Page:The optimism of Butler's 'Analogy'.djvu/42
The Romanes Lecture 1908
mistake, abuse, corruption? Well, why not? He trusts man with splendid natural endowments, and yet takes the risk of their wreckage.
How can you believe that He would bring into play a Revelation which only the few would hear of, and which would have to wait centuries for its opportunities? Well, why not? He has filled earth with treasures and succours, which yet lie hidden century after century, and are only slowly and laboriously discovered and brought into use. He counts on human effort in the one case; why not in the other? Difficulty, struggle, doubt—these are our probation. Through them we have worked out our secular Civilization. Why should not the same methods be equally available in the spiritual sphere? Why should we isolate Religious development from the normal and natural and customary order of things? Why should we imagine for it some special and fantastic dignity, which would forbid it from conforming to our habitual experience?
Again and again, Butler's strong common sense keeps him true and realistic in this way. He is never on stilts. He enjoys common things. He keeps close in touch with things as they are. He goes along with a healthy cheerfulness, resolute in his determination to be loyal to the actual, and to demand no exceptional treatment for Religion or Revelation, as if they lay apart from ordinary human life. Their strength lies in their conformity to natural conditions. The closer their coherence with the common type of human experience and human history, the greater is their reality and the more convincing their evidence. Everything that is most familiar to us in our daily habits reappears in them. They work on the regular lines. That is why we believe in them. Even the very difficulties that recur do but corroborate our confidence by their normality and their familiarity. The two works of Nature and Religion mingle and fuse in one connective continuity of growth.