페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

subtrave addit

heat purito estaben borsone in ple of

is one of tientific mould Pro

principles firmly on the earth, and are now proceeding to push them up to the highest heavens, branding everything as unknown and unknowable which they cannot make known by their own method. Instead of preservative additions,' these thinkers really ask for preservative subtractions,'-negations, that is, of every other principle of knowledge--in order that science may be left alone in the field, with a desert spreading around it on every border. Yet how would Professor Huxley propose to establish, on the scientific method, the knowledge' that purity of heart is one of the highest of virtues? Would he make his savage' try' both alternatives, and embrace that which he found to be, ‘by verification,' the most successful as a principle of living? How would he propose to make it clear even that the love of pure scientific knowledge, on which he is so wisely eloquent, is one of the nobler principles in the human heart, and infinitely more worthy, as he justly remarks, than that love of the mere utilitarian results of knowledge of such useful 'toys' as the pump and the steam-engine-with which he complains of its being confounded? We suspect that in answer to either question he would be compelled to say that the intrinsic nobility of purity of heart, and of disinterested intellectual passion, as of all other noble principles, is appreciated as soon as distinctly felt; that a mind higher than our own in these respects no sooner stirs us than we recognise its rank, nay, much as he dislikes the word, acknowledge its authority. His highest of virtues, doubt, would, if applied to all departments of life, the moral and spiritual as well as intellectual, soon do more to render the world uninhabitable than science can ever do to populate it. Imagine the child doubting whether it ought to trust, and the woman whether she ought to love, till scientific habits of mind þad verified the credentials of the mother or the brother; imagine love exactly measured out in proportion to human deserts; imagine the moral influence of character repelled on the very highest scientific principles till some social anthropometer had been applied to it to verify its efficiency; imagine establishing scientifically that loving resignation is a better state of mind than stoical endurance, and gratitude than proud aversion to receive the favours of others; in short, imagine any condition of society in which the mysterious and instantaneous authority of moral and spiritual qualities should be undermined, and a scientific doubt, demanding demonstration that they were good, instead of freely acknowledging their influence, in its place, and you imagine an anarchy that no conceivable familiarity with the order of nature could convert into organization and harmony. But once grant the principle of the spiritual authority

of character, and you grant in effect the rule of the Holy Spirit, which alone can teach us that one spirit is lower than another spirit; that a spirit of which we have made no trial, which scientifically we could neither approve nor condemn, and which is soliciting us to make trial of it, is beneath and not above us; that another spirit, equally untried as yet, is above and not beneath us; which alone, in short, can lead our steps aright in the thicket of spiritual influences which make up human life.

But, once granting that there is this distinct source of knowledge,—for knowledge of the most valuable kind, if knowledge at all, it undoubtedly is,-and we have a clue by which to settle the true relation of theology to science. As this sort of knowledge, by its very nature and essence, comes down upon us from above, and convinces us of the existence of something higher than ourselves, which has a natural authority over us, we may trust those who tell us of such knowledge as having entered their own minds, to give us its upuard history, as we may call it, -to show us whence it descended upon them, and what was the precise spiritual conviction which it brought. Thus we may trust profoundly the genuineness of such a testimony as Peter's : ' Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life,'--for what did it mean, except the most sincere, specific, and definite piece of testimony of which perhaps the human mind is capable, that from a certain source new moral life had been flowing in full streams into Peter's own mind, and that he knew and recognised that source? So too, with still more profound conviction, we may accept that higher testimony which said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do ;' 'I am not alone, for the Father is with me;' ' All things are delivered unto me of my Father, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father, nor any man the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son shall reveal him ;' and which, in sayings far too numerous to quote, ascribed to the eternal union with the Father all those deeds and words which men wilfully call so 'original,' but the true power of which, according to our Lord's own mind, lies precisely in their not being original, but derivative, the faithful reflection of eternal filial love. We take it that on no point is the mind of man capable of more accurate testimony than of the origin of its own higher life. The moment, and the source, whether human or divine, whence a new and higher influence has descended upon us, are always memorable, and almost always of that precise and distinctly outlined character, that, however inward, is properly historic. That this is so, is doubtless one of the causes of that mischievous and exacting demand for a dateable 'conversion' with which some theologies pester their disciples. It is true, however, that every new

and great influence from above us, whether it dates itself accurately in time or not, and whether it is of that peculiar and sometimes morbid kind known popularly as 'conversion' or not, does bring with it the distinctest knowledge as to its mode and source. But though the upward history, as we may call it, of genuine spiritual influence, human or divine, is almost always authentic, it is by no means necessary, or even true, that the downward history of revelation, the history of its actual conquests and human successes, should include only the history of authentic Divine influence, and of its legitimate victories. The difference between scientific knowledge and this kind of spiritual knowledge, which is of the essence of revelation, is, that in the former there is always the strictest possible equivalence between the premisses and the conclusion into which they are developed ;' in the latter, as with all practical moral influences, the actual development is apt to be very much wider indeed than is warranted by the principle from which it springs. The early Church, from its knowledge of God, got a great deal of practical human authority in other matters which was often wisely and often unwisely used. It became an authority in all matters of philosophy and law, and annexed, as we have said, province after province of human life and thought to the field over which it claimed authority, till scarcely any was left out of the reach of its lateral extension. Yet a great deal of this lateral extension was of course illegitimate. We have not yet nearly got rid of the pernicious effects of the assumption of revelation to decide questions of history, science, and general expediency. The downward growth of revelation is a history of graftings of new principles upon the spiritual and moral authority of a revelation which simply claims to link us to God through Him who had lived both an eternal life with God, and in human history also. Revelation is an organizing force, and, as such, assimilates plenty of temporary material. All revelation, all downwardstreaming light, in passing through stratum after stratum of our thick human atmosphere, falls upon, and touches with its own beauty, human means and instruments and temporary expedients of human energy, useful for a time perhaps, but not useful for eternity; and many dreams, fictions, and errors which are not useful in themselves even for a time, but only seem to become so when they catch the gleam of a Divine influence; and, lastly, earnest human thoughts, whether wholly or only partially true, which revelation has kindled and illuminated, but with which it is not to be identified. When we come to compare the scientific principle of thought, therefore, with the theological or unveiling of the Holy Spirit to men, we find the two absolutely in different planes, and unable, properly compared, to clash with

each other. But this is by no means the case with respect to the temporary materials which the theological principle has frequently embodied, and for a time successfully embodied, with itself, by virtue of the great prestige of its spiritual authority. The scientific principle has most useful work to do in disentangling again from revelation elements which have been imported into it without really belonging to it, and reclaiming them for their own proper province. Only, in attempting this, science, as we have said, is under a great temptation to mistake what it can do more fatally than theology has ever mistaken what it could do. Instead of annexing to its own fields those borderlands of thought over which it neither has nor pretends to have any right, it lays them waste, for every one who will trust it, by the bare assertion that there exists no knowledge but the scientific, and that all which claims to be knowledge not scientific in its basis, is spurious fable. As the author of Ecce Homo, with his usual wise moderation, well says :

"To assist us in arranging the physical conditions of our well-being another mighty revelation has been made to us, for the most part in these latter ages. We live under the blessed light of science, a light yet far from its meridian and dispersing every day some noxious superstition, some cowardice of the human spirit. These two revelations stand side by side. The points in which they have been supposed to come into collision do not belong to our present subject; they concern the theology and not the morality of the Christian Church. The moral revelation which we have been considering has never been supposed to jar with science. Both are true and both are essential to human happiness. It may be that since the methods of science were reformed and its steady progress began, it has been less exposed to error and perversion than Christianity, and, as it is peculiarly the treasure belonging to the present age, it becomes us to guard it with peculiar jealousy, to press its claims, and to treat those who, content with Christianity, disregard science, as Christ treated the enemies of light, " those that took away the keys of knowledge,” in his day. Assuredly they are graceless zealots who quote Moses against the expounders of a wisdom which Moses desired in vain, because it was reserved for a far later generation, for these modern men, to whom we may with accurate truth apply Christ's words and say that the least among them is greater than Moses. On the other hand, the Christian morality, if somewhat less safe and exempt from perversion than science, is more directly and vitally beneficial to mankind. The scientific life is less noble than the Christian ; it is better, so to speak, to be a citizen in the New Jerusalem than in the New Athens; it is better, surely, to find everywhere a brother and friend, like the Christian, than, like the philosopher, to " disregard your relative and friend so completely as to be ignorant not only how he gets on, but almost whether he is a human being or some other sort of creature.”'

It will be replied, however, that if it is legitimate for science

to disentangle from the field of theology all that is not a link in the direct chain of spiritual influence which unites God with the lowest being capable of recognising His will and love, it is legitimate for it to disentangle all miracle properly so called, and so to leave the gospel a mere fine network of religious thought, interrupted all over by solid blocks of falsehood, the conspicuous error of which throws a whole world of doubt even over the divine lineage of its spiritual truth. But the true answer is, that though it is perfectly right to demand more evidence, and a totally different kind of evidence, for a spiritual revelation when it is mixed up with physical facts on which science throws doubt, than for a purely spiritual revelation, yet that if such facts, by their very essence, do convey a new spiritual teaching to the mind, and if the special evidence which we have a right to require is forthcoming, the scientific improbability attaching to them may weigh as nothing in the balance. No doubt, such scientific improbability ought to be clearly set forth and weighed; no doubt, it has a distinct right to be heard. But science never teaches us anything but a method, and does not pretend to say how that method may not or must not be modified, under the influence of new and rare causes or conditions. Now one part of the purely spiritual lesson which revelation teaches us, and teaches us by the higher method of divine impression from above, rather than by generalized experience, is the strict subordination of nature and natural laws to the spiritual purposes of God. Time, nature, and what we call accident, it asserts, are but divine influences, for the outcome of which we ought to be as ready prepared as for the gifts of the Holy Spirit itself. Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say?-Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I to this hour : Father, glorify Thy name,' is a spiritual, almost a purely spiritual lesson; and yet what it teaches is that the ordinary succession of the seasons, the whole procedure of nature is subordinate to the divine purposes of God; that

. The slow sweet hours which bring us all things good;

The slow sad hours which bring us all things ill,

And all good things from evil, are not independent of, but only the ministers of a Divine love. Indeed, science itself teaches us something analogous, in showing how the higher natural laws overrule the lower,-chemical overbearing mechanical, vital chemical, and finally moral and spiritual laws overbearing even vital laws, and the free-will of man modifying all. Hence revelation, in asserting the direct dependence of what are called physical laws on the higher purposes of God, and exhibiting those purposes as shining through them

« 이전계속 »