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tion" unknown in the intellectual eras of our race? Does truth always emerge from behind the mists of falsehood and make daylight in the world? Perhaps not; and yet the answer to such doubts may be in no wise doubtful. The day is really past, notwithstanding some pretentious objections, for questioning the tendencies of God's moral Liable to government. Exceptions, which constitute only exceptions, the disorder of Nature, yield no argument against its general laws. "God," says Bishop Butler, "makes use of a variety of means, what we often think tedious ones, in the natural course of Providence for the accomplishment of all His ends."1 The analogy of reason as against force, which has been employed by the same author to illustrate the tendency of right to prevail in the economy of the world, affords a similar explanation of the victories of error over truth in the working of religious systems.
Virtute semper pnevalet sapientia.
The lesson gained from a criticism of the past is this; that while it is consistent with an overruling Providence to allow the existence of falsehood, extravagance, self-delusion in almost every form, yet there is, on the whole, a constant steady advance towards convictions which are finally recognized
1 Analogy, Vt. II. c. iv. Comp. Eurip. Orcstts, 420:
as immutably true. And this progress of truth is not dependent on blind tendencies, but on an intellectual activity which, gradually disposing of error, transforms opinion into knowledge. This which is evident in the experience of the physical sciences holds good equally for the more complex subjects of theology and morals. But the results must naturally be sought not among the least but among the most civilized portions of mankind. Length of time together with reasonable opportunity may be requisite for the extinction of error. Duration and stress of persecution, stamping out conscientious belief, may, in some instances, account for the depression of truth. To some extent they explain and help on its progress.1 Degradation, partial or temporary, seems to be an historical condition of the general advance of civilization.2
1 "Le besoin perfectionne Vinstrument," was a maxim of Turgot. "In times of peace," says Archbishop Leighton, "the Church may dilate more and build as it were into breadth, but in times of trouble it arises more in height. It is then built upwards, as in cities where men are straitened, they build usually higher than in the country."—Op. Coleridge, Aids to R., p. 73.
* "Ages of laborious ascent hare been followed by a moment of rapid downfall, and the several climates of the globe have felt the vicissitudes of light and darkness. Yet the experience of four thousand years should enlarge our hopes and diminish our apprehensions."— Gibbon, Vol. IV. 409 (ed. Milman). "Humanity accomplishes its necessary destiny but (being composed of free persons) with an element of liberty ; so that error and crime find their place in its course, and we behold centuries which do not advance, but even recede, days of illness, and years of wandering. . . . But mankind never entirely or irremediably errs. The light burns somewhere which is to go to the front of the straying generation and bring it along in its wake. When the Gospel failed in the But an inversion of the order of the universe, as well as of our inbred convictions, of our experience of things as well as of our inner consciousness, must take place before we can admit indifference or malice, a willingness to deceive or a capacity of deception in the Author and Administrator of the , . world. And yet this is implied in the assumption
grounded J 1 1
on a rea- that the human race in its most distinguished
sonable _ °
conviction, representatives and on the subjects of the highest moment lies still in darkness.1 "God owes it to mankind not to lead them into error," is the bold language of Pascal.2 "Truth," says Milton, "is strong next to the Almighty." As it is ludicrous
East it dawned on the races of the North."—Ozanam, Civilis. Chret., I. pp. 18-20, E. T. Mr. Tylor, Bist. Prim. Cult., I. 421, speaking of natural religion, remarks that "the history of religion displays but too plainly the proneness of mankind to relapse, in spite of reformation, into the lower and darker condition of the past."
1 There is a tendency in the Positivist system to assume not only that in the constitution of things error is employed as a means to truth, but that this theorem covers the whole of religious belief. Thus theology, which in this system of thought is imaginary, is allowed to have been an important stage in the advance of the human race, yet only as a sort of "pis-aller." See Comte, Phil. Pos., TV. 693. The language of the Apostle in Acts xvii. 30 (rovr /itv oiv xpovovs Ttle ayvoias imtpi&av 6 Qtot) may in the English version be liable to be mistaken. But his argument on this deeply momentous subject, "the fulness of times," as expanded in Rom. c. i., ii., and Gal. iii., iv., can hardly be misapprehended. See Bunsen, God in History, Vol. I. 215, E. T.
2 "Dieu doit aux hommes de ne pas les induire en erreur."—Pense'es. "The established order of things in which we find ourselves, if it has a Creator, must surely speak of His will in its broad outlines and main issues."—Newman, Grammar of Assent, p. 391. Comp. Farrar's Witness of History to Christ, p. 92. See Sir W. Hamilton (Reid, 743, 745). Mr. Mill's criticism (Exam., p. 136) is invalid so long as there are truths of consciousness leading up to the recognition of God.
to go about to prove the reality of those perceptions which alone exist to us as the means of discovering facts; so were it futile to suspect the ultimate triumph of truth over falsehood, or to question the tendency of things in the long run to exhibit its progress. The improvement of mankind in successive ages is indisputable, and improvement involves at least approximation to truth. Whatever be the obstacles to their power of self-assertion, the Grand Justiciary of reason and of fact is Time.1
S K. What, however, is meant by Time in these Time in
. . J . what sense
considerations, and how much may justly be attri- an agency, buted to it? In what respects is it an element of progress in the history of knowledge? It is no mere abstraction or Idol of the Tribe. It is a real condition of all human operation, speculative or practical. Its function may be compared to an analytic yet constructive process; which dividing and disengaging elements before believed to be inseparable, renders re-arrangement and reconstruction possible and simple.2 Such is the work
1 "Le temps, le grand Justicier du passeV'—Montaigne. Cicero (Nat. D., II. ii. 5), speaking of the existence of God, says: "Quod nisi cognitum comprehensumque animis haberemus, non tam stabilis opinio permaneret, nec confirmaretur diuturnitate temporis nec una cum saiculis aetatibusque hominum inveterari potuisset. Et enim videmus cameras opiniones fictas atque vanas diuturnitate extabuisse. . . . Opinionum enim commenta delet dies, naturae judicia confirmat."
2 M. Littre (A. Comte et la Phil. Pos., p. 45) well observes: "Le temps, faisant l'office des forts grossissements, montre disjoint ce qui apparnit étroitement conjoint dans l'esprit d'un m€me penscur."
of continuous generations toiling unconsciously as one man in the quest of Truth, hut with this advantage, that they are uninterrupted by individual mortality.1 Some thinkers use Time too readily and profusely3 as an agent, whether in physical changes, or in the advance of opinion and the overthrow of superstitions by a sort of natural and spontaneous growth of the human mind—a gradual evolution of conviction, the spirit and tendency of the age, the fruit of time and succession. It should be clearly understood that all such results are, in fact, the work of individual effort, admitting of distinct explanation. The tendencies of an age are the unperceived consequences of foregone argument. They are "changes wrought not by Time, but in Time." In the work of religious "truth," it has been finely said,3 "Time means the blood of many martyrs, the toil of many brains, slow steps made good through infinite research." In this manner
1 "De sorte que toute la suite des hommes, pendant le cours de tant de siecles, doit fitre considered comme un meme homme qui subsist* toujours et qui apprend continuellement."—Pascal (Pensees, I. p. 98).
* Thus "the prehistoric archaeologist," says Mr. Tylor, Hist. Prim. Cult., I. p. 60, "shows even too much disposition to revel in calculations of thousands of years, as a financier does in reckonings of thousands of pounds in a liberal and maybe somewhat reckless way." See, however, Lange, Qesch. d. Materialismus, p. 342. In the School of Positive Science, "c'est le temps qui est ici le grand createur," says M. Janet.— Le Materialisme Contemporain, p. 24.
* Greg's Literary and Social Judgments, p. 478. Compare Professor Goldwiu Smith, Study of History, p. 34. Human progress "is a progress of effort, not a necessary development," &c.