This has very little to do with Faith,
because it is almost entirely subjective and particular.
Sensuous perceptions do not point to any universal beyond
themselves. We are conscious of no contradiction, no
problem clamouring for solution, when we acknowledge
that * tastes differ ' even when they differ so much that
one man's meat is another man's poison. We cannot
argue with any confidence from pleasure and pain to the
objective value or nature of things. All we can say is
that pleasure is the frequent (not the universal) accompani-
ment of right action and of a healthy condition, and pain
of wrong-doing and disease. Pleasure and pain have thus
(in Kantian language, though in opposition to Kantian
theory) some degree of regulative value ; they have not a
constitutive value. And their regulative value, their use-
fulness in apprising us whether we are doing well or badly,
is not that of an infallible criterion.

If we reject the pleasure and pain calculus, not as worth-
less, but as belonging to an inferior, subsidiary class, we
shall find, I think, that there are three attributes of things
which have an absolute, intrinsic value. They are constitu-
tive, not regulative principles of reality regarded as
spiritual.

First, we value what is universal^ tW6, AflfiJ W$- arrange
our experience in order of value, according as it illustrates,
more or less, universal truth. We value law above acci-



46 FAITH [CH.

dent, or what we call accident ; we value the rule abovo the
exception ; more decidedly, we value fact above fiction,
our waking life above our dreams. Our thoughts are
valuable, or worthless, according as they correspond with,
or contradict, the actual nature of things. A theory is
valuable if it explains or accounts for a great number of
phenomena. A religion or philosophy is valuable if it
gives an intelligible explanation or a plausible theory of the
constitution of the universe and the laws of human nature.
Whenever we succeed in establishing the correspondence of
idea with fact, we feel that we are enriched ; we have
gained something which is valuable for its own sake.

I shall have, in the course of these lectures, to defend
this conception of truth against the sceptical subjectivism
which denies that our thoughts can ever convey to us
genuine knowledge of reality external to ourselves. I will
not argue the question in this place, but will only say that
my position is a ' moderate realism.' I believe that we are
in contact with external reality, and that we may trust our
faculties when they tell us (as they do with the utmost
emphasis) that our knowledge is not merely of our own
mental states, but of facts which exist independently of
our mental states. At the same time, I hold that this
confidence is a matter of reasonable Faith, and can never,
from the nature of the case, be anything more.

Secondly, we attach an absolute, intrinsic value to what
we call moral goodness. However we came by it, we are
in possession of the category of the ought-to-be, the partly
unrealised supplement of given experience. The greater
part of our experience is capable of being arranged on a scale
of ethical values. We may, if we choose, for the sake of
greater clearness in ethical study, abstract from other
aspects of reality, and regard the world simply as a place
where some things are morally good, and others morally
bad. We may picture to ourselves human life as simply
and solely a school of character, a place of moral discipline.



r>



in.] THE PRIMARY GROUND OF FAITH 47

And if we are asked, ' Why is this or that called good ? '
we must not answer, ' Because it promotes the interest of
the whole,' or ' Because it leads to the greatest happiness,'
or anything of that kind. If we do, the Positivist will
prove to us that the ' Good ' is, by our own admission,
only a means to an end, or only relative, or only determined
by public opinion. The Good cannot be made an instru-
ment of pleasure and pain, though utilitarianism has sub-
jected it to this degradation ; nor can it be subordinated
to the True and the Beautiful, any more than they to it.
The form of the moral standard, ' You must,' is essential
as well as the content. It is clearly a law of our being ;
we point to it as a magnetic needle points to the North.

In a later lecture I shall have to deal with the exclusive
authority attached by some philosophers to the moral
sense. I do not agree that the ' categorical imperative '
belongs to moral judgments only, in such a way as to make
a generic difference between them and intellectual or
aesthetic judgments. The peremptory command, ' You
must take account of this,' is not always the voice of con-
science. It is the mark of all reality, and it compels our
attention to the true and the beautiful in the same master-
ful tone as to the ethical demand. The contrary impression
has arisen from the fact that the moral imperative usually
prompts to some external act, which for a superficial view
is more ' real ' than a change of mind or feeling.

rThe third order of values, which, though with the
najority of men it holds a subordinate place, is quite in-
capable of being reduced to subjection to either of the other
two, is the quality of Beauty. When we say that a thing
is beautiful, we mean that it is objectively, universally
beautiful, not that it gives us pleasure to look at it.
The aesthetic sense is more than an instrument of pleasure-
We cannot speak of pleasure or pain without immediate
reference to individual feelings, from which there is no
appeal, but we regard it as a defect in others if they cannot



48 FAITH [CH.

see beauty in what we admire. We believe that the laws
of beauty reign in the real world ; and this for the Theist
implies that the Creator values beauty for its own sake.
In natural history, we see that aesthetic perceptions deter-
mine choice in the case of creatures quite low down in the
scale ; Darwin and others have shown what elaborate and
exquisite adornments Nature provides for beasts, birds,
and insects, decorations which have no other object than
to attract mates by appealing to their highly developed
sense of beauty. Personally I have no doubt that many
of the unsatisfactory features in our civilisation are due
, to the fact that we see nothing wrong in unnecessary
I ugliness, and so continually affront the Creator by dis-
regarding one of His primary attributes.

The essence of beauty seems to be the suitableness of
form to idea. A beautiful object is perhaps always valued
as the Just translation of an idea into expressive form.
When Aristotle said that the primary necessity for a poet
is to be good at metaphors (using ' metaphor ' in the
widest possible sense), he spoke the truth. There is a low
but positive degree of beauty in mere symmetry, which
is a symbolical expression of the order, proportion, and
uniformity of Nature the rais and Tre/aas which, according
to Plotinus's scheme, we are to begin by learning, through
the study of Nature. Subtler harmonies, which express
and interpret, we know not how, the deeper and more
complex secrets of life, have a higher value as beautiful
things. A beautiful face and person attract us because they
are the index of a healthy body, a sound mind, and a fine
character. Rising higher still, there is beauty of thought,
of feeling, and of action. A man's life may, as Milton says,
be a true poem. And ugliness is always, I think, essen-
tially discord between form and idea. The ugliest thing
in Nature, a human face distorted by evil passions, is
hideous because the face is that of a man made in the
image of God, a sharer in the humanity redeemed by Christ.



r



in.] THE PRIMARY GROUND OF FAITH 49

The discord here becomes revolting. The ugliness of vul-
garity, in all its forms, is caused by the inappropriateness of
form to content, or the Juxtaposition of incompatibles. It is
the misuse of symbols by those who do not understand them.

We have, then, three schemes of value, truth, goodness,
and beauty, which cannot be reduced to each other. They
are the three aspects under which the life of God is known
to us. 1 They are not independent of each other ; beauty
cannot fall entirely out of relation to truth or goodness
without ceasing to be beautiful, as the history of decadence
in art has proved again and again. Neither can morality
wholly forget the claims of truth or beauty, as the history
of Jesuitism and of Puritanism respectively should have
taught us. Neither can metaphysics despise the ethical
and aesthetic ideals without falling into falsehood ; for
though science may rightly and honourably accept limita-
tions and consent to a partial and one-sided view, since it
does not profess to guide us to absolute truth, philosophy,
which is the quest of universal truth, is bound to leave
nothing out.

I hope you will agree with me in regarding these three
lines of revelation as distinct without being separate, and
as constituting, collectively, what we may call natural
revelation.

So the poets have taught us. Goethe (translated by
Carlyle) thus asserts their triune harmony :

As all nature's myriad changes

Still one changeless power proclaim,
So through thought's wide kingdom ranges

One vast meaning, e'er the same :
This is Truth eternal Reason

That in Beauty takes its dress,
And, serene through time and season,

Stands complete in Righteousness.

i Lotze says that they are giren intuitiyely, and thus hare a certainty
which cannot belong to mental concepts.

D



50 FAITH [en.

And Tennyson says that

Beauty, Truth, and Goodness are three sisters
That dote upon each other, friends to man,
Living together under the same roof,
And never can be sundered without tears.

These three have, each of them, the marks of the spiritual
world. That is : Firstly, they claim to exist in their own
right, and will not be made means or instruments to any-
thing else, nor to each other. Secondly, they take us out
of ourselves : they are not our tools, but we are rather
their instruments. Thirdly, they are, each in its own
manner and degree, a permanent enrichment of our life
a fund of inalienable spiritual wealth. The mark of
spiritual wealth as opposed to the other goods of life is that
spiritual wealth is unlimited in quantity, being manifestly
free from such mechanical laws as the conservation of
energy. In the spiritual world one man's gain is not
another man's loss. The spiritual wealth of the world is
capable of indefinite increment.

We are confronted, then, with a world of existence, and
a world of values. The former, when contemplated in a
barely abstract way, and stripped of all extraneous im-
portations from the world of values, consists simply of
brute facts, unclassified, unappraised, and even unrelated.
The latter, when viewed in an equally abstract way, con-
sists of the whole contents of the moral, intellectual, and
artistic consciousness. What is the relation between them ?

The relation of the world of values to the world of exist-
ence is a problem, perhaps we should say the problem, of
philosophy. And what is sometimes called the Venture of
Faith is the assumption that not only are the two related,
but that all existence is capable of being truly stated and
arranged in terms of value, and all value in terms of
existence. Faith assures us that truth, goodness, and
beauty, which are attributes of the eternal order, are alsci



in.] THE PRIMARY GROUND OF FAITH 51

attributes of the world of existence, so that in living for and
in these eternal ideas, so far as we can do so here, we are
living in accordance with the fundamental laws of the world
in which we are placed. I do not say that all Faith could
be correctly described in the words of the last sentence ;
obviously it could not. But I think I am right in saying
that all Faith consists essentially in the recognition of a
world of spiritual values behind, yet not apart from, the
world of natural phenomena.

If this be granted, it w r ill be plain that there are several
states of mind which are incompatible with Faith. There
is the merely dull and stupid temper, which takes each day
as it comes, eats, drinks, and sleeps, and never thinks about
the meaning of things. There is the pessimistic temper,
which sees behind phenomena only an alien and hostile
power. There is the sceptical temper, which refuses to
admit that any clear revelation of God has been made to
us through truth, beauty, and goodness. There is the
ironical, indifferent temper, of which Renan sometimes
poses as an exponent. There is the grumbling and rebel-
lious temper, which leads either to acedia * or to reckless
impatience. * By far the largest part of human misery
is the work of human impatience and discontent. By
impatience of thought we pervert or set aside the evidence
before us, that we may give ourselves licence to believe
what pleases us better than truth. By impatience of
action we rush at something we like better than right and
goodness, pushing our neighbours out of the way, and, if
need be, tyrannising over them. In a more passive dis-
content we cherish our grievances against the order of
things, and fill our hearts with bitterness.' 2 Lastly, there
is the selfish temper, which by attending to nothing and
noticing nothing but what promotes or thwarts our own

1 One of the 'seven deadly sins' a compound of gloom, sloth, and
irritation St. Paul's 'sorrow of the world that worketh death." See the
interesting discussion in Bishop Paget's Spirit of Discipline.

2 Pro lessor Gwatkin, The Knowledge of God, i. p. 130.



52 FAITH [CH.

private interests, becomes wholly blind to whatever of
truth, beauty, or goodness God has spread before us for our
delight and edification. 1

It is plain, then, that Faith requires certain personal
qualities. If we are too stupid to ask for any meaning in
our experience, too self-absorbed to be interested in any-
thing that does not concern our petty affairs, too frivolous
to care seriously for what can only be cared for seriously,
too gloomy to hope, or too wilful to learn, we are labouring
under fatal disqualifications for the experience of Faith.
This is the meaning of the words of Christ : * If any man
is willing to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine,'
and ' Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'

What distinguishes Faith from existential knowledge is
the recognition of an objective, external, and ideal standard
of value of an idea, or system of ideas, of goodness, truth,
and beauty, by which things given in experience may be
judged and classified. It is an essential part of Faith
that this standard should be applied to given experience,
and it is also requisite that experience should be appealed
to in verification of the claims of Faith. This last point
is important ; and it leads us to recognise a peculiarity
of the conditions under which Faith is exercised. The
verification to which Faith appeals can never be complete
while we live here. Truths of the eternal order seem to be
always broken and refracted as they reach us. They mani-
fest themselves to concrete experience in an oppositional,
bipolar form, so that we continually find ourselves con-
fronted by an obstinate negation. Truth, we may almost
say, is a spark which is only generated by friction. This,
it may be, is a necessary condition of the world of becoming.

1 The word ' selfishness ' must here be extended to cover all purely self,
regarding motives. Faith must have an object outside self. Theoretical
self-knowledge, egoism, refined or otherwise, the desire of self-improvement
as an absolute end, are outside the religious sphere. Religious attention to
one's own character, knowledge, or circumstances has always reference to an
objective standard, and derives its s unction from a principle outside the self.
Cf. Hartmann, Religion des Geistes t p. 4.



in.] THE PEIMAEY GKOUND OF FAITH 53

One reason why Faith cannot verify itself is that the
world is still in the making. In the words of St. Paul,
' we see not yet all things put under ' the Son of God, ' in
whom (nevertheless) all things consist.' In all probability
humanity (even if, with the latest authorities, we push
back the beginnings of civilisation ten or fifteen thousand
years) is still a child, and will scale heights yet undreamed
of. It would indeed be strange and, to a thoughtful man,
disquieting, if our experience were symmetrically rounded
off, so that no further growth in knowledge could be ex-
pected. Faith, then, ' transcends experience ' ; it ap-
pears as a constructive activity. It employs the imagina-
tion to fill out what is wanting in experience. Faith en-
deavours to find harmony in apparent discord, and to
anticipate the workings of the divine purpose. In a sense,
all thought may be said to ' transcend experience,' if by
experience we mean sense-perception ; and Faith, as we
have seen, is not merely a function of thought, but a basal
energy of the whole man. It includes an element of will ;
and the office of will is not to register experience, but to
make it.

Faith, therefore, always contains an element of risk, of
venture ; and we are impelled to make the venture by the
affinity and attraction which we feel in ourselves (through
the infusion, as Christians believe, of a higher light and life
from above) to those eternal principles which in the world
around us appear to be only struggling for supremacy.

So far we have maintained that the primary ground of
Faith is a normal and ineradicable feeling, instinct, or
attraction, present in all minds which are not disqualified
from having it by peculiarities which we should all agree,
probably, in calling defects, a feeling or instinct that be-
hind the world of phenomena there is a world of eternal
values, attracting us towards itself. These values are
manifested, and exercise their attraction, in and through
phenomena, though the section of the world which we know,



54 FAITH [CH.

and from which we generalise, is an inadequate receptacle
for them. Further, these values have been classified as
ideas of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, a threefold cord
which is not quickly broken. This is the most general
description possible of the objects and contents of Faith,
and it is, I believe, all that this primary ground of
Faith gives us. It contains vast implications, which
\can only be unravelled by the full experience of life,
developing our personality along the lines of thought,
will, and feeling. These three faculties have a natural
connection with the ideals of the true, the good, and the
beautiful respectively, though we must avoid most
carefully the error of separating things which can never
exist independently of each other.



iv.] FAITH AS PURE FEELING 65







CHAPTER IV

FAITH AS PURE FEELING

IN my last lecture I tried to keep to the most universal
and primary aspects of Faith. But I have gone further
in differentiating its activities and aspirations than some
would wish to follow me. There are some who wish to keep
the Faith-feeling uncotttaminated by thought and will ;
who desire that it should remain a vague, mysterious
apprehension of the infinite, an immediate intuition of the
ineffable.

It would be a mistake to include all the mystics under
this class. The greatest mystics have not made the mis-
take of identifying the primary ground of Faith with
feeling, if by feeling is meant the faculty which psycho-
logists recognise as constituting, together with thought
and will, our psychical life. The differentia of mysticism
is an intense inner life ; the drama of the mystic's spiritual
ascent, his struggle after purification, illumination, and
unity with the Divine, is played out within his mind and
not on the stage of history. But whatever may be his
notion of the perfect state, when he shall have attained
the Beatific Vision, his life is by no means one of pure
emotion ; it is characterised by intense striving, and often
by profound thought. The mystics with whom we are
concerned in this lecture are the Quietists those whose
favourite maxim is, * Be still then, and know that I am
God * ; and we have also to deal with emotional theism,
which is not quite the same as mysticism.

We cannot be surprised that many have supposed that



56 FAITH [CH.

Faith is a pure feeling. For our feelings seem to us to be
the deepest and most vivid of our experiences. Thought
never shows us what a thing is in itself, but only how it
is related to other objects. Feeling, especially those most
characteristic feelings, love and hate, goes deeper, As
Tennyson says in that wonderful poem, The Ancient
Sage:

For Knowledge is the swallow on the lake
That sees and stirs the surface-shadow there,
But never yet hath dipt into the abysm,
The Abysm of all Abysms, beneath, within
The blue of sky and sea, the green of earth. . . .

Religion, too, in its various moods is intimately con-
nected with the emotions. Fear, humility, love, trust,
remorse, the Joy of reconciliation, the pain of estrange-
ment, are all emotional states. Moreover, there is a vast
and half-explored background of vague feeling which fades
away into the subconscious, a reservoir of life behind
consciousness, which seems as if it might be the very soil
out of which Faith springs and grows. If we could tap
this subliminal self, and force it to give up its secrets,
should we not find our Faith definite, explicit, and self-
sufficing ? So the mystic wishes to interrogate this dark
background, to bring it into the light. He does not wish
to contaminate it with infusions from his surface con-
sciousness, but to see what the twilight conceals.

Now the genuineness of the pure mystical experience
the feeling which the devout mystic interprets as the
immediate presence of God is proved beyond cavil. I
am not speaking now of that rare trance which Plotinus
enjoyed four times and Porphyry once, but of something
much more familiar those * consolations ' which almost
all religious people enjoy at times during their devotions.
There is reason to believe that the majority of people who
believe in God do so because they consider that they have




FAITH AS PURE FEELING 67

had immediate experience of Him. An American psycho-
logist found that out of seventy-seven persons whom he
questioned on the subject no less than fifty-six rested
their Faith on the experience of immediate communication


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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngeFaith and its psychology → online text (page 5 of 21)