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RELIGIOUS RE-VALUATION OF LIFE 43

I am loath, indeed, to admit that God reveals what is vital to some and not to others, and reveals only by the rare and doubtful methods of dreams and visions and ancient books and stoled officials. His revelation is universal-all around, always and everywhere— open to every one all the time, or else it does not exist, except as a fiction of a pious imagination. Standing in its place, as a part of the world's context, there is no fact and no event that is not a proof of and a witness to the universal rational order. And a rational order must be a benevolent order whose principle is Love.

Does the presence or absence of religion then make no difference, seeing that all facts are capable of either a material or spiritual interpretation, according to the presuppositions of the interpreter, or indeed of no interpretation at all, but remain mere puzzles? On the contrary it makes the same kind of difference as the presence or absence of light to a looker-on at the outer world, or the transparency of the window of his soul. A converted man, as a rule, re-interprets every In the light incident in his past life, and re-values every fact and of Religion purpose, setting them in quite a new order of prefer- interprets ence. Love for the Good, the unconditional and final the facts of Good, which religion is, like all love, finds rare values in some apparently very small facts, and on the other hand shuts out what is a whole world for others as being of no consequence.

Religion is a new point of view. Taking his stand upon it, man, possibly for the first time, surveys the whole expanse of his life, and contemplates the distant horizon, where the consequences of his deeds and thoughts, and the meaning of it all, dip out of sight. Within that scene, regarded from a new direction,

man re

and re-values

his life.

every fact and incident stands in a new perspective. That which was near, distinct, urgent, is now far, vague and of the least significance; and that which was remote, and vague, and negligible-the moral uses of circumstances, the spiritual opportunities of life, the chance of serving one's fellows, and the possibility of trusting God more fully and loving him with more devoted loyalty these now are all in all.

At first it seems a little thing to say of religion that it is a new point of view. But

"Belief or unbelief

Bears upon life, determines its whole course."

It is indeed the one thing that signifies: for a man lives his beliefs however much he may betray his creed. Nay, I am not sure that it is not misleading to insist on the absolute newness of anything. It is possible that religion is not so much an introduction of new facts as a new light upon the familiar facts of the previous secular life. It is not new except in a limited sense-in the same sense as the conclusion which follows from premisses is new, or an intuition that springs from experience, or a bud that breaks out on a flowering plant. It is an improved interpretation of the meaning of life. It comes from him "Who is the light of all our seeing." And a greater miracle than the nature of things" or a more illuminative revelation than the operation of its never-failing laws man need not desire. It is not a change of scene that religion brings. It opens the eyes of the looker-on. He discovers what was there already. The ordinary facts of his daily life whisper new meanings to him as he moves amongst them, while their outer aspects remain just the same. Not that the slumber of the

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THE SCEPTIC'S UNEASY SLUMBER 45

proceeds

meditative

struction

more.

secular spirit is ever quite peaceful. Man is moved on from circumstance to circumstance unceasingly, and he himself is always passing through change to change. New demands are ever being made upon him, and these call upon him to awake. him to awake. As life lengthens, the Life as it calls become clearer. Trials thicken, shallow joys demands Instead of reflexion grow pale, man becomes more reflective. Instead of seeking new enterprises in the world without, the and reconexperiences he has himself passed through engage his more and thoughts more and more, and he would fain discern more clearly what they all mean. Ends that were his gods turn into idols of wood and stone, and he can worship them no longer : and he knows now that things that seemed treasures are apt to change into trinkets. He yearns for a reliable good that will stand the weather. On the other hand, the soul given to little deeds of kindness and the unobtrusive habits of a gentle life may find a growing good in man and a new benevolence in the world that make the religion which was latent in his moral life explicit. The music may become audible. So, as Browning shows in a passage which cannot be quoted too often, the spirits which neglect or deny the highest are rarely at rest or safe.

"How can we guard our unbelief,

Make it bear fruit to us?...

They ask:

Just when we are safest, there's a sunset-touch,
A fancy from a flower-bell, some one's death,
A chorus-ending from Euripides-
And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears
As old and new at once as nature's self,

To
rap and knock and enter in our soul,
Take hands and dance there a fantastic ring,
Round the ancient idol, on his base again,-
The grand Perhaps." 1

Bishop Blougram's Apology, p. 269.

And the truth of Religion is the grand Perhaps.

The "Perhaps" of religion is so magnificent, if it is true: for it gives new worth to everything! While, without it, life is at best petty, its interests are shallow, and it passes away so soon! Indifference as to the truth of this " Perhaps " is not easy for man, and it is not wise.

LECTURE IV

THE CONTRAST OF THE FINITE AND INFINITE

PERHAPS a glance at the road along which we have travelled may be of some use at this stage.

our problem.

We have been asking whether Religion is, or is not, capable of being treated by the methods of natural science. This, we believe, is precisely the problem Definition of with which Lord Gifford desired that the lectures should deal. It meant to him, as it usually does to others: first, the question whether the objects with which Religion has to do are real or illusions; and second, whether they can be proved to be real, and whether their nature can be explained by the methods which have been so convincingly successful in the sciences.

of opinion

reality of

As to the reality of the facts there is the greatest Divergence diversity of opinion. Religious believers Religious believers say that they as to the are real, and real in a deeper and fuller sense than any religious other facts. Sceptics say that they are the fictitious objects. creations of man's fears and hopes, and the most persistent and powerful of all his illusions. Agnostics profess to offer no opinion, either positive or negative, on the ground that man can never find any adequate reasons for either affirmation or denial. Their intention is to refrain from both affirmation and negation;

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