Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

II.]

through imagination.

63

for good or for evil there is an almost infinite difference of character between the pedlar for whom the primrose 'a yellow primrose is and nothing more' and the poet to whom

the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Again nothing, I believe, can be more clear than that the conclusion as to rules of action, apart from all considerations of effective motive and sanction, will be the same whether we follow the method of a wide utilitarianism or base our system of morality on intuitional ideas of right. But though it may be, as I am ready to grant, of no moment as to laying down rules of action what abstract theory we hold as to the basis of morality; it is of the greatest moment as to character whether we regard our rules as determined by reference to ourselves and by what we can see of their working, or by their relation to some infinitely larger order in which we are a part: whether, that is, we call a thing good because it is seen to be useful within the present sphere of our experience or because we hold that it is in conformity with an absolute law of the working of which we see as yet but little.

Reflections of the same kind apply to all

other articles of belief, even the most abstract. These have not only an effect upon outward action, but also upon those inward processes of thought and feeling which fashion our permanent constitution. In this respect what we think of things is at least as important as what we do. We are called upon in a word to pursue truth in opinion not less than truth in action: to discipline and elevate the imagination: to purify and ennoble the affections to reach forward in every direction to a fuller and more perfect knowledge of the ways of GOD within us and without us. If then we turn aside from a reverent contemplation of the mysteries of life, if we refuse to throw upon them the light which we can gather, if we make no effort to realise their ennobling magnificence because we suppose, for the most part falsely, that their grandeur has no practical significance; we leave undone that which, according to our opportunities, we are bound to do. We take to ourselves a mutilated character. We suffer one great part of ourselves to remain undisciplined, unstrengthened, unused, which (as we may reasonably believe) if not on earth yet in some larger field of being, will require for the fulfilment of its office, the results of that exercise which our present conditions are fitted to supply.

CHAPTER III.

THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH A SOLUTION
OF THE PROBLEMS MUST BE SOUGHT.

OUR inquiries hitherto have established two important conclusions, (1) that we are placed in the midst of mysteries, and that we carry within ourselves mysteries, from which escape is impossible; and (2) that we are so made and so placed that we are constrained to look upon them, to seek and to shape some solution of them, to live according as we interpret them. The problems of life, in a word, are inevitable; and the answers which they receive are of the most direct practical importance to those who render them.

We have now to consider the conditions under which the answer to these problems must be sought. And I do not think that I can better introduce what I have to say upon the subject in relation to present difficulties than by

W. G. L.

5

a reference to the famous passage of the Novum Organum in which Bacon sums up the prolific sources of the phantoms of the cave.'

These false and misleading spectres, which simulate the form of Truth, spring, he tells us, for the most part from certain prevailing views, from an excessive passion for synthesis or analysis, from a preference for some particular period in the history of the world, from "a telescopic or microscopic character" of mind. Now I am by no means prepared to maintain that we are not haunted still by spectres of the tribe, of the market and of the theatre: that we do not suffer from the preponderating influence of the objects of sense, from the misunderstanding of current terms, from the attractiveness of brilliant theories; but the spectres of the cave seem to crowd about us just now in greater numbers than all these and to disturb our judgment more deeply, partly by their fictitious terrors and partly by their unsubstantial beauty. Or to drop the image and speak plainly, there seems to be a growing danger lest all facts should be forced into one category, lest one method of investigation should be armed with an absolute despotism, lest one verifying test should be transformed into a universal necessity.

III.]

Different kinds of Truth.

67

It is then of primary importance to guard ourselves against this danger when we enter upon the study of Religion or Theology. And that we may learn to do so the more completely we must still keep our attention fixed upon the broadest aspects of things. By the help of this discipline we shall be enabled at once to see that we are constrained in our speculations to distinguish several distinct groups of phenomena which rest on separate bases, which lead to results differing essentially in kind, which must be verified by characteristic proofs: to see that there are various classes of Truths which are marked not by different degrees of certainty, but by different kinds of certainty that the word 'science' has a manifold application: that Theology is most really a positive science based upon its own special facts, and pursued according to its own proper method. The reflections which I desire to suggest will group themselves, as before, round the three final elements of being-self, the world, and GOD; and it will be my general object to shew that the type of science which belongs to each of these ultimate divisions of the objects of thought is absolutely distinct; and that each more complex science presupposes and rests upon that which is simpler and more general.

« PoprzedniaDalej »