Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/129

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117
MATTHEW ARNOLD

I confine myself to saying that Arnold's solution of the difficulty not only shows admirable candour and courage, but may seem to correspond to the most probable goal of the modern evolution of thought. It often gives a singular impression to compare the apologists of orthodoxy in the present day with their predecessors of a past generation. The old divine used to prove the historical assertions of his creed by evidence and to demonstrate its dogmas by reasoning. He tried, at least, to 'confute' cavillers by argument. The modern apologist entirely changes the system. He admits that the evidence is inadequate, and that the dogmas, as formerly understood, were really false and repulsive. He accepts positions once supposed to be essentially sceptical. And yet, all the same, he ends by concluding that it does not matter. The sceptic was in the right; but in spite of this, believers are somehow justified. That strikes some people as dishonest, and the best excuse is that it is an approximation to Arnold's position. Agree fully and frankly that the value of a creed is not to be tested by its historical and philosophical validity; that it really belongs to the sphere of poetry and provides symbols for the emotions, not truths for the