Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

We call it a fact, not an assumption, because it is proved by universal history. And by a religious nature, we mean a nature conscious of its dependence and its need of Divine help. Granted such a nature, how are we to account for such a series of facts as those above presented ? Primâ facie, they accord with our nature, run through its whole length, and supply its entire moral and spiritual need. Every other religion has enfeebled and degraded its votaries as it has sunk lower in its gods and its worship. Our argument is exclusively an appeal to facts—facts which evidently have been at the foundation of national and individual life, all of which can be accounted for by our nature and its relation to the Divine. It is impossible to evade the force of these facts by the assumption that all past human experience is a mistake, and that a few persons only of the present and of the immediate past understand the fundamental facts of our common nature. pose that an inappreciable minority, who have never excited general sympathy, are right against the whole race in the past, and all but an universal verdict now?

It is well to remember the principle on

Can we sup

which Whately so strongly insists in his treatises on Logic and Rhetoric, that we have to determine only on the preponderance of argument and fact.

As he justly says, there are sound arguments for a plenum and for a vacuum, and the logician determines not on the side against which no objection is found, but on the one which has the most numerous and the strongest reasons. This case is no exception to the general rule. Our plea runs thus :—We have a race of intelligent agents, who have a tendency to deteriorate, but who are capable of such communion with the Father of their spirits as will preserve them from falling, and enable them to develop every side of their nature. They, also, have a strong sense of their need of this superhuman help, together with a conviction that it will be given if they use suitable means to obtain it; and that to seek it, so that they may live natural lives, is their primary duty. That these are primary facts of humanity cannot be questioned. We do here and there find solitary individuals who, largely endowed with intellectual power, trained under the restraints and stimuli of a high morality, and with few temptations to wrong-doing, have professed their ability to sustain themselves, and have therefore rejected Divine help. In like manner, men have been born with six fingers, or with inexplicable musical or arithmetical skill; but these exceptions, on either side, do not alter the normal condition of humanity.

The object of the supernatural solicitude has been and can only be the present Ruler, in whose power the suppliant man feels himself to be. Here, however, real objective choice is impossible. One only is the Creator and Upholder of the universe; hence, only one God and one worship is true. No man has the power or the right to make his god and his religion after any pattern he pleases, as he makes his chairs and tables. Religion can only arise in a mind which feels its need of superhuman help; and until the Supreme is found, no step in worship can be taken. On the physical side this is necessary; for only He who 'gathereth the winds in His fists, and bindeth the waters in a garment,' can order them for the relief of His suppliants. But on the moral side it is equally necessary to make the true choice. We begin life in absolute ignorance, and it depends upon the models we copy whether the life be a failure and a monstrosity, or beautiful and good. But if the god be manufactured out of the weakness and the vice of man, how can it become a quickening pattern of human improvement ? We have here an indirect proof of the truth of our positions, because the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only God who has lived and been worshipped through all human time. All others have been tried, have failed, and are deserted. He was the first, and is now the only One.

The need of man is sometimes admitted, but he is forbidden to hope for help. The Author of all, who maintains the perpetual equilibrium of the forces of the universe, and causes the sun to rise and set, and the seasons to come and go with unvarying regularity, and who is so unchangeable in His order that He preserves the minute spots and stripes of the moth's wing, is too much occupied to attend to a child, and too orderly to stop, retard, or divert any of His operations. Does it never occur to these mighty men, who assume to place bonds on Omnipotence, that an infinite nature may show itself in care for the infinitely small as well as the vast? Their own physical doctrine should have taught them this lesson. The universe is composed of atoms too small to be seen, tasted, touched, smelt, or heard, in their individual isolation, and only theory can assert their existence. Only by a reductio ad absurdum of the denial can the existence of the individual atom be proved. We admit that the proof is sufficient, and pity the scepticism of the man who rejects it. But when our collaborateurs on the material side object to all our facts which cannot find a physical expression, and especially when in doing so they seek to rob us of our hope in God, we remind them that the two classes of facts are no more isometric than the phenomena of gravitation and light, and that they would be just as likely to show the strength of an odour by a tuning-fork as the fatherly care of the Creator by the whole compass of physical science.

When this class of philosophers object that in the whole sum of religious emotion we have no proof of objective existence, we point them to the virtues of the world, and ask, Is that not as real and as palpable as the We can trace it all to innumerable cases of conscious emotion, just as we trace the grass

grass ?

« ÎnapoiContinuați »