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i.] THE PERIL OF CHRISTIANITY. 47
man spake like this man." His words are "spirit and they are life," the spirit and the life of "the loftiest feelings hitherto vouchsafed to humanity." Who can believe that they shall pass away?
But there is Christianity and Christianity. As I have written elsewhere:
"It is the commonest mistake, in the present day, to identify Christian teaching with some vulgar caricature of it, and then to condemn it off-hand, without in the least understanding what it really is. It fills one with pity to see earnest and able men thus wasting time and energy in arguing, as the old Greeks •would have said, about the shadow of an ass. Moreover, Christian teaching professes to he symbolic, and an economy of divine things. Every article of faith must be construed according to the sense of Goethe's line: 'AUes vergangliche ist nur eln Glcichniss.' Surely there is some middle term between knowing exactly how things are, in themselves, and knowing nothing at all about them. Are not painting, poetry, and music economical in their representation of reality? Is not speech itself a most mysterious, yet a true, aualogon of thought ?" *
To this I would add that here, too, the doctrine of Progress properly applies. The religion of these modern times must grow with our growing culture, must widen with our wider knowledge. It cannot stand still. Far less can it regress to Alexandrian, or Renaissance, or Puritan conceptions. Here, as elsewhere, Mr. Spencer's dictum holds good: "Perpetual self-adaptation to environment is the very law of life." In the
* An-icnt Religion and Modem. Thought, p. 33.5.
spiritual order, as in the physical, to live is to change; to cease to change is to cease to live. A formula is hut the roho of truth. And, as a truth lives and grows in the mind, whether of the individual or of the race, its vesture hecomes too straitened for it. He is not only a had philosopher, hut, little as he may deem it, a deadly foe to manIkind, who seeks to elevate hy-gone forms, spiritual, intellectual, or political, into absolute types; who can dream of no future fur humanity but the resuscitation of a past, which assuredly is dead and will not return. Ominous is the warning of Professor Tyndall: "Theologians must liberate and refine their conceptions, or must be prepared for the rejection of them by thoughtful minds." In my judgment, the greatest peril of Christianity in the present age lies in this: that those who profess to be teachers of religion and defenders of the faith so seldom endeavour honestly to follow out the lines of thought familiar to earnest and cultivated men of the world. Most pregnant are the words of Clement of Alexandria: "The Good Shepherd cares, indeed, for all His sheep ; but seeks especially such as are of most excellent nature and most abundant usefulness; and these arc men of light and leading—ol rjyeiJ.ovi.Kol K<u 7rcuSeuT»<ol." * Who lean measure their responsibility, whose incredible traditions and discredited apologetics keep such from His fold?
* Stromata, vi. 17, § 158.
It appears to me, then, that by far the greatest and most important advance of the modern world over antiquity is in the progress of man himself. It appears to me, also, that the chief instrument of such progress is the Christian religion. With reason does Europe still compute its chronology by "the year of our Lord," thus paying unconscious homage to Him who is the source of all that is highest in its civilization. Christianity is commonly spoken of as a revelation of God to man. It is also, most assuredly, a revelation of man to himself. Hegel goes so far as to say that we owe to it the very idea of personality. ''Entire quarters of the world, Africa and the East, have never had, and have not yet, this idea. The Greeks and Romans, Plato and Aristotle and the Stoics had it not. It came into the world through Christianity, in which the individual, as such, had an infinite worth, as being the aim and the object of Divine Charity." I confess this seems to me too strongly said. But if it is not strictly
accurate to assert that the world owes to Christianity the idea of personality, we may, at all events, safely affirm that Christianity has impressed upon that idea quite a new significance. "Persona est homo civili statu procditus" was the highest account of the matter which Roman jurisprudence had to give. The conception developed among the Hebrews of their direct relations with the Creator and Judge of men went far beyond that. But it was reserved for Christianity, as an universal religion, to exhibit in personality the key to the problems of existence; to reveal the true nature of the obligation attaching to it; the real import of that ethical "ought" which the wisest of the ancient world confessed but could not explain: to proclaim the transcendent worth of man as a moral being. The distinctive consciousness of personality, diffused by Christianity, has transfigured the whole mental and spiritual life of the nations that have received it, and has renewed the forms of their social existence. And the essential note ^ of personality is Liberty. Not mere external "'Liberty, but a Liberty which stone walls and iron bars cannot annihilate, nay, which even a slave may enjoy, knowing himself to be "Christ's freeman." This idea of freedom, I say, working from within, it is, which has most potently shaped the ethical conditions of life in Christian countries. Not by the storm of war, not by the earthquake of revolution, but by the still, small voice of conscience has ii.] THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL. 51
the vast change been wrought, which, moro than anything else, marks off our modern civilization from the civilizations that have preceded it.
Dimly, one might perhaps say unconsciously, has this truth been apprehended by the popular mind and expressed in a Shibboleth most effective upon the popular imagination. The panegyrist of "our enlightened age," after expatiating, much to the satisfaction of his audience, upon its scientific discoveries and mechanical inventions, will not infrequently go on, with their entire approbation, to speak very excellent things of the Liberty which is our proud prerogative. And we may say with Gretchen. "Das ist alles schon recht und gut." Liberty merits all the praises which human rhetoric can lavish upon it. Liberty which is really such. But there is, in Burke's phrase, a Liberty which is not liberal: a counterfeit which usurps the noble name and august attributes of true freedom. Liberty is very generally understood, in the present day, to consist in doing as one pleases. "Over his own mind and body the Individual is sovereign " is a dictum in which Mr. Mill • expresses this view: while Mr. Herbert Spencer takes "real freedom" to "consist in the ability of each to carry on his own life without hindrance from others, so long as ho does not hinder them." And if we pass from the private to the public order, the most popular and widely held doctrine of the State is that it is merely a machine for assuring this individual