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with God. 1 I am surprised, indeed, that the proportion
was not even larger. For who that has prayed regularly
has failed to have at times an intensely vivid experience
that his prayers are being heard and answered ? The
following description is typical. * Times without number,
in moments of supreme doubt, disappointment, dis-
couragement, unhappiness, a certain prayer-formula,
which by degrees has built itself up in my mind, has been
followed in its utterance by quick and astonishing relief.
Sometimes doubt has been transformed into confident
assurance, mental weakness utterly routed by strength,
self-distrust changed into self-confidence, fear into courage,
dismay into confident and brightest hope. These transi-
tions have sometimes come by degrees in the course, say,
of an hour or two ; at other times they have been instan-
taneous, flashing up in brain and heart as if a powerful
electric stroke had cleared the air.' 2

I will not now dispute with those who would remind me
that what the devout person calls God may be only a deeper
or higher state of his own consciousness. Perhaps the very
deepest and highest state of our own consciousness is
nothing else but beholding the face of God and hearing
His voice ; but that is not my point just now. What is
the rank and value, in the religious life, of this very common
feeling of the presence of God ? Is it a great enough thing
to be the complete satisfaction of Faith, so that we need
go no further, but may rest content with the statement
that Faith is an immediate feeling or consciousness of God's
presence ?

In order to do justice to this conception of Faith I will
give you some extracts from Schleiermacher (1768-1834),

i Pratt, Psychology of Rdigious Bditf, p. 245. * Id. p. 276.


who may be taken as one of the best representatives of the
religious type which we are considering in this Lecture.
You will observe that in this writer the object of Faith is
not analysed even so far as I analysed it hi my last
Lecture. It is not determined as the triune ideal of the
Good, the True, and the Beautiful. It is the vague
Infinite. The religious instinct is fixed in its primary
form ; it is identified with feeling, instead of being the
common ground of our intellectual, moral, and emotional

Schleiermacher is the theologian among the German
romanticists. He conducted a campaign against the so-
called ' Enlightenment ' (Aufklarung), with its crude and
self-satisfied rationalism. We shall meet with this poor
type of intellectualism in a later chapter. It encouraged
a cold, common-sense view of life, and despised enthusiasm.
The romantic movement rushed to the opposite extreme.
Its first principle was to value immediate impressions
above reflection and reason. In the sphere of religion
this means that emotional experience, devout feeling, is
the sole foundation of religious belief. * Why,' Schleier-
macher asks, ' do you not fix your eyes on the religious life
itself, and in particular on those pious elevations of the mind
in which all other activities are checked or almost sus-
pended, and the whole soul fused in an immediate feeling
of the infinite and eternal, and of her own union with it ? '

* Religion resigns at once all claims on anything that
belongs to science and morality.' (This energetic repudia-
tion is directed, firstly, against the rationalism of the
eighteenth-century Deists, who held that Faith is related
to knowledge only as probability to certainty, being an
intellectual judgment based on examination of evidence ;
and, secondly, against the austere moralism of Kant.)

* The contemplation of the pious is the immediate conscious-
ness of the universal existence of all finite*lnmgs in and
through the Infinite, and of all temporal things in and


through the Eternal. J Religion is to have and know life
only in immediate feeling, as existing in the infinite and
eternal. Where this is found, religion is satisfied ; where
it hides itself, she is in anguish and disquietude. Religion
is not knowledge or science, either of the world or of God.
The pious man, as pious, knows nothing about ethical
science. It is the same with action itself. While morality
always appears as manipulating, as self-controlling, piety
appears as a surrender, a submission to be moved by the
Whole that stands over against man. The pious man may
not know at all, but he cannot know falsely. His nature
is reality which knows reality. True religion is a sense
and taste of the Infinite. If a man is not one with the
Eternal, in the unity of intuition and feeling which is
immediate, he remains for ever apart.' Schleiermacher
reserves his keenest scorn for those who make religion
ancillary to morality. ' A high praise it would be for the
heavenly one, if she could only look after the earthly affairs
of men in this poor fashion ! Great honour for her, to
quicken men's consciences a little, and make them more
careful ! What is loved and valued only for an advantage
that lies outside it is not essentially necessary, and a reason-
able man will put no higher price upon it than the value
of the end for which it is desired. And I cannot attach
much importance to the wrong acts which it prevents in
this way, nor to the right acts which it is said to procure.
What I maintain is that piety springs up, necessarily and
spontaneously, from the inward parts of every better soul,
that she has in the heart a province of her own, where she
bears unobstructed sway, and that she is worthy to be
welcomed and acknowledged by the noblest and most
excellent, for her own inner nature's sake.' !
Faith, the, for Schleiermacher, is a spontaneous, im-

1 The English reader will find a useful and characteristic selection from
Schleiermacher's writings in Caldecott and Mackintosh, Selections from the
Literature of Theism, pp. 256-304.


mediate feeling of the Infinite and Eternal, with which the
human spirit identifies itself. The feeling must be wholly
general and undifferentiated. He bids us to ponder on
our own experiences, but not to analyse them. ' You must
know how to listen to yourselves before your own con-
sciousness. What you are to notice is the rise of your own
consciousness, and not to reflect upon something already
there. As soon as you have made any definite activity ^>f
your soul an object of contemplation, you have begun to
separate. The more your own state sways you, the paler
and more unrecognisable the image becomes.' ' Ideas and
principles are all foreign to religion.' ' Religion by itself
does not urge men to activity at all.' Doctrinal proposi-
tions, he came to believe and to teach, are only descriptions
of pious states of consciousness. They are secondary

These quotations will give you an idea of what this
conception of Faith or Religion as immediate intuition of
the Infinite means. It not only finds but leaves us ex-
tremely vague as to the contents of Faith. Whether a man
represents the Infinite Being as personal or impersonal
depends, says Schleiermacher, on whether his tendency is
towards a voluntaristic or an intellectual view of things.
He himself, it would appear, believed neither in a personal
God nor in individual immortality, though he expresses
himself very cautiously on both subjects.

Another classical example of Intuitionism is Jacobi
(1743-1819), who, being more of a philosopher than a
theologian, advocates the emotional ground of religion
from an external and (one might almost say) an intellec-
tualist standpoint. He has been called * a pantheist in
head and a mystic in heart ' ; but it appears to me th#t
he maintains intuitionism largely from a perception of its
strategic advantages in controversy. It is hard to refute
a man who declares that he has received private and
authentic information that what he says is true. Jacobi


holds that Just as we apprehend the sensible world by our
bodily senses, so we apprehend the spiritual world by
another organ, to which he gives different names. 1 God
requires no proof, for His existence is more evident to us
than our own. ' If God were not immediately present to
us through His image in our hearts, what is these which
could make Him known to us ? A revelation through
external phenomena can at best only stand in the same
relation to that which is internal and original, as that in
which speech stands to reason. Just as man feels himself,
and pictures himself to himself, so, only with greater power,
he represents to himself the Godhead.' It is plain that for
Jacobi the only source of our knowledge of God is an
intense inner consciousness, unaided by reflective thought,
by moral effort, or by knowledge of the external world.
He is not afraid to deduce from this self-consciousness,
not only the existence of a transcendent God, but the other
two dogmas which to Kantians are fundamental freedom
and immortality. How these truths can be proved by
immediate feeling he nowhere tries to explain, nor, I fear,
is any explanation possible.

Jacobi, as I have said, gives different names to the faculty
by which we apprehend supersensual truth. Sometimes
he calls it the Reason. It is not easy to classify intuition-
is ts who claim an immediate, a priori knowledge which is
different from feeling ; but perhaps this is the best place
to deal with them. This position has been taken by several
well-known writers, among' whom we may name the
American divine, Theodore Parker. It is ' refuted,' under
the name of ' ontologism,' by the very able Jesuit philo-
sopher, Boedder. 2 The claim of ' ontologism ' is that the
mind of man, by its very nature, has a certain direct con-

1 E.g. ' Glaubenskraft iiber die Vernunft ' : ' Geistesgefiihl.' ' Reason,' he
says elsewhere^ ' is the faculty of assuming the absolutely True, Good, and
Beautiful, with the full persuasion of the objective validity of this

Boedder, Natural Theology, pp. 12-29.


sciousness of the existence, and of some of the attributes,
of God. If this were true, no effort, it would seem, could
be needed to realise God's presence in relation to His
creatures ; for it is in relation to His creatures that the
alleged consciousness belongs to us. It is difficult to under-
stand the grounds of a * rational certainty ' which can give
no account of itself. The certainty of the ' ontologist,'
which he calls immediate apprehension, has the appearance
rather of * voluntary certainty,' pure choice, in which case
he classifies himself wrongly, or of a mixture of will and
feeling illegitimately used to establish matters of fact (the
Ritschlian value-judgment intruding into metaphysics).
In short, immediate certainty, which does not rest upon
feeling, is little more than a refusal to listen to arguments
on the other side. The error of * ontologism,' from the
standpoint of these lectures, is its refusal to admit the
necessity of an act of Faith. The Beatific Vision which we
hope for will be an immediate perception of God, and
Faith confidently anticipates this consummation ; but
neither feeling nor any ill-defined and mysterious special
faculty can make Faith superfluous by giving us at once
the immediate apprehension which is to be our final reward.

A more recent example of Intuitionism is to be found
in the philosophy of Lotze, with whom it is a desperate
expedient to escape the pure subjectivity and phenomenal-
ism in which his theory of knowledge threatens to land
him. Like many other German thinkers he appears to
confound the feeling of value with the judgment of value.
There can be no Judgment of any kind without an intellec-
tual process. Wherever the ' feeling of value ' has any
well-defined contents, the intellect has been at work.

In France, A. Reville holds that ' Religion rests on a
sentiment, sui generis and spontaneous.' He follows
Schleiermacher, but insists very rightly that this ' senti-
ment ' is not merely a feeling of dependence, but a feeling
of unity. This sentiment, he says, gives a certain valua-


tion, which ' imagination and thought ' translate into the
idea of God. De Pressense postulates a ' Verbe Interieur '
as the source of * religious sentiment.'

The theology of pure Feeling has not been largely repre-
sented in this country, which has generally been distrustful
of sentiment. The great eighteenth-century mystic,
William Law, approaches this type, in consequence of his
distrust of ' Reason,' l but he does not belong to it, because
he has a very firm grasp of the truth that Faith must be
lived into. When he became a mystic he did not forget
the austere morality of the Serious Call. ' The truth of
Christianity,' he says at the end of his treatise on The Way
to Divine Knowledge, ' is the Spirit of God living and work-
ing in it ; and where the Spirit is not the life of it, there
the outward form is but like the outward carcase of a
departed soul. For the spiritual life is as much its own
proof as the natural life, and needs no outward or foreign
thing to bear witness to it.'

Robert Browning, in later life, seems to preach a purely
emotional theism. Such lines as :

Wholly distrust thy knowledge, then, and trust
As wholly love allied to ignorance ;
or :

^ So let us say not, Since we know, we love,
But rather, Since we love, we know enough,

are indeed startling from the most learned of our poets.

1 Examples of Law's fjuvoKoyla (the only blot on his fine and manly religious
writings) may be found in The Way to Divine Knowledge, e.g. , p. 51. ' Reason
is so far from being able to help man to that knowledge, which his nature and
condition wants, that it can only help his ignorance to increase and fructify
in doubts, fictions, and absurd debates. And the thing cannot be otherwise .
Man must walk in a vain shadow, so long as Reason is his guide. ... He
who turns to his reason, as the true power and light of his nature, betrays
the same ignorance of the whole nature, power, and office of reason, as if he
was to try to smell with his eyes or see with his nose. For reason has only
its one work or power, which it cannot alter nor exceed ; and that one work
is to be a bare observer and comparer of things that manifest themselves to
it by the senses,' etc. Law cannot be confounded with the anti-mystical
moralists ; his rejection of reason, therefore, implies a reliance on pure in-
tuition, though it is a progressive intuition, conditioned by growth in grace.


Such an attitude can only be explained as a resolute ad-
herence to moral and emotional optimism, in spite of
a growing intellectual pessimism. 1

We may now attempt to answer our question, What is
the rank and value of this immediate feeling of the Divine,
which psychologically, at any rate, is a well-established
fact of experience ?

Schleiermacher tells us that this feeling is present * in
almost every better soul.' This, I think, is true ; for it is,
as I have said, an essential part of prayer. All religious
people pray ; and all, I suppose, have a vivid conscious-
ness, at times, that prayer is not merely a soliloquy, but a
form of intercourse with a higher Being. But it is surely
significant that the mystics, with one consent, tell us that
these ' consolations ' this vivid consciousness of the
presence of God are most common at the beginning of the
spiritual ascent. The young aspirant after holiness may
expect them at first, but he must also expect that after a
time they will be withdrawn. The best spiritual guides
warn their consultants not to attach too much importance
to them. This fact, so contrary to what might have been
expected and desired, seems to indicate that immediate
feeling of the Deity is characteristic of an early and un-
developed stage of the religious life. 2 Its very emptiness
gives it a mysterious attractiveness, born of awe and
curiosity ; but in the normal course, the purely mystical
intuition partially loses itself for a time in the multiplicity
of the tasks which it enjoins, and only draws together
again when its work is near its close.

Nevertheless, we must not forget that there have been
many religious geniuses in whom this immediate * feeling
and taste ' of the Eternal, to use Schleiermacher's phrase,
has been the most intense experience of their lives, persist-

1 Cf. my Studies of English Mystics, pp. 224-5.

a The strict Quietists, however (e.g. Molinos), regard the withdrawal of
these consolations as a call to ascend into a still more rarefied atmosphere.
Cf. The Spiritual Guide, passim.


ing through all stages of their spiritual growth. A large
collection of evidence on this subject has been made by a
Canadian writer, Dr. Bucke, in a very queer book called
Cosmic Consciousness. The author maintains that Cosmic
Consciousness is a higher degree of perception which is
being slowly evolved in the progress of the race, just as the
sense of colour is a recent acquisition, which was possessed
only in a rudimentary manner by the ancient Greeks and
the authors of the Indian sacred literature. At present,
the feeling is weak and fitful, and manifests itself in an
almost infinite range of intensity. Very many can go no
further, from their own experience, than to endorse the
well-known lines of Browning :

Oh, we 're sunk enough here, God knows !

But not quite so sunk that moments,
Sure tho' seldom, are denied us,

When the spirit's true endowments
Stand out plainly from its false ones,

And apprise it if pursuing
Or the right way or the wrong way,

To its triumph or undoing.

Or, as suggested by Wordsworth's famous Ode, they may
remember a time when the vision, which has now faded
into the light of common day, was frequently with them.

But this higher faculty, so our author thinks, has begun
to .appear sporadically, in the most advanced specimens
of the race, as an assured possession, and it is becoming
more frequent as the centuries go on. Out of many
hundreds of cases, which he considers authentic, he selects
thirteen which are ' so great that they can never fade from
human memory.' This odd list consists of Buddha, Jesus
Christ, St. Paul, Plotinus, Mohammed, Dante, Las Casas,
St. John of the Cross, Shakespeare (whom he chooses to
call Bacon), Bohme, Blake, Balzac, and Walt Whitman.
The book, in spite of the author's critical vagaries, is full
of interest to the psychologist, and I am not disposed to


dispute the main thesis, that if the conditions of civilised
life ever promote the improvement of the race, instead of
its deterioration, as I fear they do at present, the man of
the future may be able to live habitually and consciously
in a larger air than is possible to any except the most
favoured spirits at the present time.

But the important question for us now is, whether this
immediate perception of the Eternal is capable of forming
the contents of Faith, or whether in fact it has any con-
tents at all until it has been translated into thought, will,
and action. ' Pure feeling,' says Professor Flint curtly but
truly, ' is pure nonsense.' Schleiermacher's conception of
Faith is anything but ' simple feeling ' ; it is a highly
elaborate product of the peculiar ideas of his age. And
even so, it is very empty. I have already mentioned the
blankness of the picture, which is insisted on by Schleier-
macher. This, as is well known, is a common feature of
mystical literature. The pure mystical state (which even
William James says is identical with the Faith-state) is
without form and void. But ideas must be given through
something ; there can be no purely internal revelation,
just as there can be no purely external revelation. Some
mystics have claimed that they have got beyond forms and
differences, which are the mark of the transitory pheno-
menal world, and that the undifferentiated feeling which
they prize so much is an intuition of the unity which under-
lies all difference. Others only lament that they cannot
utter what they have seen and felt :

O could I tell, ye surely would believe it !

O could I only say what I have seen !
How should I tell, or how can ye receive it,

How, till He bringeth you where I have been. 1

But there is all the difference between a Unity which
excludes all difference, and a Unity which includes all

i Myers, St. Paul.


difference. And I cannot doubt that many mystics have
believed themselves to have completed their journey
when in reality they have not even begun it. Faith, which
Philo, as we have seen, puts at the end of the journey,
should, as Christian theology has always maintained, be
placed at its beginning. Faith and Love, says Clement,
are not taught or teachable (ra anpa ov 8<Sao-KTcu) ; but
between Faith, which is the starting-point of the Christian
race, and the perfect Love that casteth out fear, which is its
end, there is a long series of lessons which have to be learned.

Feeling is the mirror which reflects ideas and ideals.
It has been defined as the ' passive echo in consciousness
of the unconscious psychical process.' l It creates nothing ;
it seems to project ideas and ideals, because it reflects
unconscious motions of thought and will. Feeling hi itself
is neither good nor bad, true nor untrue. 2 It is simply a
fact of the soul- life. Its truth depends on the truth of the
idea which determines it ; its goodness on the goodness of
the motive which is bound up with it. Schleiermacher,
in his later editions of Reden uber die Religion, smuggles in
Anschauung, the most primitive form of ideation, into his
conception of Feeling ; in the earlier he admits Anschauung
by the side of Feeling, as a religious function. This
enables him to speak of the * truth of Feeling,' determined
by the truth of the contents of the idea. But * pure
Feeling ' does not include any form of ideation.

In fact, religious feeling (much feeling is not religious)
is only aroused by religious ideas of objective truth and
value. * Mere dependence ' is nonsense, unless there is a
known object on which to depend.

It is, therefore, in my opinion, a mistake to regard the
primary ground of Faith, the immediate feeling of an
eternal world, as sufficient. Feeling is formless and life-

1 Von Hartuiann.

2 So Hegel says : ' That anything is in our feeling proves nothing good
about the thing itself. The most royal flower blooms there side by side -with
the most mischievous weed.'


less ; it gives us no definite beliefs, and prescribes no
definite duties. Even the three aspects which I have
mentioned, the good, the true, and the beautiful, are,
strictly speaking, products of reflexion on the spontaneous
instinct ; they are the first applications of it to life. And
"^moreover, the affirmations of this primary instinct, wrongly
identified with feeling, need sifting and testing ; they are
not all ready to take shape as determinations of the good,
the true, and the beautiful. The world into which the
Cosmic Consciousness, to use Bucke's word, admits us,
is not purely a better world, though it is a larger one.
It is hell as well as heaven. This the mystics who have
tried to fix the immediacy of feeling as the basis of their
moral and spiritual life, have found to their cost. The
great problem which has confronted them has been how to
distinguish between the genuine irruptions of the Divine
into their consciousness, and what they were constrained
to regard as diabolical imitations. For those who denied
themselves the aid of the discursive intellect, of the will,
and of practical tests, there was no satisfactory solution
of this problem, and they were frequently tormented
through life by doubts whether their most intimate spiritual
experiences were not sometimes wiles of the Evil One for
their undoing.

In primitive religions, even more than in the discipline
of the mystics, deliberate attempts are made to fix this
immediacy of religious feeling, without analysing or
developing it, and to render it more intense by various
artificial means, empirically discovered. I do not include
prayer among these means, because I doubt whether this
highest of our privileges can be resorted to, even in an
ignorant manner, without some real gain. But fasting,
and other ascetical exercises, have been and are used with
the object of intensifying vague religious emotion, without
unravelling or transmuting it. The self-induced trance
of quietistic mysticism, procured by such methods as


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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngeFaith and its psychology → online text (page 6 of 21)