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Progress.

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There is a life running through all creation in which we share. We severally think with a mind which is more or less in harmony with a universal mind. It is more than a mere metaphor to say that we have sympathy with Nature and Nature with us. And if we are startled to find that the action of the mind is connected with certain definite changes of matter as physiologists have established, we must remember that the reasonable conclusion from this fact is not that the mind is material, in the sense of being corruptible and transitory, but that matter is spiritual. For it shews that the one force exerted through matter of which we are conscious is such.

And what must be said of the future? What indications are there of the issue of this conflict which reaches through all being and all life? Must we suppose that things move on in a uniform course? or that they revolve in cycles ? There is at least no ground in the being of things themselves to expect a progress, an advance from good to better, in nature or in history. The 'survival of the fittest' through conflict, in respect of the conditions of present physical existence, by no means assures us of the survival of the fittest absolutely, in respect of the highest capacities of human nature. If we find that we cling to the

W. G. L.

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belief that the world does so advance, then this persistency of faith can only be due to the conviction that there is a true moral government of the universe: that the evil is something which does not belong to the essence of creation and is therefore separable from it: that the contest here is not a war between rival powers, but a rebellion of a subject against his lord.

iii. In this way the world adds its mysteries to the sum of the dark problems of life, the mysteries of man's perception of the world, of creation, of law, of that which acts by law, of conflict, of unity, of sympathy, of progress. They lie before us, whether we regard them or not; and consciously or unconsciously we all deal with them. Nor is this all. They lead us up at last to other mysteries, the last mysteries of being on which I propose to touch, the mysteries which are involved in the idea of GOD. This idea is, I have assumed, natural to man, and necessarily called out into some form of distinctness just as the other ideas of 'self' and 'the world.' But difficulties begin as soon as we attempt to set our thoughts upon it in order.

If we try to establish by argument the existence of a Being Whom we may reverence

1.] No 'proof' of the existence of GOD. 35

and love, our intellectual proofs break down. The 'proofs' which are derived from the supposed necessity that something must remain fixed in the midst of change, or that a real being must correspond to the highest thought of man, if they are pressed to their last consequences, issue in pantheism. The 'proofs' again which are derived from the observation of design, of the adaptation of means to an end, or from the dictates of conscience, make man and man's ways of thinking measures of all being in a manner which cannot be justified. Nor would they lead to an adequate conclusion. The Being to which they guide us is less than the Being for Whom we look and in Whom we trust. Such arguments are fitted to bring into greater distinctness that knowledge of GOD, which man is born to pursue, to quicken and to illustrate his search for it, to shew the correspondence of the higher idea of GOD which he shapes with the suggestions and signs of nature and action and thought. But they have no final or absolute validity. We can know that only which falls within the range of our minds.

We abandon then, it may be, all attempts to prove by reason what we find to be true in experience, and simply strive to give reality to the idea which we have. As we do so, we are at

once baffled by the conception of the 'personality' of GOD. For us 'personality' is expressed by and is the expression of limitation. How can we extend this notion to an Infinite Being? and, if this is impossible, how then can we supply in any other way that which shall give to the idea the definiteness which we long for?

Or we may approach the difficulty from another side. Just as 'personality' corresponds with our human notion of the Being of GOD; so prayer corresponds with our notion of the action of GOD. Prayer is a universal instinct. But when we come to analyse what we suppose to be the action of prayer addressed to GOD, it seems to involve the movement of the infinite by the finite. The instinct remains but we cannot reconcile the contradiction which it brings out. It represents to us in the most impressive shape the mystery which lies in the coexistence of the finite and the infinite.

The question of prayer carries us on to consider the relation of GOD not only to ourselves but also to the world. Does the observed uniformity of law embody the present will of GOD acting so to speak from moment to moment? or must we suppose that 'all creation was one act at once,'

1.] The relation of GOD to phenomena.

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and that the succession of phenomena in our experience is a consequence of the weakness of our powers as we decipher the Divine thought? The mere effort to ponder the questions is sufficient to shew the irrelevance of much of the popular reasoning about 'miracles.' The 'law' under which we arrange our observations has no independent force. Ordinary and exceptional phenomena equally reveal the action of GOD, and we can have no certain assurance that we have at any time learnt all the ways of His working.

Such considerations disclose the undiscoverable vastness of the order in which we are set; and through, or at least according to, which we must learn whatever the imperfection of our powers allows us to learn of GOD. The immediate contemplation of nature is overwhelming; and the actual history of human opinion brings no assistance towards the solution of the mystery of the relation of GOD to the world and to ourselves. If we fix our thoughts on the præ-Christian period it will be seen that the religious history of men, whether Jews or Heathen, is the history of the gradual withdrawal of GOD from the world. In the first ages, as in the childhood of the race or in our own childhood, GOD seemed to be very near to men and easily to be approached. So it is

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