Herbert George Wells

























3. GOD IS YOUTH.. 32





































This book sets out as forcibly and exactly as possible the religious  belief of the writer.  That belief is not orthodox Christianity; it  is not, indeed, Christianity at all; its core nevertheless is a  profound belief in a personal and intimate God.  There is nothing in  its statements that need shock or offend anyone who is prepared for  the expression of a faith different from and perhaps in several  particulars opposed to his own.  The writer will be found to be  sympathetic with all sincere religious feeling.  Nevertheless it is  well to prepare the prospective reader for statements that may jar  harshly against deeply rooted mental habits.  It is well to warn him  at the outset that the departure from accepted beliefs is here no  vague scepticism, but a quite sharply defined objection to dogmas  very widely revered.  Let the writer state the most probable  occasion of trouble forthwith.  An issue upon which this book will  be found particularly uncompromising is the dogma of the Trinity.   The writer is of opinion that the Council of Nicaea, which forcibly  crystallised the controversies of two centuries and formulated the  creed upon which all the existing Christian churches are based, was  one of the most disastrous and one of the least venerable of all  religious gatherings, and he holds that the Alexandrine speculations  which were then conclusively imposed upon Christianity merit only  disrespectful attention at the present time.  There you have a chief  possibility of offence.  He is quite unable to pretend any awe for  what he considers the spiritual monstrosities established by that  undignified gathering.  He makes no attempt to be obscure or  propitiatory in this connection.  He criticises the creeds  explicitly and frankly, because he believes it is particularly  necessary to clear them out of the way of those who are seeking  religious consolation at this present time of exceptional religious  need.  He does little to conceal his indignation at the role played  by these dogmas in obscuring, perverting, and preventing the  religious life of mankind.  After this warning such readers from  among the various Christian churches and sects as are accessible to  storms of theological fear or passion to whom the Trinity is an  ineffable mystery and the name of God almost unspeakably awful, read  on at their own risk.  This is a religious book written by a  believer, but so far as their beliefs and religion go it may seem to  them more sceptical and more antagonistic than blank atheism.  That  the writer cannot tell.  He is not simply denying their God.  He is  declaring that there is a living God, different altogether from that  Triune God and nearer to the heart of man.  The spirit of this book  is like that of a missionary who would only too gladly overthrow and  smash some Polynesian divinity of shark's teeth and painted wood and  mother-of-pearl.  To the writer such elaborations as "begotten of  the Father before all worlds" are no better than intellectual  shark's teeth and oyster shells.  His purpose, like the purpose of  that missionary, is not primarily to shock and insult; but he is  zealous to liberate, and he is impatient with a reverence that  stands between man and God.  He gives this fair warning and proceeds  with his matter.


His matter is modern religion as he sees it.  It is only  incidentally and because it is unavoidable that he attacks doctrinal  Christianity.


In a previous book, "First and Last Things" (Constable and Co.), he  has stated his convictions upon certain general ideas of life and  thought as clearly as he could.  All of philosophy, all of  metaphysics that is, seems to him to be a discussion of the  relations of class and individual.  The antagonism of the Nominalist  and the Realist, the opposition of the One and the Many, the  contrast of the Ideal and the Actual, all these oppositions express  a certain structural and essential duality in the activity of the  human mind.  From an imperfect recognition of that duality ensue  great masses of misconception.  That was the substance of "First and  Last Things."  In this present book there is no further attack on  philosophical or metaphysical questions.  Here we work at a less  fundamental level and deal with religious feeling and religious  ideas.  But just as the writer was inclined to attribute a whole  world of disputation and inexactitudes to confused thinking about  the exact value of classes and terms, so here he is disposed to  think that interminable controversies and conflicts arise out of a  confusion of intention due to a double meaning of the word "God";  that the word "God" conveys not one idea or set of ideas, but  several essentially different ideas, incompatible one with another,  and falling mainly into one or other of two divergent groups; and  that people slip carelessly from one to the other of these groups of  ideas and so get into ultimately inextricable confusions.


The writer believes that the centuries of fluid religious thought  that preceded the violent ultimate crystallisation of Nicaea, was  essentially a struggle--obscured, of course, by many complexities--to reconcile and get into a relationship these two separate main  series of God-ideas.


Putting the leading idea of this book very roughly, these two  antagonistic typical conceptions of God may be best contrasted by  speaking of one of them as God-as-Nature or the Creator, and of the  other as God-as-Christ or the Redeemer.  One is the great Outward  God; the other is the Inmost God.  The first idea was perhaps  developed most highly and completely in the God of Spinoza.  It is a  conception of God tending to pantheism, to an idea of a  comprehensive God as ruling with justice rather than affection, to a  conception of aloofness and awestriking worshipfulness.  The second  idea, which is opposed to this idea of an absolute God, is the God  of the human heart.  The writer would suggest that the great outline  of the theological struggles of that phase of civilisation and world  unity which produced Christianity, was a persistent but unsuccessful  attempt to get these two different ideas of God into one focus.  It  was an attempt to make the God of Nature accessible and the God of  the Heart invincible, to bring the former into a conception of love  and to vest the latter with the beauty of stars and flowers and the  dignity of inexorable justice.  There could be no finer metaphor for  such a correlation than Fatherhood and Sonship.  But the trouble is  that it seems impossible to most people to continue to regard the  relations of the Father to the Son as being simply a mystical  metaphor.  Presently some materialistic bias swings them in a moment  of intellectual carelessness back to the idea of sexual filiation.


And it may further be suggested that the extreme aloofness and  inhumanity, which is logically necessary in the idea of a Creator  God, of an Infinite God, was the reason, so to speak, for the  invention of a Holy Spirit, as something proceeding from him, as  something bridging the great gulf, a Comforter, a mediator  descending into the sphere of the human understanding.  That, and  the suggestive influence of the Egyptian Trinity that was then being  worshipped at the Serapeum, and which had saturated the thought of  Alexandria with the conception of a trinity in unity, are probably  the realities that account for the Third Person of the Christian  Trinity.  At any rate the present writer believes that the  discussions that shaped the Christian theology we know were  dominated by such natural and fundamental thoughts.  These  discussions were, of course, complicated from the outset; and  particularly were they complicated by the identification of the man  Jesus with the theological Christ, by materialistic expectations of  his second coming, by materialistic inventions about his  "miraculous" begetting, and by the morbid speculations about  virginity and the like that arose out of such grossness.  They were  still further complicated by the idea of the textual inspiration of  the scriptures, which presently swamped thought in textual  interpretation.  That swamping came very early in the development of  Christianity.  The writer of St. John's gospel appears still to be  thinking with a considerable freedom, but Origen is already  hopelessly in the net of the texts.  The writer of St. John's gospel  was a free man, but Origen was a superstitious man.  He was  emasculated mentally as well as bodily through his bibliolatry.  He  quotes; his predecessor thinks.


But the writer throws out these guesses at the probable intentions  of early Christian thought in passing.  His business here is the  definition of a position.  The writer's position here in this book  is, firstly, complete Agnosticism in the matter of God the Creator,  and secondly, entire faith in the matter of God the Redeemer.  That,  so to speak, is the key of his book.  He cannot bring the two ideas  under the same term God.  He uses the word God therefore for the God  in our hearts only, and he uses the term the Veiled Being for the  ultimate mysteries of the universe, and he declares that we do not  know and perhaps cannot know in any comprehensible terms the  relation of the Veiled Being to that living reality in our lives who  is, in his terminology, the true God.  Speaking from the point of  view of practical religion, he is restricting and defining the word  God, as meaning only the personal God of mankind, he is restricting  it so as to exclude all cosmogony and ideas of providence from our  religious thought and leave nothing but the essentials of the  religious life.


Many people, whom one would class as rather liberal Christians of an  Arian or Arminian complexion, may find the larger part of this book  acceptable to them if they will read "the Christ God" where the  writer has written "God."  They will then differ from him upon  little more than the question whether there is an essential identity  in aim and quality between the Christ God and the Veiled Being, who  answer to their Creator God.  This the orthodox post Nicaean  Christians assert, and many pre-Nicaeans and many heretics (as the  Cathars) contradicted with its exact contrary.  The Cathars,  Paulicians, Albigenses and so on held, with the Manichaeans, that  the God of Nature, God the Father, was evil.  The Christ God was his  antagonist.  This was the idea of the poet Shelley.  And passing  beyond Christian theology altogether a clue can still be found to  many problems in comparative theology in this distinction between  the Being of Nature (cf.  Kant's "starry vault above") and the God  of the heart (Kant's "moral law within").  The idea of an antagonism  seems to have been cardinal in the thought of the Essenes and the  Orphic cult and in the Persian dualism.  So, too, Buddhism seems to  be "antagonistic."  On the other hand, the Moslem teaching and  modern Judaism seem absolutely to combine and identify the two; God  the creator is altogether and without distinction also God the King  of Mankind.  Christianity stands somewhere between such complete  identification and complete antagonism.  It admits a difference in  attitude between Father and Son in its distinction between the Old  Dispensation (of the Old Testament) and the New.  Every possible  change is rung in the great religions of the world between  identification, complete separation, equality, and disproportion of  these Beings; but it will be found that these two ideas are, so to  speak, the basal elements of all theology in the world.  The writer  is chary of assertion or denial in these matters.  He believes that  they are speculations not at all necessary to salvation.  He  believes that men may differ profoundly in their opinions upon these  points and still be in perfect agreement upon the essentials of  religion.  The reality of religion he believes deals wholly and  exclusively with the God of the Heart.  He declares as his own  opinion, and as the opinion which seems most expressive of modern  thought, that there is no reason to suppose the Veiled Being either  benevolent or malignant towards men.  But if the reader believes  that God is Almighty and in every way Infinite the practical outcome  is not very different.  For the purposes of human relationship it is  impossible to deny that God PRESENTS HIMSELF AS FINITE, as  struggling and taking a part against evil.


The writer believes that these dogmas of relationship are not merely  extraneous to religion, but an impediment to religion.  His aim in  this book is to give a statement of religion which is no longer  entangled in such speculations and disputes.


Let him add only one other note of explanation in this preface, and  that is to remark that except for one incidental passage (in Chapter  IV., 1), nowhere does he discuss the question of personal  immortality.  [It is discussed in "First and Last Things," Book IV,  4.]  He omits this question because he does not consider that it has  any more bearing upon the essentials of religion, than have the  theories we may hold about the relation of God and the moral law to  the starry universe.  The latter is a question for the theologian,  the former for the psychologist.  Whether we are mortal or immortal,  whether the God in our hearts is the Son of or a rebel against the  Universe, the reality of religion, the fact of salvation, is still  our self-identification with God, irrespective of consequences, and  the achievement of his kingdom, in our hearts and in the world.   Whether we live forever or die tomorrow does not affect  righteousness.  Many people seem to find the prospect of a final  personal death unendurable.  This impresses me as egotism.  I have  no such appetite for a separate immortality.  God is my immortality;  what, of me, is identified with God, is God; what is not is of no  more permanent value than the snows of yester-year.


H. G. W.


Dunmow, May, 1917.





Perhaps all religions, unless the flaming onset of Mohammedanism be  an exception, have dawned imperceptibly upon the world.  A little  while ago and the thing was not; and then suddenly it has been found  in existence, and already in a state of diffusion.  People have  begun to hear of the new belief first here and then there.  It is  interesting, for example, to trace how Christianity drifted into the  consciousness of the Roman world.  But when a religion has been  interrogated it has always had hitherto a tale of beginnings, the  name and story of a founder.  The renascent religion that is now  taking shape, it seems, had no founder; it points to no origins.  It  is the Truth, its believers declare; it has always been here; it has  always been visible to those who had eyes to see.  It is perhaps  plainer than it was and to more people--that is all.


It is as if it still did not realise its own difference.  Many of  those who hold it still think of it as if it were a kind of  Christianity.  Some, catching at a phrase of Huxley's, speak of it  as Christianity without Theology.  They do not know the creed they  are carrying.  It has, as a matter of fact, a very fine and subtle  theology, flatly opposed to any belief that could, except by great  stretching of charity and the imagination, be called Christianity.   One might find, perhaps, a parallelism with the system ascribed to  some Gnostics, but that is far more probably an accidental rather  than a sympathetic coincidence.  Of that the reader shall presently  have an opportunity of judging.


This indefiniteness of statement and relationship is probably only  the opening phase of the new faith.  Christianity also began with an  extreme neglect of definition.  It was not at first anything more  than a sect of Judaism.  It was only after three centuries, amidst  the uproar and emotions of the council of Nicaea, when the more  enthusiastic Trinitarians stuffed their fingers in their ears in  affected horror at the arguments of old Arius, that the cardinal  mystery of the Trinity was established as the essential fact of  Christianity.  Throughout those three centuries, the centuries of  its greatest achievements and noblest martyrdoms, Christianity had  not defined its God.  And even to-day it has to be noted that a  large majority of those who possess and repeat the Christian creeds  have come into the practice so insensibly from unthinking childhood,  that only in the slightest way do they realise the nature of the  statements to which they subscribe.  They will speak and think of  both Christ and God in ways flatly incompatible with the doctrine of  the Triune deity upon which, theoretically, the entire fabric of all  the churches rests.  They will show themselves as frankly Arians as  though that damnable heresy had not been washed out of the world  forever after centuries of persecution in torrents of blood.  But  whatever the present state of Christendom in these matters may be,  there can be no doubt of the enormous pains taken in the past to  give Christian beliefs the exactest, least ambiguous statement  possible.  Christianity knew itself clearly for what it was in its  maturity, whatever the indecisions of its childhood or the  confusions of its decay.  The renascent religion that one finds now,  a thing active and sufficient in many minds, has still scarcely come  to self-consciousness.  But it is so coming, and this present book  is very largely an attempt to state the shape it is assuming and to  compare it with the beliefs and imperatives and usages of the  various Christian, pseudo-Christian, philosophical, and agnostic  cults amidst which it has appeared.


The writer's sympathies and convictions are entirely with this that  he speaks of as renascent or modern religion; he is neither atheist  nor Buddhist nor Mohammedan nor Christian.  He will make no  pretence, therefore, to impartiality and detachment.  He will do his  best to be as fair as possible and as candid as possible, but the  reader must reckon with this bias.  He has found this faith growing  up in himself; he has found it, or something very difficult to  distinguish from it, growing independently in the minds of men and  women he has met.  They have been people of very various origins;  English, Americans, Bengalis, Russians, French, people brought up in  a "Catholic atmosphere," Positivists, Baptists, Sikhs, Mohammedans.   Their diversity of source is as remarkable as their convergence of  tendency.  A miscellany of minds thinking upon parallel lines has  come out to the same light.  The new teaching is also traceable in  many professedly Christian religious books and it is to be heard  from Christian pulpits.  The phase of definition is manifestly at  hand.




Perhaps the most fundamental difference between this new faith and  any recognised form of Christianity is that, knowingly or  unknowingly, it worships A FINITE GOD.  Directly the believer is  fairly confronted with the plain questions of the case, the vague  identifications that are still carelessly made with one or all of  the persons of the Trinity dissolve away.  He will admit that his  God is neither all-wise, nor all-powerful, nor omnipresent; that he  is neither the maker of heaven nor earth, and that he has little to  identify him with that hereditary God of the Jews who became the  "Father" in the Christian system.  On the other hand he will assert  that his God is a god of salvation, that he is a spirit, a person, a  strongly marked and knowable personality, loving, inspiring, and  lovable, who exists or strives to exist in every human soul.  He  will be much less certain in his denials that his God has a close  resemblance to the Pauline (as distinguished from the Trinitarian)  "Christ." . . .


The modern religious man will almost certainly profess a kind of  universalism; he will assert that whensoever men have called upon  any God and have found fellowship and comfort and courage and that  sense of God within them, that inner light which is the quintessence  of the religious experience, it was the True God that answered them.   For the True God is a generous God, not a jealous God; the very  antithesis of that bickering monopolist who "will have none other  gods but Me"; and when a human heart cries out--to what name it  matters not--for a larger spirit and a stronger help than the  visible things of life can give, straightway the nameless Helper is  with it and the God of Man answers to the call.  The True God has no  scorn nor hate for those who have accepted the many-handed symbols  of the Hindu or the lacquered idols of China.  Where there is faith,  where there is need, there is the True God ready to clasp the hands  that stretch out seeking for him into the darkness behind the ivory  and gold.


The fact that God is FINITE is one upon which those who think  clearly among the new believers are very insistent.  He is, above  everything else, a personality, and to be a personality is to have  characteristics, to be limited by characteristics; he is a Being,  not us but dealing with us and through us, he has an aim and that  means he has a past and future; he is within time and not outside  it.  And they point out that this is really what everyone who prays  sincerely to God or gets help from God, feels and believes.  Our  practice with God is better than our theory.  None of us really pray  to that fantastic, unqualified danse a trois, the Trinity, which the  wranglings and disputes of the worthies of Alexandria and Syria  declared to be God.  We pray to one single understanding person.   But so far the tactics of those Trinitarians at Nicaea, who stuck  their fingers in their ears, have prevailed in this world; this was  no matter for discussion, they declared, it was a Holy Mystery full  of magical terror, and few religious people have thought it worth  while to revive these terrors by a definite contradiction.  The  truly religious have been content to lapse quietly into the  comparative sanity of an unformulated Arianism, they have left it to  the scoffing Atheist to mock at the patent absurdities of the  official creed.  But one magnificent protest against this  theological fantasy must have been the work of a sincerely religious  man, the cold superb humour of that burlesque creed, ascribed, at  first no doubt facetiously and then quite seriously, to Saint  Athanasius the Great, which, by an irony far beyond its original  intention, has become at last the accepted creed of the church.


The long truce in the criticism of Trinitarian theology is drawing  to its end.  It is when men most urgently need God that they become  least patient with foolish presentations and dogmas.  The new  believers are very definitely set upon a thorough analysis of the  nature and growth of the Christian creeds and ideas.  There has  grown up a practice of assuming that, when God is spoken of, the  Hebrew-Christian God of Nicaea is meant.  But that God trails with  him a thousand misconceptions and bad associations; his alleged  infinite nature, his jealousy, his strange preferences, his  vindictive Old Testament past.  These things do not even make a  caricature of the True God; they compose an altogether different and  antagonistic figure.


It is a very childish and unphilosophical set of impulses that has  led the theologians of nearly every faith to claim infinite  qualities for their deity.  One has to remember the poorness of the  mental and moral quality of the churchmen of the third, fourth, and  fifth centuries who saddled Christendom with its characteristic  dogmas, and the extreme poverty and confusion of the circle of ideas  within which they thought.  Many of these makers of Christianity,  like Saint Ambrose of Milan (who had even to be baptised after his  election to his bishopric), had been pitchforked into the church  from civil life; they lived in a time of pitiless factions and  personal feuds; they had to conduct their disputations amidst the  struggles of would-be emperors; court eunuchs and favourites swayed  their counsels, and popular rioting clinched their decisions.  There  was less freedom of discussion then in the Christian world than  there is at present (1916) in Belgium, and the whole audience of  educated opinion by which a theory could be judged did not equal,  either in numbers or accuracy of information, the present population  of Constantinople.  To these conditions we owe the claim that the  Christian God is a magic god, very great medicine in battle, "in hoc  signo vinces," and the argument so natural to the minds of those  days and so absurd to ours, that since he had ALL power, all  knowledge, and existed for ever and ever, it was no use whatever to  set up any other god against him. . . .


By the fifth century Christianity had adopted as its fundamental  belief, without which everyone was to be "damned everlastingly," a  conception of God and of Christ's relation to God, of which even by  the Christian account of his teaching, Jesus was either totally  unaware or so negligent and careless of the future comfort of his  disciples as scarcely to make mention.  The doctrine of the Trinity,  so far as the relationship of the Third Person goes, hangs almost  entirely upon one ambiguous and disputed utterance in St. John's  gospel (XV. 26).  Most of the teachings of Christian orthodoxy  resolve themselves to the attentive student into assertions of the  nature of contradiction and repartee.  Someone floats an opinion in  some matter that has been hitherto vague, in regard, for example, to  the sonship of Christ or to the method of his birth.  The new  opinion arouses the hostility and alarm of minds unaccustomed to so  definite a statement, and in the zeal of their recoil they fly to a  contrary proposition.  The Christians would neither admit that they  worshipped more gods than one because of the Greeks, nor deny the  divinity of Christ because of the Jews.  They dreaded to be  polytheistic; equally did they dread the least apparent detraction  from the power and importance of their Saviour.  They were forced  into the theory of the Trinity by the necessity of those contrary  assertions, and they had to make it a mystery protected by curses to  save it from a reductio ad absurdam.  The entire history of the  growth of the Christian doctrine in those disordered early centuries  is a history of theology by committee; a history of furious  wrangling, of hasty compromises, and still more hasty attempts to  clinch matters by anathema.  When the muddle was at its very worst,  the church was confronted by enormous political opportunities.  In  order that it should seize these one chief thing appeared  imperative: doctrinal uniformity.  The emperor himself, albeit  unbaptised and very ignorant of Greek, came and seated himself in  the midst of Christian thought upon a golden throne.  At the end of  it all Eusebius, that supreme Trimmer, was prepared to damn  everlastingly all those who doubted that consubstantiality he  himself had doubted at the beginning of the conference.  It is quite  clear that Constantine did not care who was damned or for what  period, so long as the Christians ceased to wrangle among  themselves.  The practical unanimity of Nicaea was secured by  threats, and then, turning upon the victors, he sought by threats to  restore Arius to communion.  The imperial aim was a common faith to  unite the empire.  The crushing out of the Arians and of the  Paulicians and suchlike heretics, and more particularly the  systematic destruction by the orthodox of all heretical writings,  had about it none of that quality of honest conviction which comes  to those who have a real knowledge of God; it was a bawling down of  dissensions that, left to work themselves out, would have spoilt  good business; it was the fist of Nicolas of Myra over again, except  that after the days of Ambrose the sword of the executioner and the  fires of the book-burner were added to the weapon of the human  voice.  Priscillian was the first human sacrifice formally offered  up under these improved conditions to the greater glory of the  reinforced Trinity.  Thereafter the blood of the heretics was the  cement of Christian unity.


It is with these things in mind that those who profess the new faith  are becoming so markedly anxious to distinguish God from the  Trinitarian's deity.  At present if anyone who has left the  Christian communion declares himself a believer in God, priest and  parson swell with self-complacency.  There is no reason why they  should do so.  That many of us have gone from them and found God is  no concern of theirs.  It is not that we who went out into the  wilderness which we thought to be a desert, away from their creeds  and dogmas, have turned back and are returning.  It is that we have  gone on still further, and are beyond that desolation.  Never more  shall we return to those who gather under the cross.  By faith we  disbelieved and denied.  By faith we said of that stuffed scarecrow  of divinity, that incoherent accumulation of antique theological  notions, the Nicene deity, "This is certainly no God."  And by faith  we have found God. . . .




There has always been a demand upon the theological teacher that he  should supply a cosmogony.  It has always been an effective  propagandist thing to say: "OUR God made the whole universe.  Don't  you think that it would be wise to abandon YOUR deity, who did not,  as you admit, do anything of the sort?"


The attentive reader of the lives of the Saints will find that this  style of argument did in the past bring many tribes and nations into  the Christian fold.  It was second only to the claim of magic  advantages, demonstrated by a free use of miracles.  Only one great  religious system, the Buddhist, seems to have resisted the  temptation to secure for its divinity the honour and title of  Creator.  Modern religion is like Buddhism in that respect.  It  offers no theory whatever about the origin of the universe.  It does  not reach behind the appearances of space and time.  It sees only a  featureless presumption in that playing with superlatives which has  entertained so many minds from Plotinus to the Hegelians with the  delusion that such negative terms as the Absolute or the  Unconditioned, can assert anything at all.  At the back of all known  things there is an impenetrable curtain; the ultimate of existence  is a Veiled Being, which seems to know nothing of life or death or  good or ill.  Of that Being, whether it is simple or complex or  divine, we know nothing; to us it is no more than the limit of  understanding, the unknown beyond.  It may be of practically  limitless intricacy and possibility.  The new religion does not  pretend that the God of its life is that Being, or that he has any  relation of control or association with that Being.  It does not  even assert that God knows all or much more than we do about that  ultimate Being.


For us life is a matter of our personalities in space and time.   Human analysis probing with philosophy and science towards the  Veiled Being reveals nothing of God, reveals space and time only as  necessary forms of consciousness, glimpses a dance of atoms, of  whirls in the ether.  Some day in the endless future there may be a  knowledge, an understanding of relationship, a power and courage  that will pierce into those black wrappings.  To that it may be our  God, the Captain of Mankind will take us.


That now is a mere speculation.  The veil of the unknown is set with  the stars; its outer texture is ether and atom and crystal.  The  Veiled Being, enigmatical and incomprehensible, broods over the  mirror upon which the busy shapes of life are moving.  It is as if  it waited in a great stillness.  Our lives do not deal with it, and  cannot deal with it.  It may be that they may never be able to deal  with it.




So it is that comprehensive setting of the universe presents itself  to the modern mind.  It is altogether outside good and evil and love  and hate.  It is outside God, who is love and goodness.  And coming  out of this veiled being, proceeding out of it in a manner  altogether inconceivable, is another lesser being, an impulse  thrusting through matter and clothing itself in continually changing  material forms, the maker of our world, Life, the Will to Be.  It  comes out of that inscrutable being as a wave comes rolling to us  from beyond the horizon.  It is as it were a great wave rushing  through matter and possessed by a spirit.  It is a breeding,  fighting thing; it pants through the jungle track as the tiger and  lifts itself towards heaven as the tree; it is the rabbit bolting  for its life and the dove calling to her mate; it crawls, it flies,  it dives, it lusts and devours, it pursues and eats itself in order  to live still more eagerly and hastily; it is every living thing, of  it are our passions and desires and fears.  And it is aware of  itself not as a whole, but dispersedly as individual self-consciousness, starting out dispersedly from every one of the  sentient creatures it has called into being.  They look out for  their little moments, red-eyed and fierce, full of greed, full of  the passions of acquisition and assimilation and reproduction,  submitting only to brief fellowships of defence or aggression.  They  are beings of strain and conflict and competition.  They are living  substance still mingled painfully with the dust.  The forms in which  this being clothes itself bear thorns and fangs and claws, are  soaked with poison and bright with threats or allurements, prey  slyly or openly on one another, hold their own for a little while,  breed savagely and resentfully, and pass. . . .


This second Being men have called the Life Force, the Will to Live,  the Struggle for Existence.  They have figured it too as Mother  Nature.  We may speculate whether it is not what the wiser among the  Gnostics meant by the Demiurge, but since the Christians destroyed  all the Gnostic books that must remain a mere curious guess.  We may  speculate whether this heat and haste and wrath of life about us is  the Dark God of the Manichees, the evil spirit of the sun  worshippers.  But in contemporary thought there is no conviction  apparent that this Demiurge is either good or evil; it is conceived  of as both good and evil.  If it gives all the pain and conflict of  life, it gives also the joy of the sunshine, the delight and hope of  youth, the pleasures.  If it has elaborated a hundred thousand sorts  of parasite, it has also moulded the beautiful limbs of man and  woman; it has shaped the slug and the flower.  And in it, as part of  it, taking its rewards, responding to its goads, struggling against  the final abandonment to death, do we all live, as the beasts live,  glad, angry, sorry, revengeful, hopeful, weary, disgusted,  forgetful, lustful, happy, excited, bored, in pain, mood after mood  but always fearing death, with no certainty and no coherence within  us, until we find God.  And God comes to us neither out of the stars  nor out of the pride of life, but as a still small voice within.




God comes we know not whence, into the conflict of life.  He works  in men and through men.  He is a spirit, a single spirit and a  single person; he has begun and he will never end.  He is the  immortal part and leader of mankind.  He has motives, he has  characteristics, he has an aim.  He is by our poor scales of  measurement boundless love, boundless courage, boundless generosity.   He is thought and a steadfast will.  He is our friend and brother  and the light of the world.  That briefly is the belief of the  modern mind with regard to God.  There is no very novel idea about  this God, unless it be the idea that he had a beginning.  This is  the God that men have sought and found in all ages, as God or as the  Messiah or the Saviour.  The finding of him is salvation from the  purposelessness of life.  The new religion has but disentangled the  idea of him from the absolutes and infinities and mysteries of the  Christian theologians; from mythological virgin births and the  cosmogonies and intellectual pretentiousness of a vanished age.


Modern religion appeals to no revelation, no authoritative teaching,  no mystery.  The statement it makes is, it declares, a mere  statement of what we may all perceive and experience.  We all live  in the storm of life, we all find our understandings limited by the  Veiled Being; if we seek salvation and search within for God,  presently we find him.  All this is in the nature of things.  If  every one who perceives and states it were to be instantly killed  and blotted out, presently other people would find their way to the  same conclusions; and so on again and again.  To this all true  religion, casting aside its hulls of misconception, must ultimately  come.  To it indeed much religion is already coming.  Christian  thought struggles towards it, with the millstones of Syrian theology  and an outrageous mythology of incarnation and resurrection about  its neck.  When at last our present bench of bishops join the early  fathers of the church in heaven there will be, I fear, a note of  reproach in their greeting of the ingenious person who saddled them  with OMNIPOTENS.  Still more disastrous for them has been the virgin  birth, with the terrible fascination of its detail for unpoetic  minds.  How rich is the literature of authoritative Christianity  with decisions upon the continuing virginity of Mary and the  virginity of Joseph--ideas that first arose in Arabia as a Moslem  gloss upon Christianity--and how little have these peepings and  pryings to do with the needs of the heart and the finding of God!


Within the last few years there have been a score or so of such  volumes as that recently compiled by Dr. Foakes Jackson, entitled  "The Faith and the War," a volume in which the curious reader may  contemplate deans and canons, divines and church dignitaries, men  intelligent and enquiring and religiously disposed, all lying like  overladen camels, panting under this load of obsolete theological  responsibility, groaning great articles, outside the needle's eye  that leads to God.




Modern religion bases its knowledge of God and its account of God  entirely upon experience.  It has encountered God.  It does not  argue about God; it relates.  It relates without any of those  wrappings of awe and reverence that fold so necessarily about  imposture, it relates as one tells of a friend and his assistance,  of a happy adventure, of a beautiful thing found and picked up by  the wayside.


So far as its psychological phases go the new account of personal  salvation tallies very closely with the account of "conversion" as  it is given by other religions.  It has little to tell that is not  already familiar to the reader of William James's "Varieties of  Religious Experience."  It describes an initial state of distress  with the aimlessness and cruelties of life, and particularly with  the futility of the individual life, a state of helpless self-disgust, of inability to form any satisfactory plan of living.  This  is the common prelude known to many sorts of Christian as  "conviction of sin"; it is, at any rate, a conviction of hopeless  confusion. . . .  Then in some way the idea of God comes into the  distressed mind, at first simply as an idea, without substance or  belief.  It is read about or it is remembered; it is expounded by  some teacher or some happy convert.  In the case of all those of the  new faith with whose personal experience I have any intimacy, the  idea of God has remained for some time simply as an idea floating  about in a mind still dissatisfied.  God is not believed in, but it  is realised that if there were such a being he would supply the  needed consolation and direction, his continuing purpose would knit  together the scattered effort of life, his immortality would take  the sting from death.  Under this realisation the idea is pursued  and elaborated.  For a time there is a curious resistance to the  suggestion that God is truly a person; he is spoken of preferably by  such phrases as the Purpose in Things, as the Racial Consciousness,  as the Collective Mind.


I believe that this resistance in so many contemporary minds to the  idea of God as a person is due very largely to the enormous  prejudice against divine personality created by the absurdities of  the Christian teaching and the habitual monopoly of the Christian  idea.  The picture of Christ as the Good Shepherd thrusts itself  before minds unaccustomed to the idea that they are lambs.  The  cross in the twilight bars the way.  It is a novelty and an enormous  relief to such people to realise that one may think of God without  being committed to think of either the Father, the Son, or the Holy  Ghost, or of all of them at once.  That freedom had not seemed  possible to them.  They had been hypnotised and obsessed by the idea  that the Christian God is the only thinkable God.  They had heard so  much about that God and so little of any other.  With that release  their minds become, as it were, nascent and ready for the coming of  God.


Then suddenly, in a little while, in his own time, God comes.  This  cardinal experience is an undoubting, immediate sense of God.  It is  the attainment of an absolute certainty that one is not alone in  oneself.  It is as if one was touched at every point by a being akin  to oneself, sympathetic, beyond measure wiser, steadfast and pure in  aim.  It is completer and more intimate, but it is like standing  side by side with and touching someone that we love very dearly and  trust completely.  It is as if this being bridged a thousand  misunderstandings and brought us into fellowship with a great  multitude of other people. . . .


"Closer he is than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet."


The moment may come while we are alone in the darkness, under the  stars, or while we walk by ourselves or in a crowd, or while we sit  and muse.  It may come upon the sinking ship or in the tumult of the  battle.  There is no saying when it may not come to us. . . .  But  after it has come our lives are changed, God is with us and there is  no more doubt of God.  Thereafter one goes about the world like one  who was lonely and has found a lover, like one who was perplexed and  has found a solution.  One is assured that there is a Power that  fights with us against the confusion and evil within us and without.   There comes into the heart an essential and enduring happiness and  courage.


There is but one God, there is but one true religious experience,  but under a multitude of names, under veils and darknesses, God has  in this manner come into countless lives.  There is scarcely a  faith, however mean and preposterous, that has not been a way to  holiness.  God who is himself finite, who himself struggles in his  great effort from strength to strength, has no spite against error.   Far beyond halfway he hastens to meet the purblind.  But God is  against the darkness in their eyes.  The faith which is returning to  men girds at veils and shadows, and would see God plainly.  It has  little respect for mysteries.  It rends the veil of the temple in  rags and tatters.  It has no superstitious fear of this huge  friendliness, of this great brother and leader of our little beings.   To find God is but the beginning of wisdom, because then for all our  days we have to learn his purpose with us and to live our lives with  him.





Religion is not a plant that has grown from one seed; it is like a  lake that has been fed by countless springs.  It is a great pool of  living water, mingled from many sources and tainted with much  impurity.  It is synthetic in its nature; it becomes simpler from  original complexities; the sediment subsides.


A life perfectly adjusted to its surroundings is a life without  mentality; no judgment is called for, no inhibition, no disturbance  of the instinctive flow of perfect reactions.  Such a life is bliss,  or nirvana.  It is unconsciousness below dreaming.  Consciousness is  discord evoking the will to adjust; it is inseparable from need.  At  every need consciousness breaks into being.  Imperfect adjustments,  needs, are the rents and tatters in the smooth dark veil of being  through which the light of consciousness shines--the light of  consciousness and will of which God is the sun.


So that every need of human life, every disappointment and  dissatisfaction and call for help and effort, is a means whereby men  may and do come to the realisation of God.


There is no cardinal need, there is no sort of experience in human  life from which there does not come or has not come a contribution  to men's religious ideas.  At every challenge men have to put forth  effort, feel doubt of adequacy, be thwarted, perceive the chill  shadow of their mortality.  At every challenge comes the possibility  of help from without, the idea of eluding frustration, the  aspiration towards immortality.  It is possible to classify the  appeals men make for God under the headings of their chief system of  effort, their efforts to understand, their fear and their struggles  for safety and happiness, the craving of their restlessness for  peace, their angers against disorder and their desire for the  avenger; their sexual passions and perplexities. . . .


Each of these great systems of needs and efforts brings its own sort  of sediment into religion.  Each, that is to say, has its own kind  of heresy, its distinctive misapprehension of God.  It is only in  the synthesis and mutual correction of many divergent ideas that the  idea of God grows clear.  The effort to understand completely, for  example, leads to the endless Heresies of Theory.  Men trip over the  inherent infirmities of the human mind.  But in these days one does  not argue greatly about dogma.  Almost every conceivable error about  unity, about personality, about time and quantity and genus and  species, about begetting and beginning and limitation and similarity  and every kink in the difficult mind of man, has been thrust forward  in some form of dogma.  Beside the errors of thought are the errors  of emotion.  Fear and feebleness go straight to the Heresies that  God is Magic or that God is Providence; restless egotism at leisure  and unchallenged by urgent elementary realities breeds the Heresies  of Mysticism, anger and hate call for God's Judgments, and the  stormy emotions of sex gave mankind the Phallic God.  Those who find  themselves possessed by the new spirit in religion, realise very  speedily the necessity of clearing the mind of all these  exaggerations, transferences, and overflows of feeling.  The search  for divine truth is like gold washing; nothing is of any value until  most has been swept away.




One sort of heresies stands apart from the rest.  It is infinitely  the most various sort.  It includes all those heresies which result  from wrong-headed mental elaboration, as distinguished from those  which are the result of hasty and imperfect apprehension, the  heresies of the clever rather than the heresies of the obtuse.  The  former are of endless variety and complexity; the latter are in  comparison natural, simple confusions.  The former are the errors of  the study, the latter the superstitions that spring by the wayside,  or are brought down to us in our social structure out of a barbaric  past.


To the heresies of thought and speculation belong the elaborate  doctrine of the Trinity, dogmas about God's absolute qualities, such  odd deductions as the accepted Christian teachings about the  virginity of Mary and Joseph, and the like.  All these things are  parts of orthodox Christianity.  Yet none of them did Christ, even  by the Christian account, expound or recommend.  He treated them as  negligible.  It was left for the Alexandrians, for Alexander, for  little, red-haired, busy, wire-pulling Athanasius to find out  exactly what their Master was driving at, three centuries after  their Master was dead. . . .


Men still sit at little desks remote from God or life, and rack  their inadequate brains to meet fancied difficulties and state  unnecessary perfections.  They seek God by logic, ignoring the  marginal error that creeps into every syllogism.  Their conceit  blinds them to the limitations upon their thinking.  They weave  spider-like webs of muddle and disputation across the path by which  men come to God.  It would not matter very much if it were not that  simpler souls are caught in these webs.  Every great religious  system in the world is choked by such webs; each system has its own.   Of all the blood-stained tangled heresies which make up doctrinal  Christianity and imprison the mind of the western world to-day, not  one seems to have been known to the nominal founder of Christianity.   Jesus Christ never certainly claimed to be the Messiah; never spoke  clearly of the Trinity; was vague upon the scheme of salvation and  the significance of his martyrdom.  We are asked to suppose that he  left his apostles without instructions, that were necessary to their  eternal happiness, that he could give them the Lord's Prayer but  leave them to guess at the all-important Creed,* and that the Church  staggered along blindly, putting its foot in and out of damnation,  until the "experts" of Nicaea, that "garland of priests," marshalled  by Constantine's officials, came to its rescue. . . .  From the  conversion of Paul onward, the heresies of the intellect multiplied  about Christ's memory and hid him from the sight of men.  We are no  longer clear about the doctrine he taught nor about the things he  said and did. . . .


* Even the "Apostles' Creed" is not traceable earlier than the  fourth century.  It is manifestly an old, patched formulary.   Rutinius explains that it was not written down for a long time, but  transmitted orally, kept secret, and used as a sort of password  among the elect.


We are all so weary of this theology of the Christians, we are all  at heart so sceptical about their Triune God, that it is needless  here to spend any time or space upon the twenty thousand different  formulae in which the orthodox have attempted to believe in  something of the sort.  There are several useful encyclopaedias of  sects and heresies, compact, but still bulky, to which the curious  may go.  There are ten thousand different expositions of orthodoxy.   No one who really seeks God thinks of the Trinity, either the  Trinity of the Trinitarian or the Trinity of the Sabellian or the  Trinity of the Arian, any more than one thinks of those theories  made stone, those gods with three heads and seven hands, who sit on  lotus leaves and flourish lingams and what not, in the temples of  India.  Let us leave, therefore, these morbid elaborations of the  human intelligence to drift to limbo, and come rather to the natural  heresies that spring from fundamental weaknesses of the human  character, and which are common to all religions.  Against these it  is necessary to keep constant watch.  They return very insidiously.




One of the most universal of these natural misconceptions of God is  to consider him as something magic serving the ends of men.


It is not easy for us to grasp at first the full meaning of giving  our souls to God.  The missionary and teacher of any creed is all  too apt to hawk God for what he will fetch; he is greedy for the  poor triumph of acquiescence; and so it comes about that many people  who have been led to believe themselves religious, are in reality  still keeping back their own souls and trying to use God for their  own purposes.  God is nothing more for them as yet than a  magnificent Fetish.  They did not really want him, but they have  heard that he is potent stuff; their unripe souls think to make use  of him.  They call upon his name, they do certain things that are  supposed to be peculiarly influential with him, such as saying  prayers and repeating gross praises of him, or reading in a blind,  industrious way that strange miscellany of Jewish and early  Christian literature, the Bible, and suchlike mental mortification,  or making the Sabbath dull and uncomfortable.  In return for these  fetishistic propitiations God is supposed to interfere with the  normal course of causation in their favour.  He becomes a celestial  log-roller.  He remedies unfavourable accidents, cures petty  ailments, contrives unexpected gifts of medicine, money, or the  like, he averts bankruptcies, arranges profitable transactions, and  does a thousand such services for his little clique of faithful  people.  The pious are represented as being constantly delighted by  these little surprises, these bouquets and chocolate boxes from the  divinity.  Or contrawise he contrives spiteful turns for those who  fail in their religious attentions.  He murders Sabbath-breaking  children, or disorganises the careful business schemes of the  ungodly.  He is represented as going Sabbath-breakering on Sunday  morning as a Staffordshire worker goes ratting.  Ordinary everyday  Christianity is saturated with this fetishistic conception of God.   It may be disowned in THE HIBBERT JOURNAL, but it is unblushingly  advocated in the parish magazine.  It is an idea taken over by  Christianity with the rest of the qualities of the Hebrew God.  It  is natural enough in minds so self-centred that their recognition of  weakness and need brings with it no real self-surrender, but it is  entirely inconsistent with the modern conception of the true God.


There has dropped upon the table as I write a modest periodical  called THE NORTHERN BRITISH ISRAEL REVIEW, illustrated with  portraits of various clergymen of the Church of England, and of  ladies and gentlemen who belong to the little school of thought  which this magazine represents; it is, I should judge, a sub-sect  entirely within the Established Church of England, that is to say  within the Anglican communion of the Trinitarian Christians.  It  contains among other papers a very entertaining summary by a  gentleman entitled--I cite the unusual title-page of the periodical--"Landseer Mackenzie, Esq.," of the views of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and  Obadiah upon the Kaiser William.  They are distinctly hostile views.   Mr. Landseer Mackenzie discourses not only upon these anticipatory  condemnations but also upon the relations of the weather to this  war.  He is convinced quite simply and honestly that God has been  persistently rigging the weather against the Germans.  He points out  that the absence of mist on the North Sea was of great help to the  British in the autumn of 1914, and declares that it was the wet  state of the country that really held up the Germans in Flanders in  the winter of 1914-15.  He ignores the part played by the weather in  delaying the relief of Kut-el-Amara, and he has not thought of the  difficult question why the Deity, having once decided upon  intervention, did not, instead of this comparatively trivial  meteorological assistance, adopt the more effective course of, for  example, exploding or spoiling the German stores of ammunition by  some simple atomic miracle, or misdirecting their gunfire by a  sudden local modification of the laws of refraction or gravitation.


Since these views of God come from Anglican vicarages I can only  conclude that this kind of belief is quite orthodox and permissible  in the established church, and that I am charging orthodox  Christianity here with nothing that has ever been officially  repudiated.  I find indeed the essential assumptions of Mr. Landseer  Mackenzie repeated in endless official Christian utterances on the  part of German and British and Russian divines.  The Bishop of  Chelmsford, for example, has recently ascribed our difficulties in  the war to our impatience with long sermons--among other similar  causes.  Such Christians are manifestly convinced that God can be  invoked by ritual--for example by special days of national prayer or  an increased observance of Sunday--or made malignant by neglect or  levity.  It is almost fundamental in their idea of him.  The  ordinary Mohammedan seems as confident of this magic pettiness of  God, and the belief of China in the magic propitiations and  resentments of "Heaven" is at least equally strong.


But the true God as those of the new religion know him is no such  God of luck and intervention.  He is not to serve men's ends or the  ends of nations or associations of men; he is careless of our  ceremonies and invocations.  He does not lose his temper with our  follies and weaknesses.  It is for us to serve Him.  He captains us,  he does not coddle us.  He has his own ends for which he needs  us. . . .




Closely related to this heresy that God is magic, is the heresy that  calls him Providence, that declares the apparent adequacy of cause  and effect to be a sham, and that all the time, incalculably, he is  pulling about the order of events for our personal advantages.


The idea of Providence was very gaily travested by Daudet in  "Tartarin in the Alps."  You will remember how Tartarin's friend  assured him that all Switzerland was one great Trust, intent upon  attracting tourists and far too wise and kind to permit them to  venture into real danger, that all the precipices were netted  invisibly, and all the loose rocks guarded against falling, that  avalanches were prearranged spectacles and the crevasses at their  worst slippery ways down into kindly catchment bags.  If the  mountaineer tried to get into real danger he was turned back by  specious excuses.  Inspired by this persuasion Tartarin behaved with  incredible daring. . . .  That is exactly the Providence theory of  the whole world.  There can be no doubt that it does enable many a  timid soul to get through life with a certain recklessness.  And  provided there is no slip into a crevasse, the Providence theory  works well.  It would work altogether well if there were no  crevasses.


Tartarin was reckless because of his faith in Providence, and  escaped.  But what would have happened to him if he had fallen into  a crevasse?


There exists a very touching and remarkable book by Sir Francis  Younghusband called "Within." [Williams and Norgate, 1912.]  It is  the confession of a man who lived with a complete confidence in  Providence until he was already well advanced in years.  He went  through battles and campaigns, he filled positions of great honour  and responsibility, he saw much of the life of men, without  altogether losing his faith.  The loss of a child, an Indian famine,  could shake it but not overthrow it.  Then coming back one day from  some races in France, he was knocked down by an automobile and hurt  very cruelly.  He suffered terribly in body and mind.  His  sufferings caused much suffering to others.  He did his utmost to  see the hand of a loving Providence in his and their disaster and  the torment it inflicted, and being a man of sterling honesty and a  fine essential simplicity of mind, he confessed at last that he  could not do so.  His confidence in the benevolent intervention of  God was altogether destroyed.  His book tells of this shattering,  and how labouriously he reconstructed his religion upon less  confident lines.  It is a book typical of an age and of a very  English sort of mind, a book well worth reading.


That he came to a full sense of the true God cannot be asserted, but  how near he came to God, let one quotation witness.


"The existence of an outside Providence," he writes, "who created  us, who watches over us, and who guides our lives like a Merciful  Father, we have found impossible longer to believe in.  But of the  existence of a Holy Spirit radiating upward through all animate  beings, and finding its fullest expression, in man in love, and in  the flowers in beauty, we can be as certain as of anything in the  world.  This fiery spiritual impulsion at the centre and the source  of things, ever burning in us, is the supremely important factor in  our existence.  It does not always attain to light.  In many  directions it fails; the conditions are too hard and it is utterly  blocked.  In others it only partially succeeds.  But in a few it  bursts forth into radiant light.  There are few who in some heavenly  moment of their lives have not been conscious of its presence.  We  may not be able to give it outward expression, but we know that it  is there." . . .


God does not guide our feet.  He is no sedulous governess  restraining and correcting the wayward steps of men.  If you would  fly into the air, there is no God to bank your aeroplane correctly  for you or keep an ill-tended engine going; if you would cross a  glacier, no God nor angel guides your steps amidst the slippery  places.  He will not even mind your innocent children for you if you  leave them before an unguarded fire.  Cherish no delusions; for  yourself and others you challenge danger and chance on your own  strength; no talisman, no God, can help you or those you care for.   Nothing of such things will God do; it is an idle dream.  But God  will be with you nevertheless.  In the reeling aeroplane or the dark  ice-cave God will be your courage.  Though you suffer or are killed,  it is not an end.  He will be with you as you face death; he will  die with you as he has died already countless myriads of brave  deaths.  He will come so close to you that at the last you will not  know whether it is you or he who dies, and the present death will be  swallowed up in his victory.




God comes to us within and takes us for his own.  He releases us  from ourselves; he incorporates us with his own undying experience  and adventure; he receives us and gives himself.  He is a stimulant;  he makes us live immortally and more abundantly.  I have compared  him to the sensation of a dear, strong friend who comes and stands  quietly beside one, shoulder to shoulder.


The finding of God is the beginning of service.  It is not an escape  from life and action; it is the release of life and action from the  prison of the mortal self.  Not to realise that, is the heresy of  Quietism, of many mystics.  Commonly such people are people of some  wealth, able to command services for all their everyday needs.  They  make religion a method of indolence.  They turn their backs on the  toil and stresses of existence and give themselves up to a delicious  reverie in which they flirt with the divinity.  They will recount  their privileges and ecstasies, and how ingeniously and wonderfully  God has tried and proved them.  But indeed the true God was not the  lover of Madame Guyon.  The true God is not a spiritual troubadour  wooing the hearts of men and women to no purpose.  The true God goes  through the world like fifes and drums and flags, calling for  recruits along the street.  We must go out to him.  We must accept  his discipline and fight his battle.  The peace of God comes not by  thinking about it but by forgetting oneself in him.




Man is a social animal, and there is in him a great faculty for  moral indignation.  Many of the early Gods were mainly Gods of Fear.   They were more often "wrath" than not.  Such was the temperament of  the Semitic deity who, as the Hebrew Jehovah, proliferated, perhaps  under the influence of the Alexandrian Serapeum, into the Christian  Trinity and who became also the Moslem God.*  The natural hatred of  unregenerate men against everything that is unlike themselves,  against strange people and cheerful people, against unfamiliar  usages and things they do not understand, embodied itself in this  conception of a malignant and partisan Deity, perpetually "upset" by  the little things people did, and contriving murder and vengeance.   Now this God would be drowning everybody in the world, now he would  be burning Sodom and Gomorrah, now he would be inciting his  congenial Israelites to the most terrific pogroms.  This divine  "frightfulness" is of course the natural human dislike and distrust  for queer practices or for too sunny a carelessness, a dislike  reinforced by the latent fierceness of the ape in us, liberating the  latent fierceness of the ape in us, giving it an excuse and pressing  permission upon it, handing the thing hated and feared over to its  secular arm. . . .


* It is not so generally understood as it should be among English  and American readers that a very large proportion of early  Christians before the creeds established and regularised the  doctrine of the Trinity, denied absolutely that Jehovah was God;  they regarded Christ as a rebel against Jehovah and a rescuer of  humanity from him, just as Prometheus was a rebel against Jove.   These beliefs survived for a thousand years throughout Christendom:  they were held by a great multitude of persecuted sects, from the  Albigenses and Cathars to the eastern Paulicians.  The catholic  church found it necessary to prohibit the circulation of the Old  Testament among laymen very largely on account of the polemics of  the Cathars against the Hebrew God.  But in this book, be it noted,  the word Christian, when it is not otherwise defined, is used to  indicate only the Trinitarians who accept the official creeds.


It is a human paradox that the desire for seemliness, the instinct  for restraints and fair disciplines, and the impulse to cherish  sweet familiar things, that these things of the True God should so  readily liberate cruelty and tyranny.  It is like a woman going with  a light to tend and protect her sleeping child, and setting the  house on fire.  None the less, right down to to-day, the heresy of  God the Revengeful, God the Persecutor and Avenger, haunts religion.   It is only in quite recent years that the growing gentleness of  everyday life has begun to make men a little ashamed of a Deity less  tolerant and gentle than themselves.  The recent literature of the  Anglicans abounds in the evidence of this trouble.


Bishop Colenso of Natal was prosecuted and condemned in 1863 for  denying the irascibility of his God and teaching "the Kaffirs of  Natal" the dangerous heresy that God is all mercy.  "We cannot allow  it to be said," the Dean of Cape Town insisted, "that God was not  angry and was not appeased by punishment." He was angry "on account  of Sin, which is a great evil and a great insult to His Majesty."   The case of the Rev. Charles Voysey, which occurred in 1870, was a  second assertion of the Church's insistence upon the fierceness of  her God.  This case is not to be found in the ordinary church  histories nor is it even mentioned in the latest edition of the  ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA; nevertheless it appears to have been a  very illuminating case.  It is doubtful if the church would  prosecute or condemn either Bishop Colenso or Mr. Voysey to-day.




Closely related to the Heresy of God the Avenger, is that kind of  miniature God the Avenger, to whom the nursery-maid and the  overtaxed parent are so apt to appeal.  You stab your children with  such a God and he poisons all their lives.  For many of us the word  "God" first came into our lives to denote a wanton, irrational  restraint, as Bogey, as the All-Seeing and quite ungenerous Eye.   God Bogey is a great convenience to the nursery-maid who wants to  leave Fear to mind her charges and enforce her disciplines, while  she goes off upon her own aims.  But indeed, the teaching of God  Bogey is an outrage upon the soul of a child scarcely less dreadful  than an indecent assault.  The reason rebels and is crushed under  this horrible and pursuing suggestion.  Many minds never rise again  from their injury.  They remain for the rest of life spiritually  crippled and debased, haunted by a fear, stained with a persuasion  of relentless cruelty in the ultimate cause of all things.


I, who write, was so set against God, thus rendered.  He and his  Hell were the nightmare of my childhood; I hated him while I still  believed in him, and who could help but hate?  I thought of him as a  fantastic monster, perpetually spying, perpetually listening,  perpetually waiting to condemn and to "strike me dead"; his flames  as ready as a grill-room fire.  He was over me and about my  feebleness and silliness and forgetfulness as the sky and sea would  be about a child drowning in mid-Atlantic.  When I was still only a  child of thirteen, by the grace of the true God in me, I flung this  Lie out of my mind, and for many years, until I came to see that God  himself had done this thing for me, the name of God meant nothing to  me but the hideous scar in my heart where a fearful demon had been.


I see about me to-day many dreadful moral and mental cripples with  this bogey God of the nursery-maid, with his black, insane revenges,  still living like a horrible parasite in their hearts in the place  where God should be.  They are afraid, afraid, afraid; they dare not  be kindly to formal sinners, they dare not abandon a hundred foolish  observances; they dare not look at the causes of things.  They are  afraid of sunshine, of nakedness, of health, of adventure, of  science, lest that old watching spider take offence.  The voice of  the true God whispers in their hearts, echoes in speech and writing,  but they avert themselves, fear-driven.  For the true God has no  lash of fear.  And how the foul-minded bigot, with his ill-shaven  face, his greasy skin, his thick, gesticulating hands, his  bellowings and threatenings, loves to reap this harvest of fear the  ignorant cunning of the nursery girl has sown for him!  How he loves  the importance of denunciation, and, himself a malignant cripple, to  rally the company of these crippled souls to persecute and destroy  the happy children of God! . . .


Christian priestcraft turns a dreadful face to children.  There is a  real wickedness of the priest that is different from other  wickedness, and that affects a reasonable mind just as cruelty and  strange perversions of instinct affect it.  Let a former Archbishop  of Canterbury speak for me.  This that follows is the account given  by Archbishop Tait in a debate in the Upper House of Convocation  (July 3rd, 1877) of one of the publications of a certain SOCIETY OF  THE HOLY CROSS:


"I take this book, as its contents show, to be meant for the  instruction of very young children.  I find, in one of the pages of  it, the statement that between the ages of six and six and a half  years would be the proper time for the inculcation of the teaching  which is to be found in the book.  Now, six to six and a half is  certainly a very tender age, and to these children I find these  statements addressed in the book:


"'It is to the priest, and to the priest only, that the child must  acknowledge his sins, if he desires that God should forgive him.'


"I hope and trust the person, the three clergymen, or however many  there were, did not exactly realise what they were writing; that  they did not mean to say that a child was not to confess its sins to  God direct; that it was not to confess its sins, at the age of six,  to its mother, or to its father, but was only to have recourse to  the priest.  But the words, to say the least of them, are rash.   Then comes the very obvious question:


"'Do you know why?  It is because God, when he was on earth, gave to  his priests, and to them alone, the Divine Power of forgiving men  their sins.  It was to priests alone that Jesus said: "Receive ye  the Holy Ghost." . . .  Those who will not confess will not be  cured.  Sin is a terrible sickness, and casts souls into hell.'


"That is addressed to a child six years of age.


"'I have known,' the book continues, 'poor children who concealed  their sins in confession for years; they were very unhappy, were  tormented with remorse, and if they had died in that state they  would certainly have gone to the everlasting fires of hell.'" . . .


Now here is something against nature, something that I have seen  time after time in the faces and bearing of priests and heard in  their preaching.  It is a distinct lust.  Much nobility and devotion  there are among priests, saintly lives and kindly lives, lives of  real worship, lives no man may better; this that I write is not of  all, perhaps not of many priests.  But there has been in all ages  that have known sacerdotalism this terrible type of the priest;  priestcraft and priestly power release an aggressive and narrow  disposition to a recklessness of suffering and a hatred of liberty  that surely exceeds the badness of any other sort of men.




Children do not naturally love God.  They have no great capacity for  an idea so subtle and mature as the idea of God.  While they are  still children in a home and cared for, life is too kind and easy  for them to feel any great need of God.  All things are still  something God-like. . . .


The true God, our modern minds insist upon believing, can have no  appetite for unnatural praise and adoration.  He does not clamour  for the attention of children.  He is not like one of those senile  uncles who dream of glory in the nursery, who love to hear it said,  "The children adore him."  If children are loved and trained to  truth, justice, and mutual forbearance, they will be ready for the  true God as their needs bring them within his scope.  They should be  left to their innocence, and to their trust in the innocence of the  world, as long as they can be.  They should be told only of God as a  Great Friend whom some day they will need more and understand and  know better.  That is as much as most children need.  The phrases of  religion put too early into their mouths may become a cant,  something worse than blasphemy.


Yet children are sometimes very near to God.  Creative passion stirs  in their play.  At times they display a divine simplicity.  But it  does not follow that therefore they should be afflicted with  theological formulae or inducted into ceremonies and rites that they  may dislike or misinterpret.  If by any accident, by the death of a  friend or a distressing story, the thought of death afflicts a  child, then he may begin to hear of God, who takes those that serve  him out of their slain bodies into his shining immortality.  Or if  by some menial treachery, through some prowling priest, the whisper  of Old Bogey reaches our children, then we may set their minds at  ease by the assurance of his limitless charity. . . .


With adolescence comes the desire for God and to know more of God,  and that is the most suitable time for religious talk and teaching.




In the last two or three hundred years there has been a very  considerable disentanglement of the idea of God from the complex of  sexual thought and feeling.  But in the early days of religion the  two things were inseparably bound together; the fury of the Hebrew  prophets, for example, is continually proclaiming the extraordinary  "wrath" of their God at this or that little dirtiness or  irregularity or breach of the sexual tabus.  The ceremony of  circumcision is clearly indicative of the original nature of the  Semitic deity who developed into the Trinitarian God.  So far as  Christianity dropped this rite, so far Christianity disavowed the  old associations.  But to this day the representative Christian  churches still make marriage into a mystical sacrament, and, with  some exceptions, the Roman communion exacts the sacrifice of  celibacy from its priesthood, regardless of the mischievousness and  maliciousness that so often ensue.  Nearly every Christian church  inflicts as much discredit and injustice as it can contrive upon the  illegitimate child.  They do not treat illegitimate children as  unfortunate children, but as children with a mystical and an  incurable taint of SIN.  Kindly easy-going Christians may resent  this statement because it does not tally with their own attitudes,  but let them consult their orthodox authorities.


One must distinguish clearly here between what is held to be sacred  or sinful in itself and what is held to be one's duty or a nation's  duty because it is in itself the wisest, cleanest, clearest, best  thing to do.  By the latter tests and reasonable arguments most or  all of our institutions regulating the relations of the sexes may be  justifiable.  But my case is not whether they can be justified by  these tests but that it is not by these tests that they are judged  even to-day, by the professors of the chief religions of the world.   It is the temper and not the conclusions of the religious bodies  that I would criticise.  These sexual questions are guarded by a  holy irascibility, and the most violent efforts are made--with a  sense of complete righteousness--to prohibit their discussion.  That  fury about sexual things is only to be explained on the hypothesis  that the Christian God remains a sex God in the minds of great  numbers of his exponents.  His disentanglement from that plexus is  incomplete.  Sexual things are still to the orthodox Christian,  sacred things.


Now the God whom those of the new faith are finding is only  mediately concerned with the relations of men and women.  He is no  more sexual essentially than he is essentially dietetic or hygienic.   The God of Leviticus was all these things.  He is represented as  prescribing the most petty and intimate of observances--many of  which are now habitually disregarded by the Christians who profess  him. . . .  It is part of the evolution of the idea of God that we  have now so largely disentangled our conception of him from the  dietary and regimen and meticulous sexual rules that were once  inseparably bound up with his majesty.  Christ himself was one of  the chief forces in this disentanglement, there is the clearest  evidence in several instances of his disregard of the rule and his  insistence that his disciples should seek for the spirit underlying  and often masked by the rule.  His Church, being made of baser  matter, has followed him as reluctantly as possible and no further  than it was obliged.  But it has followed him far enough to admit  his principle that in all these matters there is no need for  superstitious fear, that the interpretation of the divine purpose is  left to the unembarrassed intelligence of men.  The church has  followed him far enough to make the harsh threatenings of priests  and ecclesiastics against what they are pleased to consider impurity  or sexual impiety, a profound inconsistency.  One seems to hear  their distant protests when one reads of Christ and the Magdalen, or  of Christ eating with publicans and sinners.  The clergy of our own  days play the part of the New Testament Pharisees with the utmost  exactness and complete unconsciousness.  One cannot imagine a modern  ecclesiastic conversing with a Magdalen in terms of ordinary  civility, unless she was in a very high social position indeed, or  blending with disreputable characters without a dramatic sense of  condescension and much explanatory by-play.  Those who profess  modern religion do but follow in these matters a course entirely  compatible with what has survived of the authentic teachings of  Christ, when they declare that God is not sexual, and that religious  passion and insult and persecution upon the score of sexual things  are a barbaric inheritance.


But lest anyone should fling off here with some hasty assumption  that those who profess the religion of the true God are sexually  anarchistic, let stress be laid at once upon the opening sentence of  the preceding paragraph, and let me a little anticipate a section  which follows.  We would free men and women from exact and  superstitious rules and observances, not to make them less the  instruments of God but more wholly his.  The claim of modern  religion is that one should give oneself unreservedly to God, that  there is no other salvation.  The believer owes all his being and  every moment of his life to God, to keep mind and body as clean,  fine, wholesome, active and completely at God's service as he can.   There is no scope for indulgence or dissipation in such a  consecrated life.  It is a matter between the individual and his  conscience or his doctor or his social understanding what exactly he  may do or not do, what he may eat or drink or so forth, upon any  occasion.  Nothing can exonerate him from doing his utmost to  determine and perform the right act.  Nothing can excuse his failure  to do so.  But what is here being insisted upon is that none of  these things has immediately to do with God or religious emotion,  except only the general will to do right in God's service.  The  detailed interpretation of that "right" is for the dispassionate  consideration of the human intelligence.


All this is set down here as distinctly as possible.  Because of the  emotional reservoirs of sex, sexual dogmas are among the most  obstinately recurrent of all heresies, and sexual excitement is  always tending to leak back into religious feeling.  Amongst the  sex-tormented priesthood of the Roman communion in particular,  ignorant of the extreme practices of the Essenes and of the Orphic  cult and suchlike predecessors of Christianity, there seems to be an  extraordinary belief that chastity was not invented until  Christianity came, and that the religious life is largely the  propitiation of God by feats of sexual abstinence.  But a  superstitious abstinence that scars and embitters the mind, distorts  the imagination, makes the body gross and keeps it unclean, is just  as offensive to God as any positive depravity.





Now having set down what those who profess the new religion regard  as the chief misconceptions of God, having put these systems of  ideas aside from our explanations, the path is cleared for the  statement of what God is.  Since language springs entirely from  material, spatial things, there is always an element of metaphor in  theological statement.  So that I have not called this chapter the  Nature of God, but the Likeness of God.


And firstly, GOD IS COURAGE.






Upon this point those who are beginning to profess modern religion  are very insistent.  It is, they declare, the central article, the  axis, of their religion.  God is a person who can be known as one  knows a friend, who can be served and who receives service, who  partakes of our nature; who is, like us, a being in conflict with  the unknown and the limitless and the forces of death; who values  much that we value and is against much that we are pitted against.   He is our king to whom we must be loyal; he is our captain, and to  know him is to have a direction in our lives.  He feels us and knows  us; he is helped and gladdened by us.  He hopes and attempts. . . .   God is no abstraction nor trick of words, no Infinite.  He is as  real as a bayonet thrust or an embrace.


Now this is where those who have left the old creeds and come asking  about the new realisations find their chief difficulty.  They say,  Show us this person; let us hear him.  (If they listen to the  silences within, presently they will hear him.)  But when one  argues, one finds oneself suddenly in the net of those ancient  controversies between species and individual, between the one and  the many, which arise out of the necessarily imperfect methods of  the human mind.  Upon these matters there has been much pregnant  writing during the last half century.  Such ideas as this writer has  to offer are to be found in a previous little book of his, "First  and Last Things," in which, writing as one without authority or  specialisation in logic and philosophy, as an ordinary man vividly  interested, for others in a like case, he was at some pains to  elucidate the imperfections of this instrument of ours, this mind,  by which we must seek and explain and reach up to God.  Suffice it  here to say that theological discussion may very easily become like  the vision of a man with cataract, a mere projection of inherent  imperfections.  If we do not use our phraseology with a certain  courage, and take that of those who are trying to convey their ideas  to us with a certain politeness and charity, there is no end  possible to any discussion in so subtle and intimate a matter as  theology but assertions, denials, and wranglings.  And about this  word "person" it is necessary to be as clear and explicit as  possible, though perfect clearness, a definition of mathematical  sharpness, is by the very nature of the case impossible.


Now when we speak of a person or an individual we think typically of  a man, and we forget that he was once an embryo and will presently  decay; we forget that he came of two people and may beget many, that  he has forgotten much and will forget more, that he can be confused,  divided against himself, delirious, drunken, drugged, or asleep.  On  the contrary we are, in our hasty way of thinking of him, apt to  suppose him continuous, definite, acting consistently and never  forgetting.  But only abstract and theoretical persons are like  that.  We couple with him the idea of a body.  Indeed, in the common  use of the word "person" there is more thought of body than of mind.   We speak of a lover possessing the person of his mistress.  We speak  of offences against the person as opposed to insults, libels, or  offences against property.  And the gods of primitive men and the  earlier civilisations were quite of that quality of person.  They  were thought of as living in very splendid bodies and as acting  consistently.  If they were invisible in the ordinary world it was  because they were aloof or because their "persons" were too splendid  for weak human eyes.  Moses was permitted a mitigated view of the  person of the Hebrew God on Mount Horeb; and Semele, who insisted  upon seeing Zeus in the glories that were sacred to Juno, was  utterly consumed.  The early Islamic conception of God, like the  conception of most honest, simple Christians to-day, was clearly, in  spite of the theologians, of a very exalted anthropomorphic  personality away somewhere in Heaven.  The personal appearance of  the Christian God is described in The Revelation, and however much  that description may be explained away by commentators as  symbolical, it is certainly taken by most straightforward believers  as a statement of concrete reality.  Now if we are going to insist  upon this primary meaning of person and individual, then certainly  God as he is now conceived is not a person and not an individual.   The true God will never promenade an Eden or a Heaven, nor sit upon  a throne.


But current Christianity, modern developments of Islam, much Indian  theological thought--that, for instance, which has found such  delicate and attractive expression in the devotional poetry of  Rabindranath Tagore--has long since abandoned this anthropomorphic  insistence upon a body.  From the earliest ages man's mind has found  little or no difficulty in the idea of something essential to the  personality, a soul or a spirit or both, existing apart from the  body and continuing after the destruction of the body, and being  still a person and an individual.  From this it is a small step to  the thought of a person existing independently of any existing or  pre-existing body.  That is the idea of theological Christianity, as  distinguished from the Christianity of simple faith.  The Triune  Persons--omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent--exist for all  time, superior to and independent of matter.  They are supremely  disembodied.  One became incarnate--as a wind eddy might take up a  whirl of dust. . . .  Those who profess modern religion conceive  that this is an excessive abstraction of the idea of spirituality, a  disembodiment of the idea of personality beyond the limits of the  conceivable; nevertheless they accept the conception that a person,  a spiritual individual, may be without an ordinary mortal body. . . .   They declare that God is without any specific body, that he is  immaterial, that he can affect the material universe--and that means  that he can only reach our sight, our hearing, our touch--through  the bodies of those who believe in him and serve him.


His nature is of the nature of thought and will.  Not only has he,  in his essence, nothing to do with matter, but nothing to do with  space.  He is not of matter nor of space.  He comes into them.   Since the period when all the great theologies that prevail to-day  were developed, there have been great changes in the ideas of men  towards the dimensions of time and space.  We owe to Kant the  release from the rule of these ideas as essential ideas.  Our modern  psychology is alive to the possibility of Being that has no  extension in space at all, even as our speculative geometry can  entertain the possibility of dimensions--fourth, fifth, Nth  dimensions--outside the three-dimensional universe of our  experience.  And God being non-spatial is not thereby banished to an  infinite remoteness, but brought nearer to us; he is everywhere  immediately at hand, even as a fourth dimension would be everywhere  immediately at hand.  He is a Being of the minds and in the minds of  men.  He is in immediate contact with all who apprehend him. . . .


But modern religion declares that though he does not exist in matter  or space, he exists in time just as a current of thought may do;  that he changes and becomes more even as a man's purpose gathers  itself together; that somewhere in the dawning of mankind he had a  beginning, an awakening, and that as mankind grows he grows.  With  our eyes he looks out upon the universe he invades; with our hands,  he lays hands upon it.  All our truth, all our intentions and  achievements, he gathers to himself.  He is the undying human  memory, the increasing human will.


But this, you may object, is no more than saying that God is the  collective mind and purpose of the human race.  You may declare that  this is no God, but merely the sum of mankind.  But those who  believe in the new ideas very steadfastly deny that.  God is, they  say, not an aggregate but a synthesis.  He is not merely the best of  all of us, but a Being in himself, composed of that but more than  that, as a temple is more than a gathering of stones, or a regiment  is more than an accumulation of men.  They point out that a man is  made up of a great multitude of cells, each equivalent to a  unicellular organism.  Not one of those cells is he, nor is he  simply just the addition of all of them.  He is more than all of  them.  You can take away these and these and these, and he still  remains.  And he can detach part of himself and treat it as if it  were not himself, just as a man may beat his breast or, as Cranmer  the martyr did, thrust his hand into the flames.  A man is none the  less himself because his hair is cut or his appendix removed or his  leg amputated.


And take another image. . . .  Who bears affection for this or that  spadeful of mud in my garden?  Who cares a throb of the heart for  all the tons of chalk in Kent or all the lumps of limestone in  Yorkshire?  But men love England, which is made up of such things.


And so we think of God as a synthetic reality, though he has neither  body nor material parts.  And so too we may obey him and listen to  him, though we think but lightly of the men whose hands or voices he  sometimes uses.  And we may think of him as having moods and  aspects--as a man has--and a consistency we call his character.


These are theorisings about God.  These are statements to convey  this modern idea of God.  This, we say, is the nature of the person  whose will and thoughts we serve.  No one, however, who understands  the religious life seeks conversion by argument.  First one must  feel the need of God, then one must form or receive an acceptable  idea of God.  That much is no more than turning one's face to the  east to see the coming of the sun.  One may still doubt if that  direction is the east or whether the sun will rise.  The real coming  of God is not that.  It is a change, an irradiation of the mind.   Everything is there as it was before, only now it is aflame.   Suddenly the light fills one's eyes, and one knows that God has  risen and that doubt has fled for ever.




The third thing to be told of the true God is that GOD IS YOUTH.


God, we hold, began and is always beginning.  He looks forever into  the future.


Most of the old religions derive from a patriarchal phase.  God is  in those systems the Ancient of Days.  I know of no Christian  attempt to represent or symbolise God the Father which is not a  bearded, aged man.  White hair, beard, bearing, wrinkles, a hundred  such symptoms of senile decay are there.  These marks of senility do  not astonish our modern minds in the picture of God, only because  tradition and usage have blinded our eyes to the absurdity of a  time-worn immortal.  Jove too and Wotan are figures far past the  prime of their vigour.  These are gods after the ancient habit of  the human mind, that turned perpetually backward for causes and  reasons and saw all things to come as no more than the working out  of Fate,--


"Of Man's first disobedience and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world and all our woe."


But the God of this new age, we repeat, looks not to our past but  our future, and if a figure may represent him it must be the figure  of a beautiful youth, already brave and wise, but hardly come to his  strength.  He should stand lightly on his feet in the morning time,  eager to go forward, as though he had but newly arisen to a day that  was still but a promise; he should bear a sword, that clean,  discriminating weapon, his eyes should be as bright as swords; his  lips should fall apart with eagerness for the great adventure before  him, and he should be in very fresh and golden harness, reflecting  the rising sun.  Death should still hang like mists and cloud banks  and shadows in the valleys of the wide landscape about him.  There  should be dew upon the threads of gossamer and little leaves and  blades of the turf at his feet. . . .




One of the sayings about God that have grown at the same time most  trite and most sacred, is that God is Love.  This is a saying that  deserves careful examination.  Love is a word very loosely used;  there are people who will say they love new potatoes; there are a  multitude of loves of different colours and values.  There is the  love of a mother for her child, there is the love of brothers, there  is the love of youth and maiden, and the love of husband and wife,  there is illicit love and the love one bears one's home or one's  country, there are dog-lovers and the loves of the Olympians, and  love which is a passion of jealousy.  Love is frequently a mere  blend of appetite and preference; it may be almost pure greed; it  may have scarcely any devotion nor be a whit self-forgetful nor  generous.  It is possible so to phrase things that the furtive  craving of a man for another man's wife may be made out to be a  light from God.  Yet about all the better sorts of love, the sorts  of love that people will call "true love," there is something of  that same exaltation out of the narrow self that is the essential  quality of the knowledge of God.


Only while the exaltation of the love passion comes and goes, the  exaltation of religious passion comes to remain.  Lovers are the  windows by which we may look out of the prison of self, but God is  the open door by which we freely go.  And God never dies, nor  disappoints, nor betrays.


The love of a woman and a man has usually, and particularly in its  earlier phases of excitement, far too much desire, far too much  possessiveness and exclusiveness, far too much distrust or forced  trust, and far too great a kindred with jealousy to be like the love  of God.  The former is a dramatic relationship that drifts to a  climax, and then again seeks presently a climax, and that may be  satiated or fatigued.  But the latter is far more like the love of  comrades, or like the love of a man and a woman who have loved and  been through much trouble together, who have hurt one another and  forgiven, and come to a complete and generous fellowship.  There is  a strange and beautiful love that men tell of that will spring up on  battlefields between sorely wounded men, and often they are men who  have fought together, so that they will do almost incredibly brave  and tender things for one another, though but recently they have  been trying to kill each other.  There is often a pure exaltation of  feeling between those who stand side by side manfully in any great  stress.  These are the forms of love that perhaps come nearest to  what we mean when we speak of the love of God.


That is man's love of God, but there is also something else; there  is the love God bears for man in the individual believer.  Now this  is not an indulgent, instinctive, and sacrificing love like the love  of a woman for her baby.  It is the love of the captain for his men;  God must love his followers as a great captain loves his men, who  are so foolish, so helpless in themselves, so confiding, and yet  whose faith alone makes him possible.  It is an austere love.  The  spirit of God will not hesitate to send us to torment and bodily  death. . . .


And God waits for us, for all of us who have the quality to reach  him.  He has need of us as we of him.  He desires us and desires to  make himself known to us.  When at last the individual breaks  through the limiting darknesses to him, the irradiation of that  moment, the smile and soul clasp, is in God as well as in man.  He  has won us from his enemy.  We come staggering through into the  golden light of his kingdom, to fight for his kingdom henceforth,  until at last we are altogether taken up into his being.





It is a curious thing that while most organised religions seem to  drape about and conceal and smother the statement of the true God,  the honest Atheist, with his passionate impulse to strip the truth  bare, is constantly and unwittingly reproducing the divine likeness.   It will be interesting here to call a witness or so to the extreme  instability of absolute negation.


Here, for example, is a deliverance from Professor Metchnikoff, who  was a very typical antagonist of all religion.  He died only the  other day.  He was a very great physiologist indeed; he was a man  almost of the rank and quality of Pasteur or Charles Darwin.  A  decade or more ago he wrote a book called "The Nature of Man," in  which he set out very plainly a number of illuminating facts about  life.  They are facts so illuminating that presently, in our  discussion of sin, they will be referred to again.  But it is not  Professor Metchnikoff's intention to provide material for a  religious discussion.  He sets out his facts in order to overthrow  theology as he conceives it.  The remarkable thing about his book,  the thing upon which I would now lay stress, is that he betrays no  inkling of the fact that he has no longer the right to conceive  theology as he conceives it.  The development of his science has  destroyed that right.


He does not realise how profoundly modern biology has affected our  ideas of individuality and species, and how the import of theology  is modified through these changes.  When he comes from his own world  of modern biology to religion and philosophy he goes back in time.   He attacks religion as he understood it when first he fell out with  it fifty years or more ago.


Let us state as compactly as possible the nature of these changes  that biological science has wrought almost imperceptibly in the  general scheme and method of our thinking.


The influence of biology upon thought in general consists  essentially in diminishing the importance of the individual and  developing the realisation of the species, as if it were a kind of  super-individual, a modifying and immortal super-individual,  maintaining itself against the outer universe by the birth and death  of its constituent individuals.  Natural History, which began by  putting individuals into species as if the latter were mere  classificatory divisions, has come to see that the species has its  adventures, its history and drama, far exceeding in interest and  importance the individual adventure.  "The Origin of Species" was  for countless minds the discovery of a new romance in life.


The contrast of the individual life and this specific life may be  stated plainly and compactly as follows.  A little while ago we  current individuals, we who are alive now, were each of us  distributed between two parents, then between four grandparents, and  so on backward, we are temporarily assembled, as it were, out of an  ancestral diffusion; we stand our trial, and presently our  individuality is dispersed and mixed again with other  individualities in an uncertain multitude of descendants.  But the  species is not like this; it goes on steadily from newness to  newness, remaining still a unity.  The drama of the individual life  is a mere episode, beneficial or abandoned, in this continuing  adventure of the species.  And Metchnikoff finds most of the trouble  of life and the distresses of life in the fact that the species is  still very painfully adjusting itself to the fluctuating conditions  under which it lives.  The conflict of life is a continual pursuit  of adjustment, and the "ills of life," of the individual life that  is, are due to its "disharmonies."  Man, acutely aware of himself as  an individual adventure and unawakened to himself as a species,  finds life jangling and distressful, finds death frustration.  He  fails and falls as a person in what may be the success and triumph  of his kind.  He does not apprehend the struggle or the nature of  victory, but only his own gravitation to death and personal  extinction.


Now Professor Metchnikoff is anti-religious, and he is anti-religious because to him as to so many Europeans religion is  confused with priest-craft and dogmas, is associated with  disagreeable early impressions of irrational repression and  misguidance.  How completely he misconceives the quality of  religion, how completely he sees it as an individual's affair, his  own words may witness:


"Religion is still occupied with the problem of death.  The  solutions which as yet it has offered cannot be regarded as  satisfactory.  A future life has no single argument to support it,  and the non-existence of life after death is in consonance with the  whole range of human knowledge.  On the other hand, resignation as  preached by Buddha will fail to satisfy humanity, which has a  longing for life, and is overcome by the thought of the  inevitability of death."


Now here it is clear that by death he means the individual death,  and by a future life the prolongation of individuality.  But  Buddhism does not in truth appear ever to have been concerned with  that, and modern religious developments are certainly not under that  preoccupation with the narrower self.  Buddhism indeed so far from  "preaching resignation" to death, seeks as its greater good a death  so complete as to be absolute release from the individual's burthen  of KARMA.  Buddhism seeks an ESCAPE FROM INDIVIDUAL IMMORTALITY.   The deeper one pursues religious thought the more nearly it  approximates to a search for escape from the self-centred life and  over-individuation, and the more it diverges from Professor  Metchnikoff's assertion of its aims.  Salvation is indeed to lose  one's self.  But Professor Metchnikoff having roundly denied that  this is so, is then left free to take the very essentials of the  religious life as they are here conceived and present them as if  they were the antithesis of the religious life.  His book, when it  is analysed, resolves itself into just that research for an escape  from the painful accidents and chagrins of individuation, which is  the ultimate of religion.


At times, indeed, he seems almost wilfully blind to the true  solution round and about which his writing goes.  He suggests as his  most hopeful satisfaction for the cravings of the human heart, such  a scientific prolongation of life that the instinct for self-preservation will be at last extinct.  If that is not the very  "resignation" he imputes to the Buddhist I do not know what it is.   He believes that an individual which has lived fully and completely  may at last welcome death with the same instinctive readiness as, in  the days of its strength, it shows for the embraces of its mate.  We  are to be glutted by living to six score and ten.  We are to rise  from the table at last as gladly as we sat down.  We shall go to  death as unresistingly as tired children go to bed.  Men are to have  a life far beyond the range of what is now considered their prime,  and their last period (won by scientific self-control) will be a  period of ripe wisdom (from seventy to eighty to a hundred and  twenty or thereabouts) and public service!


(But why, one asks, public service?  Why not book-collecting or the  simple pleasure of reminiscence so dear to aged egotists?   Metchnikoff never faces that question.  And again, what of the man  who is challenged to die for right at the age of thirty?  What does  the prolongation of life do for him?  And where are the consolations  for accidental misfortune, for the tormenting disease or the lost  limb?)


But in his peroration Professor Metchnikoff lapses into pure  religiosity.  The prolongation of life gives place to sheer self-sacrifice as the fundamental "remedy."  And indeed what other remedy  has ever been conceived for the general evil of life?


"On the other hand," he writes, "the knowledge that the goal of  human life can be attained only by the development of a high degree  of solidarity amongst men will restrain actual egotism.  The mere  fact that the enjoyment of life according to the precepts of Solomon  (Ecelesiastes ix. 7-10)* is opposed to the goal of human life, will  lessen luxury and the evil that comes from luxury.  Conviction that  science alone is able to redress the disharmonies of the human  constitution will lead directly to the improvement of education and  to the solidarity of mankind.


* Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a  merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.  Let thy garments be  always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.  Live joyfully with  the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity,  which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity  for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou  takest under the sun.  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with  thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor  wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.


"In progress towards the goal, nature will have to be consulted  continuously.  Already, in the case of the ephemerids, nature has  produced a complete cycle of normal life ending in natural death.   In the problem of his own fate, man must not be content with the  gifts of nature; he must direct them by his own efforts.  Just as he  has been able to modify the nature of animals and plants, man must  attempt to modify his own constitution, so as to readjust its  disharmonies. . . .


"To modify the human constitution, it will be necessary first, to  frame the ideal, and thereafter to set to work with all the  resources of science.


"If there can be formed an ideal able to unite men in a kind of  religion of the future, this ideal must be founded on scientific  principles.  And if it be true, as has been asserted so often, that  man can live by faith alone, the faith must be in the power of  science."


Now this, after all the flat repudiations that have preceded it of  "religion" and "philosophy" as remedies for human ills, is nothing  less than the fundamental proposition of the religious life  translated into terms of materialistic science, the proposition that  damnation is really over-individuation and that salvation is escape  from self into the larger being of life. . . .


What can this "religion of the future" be but that devotion to the  racial adventure under the captaincy of God which we have already  found, like gold in the bottom of the vessel, when we have washed  away the confusions and impurities of dogmatic religion?  By an  inquiry setting out from a purely religious starting-point we have  already reached conclusions identical with this ultimate refuge of  an extreme materialist.


This altar to the Future of his, we can claim as an altar to our  God--an altar rather indistinctly inscribed.




Almost all Agnostic and Atheistical writings that show any fineness  and generosity of spirit, have this tendency to become as it were  the statement of an anonymous God.  Everything is said that a  religious writer would say--except that God is not named.  Religious  metaphors abound.  It is as if they accepted the living body of  religion but denied the bones that held it together--as they might  deny the bones of a friend.  It is true, they would admit, the body  moves in a way that implies bones in its every movement, but --WE  HAVE NEVER SEEN THOSE BONES.


The disputes in theory--I do not say the difference in reality--between the modern believer and the atheist or agnostic--becomes at  times almost as impalpable as that subtle discussion dear to  students of physics, whether the scientific "ether" is real or a  formula.  Every material phenomenon is consonant with and helps to  define this ether, which permeates and sustains and is all things,  which nevertheless is perceptible to no sense, which is reached only  by an intellectual process.  Most minds are disposed to treat this  ether as a reality.  But the acutely critical mind insists that what  is only so attainable by inference is not real; it is no more than  "a formula that satisfies all phenomena."


But if it comes to that, am I anything more than the formula that  satisfies all my forms of consciousness?


Intellectually there is hardly anything more than a certain will to  believe, to divide the religious man who knows God to be utterly  real, from the man who says that God is merely a formula to satisfy  moral and spiritual phenomena.  The former has encountered him, the  other has as yet felt only unassigned impulses.  One says God's will  is so; the other that Right is so.  One says God moves me to do this  or that; the other the Good Will in me which I share with you and  all well-disposed men, moves me to do this or that.  But the former  makes an exterior reference and escapes a risk of self-righteousness.


I have recently been reading a book by Mr. Joseph McCabe called "The  Tyranny of Shams," in which he displays very typically this curious  tendency to a sort of religion with God "blacked out."  His is an  extremely interesting case.  He is a writer who was formerly a Roman  Catholic priest, and in his reaction from Catholicism he displays a  resolution even sterner than Professor Metchnikoff's, to deny that  anything religious or divine can exist, that there can be any aim in  life except happiness, or any guide but "science."  But--and here  immediately he turns east again--he is careful not to say  "individual happiness."  And he says "Pleasure is, as Epicureans  insisted, only a part of a large ideal of happiness."  So he lets  the happiness of devotion and sacrifice creep in.  So he opens  indefinite possibilities of getting away from any merely  materialistic rule of life.  And he writes:


"In every civilised nation the mass of the people are inert and  indifferent.  Some even make a pretence of justifying their  inertness.  Why, they ask, should we stir at all?  Is there such a  thing as a duty to improve the earth?  What is the meaning or  purpose of life?  Or has it a purpose?


"One generally finds that this kind of reasoning is merely a piece  of controversial athletics or a thin excuse for idleness.  People  tell you that the conflict of science and religion--it would be  better to say, the conflict of modern culture and ancient  traditions--has robbed life of its plain significance.  The men who,  like Tolstoi, seriously urge this point fail to appreciate the  modern outlook on life.  Certainly modern culture--science, history,  philosophy, and art--finds no purpose in life: that is to say, no  purpose eternally fixed and to be discovered by man.  A great  chemist said a few years ago that he could imagine 'a series of  lucky accidents'--the chance blowing by the wind of certain  chemicals into pools on the primitive earth--accounting for the  first appearance of life; and one might not unjustly sum up the  influences which have lifted those early germs to the level of  conscious beings as a similar series of lucky accidents.


"But it is sheer affectation to say that this demoralises us.  If  there is no purpose impressed on the universe, or prefixed to the  development of humanity, it follows only that humanity may choose  its own purpose and set up its own goal; and the most elementary  sense of order will teach us that this choice must be social, not  merely individual.  In whatever measure ill-controlled individuals  may yield to personal impulses or attractions, the aim of the race  must be a collective aim.  I do not mean an austere demand of self-sacrifice from the individual, but an adjustment--as genial and  generous as possible--of individual variations for common good.   Otherwise life becomes discordant and futile, and the pain and waste  react on each individual.  So we raise again, in the twentieth  century, the old question of 'the greatest good,' which men  discussed in the Stoa Poikile and the suburban groves of Athens, in  the cool atria of patrician mansions on the Palatine and the  Pincian, in the Museum at Alexandria, and the schools which Omar  Khayyam frequented, in the straw-strewn schools of the Middle Ages  and the opulent chambers of Cosimo dei Medici."


And again:


"The old dream of a co-operative effort to improve life, to bring  happiness to as many minds of mortals as we can reach, shines above  all the mists of the day.  Through the ruins of creeds and  philosophies, which have for ages disdained it, we are retracing our  steps toward that height--just as the Athenians did two thousand  years ago.  It rests on no metaphysic, no sacred legend, no  disputable tradition--nothing that scepticism can corrode or  advancing knowledge undermine.  Its foundations are the fundamental  and unchanging impulses of our nature."


And again:


"The revolt which burns in so much of the abler literature of our  time is an unselfish revolt, or non-selfish revolt: it is an outcome  of that larger spirit which conceives the self to be a part of the  general social organism, and it is therefore neither egoistic nor  altruistic.  It finds a sanction in the new intelligence, and an  inspiration in the finer sentiments of our generation, but the glow  which chiefly illumines it is the glow of the great vision of a  happier earth.  It speaks of the claims of truth and justice, and  assails untruth and injustice, for these are elemental principles of  social life; but it appeals more confidently to the warmer sympathy  which is linking the scattered children of the race, and it urges  all to co-operate in the restriction of suffering and the creation  of happiness.  The advance guard of the race, the men and women in  whom mental alertness is associated with fine feeling, cry that they  have reached Pisgah's slope and in increasing numbers men and women  are pressing on to see if it be really the Promised Land."


"Pisgah--the Promised Land!"  Mr.  McCabe in that passage sounds as  if he were half-way to "Oh! Beulah Land!" and the tambourine.


That "larger spirit," we maintain, is God; those "impulses" are the  power of God, and Mr. McCabe serves a Master he denies.  He has but  to realise fully that God is not necessarily the Triune God of the  Catholic Church, and banish his intense suspicion that he may yet be  lured back to that altar he abandoned, he has but to look up from  that preoccupation, and immediately he will begin to realise the  presence of Divinity.




It may be argued that if atheists and agnostics when they set  themselves to express the good will that is in them, do shape out  God, that if their conception of right living falls in so completely  with the conception of God's service as to be broadly identical,  then indeed God, like the ether of scientific speculation, is no  more than a theory, no more than an imaginative externalisation of  man's inherent good will.  Why trouble about God then?  Is not the  declaration of a good disposition a sufficient evidence of  salvation?  What is the difference between such benevolent  unbelievers as Professor Metchnikoff or Mr. McCabe and those who  have found God?


The difference is this, that the benevolent atheist stands alone  upon his own good will, without a reference, without a standard,  trusting to his own impulse to goodness, relying upon his own moral  strength.  A certain immodesty, a certain self-righteousness, hangs  like a precipice above him; incalculable temptations open like gulfs  beneath his feet.  He has not really given himself or got away from  himself.  He has no one to whom he can give himself.  He is still a  masterless man.  His exaltation is self-centred, is priggishness,  his fall is unrestrained by any exterior obligation.  His devotion  is only the good will in himself, a disposition; it is a mood that  may change.  At any moment it may change.  He may have pledged  himself to his own pride and honour, but who will hold him to his  bargain?  He has no source of strength beyond his own amiable  sentiments, his conscience speaks with an unsupported voice, and no  one watches while he sleeps.  He cannot pray; he can but ejaculate.   He has no real and living link with other men of good will.


And those whose acquiescence in the idea of God is merely  intellectual are in no better case than those who deny God  altogether.  They may have all the forms of truth and not divinity.   The religion of the atheist with a God-shaped blank at its heart and  the persuasion of the unconverted theologian, are both like lamps  unlit.  The lit lamp has no difference in form from the lamp unlit.   But the lit lamp is alive and the lamp unlit is asleep or dead.


The difference between the unconverted and the unbeliever and the  servant of the true God is this; it is that the latter has  experienced a complete turning away from self.  This only difference  is all the difference in the world.  It is the realisation that this  goodness that I thought was within me and of myself and upon which I  rather prided myself, is without me and above myself, and infinitely  greater and stronger than I.  It is the immortal and I am mortal.   It is invincible and steadfast in its purpose, and I am weak and  insecure.  It is no longer that I, out of my inherent and remarkable  goodness, out of the excellence of my quality and the benevolence of  my heart, give a considerable amount of time and attention to the  happiness and welfare of others--because I choose to do so.  On the  contrary I have come under a divine imperative, I am obeying an  irresistible call, I am a humble and willing servant of the  righteousness of God.  That altruism which Professor Metchnikoff and  Mr. McCabe would have us regard as the goal and refuge of a broad  and free intelligence, is really the first simple commandment in the  religious life.




Now here is a passage from a book, "Evolution and the War," by  Professor Metchnikoff's translator, Dr. Chalmers Mitchell, which  comes even closer to our conception of God as an immortal being  arising out of man, and external to the individual man.  He has been  discussing that well-known passage of Kant's: "Two things fill my  mind with ever-renewed wonder and awe the more often and deeper I  dwell on them--the starry vault above me, and the moral law within  me."


From that discussion, Dr. Chalmers Mitchell presently comes to this  most definite and interesting statement:


"Writing as a hard-shell Darwinian evolutionist, a lover of the  scalpel and microscope, and of patient, empirical observation, as  one who dislikes all forms of supernaturalism, and who does not  shrink from the implications even of the phrase that thought is a  secretion of the brain as bile is a secretion of the liver, I assert  as a biological fact that the moral law is as real and as external  to man as the starry vault.  It has no secure seat in any single man  or in any single nation.  It is the work of the blood and tears of  long generations of men.  It is not in man, inborn or innate, but is  enshrined in his traditions, in his customs, in his literature and  his religion.  Its creation and sustenance are the crowning glory of  man, and his consciousness of it puts him in a high place above the  animal world.  Men live and die; nations rise and fall, but the  struggle of individual lives and of individual nations must be  measured not by their immediate needs, but as they tend to the  debasement or perfection of man's great achievement."


This is the same reality.  This is the same Link and Captain that  this book asserts.  It seems to me a secondary matter whether we  call Him "Man's Great Achievement" or "The Son of Man" or the "God  of Mankind" or "God."  So far as the practical and moral ends of  life are concerned, it does not matter how we explain or refuse to  explain His presence in our lives.


There is but one possible gap left between the position of Dr.  Chalmers Mitchell and the position of this book.  In this book it is  asserted that GOD RESPONDS, that he GIVES courage and the power of  self-suppression to our weakness.




Let me now quote and discuss a very beautiful passage from a lecture  upon Stoicism by Professor Gilbert Murray, which also displays the  same characteristic of an involuntary shaping out of God in the  forms of denial.  It is a passage remarkable for its conscientious  and resolute Agnosticism.  And it is remarkable too for its  blindness to the possibility of separating quite completely the idea  of the Infinite Being from the idea of God.  It is another striking  instance of that obsession of modern minds by merely Christian  theology of which I have already complained.  Professor Murray has  quoted Mr. Bevan's phrase for God, "the Friend behind phenomena,"  and he does not seem to realise that that phrase carries with it no  obligation whatever to believe that this Friend is in control of the  phenomena.  He assumes that he is supposed to be in control as if it  were a matter of course:


"We do seem to find," Professor Murray writes, "not only in all  religions, but in practically all philosophies, some belief that man  is not quite alone in the universe, but is met in his endeavours  towards the good by some external help or sympathy.  We find it  everywhere in the unsophisticated man.  We find it in the unguarded  self-revelations of the most severe and conscientious Atheists.   Now, the Stoics, like many other schools of thought, drew an  argument from this consensus of all mankind.  It was not an absolute  proof of the existence of the Gods or Providence, but it was a  strong indication.  The existence of a common instinctive belief in  the mind of man gives at least a presumption that there must be a  good cause for that belief.


"This is a reasonable position.  There must be some such cause.  But  it does not follow that the only valid cause is the truth of the  content of the belief.  I cannot help suspecting that this is  precisely one of those points on which Stoicism, in company with  almost all philosophy up to the present time, has gone astray  through not sufficiently realising its dependence on the human mind  as a natural biological product.  For it is very important in this  matter to realise that the so-called belief is not really an  intellectual judgment so much as a craving of the whole nature.


"It is only of very late years that psychologists have begun to  realise the enormous dominion of those forces in man of which he is  normally unconscious.  We cannot escape as easily as these brave men  dreamed from the grip of the blind powers beneath the threshold.   Indeed, as I see philosophy after philosophy falling into this  unproven belief in the Friend behind phenomena, as I find that I  myself cannot, except for a moment and by an effort, refrain from  making the same assumption, it seems to me that perhaps here too we  are under the spell of a very old ineradicable instinct.  We are  gregarious animals; our ancestors have been such for countless ages.   We cannot help looking out on the world as gregarious animals do; we  see it in terms of humanity and of fellowship.  Students of animals  under domestication have shown us how the habits of a gregarious  creature, taken away from his kind, are shaped in a thousand details  by reference to the lost pack which is no longer there--the pack  which a dog tries to smell his way back to all the time he is out  walking, the pack he calls to for help when danger threatens.  It is  a strange and touching thing, this eternal hunger of the gregarious  animal for the herd of friends who are not there.  And it may be, it  may very possibly be, that, in the matter of this Friend behind  phenomena our own yearning and our own almost ineradicable  instinctive conviction, since they are certainly not founded on  either reason or observation, are in origin the groping of a lonely-souled gregarious animal to find its herd or its herd-leader in the  great spaces between the stars.


"At any rate, it is a belief very difficult to get rid of."


There the passage and the lecture end.


I would urge that here again is an inadvertent witness to the  reality of God.


Professor Murray writes of gregarious animals as though there  existed solitary animals that are not gregarious, pure  individualists, "atheists" so to speak, and as though this appeal to  a life beyond one's own was not the universal disposition of living  things.  His classical training disposes him to a realistic  exaggeration of individual difference.  But nearly every animal, and  certainly every mentally considerable animal, begins under parental  care, in a nest or a litter, mates to breed, and is associated for  much of its life.  Even the great carnivores do not go alone except  when they are old and have done with the most of life.  Every pack,  every herd, begins at some point in a couple, it is the equivalent  of the tiger's litter if that were to remain undispersed.  And it is  within the memory of men still living that in many districts the  African lion has with a change of game and conditions lapsed from a  "solitary" to a gregarious, that is to say a prolonged family habit  of life.


Man too, if in his ape-like phase he resembled the other higher  apes, is an animal becoming more gregarious and not less.  He has  passed within the historical period from a tribal gregariousness to  a nearly cosmopolitan tolerance.  And he has his tribe about him.   He is not, as Professor Murray seems to suggest, a solitary LOST  gregarious beast.  Why should his desire for God be regarded as the  overflow of an unsatisfied gregarious instinct, when he has home,  town, society, companionship, trade union, state, INCREASINGLY at  hand to glut it?  Why should gregariousness drive a man to God  rather than to the third-class carriage and the public-house?  Why  should gregariousness drive men out of crowded Egyptian cities into  the cells of the Thebaid?  Schopenhauer in a memorable passage  (about the hedgehogs who assembled for warmth) is flatly opposed to  Professor Murray, and seems far more plausible when he declares that  the nature of man is insufficiently gregarious.  The parallel with  the dog is not a valid one.


Does not the truth lie rather in the supposition that it is not the  Friend that is the instinctive delusion but the isolation?  Is not  the real deception, our belief that we are completely  individualised, and is it not possible that this that Professor  Murray calls "instinct" is really not a vestige but a new thing  arising out of our increasing understanding, an intellectual  penetration to that greater being of the species, that vine, of  which we are the branches?  Why should not the soul of the species,  many faceted indeed, be nevertheless a soul like our own?


Here, as in the case of Professor Metchnikoff, and in many other  cases of atheism, it seems to me that nothing but an inadequate  understanding of individuation bars the way to at least the  intellectual recognition of the true God.




And while I am dealing with rationalists, let me note certain recent  interesting utterances of Sir Harry Johnston's.  You will note that  while in this book we use the word "God" to indicate the God of the  Heart, Sir Harry uses "God" for that idea of God-of-the-Universe,  which we have spoken of as the Infinite Being.  This use of the word  "God" is of late theological origin; the original identity of the  words "good" and "god" and all the stories of the gods are against  him.  But Sir Harry takes up God only to define him away into  incomprehensible necessity.  Thus:


"We know absolutely nothing concerning the Force we call God; and,  assuming such an intelligent ruling force to be in existence,  permeating this universe of millions of stars and (no doubt) tens of  millions of planets, we do not know under what conditions and  limitations It works.  We are quite entitled to assume that the end  of such an influence is intended to be order out of chaos, happiness  and perfection out of incompleteness and misery; and we are entitled  to identify the reactionary forces of brute Nature with the  anthropomorphic Devil of primitive religions, the power of darkness  resisting the power of light.  But in these conjectures we must  surely come to the conclusion that the theoretical potency we call  'God' makes endless experiments, and scrap-heaps the failures.   Think of the Dinosaurs and the expenditure of creative energy that  went to their differentiation and their well-nigh incredible physical  development. . . .


"To such a Divine Force as we postulate, the whole development and  perfecting of life on this planet, the whole production of man, may  seem little more than to any one of us would be the chipping out,  the cutting, the carving, and the polishing of a gem; and we should  feel as little remorse or pity for the scattered dust and fragments  as must the Creative Force of the immeasurably vast universe feel  for the DISJECTA MEMBRA of perfected life on this planet. . . ."


But thence he goes on to a curiously imperfect treatment of the God  of man as if he consisted in nothing more than some vague sort of  humanitarianism.  Sir Harry's ideas are much less thoroughly thought  out than those of any other of these sceptical writers I have  quoted.  On that account they are perhaps more typical.  He speaks  as though Christ were simply an eminent but ill-reported and  abominably served teacher of ethics--and yet of the only right ideal  and ethics.  He speaks as though religions were nothing more than  ethical movements, and as though Christianity were merely someone  remarking with a bright impulsiveness that everything was simply  horrid, and so, "Let us instal loving kindness as a cardinal axiom.    He ignores altogether the fundamental essential of religion, which  is THE DEVELOPMENT AND SYNTHESIS OF THE DIVERGENT AND CONFLICTING  MOTIVES OF THE UNCONVERTED LIFE, AND THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE  INDIVIDUAL LIFE WITH THE IMMORTAL PURPOSE OF GOD.  He presents a  conception of religion relieved of its "nonsense" as the cheerful  self-determination of a number of bright little individuals (much  stirred but by no means overcome by Cosmic Pity) to the Service of  Man.  As he seems to present it, it is as outward a thing, it goes  as little into the intimacy of their lives, as though they had after  proper consideration agreed to send a subscription to a Red Cross  Ambulance or take part in a public demonstration against the  Armenian Massacres, or do any other rather nice-spirited exterior  thing.  This is what he says:


"I hope that the religion of the future will devote itself wholly to  the Service of Man.  It can do so without departing from the  Christian ideal and Christian ethics.  It need only drop all that is  silly and disputable, and 'mattering not neither here nor there,' of  Christian theology--a theology virtually absent from the direct  teaching of Christ--and all of Judaistic literature or prescriptions  not made immortal in their application by unassailable truth and by  the confirmation of science.  An excellent remedy for the nonsense  which still clings about religion may be found in two books: Cotter  Monson's 'Service of Man,' which was published as long ago as 1887,  and has since been re-issued by the Rationalist Press Association in  its well-known sixpenny series, and J. Allanson Picton's 'Man and  the Bible.'  Similarly, those who wish to acquire a sane view of the  relations between man and God would do well to read Winwood Reade's  'Martyrdom of Man.'"


Sir Harry in fact clears the ground for God very ably, and then  makes a well-meaning gesture in the vacant space.  There is no help  nor strength in his gesture unless God is there.  Without God, the  "Service of Man" is no better than a hobby or a sentimentality or an  hypocrisy in the undisciplined prison of the mortal life.





The conception of a young and energetic God, an Invisible Prince  growing in strength and wisdom, who calls men and women to his  service and who gives salvation from self and mortality only through  self-abandonment to his service, necessarily involves a demand for a  complete revision and fresh orientation of the life of the convert.


God faces the blackness of the Unknown and the blind joys and  confusions and cruelties of Life, as one who leads mankind through a  dark jungle to a great conquest.  He brings mankind not rest but a  sword.  It is plain that he can admit no divided control of the  world he claims.  He concedes nothing to Caesar.  In our philosophy  there are no human things that are God's and others that are  Caesar's.  Those of the new thought cannot render unto God the  things that are God's, and to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.   Whatever claim Caesar may make to rule men's lives and direct their  destinies outside the will of God, is a usurpation.  No king nor  Caesar has any right to tax or to service or to tolerance, except he  claim as one who holds for and under God.  And he must make good his  claim.  The steps of the altar of the God of Youth are no safe place  for the sacrilegious figure of a king.  Who claims "divine right"  plays with the lightning.


The new conceptions do not tolerate either kings or aristocracies or  democracies.  Its implicit command to all its adherents is to make  plain the way to the world theocracy.  Its rule of life is the  discovery and service of the will of God, which dwells in the hearts  of men, and the performance of that will, not only in the private  life of the believer but in the acts and order of the state and  nation of which he is a part.  I give myself to God not only because  I am so and so but because I am mankind.  I become in a measure  responsible for every evil in the world of men.  I become a knight  in God's service.  I become my brother's keeper.  I become a  responsible minister of my King.  I take sides against injustice,  disorder, and against all those temporal kings, emperors, princes,  landlords, and owners, who set themselves up against God's rule and  worship.  Kings, owners, and all who claim rule and decisions in the  world's affairs, must either show themselves clearly the fellow-servants of the believer or become the objects of his steadfast  antagonism.




It is here that those who explain this modern religiosity will seem  most arbitrary to the inquirer.  For they relate of God, as men will  relate of a close friend, his dispositions, his apparent intentions,  the aims of his kingship.  And just as they advance no proof  whatever of the existence of God but their realisation of him, so  with regard to these qualities and dispositions they have little  argument but profound conviction.  What they say is this; that if  you do not feel God then there is no persuading you of him; we  cannot win over the incredulous.  And what they say of his qualities  is this; that if you feel God then you will know, you will realise  more and more clearly, that thus and thus and no other is his method  and intention.


It comes as no great shock to those who have grasped the full  implications of the statement that God is Finite, to hear it  asserted that the first purpose of God is the attainment of clear  knowledge, of knowledge as a means to more knowledge, and of  knowledge as a means to power.  For that he must use human eyes and  hands and brains.


And as God gathers power he uses it to an end that he is only  beginning to apprehend, and that he will apprehend more fully as  time goes on.  But it is possible to define the broad outlines of  the attainment he seeks.  It is the conquest of death.


It is the conquest of death; first the overcoming of death in the  individual by the incorporation of the motives of his life into an  undying purpose, and then the defeat of that death that seems to  threaten our species upon a cooling planet beneath a cooling sun.   God fights against death in every form, against the great death of  the race, against the petty death of indolence, insufficiency,  baseness, misconception, and perversion.  He it is and no other who  can deliver us "from the body of this death."  This is the battle  that grows plainer; this is the purpose to which he calls us out of  the animal's round of eating, drinking, lusting, quarrelling and  laughing and weeping, fearing and failing, and presently of wearying  and dying, which is the whole life that living without God can give  us.  And from these great propositions there follow many very  definite maxims and rules of life for those who serve God.  These we  will immediately consider.




But first let me write a few words here about those who hold a kind  of intermediate faith between the worship of the God of Youth and  the vaguer sort of Christianity.  There are a number of people  closely in touch with those who have found the new religion who,  biased probably by a dread of too complete a break with  Christianity, have adopted a theogony which is very reminiscent of  Gnosticism and of the Paulician, Catharist, and kindred sects to  which allusion has already been made.  He, who is called in this  book God, they would call God-the-Son or Christ, or the Logos; and  what is here called the Darkness or the Veiled Being, they would  call God-the-Father.  And what we speak of here as Life, they would  call, with a certain disregard of the poor brutes that perish, Man.   And they would assert, what we of the new belief, pleading our  profound ignorance, would neither assert nor deny, that that  Darkness, out of which came Life and God, since it produced them  must be ultimately sympathetic and of like nature with them.  And  that ultimately Man, being redeemed and led by Christ and saved from  death by him, would be reconciled with God the Father.*  And this  great adventurer out of the hearts of man that we here call God,  they would present as the same with that teacher from Galilee who  was crucified at Jerusalem.


* This probably was the conception of Spinoza.  Christ for him is  the wisdom of God manifested in all things, and chiefly in the mind  of man.  Through him we reach the blessedness of an intuitive  knowledge of God.  Salvation is an escape from the "inadequate"  ideas of the mortal human personality to the "adequate" and timeless  ideas of God.


Now we of the modern way would offer the following criticisms upon  this apparent compromise between our faith and the current religion.   Firstly, we do not presume to theorise about the nature of the  veiled being nor about that being's relations to God and to Life.   We do not recognise any consistent sympathetic possibilities between  these outer beings and our God.  Our God is, we feel, like  Prometheus, a rebel.  He is unfilial.  And the accepted figure of  Jesus, instinct with meek submission, is not in the tone of our  worship.  It is not by suffering that God conquers death, but by  fighting.  Incidentally our God dies a million deaths, but the thing  that matters is not the deaths but the immortality.  It may be he  cannot escape in this person or that person being nailed to a cross  or chained to be torn by vultures on a rock.  These may be necessary  sufferings, like hunger and thirst in a campaign; they do not in  themselves bring victory.  They may be necessary, but they are not  glorious.  The symbol of the crucifixion, the drooping, pain-drenched figure of Christ, the sorrowful cry to his Father, "My God,  my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" these things jar with our  spirit.  We little men may well fail and repent, but it is our faith  that our God does not fail us nor himself.  We cannot accept the  Christian's crucifix, or pray to a pitiful God.  We cannot accept  the Resurrection as though it were an after-thought to a bitterly  felt death.  Our crucifix, if you must have a crucifix, would show  God with a hand or a foot already torn away from its nail, and with  eyes not downcast but resolute against the sky; a face without pain,  pain lost and forgotten in the surpassing glory of the struggle and  the inflexible will to live and prevail. . . .


But we do not care how long the thorns are drawn, nor how terrible  the wounds, so long as he does not droop.  God is courage.  God is  courage beyond any conceivable suffering.


But when all this has been said, it is well to add that it concerns  the figure of Christ only in so far as that professes to be the  figure of God, and the crucifix only so far as that stands for  divine action.  The figure of Christ crucified, so soon as we think  of it as being no more than the tragic memorial of Jesus, of the man  who proclaimed the loving-kindness of God and the supremacy of God's  kingdom over the individual life, and who, in the extreme agony of  his pain and exhaustion, cried out that he was deserted, becomes  something altogether distinct from a theological symbol.   Immediately that we cease to worship, we can begin to love and pity.   Here was a being of extreme gentleness and delicacy and of great  courage, of the utmost tolerance and the subtlest sympathy, a saint  of non-resistance. . . .


We of the new faith repudiate the teaching of non-resistance.  We  are the militant followers of and participators in a militant God.   We can appreciate and admire the greatness of Christ, this gentle  being upon whose nobility the theologians trade.  But submission is  the remotest quality of all from our God, and a moribund figure is  the completest inversion of his likeness as we know him.  A  Christianity which shows, for its daily symbol, Christ risen and  trampling victoriously upon a broken cross, would be far more in the  spirit of our worship.*


* It is curious, after writing the above, to find in a letter  written by Foss Westcott, Bishop of Durham, to that pertinacious  correspondent, the late Lady Victoria Welby, almost exactly the same  sentiments I have here expressed.  "If I could fill the Crucifix  with life as you do," he says, "I would gladly look on it, but the  fallen Head and the closed Eye exclude from my thought the idea of  glorified humanity.  The Christ to whom we are led is One who 'hath  been crucified,' who hath passed the trial victoriously and borne  the fruits to heaven.  I dare not then rest on this side of the  glory."


I find, too, a still more remarkable expression of the modern spirit  in a tract, "The Call of the Kingdom," by that very able and subtle,  Anglican theologian, the Rev. W. Temple, who declares that under the  vitalising stresses of the war we are winning "faith in Christ as an  heroic leader.  We have thought of Him so much as meek and gentle  that there is no ground in our picture of Him, for the vision which  His disciple had of Him: 'His head and His hair were white, as white  wool, white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire: and His  feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a  furnace; and His voice was as the voice of many waters.  And He had  in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth proceeded a  sharp two-edged sword; and His countenance was as the sun shineth in  its strength.'"


These are both exceptional utterances, interesting as showing how  clearly parallel are the tendencies within and without Christianity.




Now it follows very directly from the conception of God as a finite  intelligence of boundless courage and limitless possibilities of  growth and victory, who has pitted himself against death, who stands  close to our inmost beings ready to receive us and use us, to rescue  us from the chagrins of egotism and take us into his immortal  adventure, that we who have realised him and given ourselves  joyfully to him, must needs be equally ready and willing to give our  energies to the task we share with him, to do our utmost to increase  knowledge, to increase order and clearness, to fight against  indolence, waste, disorder, cruelty, vice, and every form of his and  our enemy, death, first and chiefest in ourselves but also in all  mankind, and to bring about the establishment of his real and  visible kingdom throughout the world.


And that idea of God as the Invisible King of the whole world means  not merely that God is to be made and declared the head of the  world, but that the kingdom of God is to be present throughout the  whole fabric of the world, that the Kingdom of God is to be in the  teaching at the village school, in the planning of the railway  siding of the market town, in the mixing of the mortar at the  building of the workman's house.  It means that ultimately no effigy  of intrusive king or emperor is to disfigure our coins and stamps  any more; God himself and no delegate is to be represented wherever  men buy or sell, on our letters and our receipts, a perpetual  witness, a perpetual reminder.  There is no act altogether without  significance, no power so humble that it may not be used for or  against God, no life but can orient itself to him.  To realise God  in one's heart is to be filled with the desire to serve him, and the  way of his service is neither to pull up one's life by the roots nor  to continue it in all its essentials unchanged, but to turn it  about, to turn everything that there is in it round into his way.


The outward duty of those who serve God must vary greatly with the  abilities they possess and the positions in which they find  themselves, but for all there are certain fundamental duties; a  constant attempt to be utterly truthful with oneself, a constant  sedulousness to keep oneself fit and bright for God's service, and  to increase one's knowledge and powers, and a hidden persistent  watchfulness of one's baser motives, a watch against fear and  indolence, against vanity, against greed and lust, against envy,  malice, and uncharitableness.  To have found God truly does in  itself make God's service one's essential motive, but these evils  lurk in the shadows, in the lassitudes and unwary moments.  No one  escapes them altogether, there is no need for tragic moods on  account of imperfections.  We can no more serve God without blunders  and set-backs than we can win battles without losing men.  But the  less of such loss the better.  The servant of God must keep his mind  as wide and sound and his motives as clean as he can, just as an  operating surgeon must keep his nerves and muscles as fit and his  hands as clean as he can.  Neither may righteously evade exercise  and regular washing--of mind as of hands.  An incessant watchfulness  of one's self and one's thoughts and the soundness of one's  thoughts; cleanliness, clearness, a wariness against indolence and  prejudice, careful truth, habitual frankness, fitness and steadfast  work; these are the daily fundamental duties that every one who  truly comes to God will, as a matter of course, set before himself.




Now of the more intimate and personal life of the believer it will  be more convenient to write a little later.  Let us for the present  pursue the idea of this world-kingdom of God, to whose establishment  he calls us.  This kingdom is to be a peaceful and co-ordinated  activity of all mankind upon certain divine ends.  These, we  conceive, are first, the maintenance of the racial life; secondly,  the exploration of the external being of nature as it is and as it  has been, that is to say history and science; thirdly, that  exploration of inherent human possibility which is art; fourthly,  that clarification of thought and knowledge which is philosophy; and  finally, the progressive enlargement and development of the racial  life under these lights, so that God may work through a continually  better body of humanity and through better and better equipped  minds, that he and our race may increase for ever, working  unendingly upon the development of the powers of life and the  mastery of the blind forces of matter throughout the deeps of space.   He sets out with us, we are persuaded, to conquer ourselves and our  world and the stars.  And beyond the stars our eyes can as yet see  nothing, our imaginations reach and fail.  Beyond the limits of our  understanding is the veiled Being of Fate, whose face is hidden from  us. . . .


It may be that minds will presently appear among us of such a  quality that the face of that Unknown will not be altogether  hidden. . . .


But the business of such ordinary lives as ours is the setting up of  this earthly kingdom of God.  That is the form into which our lives  must fall and our consciences adapt themselves.


Belief in God as the Invisible King brings with it almost  necessarily a conception of this coming kingdom of God on earth.   Each believer as he grasps this natural and immediate consequence of  the faith that has come into his life will form at the same time a  Utopian conception of this world changed in the direction of God's  purpose.  The vision will follow the realisation of God's true  nature and purpose as a necessary second step.  And he will begin to  develop the latent citizen of this world-state in himself.  He will  fall in with the idea of the world-wide sanities of this new order  being drawn over the warring outlines of the present, and of men  falling out of relationship with the old order and into relationship  with the new.  Many men and women are already working to-day at  tasks that belong essentially to God's kingdom, tasks that would be  of the same essential nature if the world were now a theocracy; for  example, they are doing or sustaining scientific research or  education or creative art; they are making roads to bring men  together, they are doctors working for the world's health, they are  building homes, they are constructing machinery to save and increase  the powers of men. . . .


Such men and women need only to change their orientation as men will  change about at a work-table when the light that was coming in a  little while ago from the southern windows, begins presently to come  in chiefly from the west, to become open and confessed servants of  God.  This work that they were doing for ambition, or the love of  men or the love of knowledge or what seemed the inherent impulse to  the work itself, or for money or honour or country or king, they  will realise they are doing for God and by the power of God.  Self-transformation into a citizen of God's kingdom and a new realisation  of all earthly politics as no more than the struggle to define and  achieve the kingdom of God in the earth, follow on, without any need  for a fresh spiritual impulse, from the moment when God and the  believer meet and clasp one another.


This transfiguration of the world into a theocracy may seem a merely  fantastic idea to anyone who comes to it freshly without such  general theological preparation as the preceding pages have made.   But to anyone who has been at the pains to clear his mind even a  little from the obsession of existing but transitory things, it  ceases to be a mere suggestion and becomes more and more manifestly  the real future of mankind.  From the phase of "so things should  be," the mind will pass very rapidly to the realisation that "so  things will be."  Towards this the directive wills among men have  been drifting more and more steadily and perceptibly and with fewer  eddyings and retardations, for many centuries.  The purpose of  mankind will not be always thus confused and fragmentary.  This  dissemination of will-power is a phase.  The age of the warring  tribes and kingdoms and empires that began a hundred centuries or so  ago, draws to its close.  The kingdom of God on earth is not a  metaphor, not a mere spiritual state, not a dream, not an uncertain  project; it is the thing before us, it is the close and inevitable  destiny of mankind.


In a few score years the faith of the true God will be spreading  about the world.  The few halting confessions of God that one hears  here and there to-day, like that little twittering of birds which  comes before the dawn, will have swollen to a choral unanimity.  In  but a few centuries the whole world will be openly, confessedly,  preparing for the kingdom.  In but a few centuries God will have led  us out of the dark forest of these present wars and confusions into  the open brotherhood of his rule.




This conception of the general life of mankind as a transformation  at thousands of points of the confused, egotistical, proprietary,  partisan, nationalist, life-wasting chaos of human life to-day into  the coherent development of the world kingdom of God, provides the  form into which everyone who comes to the knowledge of God will  naturally seek to fit his every thought and activity.  The material  greeds, the avarice, fear, rivalries, and ignoble ambitions of a  disordered world will be challenged and examined under one general  question: "What am I in the kingdom of God?"


It has already been suggested that there is a great and growing  number of occupations that belong already to God's kingdom,  research, teaching, creative art, creative administration,  cultivation, construction, maintenance, and the honest satisfaction  of honest practical human needs.  For such people conversion to the  intimacy of God means at most a change in the spirit of their work,  a refreshed energy, a clearer understanding, a new zeal, a completer  disregard of gains and praises and promotion.  Pay, honours, and the  like cease to be the inducement of effort.  Service, and service  alone, is the criterion that the quickened conscience will  recognise.


Most of such people will find themselves in positions in which  service is mingled with activities of a baser sort, in which service  is a little warped and deflected by old traditions and usage, by  mercenary and commercial considerations, by some inherent or special  degradation of purpose.  The spirit of God will not let the believer  rest until his life is readjusted and as far as possible freed from  the waste of these base diversions.  For example a scientific  investigator, lit and inspired by great inquiries, may be hampered  by the conditions of his professorship or research fellowship, which  exact an appearance of "practical" results.  Or he may be obliged to  lecture or conduct classes.  He may be able to give but half his  possible gift to the work of his real aptitude, and that at a  sacrifice of money and reputation among short-sighted but  influential contemporaries.  Well, if he is by nature an  investigator he will know that the research is what God needs of  him.  He cannot continue it at all if he leaves his position, and so  he must needs waste something of his gift to save the rest.  But  should a poorer or a humbler post offer him better opportunity,  there lies his work for God.  There one has a very common and simple  type of the problems that will arise in the lives of men when they  are lit by sudden realisation of the immediacy of God.


Akin to that case is the perplexity of any successful physician  between the increase of knowledge and the public welfare on the one  hand, and the lucrative possibilities of his practice among wealthy  people on the other.  He belongs to a profession that is crippled by  a mediaeval code, a profession which was blind to the common  interest of the Public Health and regarded its members merely as  skilled practitioners employed to "cure" individual ailments.  Very  slowly and tortuously do the methods of the profession adapt  themselves to the modern conception of an army of devoted men  working as a whole under God for the health of mankind as a whole,  broadening out from the frowsy den of the "leech," with its  crocodile and bottles and hieroglyphic prescriptions, to a skilled  and illuminating co-operation with those who deal with the food and  housing and economic life of the community.


And again quite parallel with these personal problems is the trouble  of the artist between the market and vulgar fame on the one hand and  his divine impulse on the other.


The presence of God will be a continual light and help in every  decision that must be made by men and women in these more or less  vitiated, but still fundamentally useful and righteous, positions.


The trouble becomes more marked and more difficult in the case of a  man who is a manufacturer or a trader, the financier of business  enterprise or the proprietor of great estates.  The world is in need  of manufactures and that goods should be distributed; land must be  administered and new economic possibilities developed.  The drift of  things is in the direction of state ownership and control, but in a  great number of cases the state is not ripe for such undertakings,  it commands neither sufficient integrity nor sufficient ability, and  the proprietor of factory, store, credit or land, must continue in  possession, holding as a trustee for God and, so far as lies in his  power, preparing for his supersession by some more public  administration.  Modern religion admits of no facile flights from  responsibility.  It permits no headlong resort to the wilderness and  sterile virtue.  It counts the recluse who fasts among scorpions in  a cave as no better than a deserter in hiding.  It unhesitatingly  forbids any rich young man to sell all that he has and give to the  poor.  Himself and all that he has must be alike dedicated to God.


The plain duty that will be understood by the proprietor of land and  of every sort of general need and service, so soon as he becomes  aware of God, is so to administer his possessions as to achieve the  maximum of possible efficiency, the most generous output, and the  least private profit.  He may set aside a salary for his  maintenance; the rest he must deal with like a zealous public  official.  And if he perceives that the affair could be better  administered by other hands than his own, then it is his business to  get it into those hands with the smallest delay and the least profit  to himself. . . .


The rights and wrongs of human equity are very different from right  and wrong in the sight of God.  In the sight of God no landlord has  a RIGHT to his rent, no usurer has a RIGHT to his interest.  A man  is not justified in drawing the profits from an advantageous  agreement nor free to spend the profits of a speculation as he will.   God takes no heed of savings nor of abstinence.  He recognises no  right to the "rewards of abstinence," no right to any rewards.   Those profits and comforts and consolations are the inducements that  dangle before the eyes of the spiritually blind.  Wealth is an  embarrassment to the religious, for God calls them to account for  it.  The servant of God has no business with wealth or power except  to use them immediately in the service of God.  Finding these things  in his hands he is bound to administer them in the service of God.


The tendency of modern religion goes far beyond the alleged  communism of the early Christians, and far beyond the tithes of the  scribes and Pharisees.  God takes all.  He takes you, blood and  bones and house and acres, he takes skill and influence and  expectations.  For all the rest of your life you are nothing but  God's agent.  If you are not prepared for so complete a surrender,  then you are infinitely remote from God.  You must go your way.   Here you are merely a curious interloper.  Perhaps you have been  desiring God as an experience, or coveting him as a possession.  You  have not begun to understand.  This that we are discussing in this  book is as yet nothing for you.




This picturing of a human world more to the mind of God than this  present world and the discovery and realisation of one's own place  and work in and for that kingdom of God, is the natural next phase  in the development of the believer.  He will set about revising and  adjusting his scheme of life, his ways of living, his habits and his  relationships in the light of his new convictions.


Most men and women who come to God will have already a certain  righteousness in their lives; these things happen like a thunderclap  only in strange exceptional cases, and the same movements of the  mind that have brought them to God will already have brought their  lives into a certain rightness of direction and conduct.  Yet  occasionally there will be someone to whom the self-examination that  follows conversion will reveal an entirely wrong and evil way of  living.  It may be that the light has come to some rich idler doing  nothing but follow a pleasurable routine.  Or to someone following  some highly profitable and amusing, but socially useless or socially  mischievous occupation.  One may be an advocate at the disposal of  any man's purpose, or an actor or actress ready to fall in with any  theatrical enterprise.  Or a woman may find herself a prostitute or  a pet wife, a mere kept instrument of indulgence.  These are lives  of prey, these are lives of futility; the light of God will not  tolerate such lives.  Here religion can bring nothing but a  severance from the old way of life altogether, a break and a  struggle towards use and service and dignity.


But even here it does not follow that because a life has been wrong  the new life that begins must be far as the poles asunder from the  old.  Every sort of experience that has ever come to a human being  is in the self that he brings to God, and there is no reason why a  knowledge of evil ways should not determine the path of duty.  No  one can better devise protections against vices than those who have  practised them; none know temptations better than those who have  fallen.  If a man has followed an evil trade, it becomes him to use  his knowledge of the tricks of that trade to help end it.  He knows  the charities it may claim and the remedies it needs. . . .


A very interesting case to discuss in relation to this question of  adjustment is that of the barrister.  A practising barrister under  contemporary conditions does indeed give most typically the  opportunity for examining the relation of an ordinary self-respecting worldly life, to life under the dispensation of God  discovered.  A barrister is usually a man of some energy and  ambition, his honour is moulded by the traditions of an ancient and  antiquated profession, instinctively self-preserving and yet with a  real desire for consistency and respect.  As a profession it has  been greedy and defensively conservative, but it has never been  shameless nor has it ever broken faith with its own large and  selfish, but quite definite, propositions.  It has never for  instance had the shamelessness of such a traditionless and  undisciplined class as the early factory organisers.  It has never  had the dull incoherent wickedness of the sort of men who exploit  drunkenness and the turf.  It offends within limits.  Barristers can  be, and are, disbarred.  But it is now a profession extraordinarily  out of date; its code of honour derives from a time of cruder and  lower conceptions of human relationship.  It apprehends the State as  a mere "ring" kept about private disputations; it has not begun to  move towards the modern conception of the collective enterprise as  the determining criterion of human conduct.  It sees its business as  a mere play upon the rules of a game between man and man, or between  men and men.  They haggle, they dispute, they inflict and suffer  wrongs, they evade dues, and are liable or entitled to penalties and  compensations.  The primary business of the law is held to be  decision in these wrangles, and as wrangling is subject to artistic  elaboration, the business of the barrister is the business of a  professional wrangler; he is a bravo in wig and gown who fights the  duels of ordinary men because they are incapable, very largely on  account of the complexities of legal procedure, of fighting for  themselves.  His business is never to explore any fundamental right  in the matter.  His business is to say all that can be said for his  client, and to conceal or minimise whatever can be said against his  client.  The successful promoted advocate, who in Britain and the  United States of America is the judge, and whose habits and  interests all incline him to disregard the realities of the case in  favour of the points in the forensic game, then adjudicates upon the  contest. . . .


Now this condition of things is clearly incompatible with the modern  conception of the world as becoming a divine kingdom.  When the  world is openly and confessedly the kingdom of God, the law court  will exist only to adjust the differing views of men as to the  manner of their service to God; the only right of action one man  will have against another will be that he has been prevented or  hampered or distressed by the other in serving God.  The idea of the  law court will have changed entirely from a place of dispute,  exaction and vengeance, to a place of adjustment.  The individual or  some state organisation will plead ON BEHALF OF THE COMMON GOOD  either against some state official or state regulation, or against  the actions or inaction of another individual.  This is the only  sort of legal proceedings compatible with the broad beliefs of the  new faith. . . .  Every religion that becomes ascendant, in so far  as it is not otherworldly, must necessarily set its stamp upon the  methods and administration of the law.  That this was not the case  with Christianity is one of the many contributory aspects that lead  one to the conviction that it was not Christianity that took  possession of the Roman empire, but an imperial adventurer who took  possession of an all too complaisant Christianity.


Reverting now from these generalisations to the problem of the  religious from which they arose, it will have become evident that  the essential work of anyone who is conversant with the existing  practice and literature of the law and whose natural abilities are  forensic, will lie in the direction of reconstructing the theory and  practice of the law in harmony with modern conceptions, of making  that theory and practice clear and plain to ordinary men, of  reforming the abuses of the profession by working for the separation  of bar and judiciary, for the amalgamation of the solicitors and the  barristers, and the like needed reforms.  These are matters that  will probably only be properly set right by a quickening of  conscience among lawyers themselves.  Of no class of men is the help  and service so necessary to the practical establishment of God's  kingdom, as of men learned and experienced in the law.  And there is  no reason why for the present an advocate should not continue to  plead in the courts, provided he does his utmost only to handle  cases in which he believes he can serve the right.  Few righteous  cases are ill-served by a frank disposition on the part of lawyer  and client to put everything before the court.  Thereby of course  there arises a difficult case of conscience.  What if a lawyer,  believing his client to be in the right, discovers him to be in the  wrong?  He cannot throw up the case unless he has been scandalously  deceived, because so he would betray the confidence his client has  put in him to "see him through."  He has a right to "give himself  away," but not to "give away" his client in this fashion.  If he has  a chance of a private consultation I think he ought to do his best  to make his client admit the truth of the case and give in, but  failing this he has no right to be virtuous on behalf of another.   No man may play God to another; he may remonstrate, but that is the  limit of his right.  He must respect a confidence, even if it is  purely implicit and involuntary.  I admit that here the barrister is  in a cleft stick, and that he must see the business through  according to the confidence his client has put in him--and  afterwards be as sorry as he may be if an injustice ensues.  And  also I would suggest a lawyer may with a fairly good conscience  defend a guilty man as if he were innocent, to save him from  unjustly heavy penalties. . . .


This comparatively full discussion of the barrister's problem has  been embarked upon because it does bring in, in a very typical  fashion, just those uncertainties and imperfections that abound in  real life.  Religious conviction gives us a general direction, but  it stands aside from many of these entangled struggles in the jungle  of conscience.  Practice is often easier than a rule.  In practice a  lawyer will know far more accurately than a hypothetical case can  indicate, how far he is bound to see his client through, and how far  he may play the keeper of his client's conscience.  And nearly every  day there happens instances where the most subtle casuistry will  fail and the finger of conscience point unhesitatingly.  One may  have worried long in the preparation and preliminaries of the issue,  one may bring the case at last into the final court of conscience in  an apparently hopeless tangle.  Then suddenly comes decision.


The procedure of that silent, lit, and empty court in which a man  states his case to God, is very simple and perfect.  The excuses and  the special pleading shrivel and vanish.  In a little while the case  lies bare and plain.




The question of oaths of allegiance, acts of acquiescence in  existing governments, and the like, is one that arises at once with  the acceptance of God as the supreme and real King of the Earth.  At  the worst Caesar is a usurper, a satrap claiming to be sovereign; at  the best he is provisional.  Modern casuistry makes no great trouble  for the believing public official.  The chief business of any  believer is to do the work for which he is best fitted, and since  all state affairs are to become the affairs of God's kingdom it is  of primary importance that they should come into the hands of God's  servants.  It is scarcely less necessary to a believing man with  administrative gifts that he should be in the public administration,  than that he should breathe and eat.  And whatever oath or the like  to usurper church or usurper king has been set up to bar access to  service, is an oath imposed under duress.  If it cannot be avoided  it must be taken rather than that a man should become unserviceable.   All such oaths are unfair and foolish things.  They exclude no  scoundrels; they are appeals to superstition.  Whenever an  opportunity occurs for the abolition of an oath, the servant of God  will seize it, but where the oath is unavoidable he will take it.


The service of God is not to achieve a delicate consistency of  statement; it is to do as much as one can of God's work.




It may be doubted if this line of reasoning regarding the official  and his oath can be extended to excuse the priest or pledged  minister of religion who finds that faith in the true God has ousted  his formal beliefs.


This has been a frequent and subtle moral problem in the  intellectual life of the last hundred years.  It has been  increasingly difficult for any class of reading, talking, and  discussing people such as are the bulk of the priesthoods of the  Christian churches to escape hearing and reading the accumulated  criticism of the Trinitarian theology and of the popularly accepted  story of man's fall and salvation.  Some have no doubt defeated this  universal and insidious critical attack entirely, and honestly  established themselves in a right-down acceptance of the articles  and disciplines to which they have subscribed and of the creeds they  profess and repeat.  Some have recanted and abandoned their  positions in the priesthood.  But a great number have neither  resisted the bacillus of criticism nor left the churches to which  they are attached.  They have adopted compromises, they have  qualified their creeds with modifying footnotes of essential  repudiation; they have decided that plain statements are metaphors  and have undercut, transposed, and inverted the most vital points of  the vulgarly accepted beliefs.  One may find within the Anglican  communion, Arians, Unitarians, Atheists, disbelievers in  immortality, attenuators of miracles; there is scarcely a doubt or a  cavil that has not found a lodgment within the ample charity of the  English Establishment.  I have been interested to hear one  distinguished Canon deplore that "they" did not identify the Logos  with the third instead of the second Person of the Trinity, and  another distinguished Catholic apologist declare his indifference to  the "historical Jesus."  Within most of the Christian communions one  may believe anything or nothing, provided only that one does not  call too public an attention to one's eccentricity.  The late Rev.  Charles Voysey, for example, preached plainly in his church at  Healaugh against the divinity of Christ, unhindered.  It was only  when he published his sermons under the provocative title of "The  Sling and the Stone," and caused an outcry beyond the limits of his  congregation, that he was indicted and deprived.


Now the reasons why these men do not leave the ministry or  priesthood in which they find themselves are often very plausible.   It is probable that in very few cases is the retention of stipend or  incumbency a conscious dishonesty.  At the worst it is mitigated by  thought for wife or child.  It has only been during very exceptional  phases of religious development and controversy that beliefs have  been really sharp.  A creed, like a coin, it may be argued, loses  little in practical value because it is worn, or bears the image of  a vanished king.  The religious life is a reality that has clothed  itself in many garments, and the concern of the priest or minister  is with the religious life and not with the poor symbols that may  indeed pretend to express, but do as a matter of fact no more than  indicate, its direction.  It is quite possible to maintain that the  church and not the creed is the real and valuable instrument of  religion, that the religious life is sustained not by its  propositions but by its routines.  Anyone who seeks the intimate  discussion of spiritual things with professional divines, will find  this is the substance of the case for the ecclesiastical sceptic.   His church, he will admit, mumbles its statement of truth, but where  else is truth?  What better formulae are to be found for ineffable  things?  And meanwhile--he does good.


That may be a valid defence before a man finds God.  But we who  profess the worship and fellowship of the living God deny that  religion is a matter of ineffable things.  The way of God is plain  and simple and easy to understand.


Therewith the whole position of the conforming sceptic is changed.   If a professional religious has any justification at all for his  professionalism it is surely that he proclaims the nearness and  greatness of God.  And these creeds and articles and orthodoxies are  not proclamations but curtains, they are a darkening and confusion  of what should be crystal clear.  What compensatory good can a  priest pretend to do when his primary business is the truth and his  method a lie?  The oaths and incidental conformities of men who wish  to serve God in the state are on a different footing altogether from  the falsehood and mischief of one who knows the true God and yet  recites to a trustful congregation, foists upon a trustful  congregation, a misleading and ill-phrased Levantine creed.


Such is the line of thought which will impose the renunciation of  his temporalities and a complete cessation of services upon every  ordained priest and minister as his first act of faith.  Once that  he has truly realised God, it becomes impossible for him ever to  repeat his creed again.  His course seems plain and clear.  It  becomes him to stand up before the flock he has led in error, and to  proclaim the being and nature of the one true God.  He must be  explicit to the utmost of his powers.  Then he may await his  expulsion.  It may be doubted whether it is sufficient for him to go  away silently, making false excuses or none at all for his retreat.   He has to atone for the implicit acquiescences of his conforming  years.




Are any sorts of people shut off as if by inherent necessity from  God?


This is, so to speak, one of the standing questions of theology; it  reappears with slight changes of form at every period of religious  interest, it is for example the chief issue between the Arminian and  the Calvinist.  From its very opening proposition modern religion  sweeps past and far ahead of the old Arminian teachings of Wesleyans  and Methodists, in its insistence upon the entirely finite nature of  God.  Arminians seem merely to have insisted that God has  conditioned himself, and by his own free act left men free to accept  or reject salvation.  To the realist type of mind--here as always I  use "realist" in its proper sense as the opposite of nominalist--to  the old-fashioned, over-exact and over-accentuating type of mind,  such ways of thinking seem vague and unsatisfying.  Just as it  distresses the more downright kind of intelligence with a feeling of  disloyalty to admit that God is not Almighty, so it troubles the  same sort of intelligence to hear that there is no clear line to be  drawn between the saved and the lost.  Realists like an exclusive  flavour in their faith.  Moreover, it is a natural weakness of  humanity to be forced into extreme positions by argument.  It is  probable, as I have already suggested, that the absolute attributes  of God were forced upon Christianity under the stresses of  propaganda, and it is probable that the theory of a super-human  obstinancy beyond salvation arose out of the irritations natural to  theological debate.  It is but a step from the realisation that  there are people absolutely unable or absolutely unwilling to see  God as we see him, to the conviction that they are therefore shut  off from God by an invincible soul blindness.


It is very easy to believe that other people are essentially damned.


Beyond the little world of our sympathies and comprehension there  are those who seem inaccessible to God by any means within our  experience.  They are people answering to the "hard-hearted," to the  "stiff-necked generation" of the Hebrew prophets.  They betray and  even confess to standards that seem hopelessly base to us.  They  show themselves incapable of any disinterested enthusiasm for beauty  or truth or goodness.  They are altogether remote from intelligent  sacrifice.  To every test they betray vileness of texture; they are  mean, cold, wicked.  There are people who seem to cheat with a  private self-approval, who are ever ready to do harsh and cruel  things, whose use for social feeling is the malignant boycott, and  for prosperity, monopolisation and humiliating display; who seize  upon religion and turn it into persecution, and upon beauty to  torment it on the altars of some joyless vice.  We cannot do with  such souls; we have no use for them, and it is very easy indeed to  step from that persuasion to the belief that God has no use for  them.


And besides these base people there are the stupid people and the  people with minds so poor in texture that they cannot even grasp the  few broad and simple ideas that seem necessary to the salvation we  experience, who lapse helplessly into fetishistic and fearful  conceptions of God, and are apparently quite incapable of  distinguishing between what is practically and what is spiritually  good.


It is an easy thing to conclude that the only way to God is our way  to God, that he is the privilege of a finer and better sort to which  we of course belong; that he is no more the God of the card-sharper  or the pickpocket or the "smart" woman or the loan-monger or the  village oaf than he is of the swine in the sty.  But are we  justified in thus limiting God to the measure of our moral and  intellectual understandings?  Because some people seem to me  steadfastly and consistently base or hopelessly and incurably dull  and confused, does it follow that there are not phases, albeit I  have never chanced to see them, of exaltation in the one case and  illumination in the other?  And may I not be a little restricting my  perception of Good?  While I have been ready enough to pronounce  this or that person as being, so far as I was concerned, thoroughly  damnable or utterly dull, I find a curious reluctance to admit the  general proposition which is necessary for these instances.  It is  possible that the difference between Arminian and Calvinist is a  difference of essential intellectual temperament rather than of  theoretical conviction.  I am temperamentally Arminian as I am  temperamentally Nominalist.  I feel that it must be in the nature of  God to attempt all souls.  There must be accessibilities I can only  suspect, and accessibilities of which I know nothing.


Yet here is a consideration pointing rather the other way.  If you  think, as you must think, that you yourself can be lost to God and  damned, then I cannot see how you can avoid thinking that other  people can be damned.  But that is not to believe that there are  people damned at the outset by their moral and intellectual  insufficiency; that is not to make out that there is a class of  essential and incurable spiritual defectives.  The religious life  preceded clear religious understanding and extends far beyond its  range.


In my own case I perceive that in spite of the value I attach to  true belief, the reality of religion is not an intellectual thing.   The essential religious fact is in another than the mental sphere.   I am passionately anxious to have the idea of God clear in my own  mind, and to make my beliefs plain and clear to other people, and  particularly to other people who may seem to be feeling with me; I  do perceive that error is evil if only because a faith based on  confused conceptions and partial understandings may suffer  irreparable injury through the collapse of its substratum of ideas.   I doubt if faith can be complete and enduring if it is not secured  by the definite knowledge of the true God.  Yet I have also to admit  that I find the form of my own religious emotion paralleled by  people with whom I have no intellectual sympathy and no agreement in  phrase or formula at all.


There is for example this practical identity of religious feeling  and this discrepancy of interpretation between such an inquirer as  myself and a convert of the Salvation Army.  Here, clothing itself  in phrases and images of barbaric sacrifice, of slaughtered lambs  and fountains of precious blood, a most repulsive and  incomprehensible idiom to me, and expressing itself by shouts,  clangour, trumpeting, gesticulations, and rhythmic pacings that stun  and dismay my nerves, I find, the same object sought, release from  self, and the same end, the end of identification with the immortal,  successfully if perhaps rather insecurely achieved.  I see God  indubitably present in these excitements, and I see personalities I  could easily have misjudged as too base or too dense for spiritual  understandings, lit by the manifest reflection of divinity.  One may  be led into the absurdest underestimates of religious possibilities  if one estimates people only coldly and in the light of everyday  life.  There is a sub-intellectual religious life which, very  conceivably, when its utmost range can be examined, excludes nothing  human from religious cooperation, which will use any words to its  tune, which takes its phrasing ready-made from the world about it,  as it takes the street for its temple, and yet which may be at its  inner point in the directest contact with God.  Religion may suffer  from aphasia and still be religion; it may utter misleading or  nonsensical words and yet intend and convey the truth.  The methods  of the Salvation Army are older than doctrinal Christianity, and may  long survive it.  Men and women may still chant of Beulah Land and  cry out in the ecstasy of salvation; the tambourine, that modern  revival of the thrilling Alexandrine sistrum, may still stir dull  nerves to a first apprehension of powers and a call beyond the  immediate material compulsion of life, when the creeds of  Christianity are as dead as the lore of the Druids.


The emancipation of mankind from obsolete theories and formularies  may be accompanied by great tides of moral and emotional release  among types and strata that by the standards of a trained and  explicit intellectual, may seem spiritually hopeless.  It is not  necessary to imagine the whole world critical and lucid in order to  imagine the whole world unified in religious sentiment,  comprehending the same phrases and coming together regardless of  class and race and quality, in the worship and service of the true  God.  The coming kingship of God if it is to be more than hieratic  tyranny must have this universality of appeal.  As the head grows  clear the body will turn in the right direction.  To the mass of men  modern religion says, "This is the God it has always been in your  nature to apprehend."




Now that we are discussing the general question of individual  conduct, it will be convenient to take up again and restate in that  relationship, propositions already made very plainly in the second  and third chapters.  Here there are several excellent reasons for a  certain amount of deliberate repetition. . . .


All the mystical relations of chastity, virginity, and the like with  religion, those questions of physical status that play so large a  part in most contemporary religions, have disappeared from modern  faith.  Let us be as clear as possible upon this.  God is concerned  by the health and fitness and vigour of his servants; we owe him our  best and utmost; but he has no special concern and no special  preferences or commandments regarding sexual things.


Christ, it is manifest, was of the modern faith in these matters, he  welcomed the Magdalen, neither would he condemn the woman taken in  adultery.  Manifestly corruption and disease were not to stand  between him and those who sought God in him.  But the Christianity  of the creeds, in this as in so many respects, does not rise to the  level of its founder, and it is as necessary to repeat to-day as  though the name of Christ had not been ascendant for nineteen  centuries, that sex is a secondary thing to religion, and sexual  status of no account in the presence of God.  It follows quite  logically that God does not discriminate between man and woman in  any essential things.  We leave our individuality behind us when we  come into the presence of God.  Sex is not disavowed but forgotten.   Just as one's last meal is forgotten--which also is a difference  between the religious moment of modern faith and certain Christian  sacraments.  You are a believer and God is at hand to you; heed not  your state; reach out to him and he is there.  In the moment of  religion you are human; it matters not what else you are, male or  female, clean or unclean, Hebrew or Gentile, bond or free.  It is  AFTER the moment of religion that we become concerned about our  state and the manner in which we use ourselves.


We have to follow our reason as our sole guide in our individual  treatment of all such things as food and health and sex.  God is the  king of the whole world, he is the owner of our souls and bodies and  all things.  He is not particularly concerned about any aspect,  because he is concerned about every aspect.  We have to make the  best use of ourselves for his kingdom; that is our rule of life.   That rule means neither painful nor frantic abstinences nor any  forced way of living.  Purity, cleanliness, health, none of these  things are for themselves, they are for use; none are magic, all are  means.  The sword must be sharp and clean.  That does not mean that  we are perpetually to sharpen and clean it--which would weaken and  waste the blade.  The sword must neither be drawn constantly nor  always rusting in its sheath.  Those who have had the wits and soul  to come to God, will have the wits and soul to find out and know  what is waste, what is vanity, what is the happiness that begets  strength of body and spirit, what is error, where vice begins, and  to avoid and repent and recoil from all those things that degrade.   These are matters not of the rule of life but of the application of  life.  They must neither be neglected nor made disproportionally  important.


To the believer, relationship with God is the supreme relationship.   It is difficult to imagine how the association of lovers and friends  can be very fine and close and good unless the two who love are each  also linked to God, so that through their moods and fluctuations and  the changes of years they can be held steadfast by his undying  steadfastness.  But it has been felt by many deep-feeling people  that there is so much kindred between the love and trust of husband  and wife and the feeling we have for God, that it is reasonable to  consider the former also as a sacred thing.  They do so value that  close love of mated man and woman, they are so intent upon its  permanence and completeness and to lift the dear relationship out of  the ruck of casual and transitory things, that they want to bring  it, as it were, into the very presence and assent of God.  There are  many who dream and desire that they are as deeply and completely  mated as this, many more who would fain be so, and some who are.   And from this comes the earnest desire to make marriage sacramental  and the attempt to impose upon all the world the outward appearance,  the restrictions, the pretence at least of such a sacramental union.


There may be such a quasi-sacramental union in many cases, but only  after years can one be sure of it; it is not to be brought about by  vows and promises but by an essential kindred and cleaving of body  and spirit; and it concerns only the two who can dare to say they  have it, and God.  And the divine thing in marriage, the thing that  is most like the love of God, is, even then, not the relationship of  the man and woman as man and woman but the comradeship and trust and  mutual help and pity that joins them.  No doubt that from the mutual  necessities of bodily love and the common adventure, the necessary  honesties and helps of a joint life, there springs the stoutest,  nearest, most enduring and best of human companionship; perhaps only  upon that root can the best of mortal comradeship be got; but it  does not follow that the mere ordinary coming together and pairing  off of men and women is in itself divine or sacramental or anything  of the sort.  Being in love is a condition that may have its moments  of sublime exaltation, but it is for the most part an experience far  down the scale below divine experience; it is often love only in so  far as it shares the name with better things; it is greed, it is  admiration, it is desire, it is the itch for excitement, it is the  instinct for competition, it is lust, it is curiosity, it is  adventure, it is jealousy, it is hate.  On a hundred scores 'lovers'  meet and part.  Thereby some few find true love and the spirit of  God in themselves or others.


Lovers may love God in one another; I do not deny it.  That is no  reason why the imitation and outward form of this great happiness  should be made an obligation upon all men and women who are  attracted by one another, nor why it should be woven into the  essentials of religion.  For women much more than for men is this  confusion dangerous, lest a personal love should shape and dominate  their lives instead of God.  "He for God only; she for God in him,"  phrases the idea of Milton and of ancient Islam; it is the formula  of sexual infatuation, a formula quite easily inverted, as the end  of Goethe's Faust ("The woman soul leadeth us upward and on") may  witness.  The whole drift of modern religious feeling is against  this exaggeration of sexual feeling, these moods of sexual  slavishness, in spiritual things.  Between the healthy love of  ordinary mortal lovers in love and the love of God, there is an  essential contrast and opposition in this, that preference,  exclusiveness, and jealousy seem to be in the very nature of the  former and are absolutely incompatible with the latter.  The former  is the intensest realisation of which our individualities are  capable; the latter is the way of escape from the limitations of  individuality.  It may be true that a few men and more women do  achieve the completest unselfishness and self-abandonment in earthly  love.  So the poets and romancers tell us.  If so, it is that by an  imaginative perversion they have given to some attractive person a  worship that should be reserved for God and a devotion that is  normally evoked only by little children in their mother's heart.  It  is not the way between most of the men and women one meets in this  world.


But between God and the believer there is no other way, there is  nothing else, but self-surrender and the ending of self.





If the reader who is unfamiliar with scientific things will obtain  and read Metchnikoff's "Nature of Man," he will find there an  interesting summary of the biological facts that bear upon and  destroy the delusion that there is such a thing as individual  perfection, that there is even ideal perfection for humanity.  With  an abundance of convincing instances Professor Metchnikoff  demonstrates that life is a system of "disharmonies," capable of no  perfect way, that there is no "perfect" dieting, no "perfect" sexual  life, no "perfect" happiness, no "perfect" conduct.  He releases one  from the arbitrary but all too easy assumption that there is even an  ideal "perfection" in organic life.  He sweeps out of the mind with  all the confidence and conviction of a physiological specialist, any  idea that there is a perfect man or a conceivable perfect man.  It  is in the nature of every man to fall short at every point from  perfection.  From the biological point of view we are as individuals  a series of involuntary "tries" on the part of an imperfect species  towards an unknown end.


Our spiritual nature follows our bodily as a glove follows a hand.   We are disharmonious beings and salvation no more makes an end to  the defects of our souls than it makes an end to the decay of our  teeth or to those vestigial structures of our body that endanger our  physical welfare.  Salvation leaves us still disharmonious, and adds  not an inch to our spiritual and moral stature.




Let us now take up the question of what is Sin? and what we mean by  the term "damnation," in the light of this view of human reality.   Most of the great world religions are as clear as Professor  Metchnikoff that life in the world is a tangle of disharmonies, and  in most cases they supply a more or less myth-like explanation, they  declare that evil is one side of the conflict between Ahriman and  Ormazd, or that it is the punishment of an act of disobedience, of  the fall of man and world alike from a state of harmony.  Their  case, like his, is that THIS world is damned.


We do not find the belief that superposed upon the miseries of this  world there are the still bitterer miseries of punishments after  death, so nearly universal.  The endless punishments of hell appear  to be an exploit of theory; they have a superadded appearance even  in the Christian system; the same common tendency to superlatives  and absolutes that makes men ashamed to admit that God is finite,  makes them seek to enhance the merits of their Saviour by the device  of everlasting fire.  Conquest over the sorrow of life and the fear  of death do not seem to them sufficient for Christ's glory.


Now the turning round of the modern mind from a conception of the  universe as something derived deductively from the past to a  conception of it as something gathering itself adventurously towards  the future, involves a release from the supposed necessity to tell a  story and explain why.  Instead comes the inquiry, "To what end?"   We can say without mental discomfort, these disharmonies are here,  this damnation is here--inexplicably.  We can, without any  distressful inquiry into ultimate origins, bring our minds to the  conception of a spontaneous and developing God arising out of those  stresses in our hearts and in the universe, and arising to overcome  them.  Salvation for the individual is escape from the individual  distress at disharmony and the individual defeat by death, into the  Kingdom of God.  And damnation can be nothing more and nothing less  than the failure or inability or disinclination to make that escape.


Something of that idea of damnation as a lack of the will for  salvation has crept at a number of points into contemporary  religious thought.  It was the fine fancy of Swedenborg that the  damned go to their own hells of their own accord.  It underlies a  queer poem, "Simpson," by that interesting essayist upon modern  Christianity, Mr. Clutton Brock, which I have recently read.   Simpson dies and goes to hell--it is rather like the Cromwell Road--and approves of it very highly, and then and then only is he  completely damned.  Not to realise that one can be damned is  certainly to be damned; such is Mr. Brock's idea.  It is his  definition of damnation.  Satisfaction with existing things is  damnation.  It is surrender to limitation; it is acquiescence in  "disharmony"; it is making peace with that enemy against whom God  fights for ever.


(But whether there are indeed Simpsons who acquiesce always and for  ever remains for me, as I have already confessed in the previous  chapter, a quite open question.  My Arminian temperament turns me  from the Calvinistic conclusion of Mr. Brock's satire.)




Now the question of sin will hardly concern those damned and lost by  nature, if such there be.  Sin is not the same thing as damnation,  as we have just defined damnation.  Damnation is a state, but sin is  an incident.  One is an essential and the other an incidental  separation from God.  It is possible to sin without being damned;  and to be damned is to be in a state when sin scarcely matters, like  ink upon a blackamoor.  You cannot have questions of more or less  among absolute things.


It is the amazing and distressful discovery of every believer so  soon as the first exaltation of belief is past, that one does not  remain always in touch with God.  At first it seems incredible that  one should ever have any motive again that is not also God's motive.   Then one finds oneself caught unawares by a base impulse.  We  discover that discontinuousness of our apparently homogeneous  selves, the unincorporated and warring elements that seemed at first  altogether absent from the synthesis of conversion.  We are tripped  up by forgetfulness, by distraction, by old habits, by tricks of  appearance.  There come dull patches of existence; those mysterious  obliterations of one's finer sense that are due at times to the  little minor poisons one eats or drinks, to phases of fatigue, ill-health and bodily disorder, or one is betrayed by some unanticipated  storm of emotion, brewed deep in the animal being and released by  any trifling accident, such as personal jealousy or lust, or one is  relaxed by contentment into vanity.  All these rebel forces of our  ill-coordinated selves, all these "disharmonies," of the inner  being, snatch us away from our devotion to God's service, carry us  off to follies, offences, unkindness, waste, and leave us  compromised, involved, and regretful, perplexed by a hundred  difficulties we have put in our own way back to God.


This is the personal problem of Sin.  Here prayer avails; here God  can help us.  From God comes the strength to repent and make such  reparation as we can, to begin the battle again further back and  lower down.  From God comes the power to anticipate the struggle  with one's rebel self, and to resist and prevail over it.




An extreme case is very serviceable in such a discussion as this.


It happens that the author carries on a correspondence with several  lunatics in asylums.  There is a considerable freedom of notepaper  in these institutions; the outgoing letters are no doubt censored or  selected in some way, but a proportion at any rate are allowed to go  out to their addresses.  As a journalist who signs his articles and  as the author of various books of fiction, as a frequent NAME, that  is, to any one much forced back upon reading, the writer is  particularly accessible to this type of correspondent.  The letters  come, some manifesting a hopeless disorder that permits of no reply,  but some being the expression of minds overlaid not at all  offensively by a web of fantasy, and some (and these are the more  touching ones and the ones that most concern us now) as sanely  conceived and expressed as any letters could be.  They are written  by people living lives very like the lives of us who are called  "sane," except that they lift to a higher excitement and fall to a  lower depression, and that these extremer phases of mania or  melancholia slip the leash of mental consistency altogether and take  abnormal forms.  They tap deep founts of impulse, such as we of the  safer ways of mediocrity do but glimpse under the influence of  drugs, or in dreams and rare moments of controllable extravagance.   Then the insane become "glorious," or they become murderous, or they  become suicidal.  All these letter-writers in confinement have  convinced their fellow-creatures by some extravagance that they are  a danger to themselves or others.


The letters that come from such types written during their sane  intervals, are entirely sane.  Some, who are probably unaware--I  think they should know--of the offences or possibilities that  justify their incarceration, write with a certain resentment at  their position; others are entirely acquiescent, but one or two  complain of the neglect of friends and relations.  But all are as  manifestly capable of religion and of the religious life as any  other intelligent persons during the lucid interludes that make up  nine-tenths perhaps of their lives. . . .  Suppose now one of these  cases, and suppose that the infirmity takes the form of some cruel,  disgusting, or destructive disposition that may become at times  overwhelming, and you have our universal trouble with sinful  tendency, as it were magnified for examination.  It is clear that  the mania which defines his position must be the primary if not the  cardinal business in the life of a lunatic, but his problem with  that is different not in kind but merely in degree from the problem  of lusts, vanities, and weaknesses in what we call normal lives.  It  is an unconquered tract, a great rebel province in his being, which  refuses to serve God and tries to prevent him serving God, and  succeeds at times in wresting his capital out of his control.  But  his relationship to that is the same relationship as ours to the  backward and insubordinate parishes, criminal slums, and disorderly  houses in our own private texture.


It is clear that the believer who is a lunatic is, as it were, only  the better part of himself.  He serves God with this unconquered  disposition in him, like a man who, whatever else he is and does, is  obliged to be the keeper of an untrustworthy and wicked animal.  His  beast gets loose.  His only resort is to warn those about him when  he feels that jangling or excitement of the nerves which precedes  its escapes, to limit its range, to place weapons beyond its reach.   And there are plenty of human beings very much in his case, whose  beasts have never got loose or have got caught back before their  essential insanity was apparent.  And there are those uncertifiable  lunatics we call men and women of "impulse" and "strong passions."   If perhaps they have more self-control than the really mad, yet it  happens oftener with them that the whole intelligent being falls  under the dominion of evil.  The passion scarcely less than the  obsession may darken the whole moral sky.  Repentance and atonement;  nothing less will avail them after the storm has passed, and the  sedulous preparation of defences and palliatives against the return  of the storm.


This discussion of the lunatic's case gives us indeed, usefully  coarse and large, the lines for the treatment of every human  weakness by the servants of God.  A "weakness," just like the  lunatic's mania, becomes a particular charge under God, a special  duty for the person it affects.  He has to minimise it, to isolate  it, to keep it out of mischief.  If he can he must adopt preventive  measures. . . .


These passions and weaknesses that get control of us hamper our  usefulness to God, they are an incessant anxiety and distress to us,  they wound our self-respect and make us incomprehensible to many who  would trust us, they discredit the faith we profess.  If they break  through and break through again it is natural and proper that men  and women should cease to believe in our faith, cease to work with  us or to meet us frankly. . . .  Our sins do everything evil to us  and through us except separate us from God.


Yet let there be no mistake about one thing.  Here prayer is a  power.  Here God can indeed work miracles.  A man with the light of  God in his heart can defeat vicious habits, rise again combative and  undaunted after a hundred falls, escape from the grip of lusts and  revenges, make head against despair, thrust back the very onset of  madness.  He is still the same man he was before he came to God,  still with his libidinous, vindictive, boastful, or indolent vein;  but now his will to prevail over those qualities can refer to an  exterior standard and an external interest, he can draw upon a  strength, almost boundless, beyond his own.




But be a sin great or small, it cannot damn a man once he has found  God.  You may kill and hang for it, you may rob or rape; the moment  you truly repent and set yourself to such atonement and reparation  as is possible there remains no barrier between you and God.   Directly you cease to hide or deny or escape, and turn manfully  towards the consequences and the setting of things right, you take  hold again of the hand of God.  Though you sin seventy times seven  times, God will still forgive the poor rest of you.  Nothing but  utter blindness of the spirit can shut a man off from God.


There is nothing one can suffer, no situation so unfortunate, that  it can shut off one who has the thought of God, from God.  If you  but lift up your head for a moment out of a stormy chaos of madness  and cry to him, God is there, God will not fail you.  A convicted  criminal, frankly penitent, and neither obdurate nor abject,  whatever the evil of his yesterdays, may still die well and bravely  on the gallows to the glory of God.  He may step straight from that  death into the immortal being of God.


This persuasion is the very essence of the religion of the true God.   There is no sin, no state that, being regretted and repented of, can  stand between God and man.





As yet those who may be counted as belonging definitely to the new  religion are few and scattered and unconfessed, their realisations  are still uncertain and incomplete.  But that is no augury for the  continuance of this state of affairs even for the next few decades.   There are many signs that the revival is coming very swiftly, it may  be coming as swiftly as the morning comes after a tropical night.   It may seem at present as though nothing very much were happening,  except for the fact that the old familiar constellations of theology  have become a little pallid and lost something of their multitude of  points.  But nothing fades of itself.  The deep stillness of the  late night is broken by a stirring, and the morning star of  creedless faith, the last and brightest of the stars, the star that  owes its light to the coming sun is in the sky.


There is a stirring and a movement.  There is a stir, like the stir  before a breeze.  Men are beginning to speak of religion without the  bluster of the Christian formulae; they have begun to speak of God  without any reference to Omnipresence, Omniscience, Omnipotence.   The Deists and Theists of an older generation, be it noted, never  did that.  Their "Supreme Being" repudiated nothing.  He was merely  the whittled stump of the Trinity.  It is in the last few decades  that the western mind has slipped loose from this absolutist  conception of God that has dominated the intelligence of Christendom  at least, for many centuries.  Almost unconsciously the new thought  is taking a course that will lead it far away from the moorings of  Omnipotence.  It is like a ship that has slipped its anchors and  drifts, still sleeping, under the pale and vanishing stars, out to  the open sea. . . .




In quite a little while the whole world may be alive with this  renascent faith.


For emancipation from the Trinitarian formularies and from a belief  in an infinite God means not merely a great revivification of minds  trained under the decadence of orthodox Christianity, minds which  have hitherto been hopelessly embarrassed by the choice between  pseudo-Christian religion or denial, but also it opens the way  towards the completest understanding and sympathy and participation  with the kindred movements for release and for an intensification of  the religious life, that are going on outside the sphere of the  Christian tradition and influence altogether.  Allusion has already  been made to the sympathetic devotional poetry of Rabindranath  Tagore; he stands for a movement in Brahminism parallel with and  assimilable to the worship of the true God of mankind.


It is too often supposed that the religious tendency of the East is  entirely towards other-worldness, to a treatment of this life as an  evil entanglement and of death as a release and a blessing.  It is  too easily assumed that Eastern teaching is wholly concerned with  renunciation, not merely of self but of being, with the escape from  all effort of any sort into an exalted vacuity.  This is indeed  neither the spirit of China nor of Islam nor of the every-day life  of any people in the world.  It is not the spirit of the Sikh nor of  these newer developments of Hindu thought.  It has never been the  spirit of Japan.  To-day less than ever does Asia seem disposed to  give up life and the effort of life.  Just as readily as Europeans,  do the Asiatics reach out their arms to that fuller life we can  live, that greater intensity of existence, to which we can attain by  escaping from ourselves.  All mankind is seeking God.  There is not  a nation nor a city in the globe where men are not being urged at  this moment by the spirit of God in them towards the discovery of  God.  This is not an age of despair but an age of hope in Asia as in  all the world besides.


Islam is undergoing a process of revision closely parallel to that  which ransacks Christianity.  Tradition and mediaeval doctrines are  being thrust aside in a similar way.  There is much probing into the  spirit and intention of the Founder.  The time is almost ripe for a  heart-searching Dialogue of the Dead, "How we settled our religions  for ever and ever," between, let us say, Eusebius of Caesarea and  one of Nizam-al-Mulk's tame theologians.  They would be drawn  together by the same tribulations; they would be in the closest  sympathy against the temerity of the moderns; they would have a  common courtliness.  The Quran is but little read by Europeans; it  is ignorantly supposed to contain many things that it does not  contain; there is much confusion in people's minds between its text  and the ancient Semitic traditions and usages retained by its  followers; in places it may seem formless and barbaric; but what it  has chiefly to tell of is the leadership of one individualised  militant God who claims the rule of the whole world, who favours  neither rank nor race, who would lead men to righteousness.  It is  much more free from sacramentalism, from vestiges of the ancient  blood sacrifice, and its associated sacerdotalism, than  Christianity.  The religion that will presently sway mankind can be  reached more easily from that starting-point than from the confused  mysteries of Trinitarian theology.  Islam was never saddled with a  creed.  With the very name "Islam" (submission to God) there is no  quarrel for those who hold the new faith. . . .


All the world over there is this stirring in the dry bones of the  old beliefs.  There is scarcely a religion that has not its Bahaism,  its Modernists, its Brahmo Somaj, its "religion without theology,"  its attempts to escape from old forms and hampering associations to  that living and world-wide spiritual reality upon which the human  mind almost instinctively insists. . . .


It is the same God we all seek; he becomes more and more plainly the  same God.


So that all this religious stir, which seems so multifold and  incidental and disconnected and confused and entirely ineffective  to-day, may be and most probably will be, in quite a few years a  great flood of religious unanimity pouring over and changing all  human affairs, sweeping away the old priesthoods and tabernacles and  symbols and shrines, the last crumb of the Orphic victim and the  last rag of the Serapeum, and turning all men about into one  direction, as the ships and houseboats swing round together in some  great river with the uprush of the tide. . . .




Among those who are beginning to realise the differences and  identities of the revived religion that has returned to them,  certain questions of organisation and assembly are being discussed.   Every new religious development is haunted by the precedents of the  religion it replaces, and it was only to be expected that among  those who have recovered their faith there should be a search for  apostles and disciples, an attempt to determine sources and to form  original congregations, especially among people with European  traditions.


These dispositions mark a relapse from understanding.  They are  imitative.  This time there has been no revelation here or there;  there is no claim to a revelation but simply that God has become  visible.  Men have thought and sought until insensibly the fog of  obsolete theology has cleared away.  There seems no need therefore  for special teachers or a special propaganda, or any ritual or  observances that will seem to insist upon differences.  The  Christian precedent of a church is particularly misleading.  The  church with its sacraments and its sacerdotalism is the disease of  Christianity.  Save for a few doubtful interpolations there is no  evidence that Christ tolerated either blood sacrifices or the  mysteries of priesthood.  All these antique grossnesses were  superadded after his martyrdom.  He preached not a cult but a  gospel; he sent out not medicine men but apostles.


No doubt all who believe owe an apostolic service to God.  They  become naturally apostolic.  As men perceive and realise God, each  will be disposed in his own fashion to call his neighbour's  attention to what he sees.  The necessary elements of religion could  be written on a post card; this book, small as it is, bulks large  not by what it tells positively but because it deals with  misconceptions.  We may (little doubt have I that we do) need  special propagandas and organisations to discuss errors and keep  back the jungle of false ideas, to maintain free speech and restrain  the enterprise of the persecutor, but we do not want a church to  keep our faith for us.  We want our faith spread, but for that there  is no need for orthodoxies and controlling organisations of  statement.  It is for each man to follow his own impulse, and to  speak to his like in his own fashion.


Whatever religious congregations men may form henceforth in the name  of the true God must be for their own sakes and not to take charge  of religion.


The history of Christianity, with its encrustation and suffocation  in dogmas and usages, its dire persecutions of the faithful by the  unfaithful, its desiccation and its unlovely decay, its invasion by  robes and rites and all the tricks and vices of the Pharisees whom  Christ detested and denounced, is full of warning against the  dangers of a church.  Organisation is an excellent thing for the  material needs of men, for the draining of towns, the marshalling of  traffic, the collecting of eggs, and the carrying of letters, the  distribution of bread, the notification of measles, for hygiene and  economics and suchlike affairs.  The better we organise such things,  the freer and better equipped we leave men's minds for nobler  purposes, for those adventures and experiments towards God's purpose  which are the reality of life.  But all organisations must be  watched, for whatever is organised can be "captured" and misused.   Repentance, moreover, is the beginning and essential of the  religious life, and organisations (acting through their secretaries  and officials) never repent.  God deals only with the individual for  the individual's surrender.  He takes no cognisance of committees.


Those who are most alive to the realities of living religion are  most mistrustful of this congregating tendency.  To gather together  is to purchase a benefit at the price of a greater loss, to  strengthen one's sense of brotherhood by excluding the majority of  mankind.  Before you know where you are you will have exchanged the  spirit of God for ESPRIT DE CORPS.  You will have reinvented the  SYMBOL; you will have begun to keep anniversaries and establish  sacramental ceremonies.  The disposition to form cliques and exclude  and conspire against unlike people is all too strong in humanity, to  permit of its formal encouragement.  Even such organisation as is  implied by a creed is to be avoided, for all living faith coagulates  as you phrase it.  In this book I have not given so much as a  definite name to the faith of the true God.  Organisation for  worship and collective exaltation also, it may be urged, is of  little manifest good.  You cannot appoint beforehand a time and  place for God to irradiate your soul.


All these are very valid objections to the church-forming  disposition.




Yet still this leaves many dissatisfied.  They want to shout out  about God.  They want to share this great thing with all mankind.


Why should they not shout and share?


Let them express all that they desire to express in their own  fashion by themselves or grouped with their friends as they will.   Let them shout chorally if they are so disposed.  Let them work in a  gang if so they can work the better.  But let them guard themselves  against the idea that they can have God particularly or exclusively  with them in any such undertaking.  Or that so they can express God  rather than themselves.


That I think states the attitude of the modern spirit towards the  idea of a church.  Mankind passes for ever out of the idolatry of  altars, away from the obscene rites of circumcision and symbolical  cannibalism, beyond the sway of the ceremonial priest.  But if the  modern spirit holds that religion cannot be organised or any  intermediary thrust between God and man, that does not preclude  infinite possibilities of organisation and collective action UNDER  God and within the compass of religion.  There is no reason why  religious men should not band themselves the better to attain  specific ends.  To borrow a term from British politics, there is no  objection to AD HOC organisations.  The objection lies not against  subsidiary organisations for service but against organisations that  may claim to be comprehensive.


For example there is no reason why one should not--and in many cases  there are good reasons why one should--organise or join associations  for the criticism of religious ideas, an employment that may pass  very readily into propaganda.


Many people feel the need of prayer to resist the evil in themselves  and to keep them in mind of divine emotion.  And many want not  merely prayer but formal prayer and the support of others, praying  in unison.  The writer does not understand this desire or need for  collective prayer very well, but there are people who appear to do  so and there is no reason why they should not assemble for that  purpose.  And there is no doubt that divine poetry, divine maxims,  religious thought finely expressed, may be heard, rehearsed,  collected, published, and distributed by associations.  The desire  for expression implies a sort of assembly, a hearer at least as well  as a speaker.  And expression has many forms.  People with a strong  artistic impulse will necessarily want to express themselves by art  when religion touches them, and many arts, architecture and the  drama for example, are collective undertakings.  I do not see why  there should not be, under God, associations for building cathedrals  and suchlike great still places urgent with beauty, into which men  and women may go to rest from the clamour of the day's confusions; I  do not see why men should not make great shrines and pictures  expressing their sense of divine things, and why they should not  combine in such enterprises rather than work to fill heterogeneous  and chaotic art galleries.  A wave of religious revival and  religious clarification, such as I foresee, will most certainly  bring with it a great revival of art, religious art, music, songs,  and writings of all sorts, drama, the making of shrines, praying  places, temples and retreats, the creation of pictures and  sculptures.  It is not necessary to have priestcraft and an  organised church for such ends.  Such enrichments of feeling and  thought are part of the service of God.


And again, under God, there may be associations and fraternities for  research in pure science; associations for the teaching and  simplification of languages; associations for promoting and watching  education; associations for the discussion of political problems and  the determination of right policies.  In all these ways men may  multiply their use by union.  Only when associations seek to control  things of belief, to dictate formulae, restrict religious activities  or the freedom of religious thought and teaching, when they tend to  subdivide those who believe and to set up jealousies or exclusions,  do they become antagonistic to the spirit of modern religion.




Because religion cannot be organised, because God is everywhere and  immediately accessible to every human being, it does not follow that  religion cannot organise every other human affair.  It is indeed  essential to the idea that God is the Invisible King of this round  world and all mankind, that we should see in every government, great  and small, from the council of the world-state that is presently  coming, down to the village assembly, the instrument of God's  practical control.  Religion which is free, speaking freely through  whom it will, subject to a perpetual unlimited criticism, will be  the life and driving power of the whole organised world.  So that if  you prefer not to say that there will be no church, if you choose  rather to declare that the world-state is God's church, you may have  it so if you will.  Provided that you leave conscience and speech  and writing and teaching about divine things absolutely free, and  that you try to set no nets about God.


The world is God's and he takes it.  But he himself remains freedom,  and we find our freedom in him.




So I end this compact statement of the renascent religion which I  believe to be crystallising out of the intellectual, social, and  spiritual confusions of this time.  It is an account rendered.  It  is a statement and record; not a theory.  There is nothing in all  this that has been invented or constructed by the writer; I have  been but scribe to the spirit of my generation; I have at most  assembled and put together things and thoughts that I have come  upon, have transferred the statements of "science" into religious  terminology, rejected obsolescent definitions, and re-coordinated  propositions that had drifted into opposition.  Thus, I see, ideas  are developing, and thus have I written them down.  It is a  secondary matter that I am convinced that this trend of intelligent  opinion is a discovery of truth.  The reader is told of my own  belief merely to avoid an affectation of impartiality and aloofness.


The theogony here set forth is ancient; one can trace it appearing  and disappearing and recurring in the mutilated records of many  different schools of speculation; the conception of God as finite is  one that has been discussed very illuminatingly in recent years in  the work of one I am happy to write of as my friend and master, that  very great American, the late William James.  It was an idea that  became increasingly important to him towards the end of his life.   And it is the most releasing idea in the system.


Only in the most general terms can I trace the other origins of  these present views.  I do not think modern religion owes much to  what is called Deism or Theism.  The rather abstract and futile  Deism of the eighteenth century, of "votre Etre supreme" who bored  the friends of Robespierre, was a sterile thing, it has little  relation to these modern developments, it conceived of God as an  infinite Being of no particular character whereas God is a finite  being of a very especial character.  On the other hand men and women  who have set themselves, with unavoidable theological  preconceptions, it is true, to speculate upon the actual teachings  and quality of Christ, have produced interpretations that have  interwoven insensibly with thoughts more apparently new.  There is a  curious modernity about very many of Christ's recorded sayings.   Revived religion has also, no doubt, been the receiver of many  religious bankruptcies, of Positivism for example, which failed  through its bleak abstraction and an unspiritual texture.  Religion,  thus restated, must, I think, presently incorporate great sections  of thought that are still attached to formal Christianity.  The time  is at hand when many of the organised Christian churches will be  forced to define their positions, either in terms that will identify  them with this renascence, or that will lead to the release of their  more liberal adherents.  Its probable obligations to Eastern thought  are less readily estimated by a European writer.


Modern religion has no revelation and no founder; it is the  privilege and possession of no coterie of disciples or exponents; it  is appearing simultaneously round and about the world exactly as a  crystallising substance appears here and there in a super-saturated  solution.  It is a process of truth, guided by the divinity in men.   It needs no other guidance, and no protection.  It needs nothing but  freedom, free speech, and honest statement.  Out of the most mixed  and impure solutions a growing crystal is infallibly able to select  its substance.  The diamond arises bright, definite, and pure out of  a dark matrix of structureless confusion.


This metaphor of crystallisation is perhaps the best symbol of the  advent and growth of the new understanding.  It has no church, no  authorities, no teachers, no orthodoxy.  It does not even thrust and  struggle among the other things; simply it grows clear.  There will  be no putting an end to it.  It arrives inevitably, and it will  continue to separate itself out from confusing ideas.  It becomes,  as it were the Koh-i-noor; it is a Mountain of Light, growing and  increasing.  It is an all-pervading lucidity, a brightness and  clearness.  It has no head to smite, no body you can destroy; it  overleaps all barriers; it breaks out in despite of every enclosure.   It will compel all things to orient themselves to it.


It comes as the dawn comes, through whatever clouds and mists may be  here or whatever smoke and curtains may be there.  It comes as the  day comes to the ships that put to sea.


It is the Kingdom of God at hand.