William Ralph Inge.

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to give Athanasianism a consistent basis, as indeed
was shown very soon after. The Logos, in rela-
tion to the Father, is the totality of His mind
and will ; in relation to the world He is the Power
that made it and sustains it in being, the Intel-
ligence that guides it, and the Will that directs
its life to a purposed end. The laws of the
universe are God's laws, but neither God the
Father nor the Logos is so bound up in them
that it could be said that His life grows and
accomplishes itself in the life of the world. This
seems to be the main distinction between the
Johannine and Athanasian Logos-doctrine on the
one side and the modern idealistic philosophy
of the school of Hegel, which in many ways
so much resembles it, on the other. It is true
that the cosmological aspect falls into the back-
ground both in St. John and in Athanasius;
but that is because they are primarily religious
teachers, not philosophers. The recognition of


the Divine working everywhere, which makes
Clement such a happy and optimistic theologian,
is assuredly not forgotten.

Before leaving this side of our subject, I must
just add that all theologians who worship Christ
as the Logos have insisted that the generation of
the Son by the Father is a continuous process,
not a single act in the remotest past. " He was
not begotten once for all; he is always being
begotten," says Origen. Victorinus, the first
Latin Christian Platonist, whose importance as
an Augustinian before Augustine was first shown
by Bishop Gore, speaks of the semper generans
generatio ; and this doctrine is repeated by the
mystics, who like also to speak of Christ being
" born in us," or " begotten in us " by the Father.
Those who think thus, naturally hold that the
Incarnation was not the consequence of man's
fall, but was part of the eternal counsel of God,
the chief object indeed of creation. This view r
which Harnack says is the root of the Logos-
doctrine, and which in the same breath he con-
demns as a " fantastic pantheism," is advocated
by Clement, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and others,
and has been defended in our days by Bishop
Westcott, whose theology is thoroughly domi-
nated by the Logos-doctrine. There is a great


numerical preponderance in favour of the other
view, that the fall of man was a felix culpa as
making the Incarnation necessary; but I cannot
help feeling that the former is the more beautiful
and the more philosophical belief that the
taking of the manhood into God was from the
first the intention with which the human race
was created, and that it occurred hi history at
the earliest possible moment.

I now come to the relation of the Logos-
doctrine to personal religion. I will start by
expressing my agreement with what has been
said by Mr. Upton at the beginning of his
Hibbert lectures, that " all wholly satisfying and
effective religious belief arises out of the im-
mediate feeling of God's self-revealing presence
in our consciousness." "God lends a portion of
His eternal life to us, that we may at length
make it our own."

The Platonic, and still more the Stoic, specu-
lation had led to the recognition of something
divine in the spirit of man. In the more pan-
theistic Stoical form the doctrine might be
expressed as follows: "The Godhead can unfold
His essence in a variety of existences, which,
while they are His creatures as to their origin,
are parts of His essence as to their contents."


This is not expressed in religious language ; but
the belief that the Spirit of God is actually the
guest and guide of the human soul was the
source of all that was best and most ennobling
in the system of the Stoics.

Philo divides humanity into " heavenly " and
"earthly" persons. "There are two classes of men,"
he says ; " 6 /J.GV ovpdvios avBpunros, 6 Be *y>/tVo?.
The heavenly man has no share in corruptible
and earthly being." " That force which we share
with irrational beings has for its ova-ia blood."
This phraseology must have influenced St. John
when he wrote " which were born not of blood, nor
of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but
of God," and St. Peter when he wrote " born again,
not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible"; and,
most remarkable of all, the words in i John " the
seed (of God) remaineth in him, and he cannot
sin, because he is born of God." St. John clearly
holds that the elect are in a very literal though
spiritual sense sons of God. He says nothing
about the relation of this sonship to that of Christ,
and I think it is safer not to speculate about it.
But do not let us put aside the passages that I
have quoted as " mere metaphors."

The first Christian writer to develop the idea
of the indwelling Logos is Justin. He borrows


from the Stoics the expression (T7rep/ui.a rov Xo-you,
"seed of the Logos," and teaches that all man-
kind have this " seed " as a natural possession.
The best of the heathens, like Heraclitus and
Socrates, might be called Christians before Christ.
But knowledge, even when it comes from the
a-TrepfjLa rov \6yov, seems merely human wisdom
compared with the fulness and certainty of the
knowledge imparted by the Logos-Christ.

The second century Apologists argue against
the natural immortality of the human soul.
Their doctrine is that immortality is conferred
by the indwelling Logos. But immortality is
the distinctive prerogative of the Divine nature,
according to all Greek ideas ; and the Logos cannot
confer a greater privilege than He has Himself.
So we get three dogmas, closely interconnected :
the Logos is God; redemption consists in the bestowal
of immortality ; and immortality is participation in
the Divine nature. I do not think it is too much
to say that the two latter doctrines, now seldom
preached in their original form, that salvation
consists of union with God, and that exemption
from the common lot of mortality is bound up
with that union, were the weapons which finally
struck down Arianism and similar heresies, and
established the dogma of the full divinity of


Christ. This opinion is very clearly stated by
Harnack : " If actual interference in the con-
stitution of human nature, and its deification, are
involved, then the Redeemer must himself be
God and must become man. With the satis-
faction of these two conditions, real, natural
redemption, that is to say, the deification of
humanity, is actually effected. These con-
siderations explain why Athanasius strove for
the formula that the Logos-Christ was of the
same nature as the Father, as though the
existence or non-existence of the Christian
religion were at stake. They show clearly
how it was that other teachers in the Greek
Church regarded any menace to the complete
unity of the divine and human in the Redeemer,
any notion of a merely moral connection, as a
death - blow to Christianity." I think this is
true, with the exception of the word " interfer-
ence " ; but I, of course, do not agree with what
follows in Harnack's lecture, that the two
doctrines with which (as he truly says) the Logos-
doctrine stands or falls, are untenable. The
former doctrine, which Harnack calls " deifica-
tion," is simply the Pauline and Johannine
mysticism, which no doubt has intoxicated
many weak heads, but which, as St. Paul


himself shows, may be the source of the very
deepest humility and holy fear ; while the notion
of eternal life as the gift of God is only mis-
chievous if it leads (as it did with some of the
Greeks) to what I can only call a pharmacological
superstition about the sacraments, as if the
consecrated elements literally introduced an
incorruptible substance into our bodies.

The Alexandrians, Clement and Origen, did
not develop the idea of the immanent Logos
beyond what we find in the Apologists. This
was left to their opponent Methodius, who,
though a Platonist, was not an Origenist.
Methodius clearly believes the imperfection of
the first Adam to have been natural, and sees
in the Incarnation the necessary complement
of the creation. The following extract will
show how he combined a doctrine of development
with the belief that the " whole process of Christ "
must be enacted in the soul of every Christian :
" The Church increases daily in greatness and
beauty, because the Logos dwells with her and
holds communion with her; and He even now
descends to us, and in remembrance of His
suffering dies continually to himself. For not
otherwise could the Church continually receive
believers in her womb, and bear them anew,


unless Christ were continually to die, emptying
Himself for the sake of each individual. . . . No
one can participate in the Holy Spirit unless the
Logos has first descended upon him, and emptied
Himself for him."

Augustine takes up the same idea. " If God
were to cease from speaking the Word, even for a
moment, heaven and earth would vanish." God
is to him the ideal and presupposition of what
he finds in his own soul. In the soul he finds
the image of the Trinity, for we are, we know
our being, and we love this being and knowing.
(This last idea, that the Holy Ghost is the copula,
who "in perfect love dost join the Father and
the Son," is not, as is usually supposed, an
original speculation of Augustine's, but is found
in Victorinus, to whom he owes so much.) Of
course he holds that this knowledge of God in
the soul can only be imparted by God dwelling
in the soul ; for, like all Platonists, it is an axiom
with him that only like can know like. Macarius,
following Methodius, teaches that the very idea
of the Incarnation includes the union of the
Logos with pious souls, in whom He is well
pleased. In each of them a Christ is born.
Thus beside the ideas of Ransom and Sacrifice,
of Christ for us, these theologians placed the


ideas of sanctification and inner transformation,
of Christ in us, and they considered the latter
as real and as integral a part of our redemption
as the former.

But the doctrine of Divine immanence in the
human heart never became quite the central
truth of theology till the time of the mediaeval
mystics. It is Eckhart who says : " The Father
speaks the Word into the soul, and when the Son
is born, every soul becomes Mary." The deepest
thoughts of Eckhart range round such texts as
Rom. viii. 1 6, " The Spirit itself beareth witness
with our spirit, that we are the children of God,
and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint-
heirs with Christ"; or John xvii. 22, "The glory
which Thou gavest Me I have given them, that
they may be one even as We are one ; I in them
and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect
in one." The " spark " at the centre of the soul
is the very presence of the divine Logos himself.
Jerome is, I think, the first to use the queer word
synteresis for this highest faculty of the soul. The
whole object of our life here is to make this
" spark " extend its light over the whole man,
expelling and destroying that selfishness and
isolation which is the principle of our false " self."
Not only to die daily, but to be born daily, was


the prayer of these saints. Eckhart the younger,
having been 'asked what he deemed the highest
of his spiritual experiences, replied, " Not the
feeling, experience, tasting of God did he deem
the highest that had happened to him, but that
he should have overcome all the rebellion and
disorder of his nature, that he should enjoy every-
where the presence of the divine light, that he
should do everything in this light, and begin
daily afresh, and be daily as a new-born child."
The elder Eckhart has the following striking
sentence : " God is nigh unto us, but we are far
from Him ; God is within, we are without ; God is
at home, we are strangers ; God is always ready,
we are very unready." Hugo of St. Victor sums up
the whole creed of psychological mysticism when
he says : " To ascend to God is to enter into
oneself and to transcend oneself," and Richard
expresses the same idea by " Ascendat per semet-
ipsum supra semetipsum."

I cannot now give any further account of the
manner in which the mediseval mystics worked
out the thought that Christ Himself, through the
Holy Spirit, is the life of our life, the core of our
being, who, if we could but rid ourselves entirely
of our false self-regarding self, would be the con-
stitutive force of our personality. What I wish



to emphasise is that this doctrine, in which so
many of God's saints have found blessedness, is
the form of personal religion which belongs to
the Logos-doctrine. I need not remind you that
it is the foundation of St. Paul's Christianity, and
the source of his strongest and most moving
appeals. " I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in
me"; "to ine to live is Christ" these are re-
velations of the deepest experience, the strongest
conviction, which animated that Apostle in his
life of labour and suffering. The life, death, and
resurrection of the Word of God were not a
solitary event, not an unique portent, but the
supreme vindication of an universal law. It is
exemplified and re-enacted in little, in every
human soul among the elect ; it is in the highest
sense of the word natural, for to those who can
understand Scotus Erigena's words : " Be assured
that the Word is the nature of all things," nothing
is " supernatural." The best that God can give
us, the gift of His own presence, is all part of
His original scheme, part of the inviolable laws
under which we live.

The " natural religion " which is based on
belief in Divine immanence is very different
from the lifeless, spectral creed which bore this
name in the eighteenth century. It does not


essay the hopeless task of " proving " the exist-
ence of God by the categories of the under-
standing ; still less does it find a sorry satisfaction
in confirming apparent injustices in revealed
religion by parallel injustices in the course of
nature. It is not pantheistic, but it does value
and assert what Krause called panentheism ; and in
many thinkers, who are by no means fanciful
dreamers, it produces a sympathy with what is
known as panpsychism, the theory that nature is
alive and even participant in soul-life throughout,
though in very different degrees. This theory
has been developed In a very interesting manner by
Fechner, the great psychologist and philosopher.

It will be seen that the view of the Second
Person of the Trinity which I have been taking
that which is based on St. John and St, Paul,
and which has been developed by the Christian
Platonists and speculative mystics is above all
things alien to the Ritschlian view that the im-
pression of Christ which we derive from the
synoptic Gospels is alone of religious value. It
may no doubt be retorted upon me that the
Logos-doctrine is really independent of the
historical Incarnation ; that it is a cosmological
theory, a philosophy, not a religion. The whole
Gospel history (it may be said) is on this theory


merely propaedeutic or exoteric, milk for babes,
as compared with the higher doctrine that the
Word of God is incarnate in every believer. It
is notorious that some of the Alexandrians did
use language which gave a handle for this charge.
Henry More, himself a mystic and Platonist,
brings the same accusation against the Quakers.
He taxes them with " slighting the history of
Christ, and making a mere allegory of it, tending
to the overthrow of that warrantable though
more external frame of Christianity, which
Scripture itself points out to us." 1 To make
an " allegory " of events, whether in our own
lives or in history, is undoubtedly a tendency
with Platonists. What Origen calls " spiritual "
as opposed to " somatic " Christianity, does tend
to regard all real history as supramundane, the
series of events which we call history being what
is now called an epiphenomenon only. But we
must distinguish. If we choose to say with
Goethe that everything which is transitory is
only a symbol of what is permanent, and to
include, as we must, the history of Judsea and
Galilee under the early empire in this category,
this is a philosophical theory about the relation
of the apparent to the real which hardly touches

1 H. More, Mastix his Letter to a Friend, p. 306.


religion or conduct. If, however, we treat the
contents of the Gospels in particular as mere
allegory, in a sense in which we should not speak
of actual historical events as mere allegory, that
is a very different thing. St. John almost revels
in symbolism events for him are rich in hidden
meanings but he attaches great importance to
the actual occurrence of the Incarnation. It is
not difficult to see why he does so. The Incar-
nation teaches us that God reveals Himself most
fully in the fullest and richest developments of
being and actuality, in that form of life in which
the processes of nature seem to culminate and
converge, in the soul of the perfect man, in the
soul of Christ. Moreover, the Incarnation, with
the KeVcoort? which it involves, teaches us that
Goodness does not need the accessories of Power
and Omniscience in order to be divine, though
the separation of Goodness from Power is only a
temporary dispensation. This is the " offence of
the Cross," which distinguishes Christianity from
the nature-religions. And Divine Goodness, as
we have said, involves Divine Self-sacrifice.
" God can only make His work to be truly His
own by eternally dying, sacrificing what is dearest
to Him." 1 In its generalised form this high
1 R. L. Nettleship.


truth has been recognised even in Buddhism.
" In all the world there is not one spot so large
as a mustard seed, where the Buddha has not
surrendered his body for the good of the crea-
tures." 1 Here Buddha is plainly not Gautama,
but the divine in man. Christians can point,
with far more force, to the sacrament or symbol
of this divine sacrifice hi the historical Passion
of the Son of God.

But the Incarnation was not terminated by the
Ascension. Ritschlianism confines us to a static
view of revelation, or rather compels us to see
in later developments a progressive falling away
from the primitive purity of the revelation.
Christ Himself understood His task differently.
He knew well the insuperable difficulties of im-
parting His whole message to such childish minds
as those of His disciples. How much He held
back as manifestly beyond their comprehension,
we shall never know. How much was uttered
only to be forgotten or misunderstood, we cannot
tell. " Again and again we find a sigh of weari-
ness, a groaning in spirit over the incurable
carnality of man's thought : ' Oh fools, and
slow of heart to believe,' or, ' Are ye yet without
understanding ? ' or, ' So long have I been with

1 L. Hearn, Kolcoro, p. 219.


you, and yet thou sayest, Show us the Father,'
or the quiet despair of ' It is enough/ when they
offer Him the two swords, as though explanation
was hopeless with such childish listeners." 1 No
wonder that He steadily looked forward to the
dispensation of the Spirit, which " was not yet," 2
to carry on and complete his revelation. He had
still many things to say to the human race, but
they could not bear them then.

It is not, then, in the Gospels only that we are
to look for the record of the Incarnation and
for its fruits. The Church was meant to be the
depositary of the divine indwelling ; and though
the public policy of the Church may seem to
display few signs of divine guidance, the lives
of the saints do not disappoint us. The Christ
whom the Church has worshipped is a fuller
and richer revelation of the Son of God than
the Jesus whom the Evangelists have depicted.
There is no necessity for drawing contrasts
between the Christ of history and the Christ
of faith, as if faith and fact could possibly be
independent of each other. We are not driven
to acknowledging comme deux, Christs with
Loisy. The Christ of the Church is the same

1 Petre, The Soul's Orbit, p. 70.

2 John vii. 39.


Christ as Jesus of Nazareth ; but the Church
understands who and what He is more fully
than those could do who walked with Him on
the shores of Gennesaret. It was expedient for
us that He should go away.

The revelation is even yet incomplete. The
Church is not, as a popular hymn asserts, " far
down the ages now, her journey well-nigh done."
In all probability, her journey is only just begun.
Two thousand years is as nothing to the period
which probably remains for the human race.
We should look forward more than we do. The
early Church always looked forward, not back.
St. Paul has described for us his own attitude,
" forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forward to those things which are
before," and it is plain from all his Epistles
that this was indeed his consistent habit, even
to the extent of cherishing illusions about the
approaching return of Christ to earth. All
through the first century, it was the Parousia,
rather than the Galilean ministry, that filled
men's thoughts. When this hope faded, or
rather when it was obliged to make for itself
other forms, dreams of the Civitas Dei, hopes
and fears of the last judgment, took its place.
Those who say the Lord's Prayer " with the


understanding " every day, can hardly help look-
ing ever forward for the coming of the kingdom
and the perfect fulfilment of the will of God.

I have ventured to say that the twentieth
century should know more of Christ than the
first. In looking back at the history of Christian
thought, how strange have been the garments in
which that sacred figure has successively been
draped ! Every age, every nation has shown a
pathetic eagerness to trace in Him the lineaments
of its own ideal. Have we not seen Him depicted
as an ascetic, as a warrior, as a high-priest,
and more recently as le bon sans-culotte, as a
socialist ? Is it disrespectful to say that the
Christ of Renan is a Frenchman, the Christ of
Seeley's Ecce Homo an Englishman, the Christ of
some recent German biographies a German of the
new type ? There is a true instinct behind these
naive distortions of a historical figure. Christ is
the universal man, the ideal of humanity ; and it
is right that He should be " crowned with many
crowns," as each nation and each century invests
Him with its own ideal attributes.

But it is not enough to reverence Christ as
the ideal man. That is not the Christianity
which converted Europe. The orthodox Greek
fathers were not afraid to say, " Christ was made


man that we might become God." The author
of the Epistle to Diognetus (one of the first to
use such language) says that " Christ is ever
begotten anew in the hearts of the saints." St.
Augustine says, " Let us rejoice and return
thanks that we have been made not only
Christians, but Christ. Wonder and rejoice !
We have been made Christ." I do not advocate
such language as this. I am very glad that
modern theology has abandoned the language
of deification, which is not scriptural, and which
always indicates, I think, either too low an idea
of God, or too high an idea of man. The former
was the error of the Greek fathers, for whom (as
I have shown in an appendix to my Bampton
lectures) 6e6s was a very fluid concept. The
latter was the error of the medieval mystics
who used similar language. But union with
the glorified Christ is the essence of Christianity.
The belief that the Word of God becomes incar-
nate in the hearts of the faithful is the very
centre of Christian philosophy. It has been
well expressed by the late Professor Wallace, of
Oxford, who approaches the religious problems
of Christianity from the side of metaphysics.
" The great deed that seems to emerge as the
life of Christ is the bringing into one of God


and man: the discovery that the supernatural
is in the natural, the spiritual in the physical :
the eternal life as the truth and basis of this :
God manifest in the flesh : removal of the parti-
tion wall between God and man ; the immanence
of the divine, not as a new and imported element
in human life, but as the truth and life in life.

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Online LibraryWilliam Ralph IngePersonal idealism and mysticism → online text (page 5 of 11)