Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/119
pretations and sublimations of things natural. To master the real world was an ancient and not too promising ambition: it suited his youthful radicalism better to exorcise or to cajole it. He sought to refresh the world with a water-spout of idealism, as if to change the names of things could change their values. Away with all arid investigation, away with the cold algebra of sense and reason, and let us have instead a direct conversation with heaven, an unclouded vision of the purposes and goodness of God; as if there were any other way of understanding the sources of human happiness than to study the ways of nature and man.
Converse with God has been the life of many a wiser and sadder philosopher than Berkeley; but they, like Plato, for instance, or Spinoza, have made experience the subject as well as the language of that intercourse, and have thus given the divine revelation some degree of pertinence and articulation. Berkeley in his positive doctrine was satisfied with the vaguest generalities; he made no effort to find out how the consciousness that God is the direct author of our incidental perceptions is to help us to deal with them; what other insights and principles are to be substituted for those that disclose the economy of nature; how the moral difficulties incident to an absolute providentialism are to be met, or how the existence and influence of fellow-minds is to be defended. So that to a piety inspired by con-