Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/123

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MATTHEW ARNOLD

things practically. He poses, one may say, as a literary critic; he disavows all logical system, and declares almost ostentatiously that he is no metaphysician; but his apparent conclusion is, not that he is incompetent to speak of philosophy, but that philosophy is mere pedantry, so far as it is not poetry in disguise. The organ by which we are to discover religious truth does not employ the prosaic method of examining evidence, nor the logical method of à priori reasoning; but that free play of thought which is our guide in letters: the judgment, as he says, which insensibly forms itself in a fair mind, familiar with the best thoughts of the world. The prophet is inspired by the Zeitgeist, and judges by a cultivated instinct, not by systematic argument. The rather airy mode of treating great problems which emerges is often bewildering to the ordinary mind. The orthodox may revolt against the easy confidence with which the Zeitgeist puts aside 'miracles' and the supernatural,—not as disproved, but as obviously not worth the trouble of disproving. The agnostic is amazed to find that Arnold, while treating all theological dogma as exploded rubbish, expatiates upon the supreme value of the sublimated essence of theology. God, Arnold tells us, is not a term