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ever will be ready, to gather up its beliefs, and go over into the camp of natural science, and sit down under the manipulations of a doctrine of evolution, with its one category of matter and one invariable force. It is not ready to commit itself to a finite system, a merely phenomenal section of the universe and of time, with no whence, or whither, or why, - a system that simply supplies man with a certain kind of knowledge, but solves no problem that weighs on his heart, answers no question that he much cares to ask, and throws not one glimmer of additional light on his origin, his nature, or his destiny. It accepts gratefully the knowledge it discloses of the material universe, its laws and its processes; it admits that science has anticipated theology in formulating the method of creation known as evolution, that it has corrected modern theology by suggesting a closer and more vital relation between God and creation, and so has helped it throw off a mechanical theory and regain its forgotten theory of the divine immanence in creation. But farther than this it does not propose to go, for the simple reason that it is the end of its journey in that direction. The New Theology, like the old, refuses to merge itself in a system that is both material and finite, and therefore incapable of a moral and spiritual conception. It denies that the universe can be put into one category, that matter is inclusive of the spiritual, or what is deemed spiritual ; it denies that the material world is the only field of knowledge, and that its force is the only force acting in the world. It asserts the reality of the spiritual as above the material, of force that is * other than that lodged in matter, of truth realized in another way than by induction from material facts, however fine their gradation, of an eternal existence and a human self-consciousness correlated in mutual knowledge and freedom and power. It makes these assertions on scientific grounds and as inductions from phenomena, and therefore claims for itself the possession of knowledge that is such in reality.
It is the more careful to make these assertions that involve an infinite and eternal Will and a human consciousness of God in free and eternal relations to God, because it has witnessed the experiment of those who have attempted to preserve faith without a theosophy. “ Step by step, the theological is supplanted by the scientific, the divine by the human view," — a process that finally brings “ eternal things ” within a finite system, or retains them as mere sentiments that will surely fade away, and so leave man at the mercy of a system of necessity under which all nobility and freedom will die out, or linger but as contradictory instincts.
The New Theology accepts the phrase "a religion of humanity,” but it holds that it is more than an adjustment of the facts of humanity, and more than a reduction of the forces of humanity to harmony. It accepts the theory of physical evolution as the probable method of physical creation, and as having an analogy in morals; but it accepts it under the fact of a personal God who is revealing himself, and of human freedom, - facts not to be ascer
tained within the limits of a material philosophy. It holds that the main relations of humanity are to God, and that these relations constitute a theology, a science of God; for in Him we live, and move, and have our being.
5. The New Theology offers a contrast to the Old in claiming for itself a wider study of man.
It chooses for its field the actual life of men in the world in all their varying conditions, rather than as massed in a few ideal conditions. It finds its methods in the every-day processes of humanity, rather than in a formal logic. It deals with human life as do the poets and dramatists : it views humanity by a direct light, looks straight at it, and into it, and across its whole breadth. A recognition of human nature and life, -- this is a first principle with the New Theology. To illustrate: take a sermon of Robertson's, that on “ The Principle of the Spiritual Harvest;” see how every sentence rests squarely on human life, touching it at every point, the sermon and human experience meeting as if cast in a mould. Compare with this some of the recent utterances on everlasting punishment, able, and wrought out with great exactitude of thought, yet touching human life at not a single point; eliciting no response from consciousness or experience, from moral sense or common sense ; deftly constructed things, built outside of the world, and as if shaped by another order and for other beings than those we know; resting on nothing but a formal logic, built out of definitions that anticipate the conclusions, through which they antagonize every natural operation of the human mind.
The Old Theology took for itself small foothold on humanity. Theology is, indeed, the science of God, but it is not that alone; it is also the science of the relations between God and man, which, though not the main, is as real a factor as God. The Old Theology stands on a structure of logic outside of humanity; it selects a fact like the divine sovereignty or sin, and inflates it till it fills the whole space about man, seeing in him only the subject of a government against which he is a sinner; it has nothing to say of him as he plays with his babe, or freely marches in battle to sure death for his country, or transacts, in honest ways, the honest business of the world. It lifts him out of his manifold and real relations, out of the wide and rich complexity of actual life, and carries him over into a mechanically constructed and ideal world, — a world made up of five propositions, like Calvinism or some other such system, — and views him only in the light of that world; requires him to think and feel and act only in the light of that world ; teaches him that there is no other world for him to consider, and that his life and destiny are bounded by it, that there is no truth, no reality, no duty, no proper field for the play of his powers, no operation of the Spirit of God, no revelation of God, outside of this sharply-defined theological world.
We have but to name the matter in this way to understand the subtle isolation that invests the clergy of this theology, men apart from the world, out of practical sympathy with it, having no place for it in their theory, thinking on different lines, and making small use of its wisdom or its material. It explains the subtle antagonism that runs through all literature. There is no poet, nor novelist, nor dramatist, no profound student of human nature, no mind with the gift of genius and insight and broad, free sympathy with humanity, no great interpreter of human life, but in one way or another indicates his dissent from this theology. Nowhere has it had greater sway than in Scotland. It is not denied that it develops certain sides of character into almost ideal perfection ; but why is it that nearly every great mind in Scotland, for more than a hundred years, has rejected its theology wholly or in part? Hume, Burns, Scott, Carlyle, Irving, Erskine, Campbell, McLeod, McDonald, — the defection of such minds from a faith so thoroughly inwrought into the texture of the national mind is a problem not to be explained by the vagaries of genius. It is to be explained rather by the fact that these great minds either felt or saw — some one and some the other — that the bounds of the theology were not commensurate with the bounds of human life. Hume was repelled into infidelity; Burns satirized it, Scott turned his back on it, Carlyle kept silence, McDonald protests against it, Erskine and Campbell and McLeod sought to modify it. The present restlessness in the world of theological thought is due largely to the fact that the teachings of literature have prevailed over the teachings of the systems of theology. One covers the breadth of human life, the others travel a dull, round in a small world of their own creation ; they no longer interest men.