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facts of the external world, the ingredients of veneration are dissolved, and religion itself disappears in the analysis. And, lastly, the sense of free agency is more than suspected to be only a trick of consciousness, a product of organic evolution, and to be incompatible alike with just theories of a natural causation, and with statistical results. But if moral responsibility be removed, most, it must be admitted, of the groundwork of religious truth, under whatever system, will fall away with it. Prayer, for example, can no longer be regarded as "man's rational prerogative," but rather as "a transient bewilderment of the social instinct," the "misapplication of a social habit," or "the delusive self-confidence of human feeling."1 They.are I proceed to enter more or less fully on the reason topics indicated. All are more or less directly
answered 1 _ ^
in detail, connected with the permanence of the faith of Christ. The world at large is always ready to mistake difficulties which really underlie all human thought for difficulties in the way of Christian
1 See Coleridge's remarks on this subject in Aids to Reflection, p. 55, and on the other side Comte, Phil. Pos., IV. pp. 671-3. I cannot refrain from quoting a noble passage from Mr. Hutton, Essays, I. 368: — "Prayer is and can only be possible on the assumption that it is a real influence with God: that, whether granted or denied, it is efficient as an expression of our spiritual want and resolution: that the breath of power which answers it is a living response, and like all living responses the free utterance of the moment, not the pre-ordained consequent waiting for a pre-ordained antecedent: that there is a sphere beyond all necessary law, in which both the Divine and human life arc not constrained by immutable arrangements, but free."
belief. So far forth, however, as they affect the permanence of Christianity, being themselves involved in the current philosophy of the age, and representing the spirit of its thought, they will be properly considered here. For certainly of most of them it may be said that, if these views must be accepted, the days of the reception of the faith of Christ by mankind, or at least by its most civilized portion, are undoubtedly numbered, and perhaps quickly told. Whatever may have been the benefits it has conferred upon past generations, whatever its connections with foregone civilization, its part, if these things be so, has been indeed played out, its work is done, its glory departed, and "the ark of our Grod is taken."
5 8. The limits assigned me in these Lectures ciassifica3 ... tlon of
will be best observed by grouping the objections pch ot>
specified under three general heads. They will be found to involve the relations either (I.), of causation to free agency; or (II.), of universal law to providential agency; or (III.), of intellectual to moral and religious action. "Every religion," says a distinguished living philosopher,1 "may be defined as an a priori theory of the universe." "Every perfect religion," writes another careful and precise thinker,2 "must give account of three
1 Mr. Herbert Spencer, First Principles, p. 43.
* Dr. Westcott, Comte on Christianity, Cunt. Ilcv. VIII, 373.
elements—the individual, the world, and God." Those Our immediate task is to examine whether the
relating m . .
to the principles on these subjects, necessary to the exist
of free ence of Christianity, are irreconcilable with the In man conclusions of existing science.1 No fact is more sidered. suggestive of the intellectual temper of our time than the manner in which the question of man's liberty of action is now discussed, and the grounds on which it is not uncommonly set aside. Relegated on its metaphysical side3 to the limbo of unfruitful disputations, it is approached and decided by physical considerations, as a material rather than a mental fact, or as a mental fact capable The pre- 0f material explanation. Minds occupied only or
sent aspect A 1 *
offence mainly with physical inquiries readily apply the istic, notion of material causation, the nexus between antecedent and consequent, with which they are familiar, to the phenomena of thought and action.3 Uniformity of result, statistically obtained, is taken to prove identity of origin; and moral operations
1 "The questions which belong to natural theology are in substance the same from age to age; but they change their aspect with every advance or supposed advance in the inductive sciences."—Whewell, Indie, of the Creator, p. ix.
2 Sir H. Maine, Ancient Law, p. 354, has pointed out that the problem of free-will arises when we contemplate a metaphysical conception under a legal aspect. Dean Merivalo has traced the theological history of the controversy to the expressions of Roman law.
s Compare Augustine, Ver. Relig., c. xxxvi. "Quoniam opera magis Artificem atque ipsam artem dilexerunt hoc errore puniuntur ut in operibus artificem artemque conquirant: et cum invenire nequiverint (Deus enim non corporalibus sensibus subjacct sed ipsi menti supereminet) ipsa opera existiment esse et artem ct artificem."
are confounded with material processes.1 Thus it is asked, as an inquiry decisive of the matter in hand, whether the actions of men, and therefore of societies, are not governed by fixed laws; or whether they are to be regarded as the result of chance or of supernatural interference.2 For on this issue depends the desideratum of the Positive School, the possibility of an exact science of man and history. Now chance, it may at once be admitted, is but another name for ignorance of causation.3 We know nothing in Nature, or, if it may be so said, out of Nature, which is not under the
1 This is, no doubt, the first effect of the enthusiasm and instinct of symmetry which are the just results of the surprising triumphs of physical discovery. Mr. Lecky well remarks, Hist. Rat., I. 322, " In the present day, when the study of the laws of matter has assumed an extraordinary development, and when the relations between mind and body are chiefly investigated with a primary view to the functions of the latter, it is neither surprising nor alarming that a strong movement towards materialism should be the consequence." Leibnitz finely observes: " Il parott d'abord que tout ce que nous faisons n'est qu'impulsion d'autrui: et que tout ce que nous concevons vient de dehors par les sens, et se trace dans le vuide de notre esprit, tanquam in tabula rasâ. Mais une méditation plus profonde nous apprend que tout (même les perceptions et les passions) nous vient de notre propre fonds avec une pleine spontanéite."— Théod., Pt. III. § 296.
* See Buckle, Hist Civil, I. p. 8 ff.
'"Ne parlons plus de hasard ni de fortune, ou parlons-en seulement comme d'un nom dont nous couvrons notre ignorance."—Bossuet, Vise, êur l'Hist. Univ., III. viii. "Tous les sages," says Leibnitz, "conviennent que le hasard n'est qu'une chose apparente: c'est l'ignorance des causes qui le fait." Aoicfî piv alrla r) rvxrl, âbrjKos Si àvêpamivri biavoîa.—Arist., Phys., II. iv. Mr. Tylor, Hist. Prim. Cult., I. 17, furnishes an admirable illustration. "The Great Spirit," say the Sioux Indians, " made all things except the wild rice; but the wild rice came by chance." Here the ambiguity is apparent, which opposes chance not to causation, but to design.
and lend- direction of fixed principles and ascertainable ele
ing to i • *
bring mentary causes.1 But when, this correction made,
man s i ... ii- i
liberty the question is again stated, does it present a real
under the dilemma? The will of man, it may be reasonably of laws of contended, is itself a cause, subject to conditioned action,3 governed therefore by fixed laws of choice as well as of subsequent operation, yet in its nature motive, and analogous, so far considered, to any simple elementary force or form of force in physics. There is no greater antecedent difficulty in conceiving the agency of the one than of the other.3 But then the action of man's will, it may be said, is in this view hypothetically different from that of all natural forces. For while the cause of motion to things external to itself, its own movements are
1 "The nature of a thing is the answer both of the ignorant and of the philosopher. Search for laws."—Faraday, Li/e, II. 86. Law may be said to be the first announcement of Holy Scripture; when God spake, " Let there be light;" and there was light.
2 Rom. viii. 20. "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope."
* The embarrassments attending the notion of Force as a property of Matter are now understood. Thus the terms energy, behaviour, and the like have been transferred by modern physicists from moral phenomena as the best exponents of natural force. See Prof. Tyndall, Fragments of Science, p. 22. Whewell's Indications of the Creator, p. 90. Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus, pp. 376-7, has some good remarks on the hearing of this fact upon a doctrine of materialism. While recognizing to the full the charm of style and language possessed by a Tyndall and a Huxley, I cannot forbear to point out the responsibility attaching to their vast powers in this respect. This has been ably touched by a writer in the 'Quarterly Review,' No. CCXX. p. 370. Leibnitz has well said, " Souvent les expressions outrecs et pour ainsi dire poetiques, ont plus de force pour toucher et pour persuader que ce qui se dit avec regularite."