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'5. The Cartesian. 6. The Newtonian. "7. The Leibnitian.' 'II. 2. I desire, with all deference, to suggest some cautions in the study of this volume.
The theory of the infinity of creation is at best a very questionable one. M. Saisset's theory of prayer, in his ninth Meditation, seems to me equally unsatisfactory to the philosopher and to the Christian. The philosopher will perceive that it solves the problem of prayer, by quietly eviscerating it of its difficulty. The Christian will have more serious objections. M. Saisset makes two kinds of prayer, a higher and a lower—the lower of impetration, the higher. of resignation; and he appears to merge the lower absolutely in the higher The lower is a pardonable weakness—the higher is the heritage of maturity. I suspect that M. Saisset has been influenced here by his admiration of Malebranche. The Oratorian is bold enough to say that “prayer is only good for Christians who have preserved the Jewish spirit;” “ that to seek for eternal goods, and to annihilate the soul in presence of the holiness and greatness of God, is that in which true piety consists,” while the imagination of a particular Providence savours of pride. These views are too sublimated to be altogether just. The Lord's Prayer at least contains the lower petition : “Give us this day our daily bread,” as well as the higher, “ Thy will be done." Without the former, the “sublime familiarity of prayer," as M. Saisset calls it in a phrase which is itself sublime, will cease to exist, and the very idea of Providence be lost.
'It is also possible that, against M. Saisset's wish, his work may leave an impression that is unfair to the Gospel Revelation. I suppose most thinkers agree with Aquinas, that “the existence of God can be known by natural reason, as is said in the first of Romans, and that this and other truths of the same kind are not properly so much articles of faith as preambles to those articles, our faith presupposing natural knowledge, as grace presupposes nature. The Christian has reason to thank those who strengthen the preambles. Philosophy is incidentally useful to him, negatively and positively. Negatively, she takes Pantheistic and other systems, and shows that they are not invulnerable. Positively, she shows that Theistic conclusions are most in accordance with reason as well as feeling. But she is too apt to create a system of natural religion with Kant, Rousseau, and Reid. I need not cite those palmary texts so much “blown upon” (as Addison says), which prove that Plato and Socrates could ascend to the notion of God. I have no reason for supposing--and much for the contrary hypothesis—that M. Saisset would deny the conclusions Butler and Clarke. He knows much better than I do that, besides many doctrines unknown to reason, Christianity republished authoritatively, in a simple and accessible form, without any intermixture of errors, those truths, discoverable indeed, and discovered by a few, but unknown generally, which before led a precarious existence, in a scattered and dissipated condition, and were first reduced by the Gospel into one solid system of verity. Joined with each portion of the Revelation, old and new, is a truth of natural religion (so called) which experimentalists are always cutting off, to see it writhe and twist
, and to mistake its merely nervous and muscular action for that vitality which it can only permanently have in connexion with the head. Take the Commandments. The first teaches the existence and unity of God; the second implies that He is spiritual; the third is based upon His Providence and moral government; the fourth contains a permanent record of God the Creator, and is a standing protest against Pantheism. So God's attribute of Goodness is bound
1 Summa Theol. Quæst. ii. Art. ii.
up with the mission and death of Christ. Moral responsibility underlies the article," from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead,” and immortality, the resurrection of the body". What, asks Rousseau, is the soul of religion but to worship God in spirit and in truth? What, indeed! It only needed about four thousand years—the dispensation of the law, the teaching of the prophets, and the death of the Son of God—to establish this simple and obvious truth-simple and obvious as the fifth proposition of the first book of Euclid is, i.e. to those who have been taught it; and when a reasoner against the necessity of revelation parades this principle as an argument, he gives it life, by transfusing into the withered veins of his natural religion drops that have been drawn from the very heart's blood of the revelation which he depreciates. Diderot said that all religions, and Christianity among the rest, were but sections of natural religion : it would be more just to invert the proposition, and to say that all schemes of natural religion are but wretched sects of Christianity.
6“ Reveal'd religion first inform'd thy sight,
And Reason saw not till Faith sprung the light."
"Once more, I must repeat my hope and conviction that M. Saisset would agree with these sentiments. I am but speaking of the general impression left by the second portion of his work. He seems to present it to us as the method by which he has learned to possess his own soul in peace, and by which he hopes others may attain the same blessing. What is this but to dispense with revelation by a stroke of Occam's razor ?
Yet surcly one significant, I hope and think intentional omission, on the part of this great intellect, may warn minds inferior to his own of the failure of the method. I read this book. I perceive one great hiatus. I take it up, and turn it over and over again. I hear much of metaphysical, little of moral, difficulties; much of the agony of the doubting intellect, nothing of the deeper agony of the questioning conscience ; much to show truly and powerfully, that God is distinct from His creatures—that they are not absorbed into Him—that I have a right to stand in presence of God, and of the universe, and of other spirits, and to say I in presence of each-nothing to indicate how, as one of God's banished ones, I am to be brought back to Him. For, indeed, the delirium of philosophy may teach a handful of dreamers to mutter, “I am God," but the deeper instincts of our misery and sinfulness rather make us shiver on the verge of the black chasm which yawns between our guilt and God's awful purity. I agree with M. Saisset that philosophy can demonstrate to us the existence of God from the constitution of our own minds and hearts, and from the irrefragable proofs of design in the constitution of the universe. The question has been settled by Socrates and Plato. I admit that he has proved that the arguments against an inconceivable Infinite Personality advanced by Strauss, Schelling, and Fichte, are light indeed compared with the arguments against an absurd infinite non-personality. His pleas for a moral design in suffering, for Providence in the three worlds of gravitation, animal life, and human personality, are strong and convincing. I believe, then, that in some sense Philosophy can find God. I believe that in some sense she can justify me in praying. But M. Saisset has a vast knowledge of philosophic systems. Will he find for us in any record previous to Christianity, or extraneous to its influence, a single instance of any child of man so conscious of bis being a child of God as to say, not vaguely, Father Zeus,” but, God, my Father!” The Psalms themselves can afford us no such instance. M. Saisset's last section leaves the impression that reason can find the Father. I conceive the juster conclusion to be, that reason can find
God, but not the Father. I apprehend the truth to be, that M. Saisset, like many other great writers in France, has been driven by ultramontane exaggeration into an opposite exaggeration of the strength and of the sphere of reason in Divine things. To hear it preached, as it has been by Dr. Newman, that to believe in God is just as bard or just as easy as to believe in the Roman Church: to see a man like M. Bautain exulting in the Kantian categories as the shipwreck of all Theism, short of accepting the creed of Pope Pius, is to make Philosophy feel that she has a vested interest in conquering every possible inch of ground for human reason. Hence M. Saisset's injustice to the “Theological school.”.
Will the eminent philosopher whom I criticise so freely allow me to go further? I seem to recognise in France a whole school of thinkers, who are eloquent about the beauty of Christianity as a theory, silent upon the incorrigible stubbornness of Christianity as a fact; eloquent upon the Divine eclecticism which has fused all the scattered elements of truth into one mass,
upon that delicately-balanced evidence, of which it may be said, that if it were more the Gospel would cease to be a faith, and that if it were less the Gospel might become a superstition : that if it were more there would be no probation for the heart, and if less no grappling-point for the reason. Reason, on Roman Catholic ground, is like an army stretched along a line with weak points as well as strong points, all of which must be defended. Thus it is that philosophers, who wish to be Christians, refine away many Roman peculiarities into profound symbols, and extending this habit further, the members of the most dogmatic Church in the world become undogmatic to the verge of Socinianism. Rome has a majestic theory of unity; she expresses it in a lathand-plaster imitation of the heavenly Jerusalem. She has a belief in the dignity of every portion of the corporeal organization of the saints that sleep, as destined to belong to the spiritual body which shall grow in the germ of the flesh; she expresses it in a miserable relic-worship, or disguises it in an enormous hagiology. As she delineates the beautiful ideal of the resurrection of the body in the clay of relic-worship, so she carves out the primitive truth of the redemption of the body in the cherry-stones of fanciful myths. The presence of our Lord in the sacrament is concentrated into the materialism of transubstantiation. Repentance, with its deep sighs and burning tears, is frozen into the sacrament of penance.
Thus, the educated mind, which wishes to retain its belief, is perpetually volatilizing into metaphor what its Church has been congealing into symbols and dogmas. And this habit of mind, once acquired, is exercised at last not only upon the symbol, but upon the dogmatic truth which the symbol encases.
Thus the sacrament becomes a mere beautiful expression of the souls sustenance, and the Resurrection of our immortality, and the holy Trinity of God's attributes, and the Incarnation of the meeting of the finite and infinite. The Gospel narrative becomes, not indeed absolutely
"I owe this thought to a writer who is as witty as he is wise, taking the former word in that sense which implies an exquisite sagacity in perceiving delicate lines of resemblance between things apparently dissimilar. It will be found in an original paper on Butler's Analogy, in the Irish Churchman, by the author of 'New Wine in Old Bottles,' the Rev. J. B. Heard, M.A. of Percy Chapel.
? M. Bautain, in one of the most elegant as well as powerful passages in his writings, is forced to acknowledge how well Pantheism also can find a home in the Roman Catholic ritual: This religion is made symbolical; if Catholicism is the sublimest of religions, it is chiefly by its form. Its cathedrals, with their ogives, lancets, and rose-windows; its worship, with its ceremonial, its music and chanting, render it so deeply interesting, and it suits marvellously with that vague religiosity which admits all symbols.' -- Philosophie du Christianisme, Supplément à la 29e Lettre du Panthéisme, vol. ii. p. 163.
NO. CXIX.--N. S.
unbelieved, but thin and shadowy under these subtle touches. I am not sure that M. Saisset may not have imbibed something of this spirit.
III. And, now, let me sum up the whole impression which I have attempted to convey in this Essay.
'I have translated M. Saisset's book with an admiration of his intellectual power, of his learning, and of his masculine eloquence, which makes me wish that my flattery were worth his acceptance. I thank him for a noble testimony of reason to the Personality of God. He has drawn out clearly the central idea of Pantheism. He has analysed its metaphysics from Spinoza to Hegel, gliding subtly along its finest threads. He has shown that Pantheism is founded upon false deductions from that experience which it condemns; that its vaunted premisses are word-jugglings, false to the verge of madness; that it promises the soul an ocean of light to lead it into an abyss of darkness, without morality, immortality, or God for its morality is a fancy, its immortality is death, and its God is the negation of God. He has done this not merely by demonstrating the impotence of human reason, which might lead us down another abyss, but with metaphysical good sense as well as subtlety, showing that God is light as well as darkness, and that reason has its strength as well as its weakness. Nor have his services ended there. He has displayed to us all the great proofs for the existence of God, not isolated as in Descartes or Paley, not sneered down with offensive contempt as only suitable for childhood, but ringed together like adamant. The eye that has been bloodshot with gazing upon the blinding snows of Scepticism, or filmed over with looking upon the hot iron of Pantheism, is soothed as by the softness of green fields. I have to thank him too for many lights, thrown upon nature, and upon the mind and condition of man. Even after that matchless sentence in which Paley joins together “at one end of our discoveries, an intelligent power constructing a ring of two hundred thousand miles diameter to surround Saturn's body, and be suspended like a magnificent arch over the heads of his inhabitants—at the other, bending a hooked tooth, concerting and providing an appropriate mechanism, for the clasping and reclasping of the filaments of the feather of the humming birds,” I can turn with pleasure to the Meditation in which M. Saisset binds together the eighteen millions of stars in the Milky Way, and the bee upon the flower. Never have I more clearly seen that,
“Our grief is but our grandeur in disguise." Never has the prayer of resignation seemed to me more reasonable or more beautiful. Never has my own personality more irresistibly led me to the Personality of God.
* These great services have some qualifications. If man,“ repelled by intellect, impelled by faith "-as has been so superbly said by Professor Fraserwill spring towards the Infinite, it is well that the bars of his cage should be more securely padded than by mere philosopby. I would ask the author of this Essay-Shall I, or any one in a million, ever find peace as you have done? The mer-de-glace of the Infinite is covered with myriads of philosophic insects that have been carried up there and lost. Jacob wrestled one night, and found a blessing at break of day. I must wrestle twenty years, if I am to follow you, and perhaps never say “Peniel” at the end. I multiply figures because I am in earnest. You have stretched a rope over the river. With mighty muscles and unfailing feet, you have come to shore. But your hair is wet, and your garment saturated with spray, and your face is pale as with the agony of death. I bad rather pass over the old bridge by which the
· Natural Theology, chap. xxvii.
Church treads, than on your strong shoulders--and after all your rope is fastened to the bridge!
*You show me the Personal, Infinite, God, Creator of earth and heaven. But there rises before me the thought of One, without Whom I suspect you would never have told me even that, and He says what draws me towards God, as all the metaphysics on earth, and
all the stars in heaven, never could. “Nó man cometh unto the Father but by Me."
'The last sentence of your book is a noble one. Let me add five words to it. “The great mystery of existence, the distinction and union of two personalities, that mystery where pure reason is confounded, where reasoning has so often gone astray, iš no more a mystery for the soul that has prayed.” The grand and simple music of the old collects is echoing in my heart—and I add, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”'
On the whole, we have in this book a great work well translated and carefully edited. Some passages there are in the text, never in the notes, which a Christian will suspect as erroneous, or lament as deficient. But to those great truths which Aquinas has called the preambles of the faith,' it forms a solid and beautiful testimony. M. Saisset's premises are generally those of S. Augustine. We regret that he should not · have pressed them to a more definitely Christian conclusion.