Ethical Studies/Essay 8
THE position we are now in can be put very shortly. Morality is an endless process, and therefore a self-contradiction; and, being such, it does not remain standing in itself, but feels the impulse to transcend its existing reality.
It is a self-contradiction in this way: it is a demand for what can not be. Nothing is good but the good will; nothing is to be real but the good; and yet the reality is not wholly good. Neither in me, nor in the world, is what ought to be what is, and what is what ought to be; and the claim remains in the end a mere claim.
The reason of the contradiction is the fact that man is a contradiction. But man is more; he feels or knows himself as such, and this makes a vital difference; for to feel a contradiction is ipso facto to be above it. Otherwise, how would it be possible to feel it? A felt contradiction which does not imply, beside its two poles, an unity which includes and is above them, will, the more it is reflected on, the more be seen to be altogether unmeaning. Unless man was and divined himself to be a whole, he could not feel the contradiction, still less feel pain in it, and reject it as foreign to his real nature.
So we see that the moral point of view, which leaves man in a sphere with which he is not satisfied, can not be final. This or that human being, this or that passing stage of culture, may remain in this region of weariness, of false self-approval and no less false self-contempt; but for the race, as a whole, this is impossible. It has not done it; and, while man is man, it certainly never will do it.
And here we should close these Essays, since here we go beyond morality. But, that we may make the foregoing plainer, we are tempted to say something more; however fragmentary, however much in the form of an appendix.
Reflection on morality leads us beyond it. It leads us, in short, to see the necessity of a religious point of view. It certainly does not tell us that morality comes first in the world and then religion: what it tells us is that morality is imperfect, and imperfect in such a way as implies a higher, which is religion.
Morality issues in religion: and at this word ‘religion’ the ordinary reader is upon us with cries and questions, and with all the problems of the day—God, and personal God, immortality of the soul, the conflict of revelation and science, and who knows what beside? He must not expect any answer to these questions here: we are writing a mere appendix; and in that our object is to show that religion, as a matter of fact, does give us what morality does not give; and our method is simply, so far as our purpose requires, to point to the facts of the religious consciousness, without drawing conclusions to the right or left, without trying to go much below the surface, or doing anything beyond what is wanted in this connection with morality.
We purpose to say nothing about the ultimate truth of religion: nothing again about its origin in the world, or in the individual. We are to take the religious consciousness as an existing fact, and to take it as we find it now in the modern Christian mind, whether that mind recognizes it or whether it does not. And lastly, space compels us to do no more than dogmatically assert what seems to us to be true in respect of it.
That there is some connection between true religion and morality every one we need consider sees. A man who is ‘religious’ and does not act morally, is an impostor, or his religion is a false one. This does not hold good elsewhere. A philosopher may be a good philosopher, and yet, taking him as a whole, may be immoral; and the same thing is true of an artist, or even of a theologian. They may all be good, and yet not good men; but no one who knew what true religion was would call a man, who on the whole was immoral, a religious man. For religion is not the mere knowing or contemplating of any object, however high. It is not mere philosophy nor art, because it is not mere seeing, no mere theoretic activity, considered as such or merely from its theoretical side. The religious consciousness tells us that a man is not religious, or more religious because the matter of his theoretic activity is religious; just as the moral consciousness told us that a man was not moral, or more moral, simply because he was a moral philosopher. Religion is essentially a doing, and a doing which is moral. It implies a realizing, and a realizing of the good self.
Are we to say then that morality is religion? Most certainly not. In morality the ideal is not: it for ever remains a ‘to be.’ The reality in us or the world is partial and inadequate; and no one could say that it answers to the ideal, that, morally considered, both we and the world are all we ought to be, and ought to be just what we are. We have at furthest the belief in an ideal which in its pure completeness is never real; which, as an ideal, is a mere ‘should be.’ And the question is, Will that do for religion? No knower of religion, who was not led away by a theory, would answer Yes. Nor does it help us to say that religion is ‘morality touched by emotion;’ for loose phrases of this sort may suggest to the reader what he knows already without their help, but, properly speaking, they say nothing. All morality is, in one sense or another, ‘touched by emotion.’ Most emotions, high or low, can go with and ‘touch’ morality; and the moment we leave our phrase-making, and begin to reflect, we see all that is meant is that morality ‘touched’ by religious emotion is religious; and so, as answer to the question What is religion? all that we have said is, ‘It is religion when with morality you have—religion.’ I do not think we learn a very great deal from this.
Religion is more than morality. In the religious consciousness we find the belief, however vague and indistinct, in an object, a not-myself; an object, further, which is real. An ideal which is not real, which is only in our heads, can not be the object of religion: and in particular the ideal self, as the ‘is to be’ which is real only so far as we put it forth by our wills, and which, as an ideal, we can not put forth, is not a real object, and so not the object for religion. Hence, because it is unreal, the ideal of personal morality is not enough for religion. And we have seen before that the ideal is not realized in the objective world of the state; so that, apart from other objections, here again we can not find the religious object. For the religious consciousness that object is real; and it is not to be found in the mere moral sphere.
But here once more ‘culture’ has come to our aid, and has shown us how here, as everywhere, the study of polite literature, which makes for meekness, makes needless also all further education; and we felt already as if the clouds that metaphysic had wrapped about the matter were dissolving in the light of a fresh and sweet intelligence. And, as we turned towards the dawn, we sighed over poor Hegel, who had read neither Goethe nor Homer, nor the Old and New Testaments, nor any of the literature which has gone to form ‘culture,’ but, knowing no facts, and reading no books, nor ever asking himself ‘such a tyro’s question as what being really was,’ sat spinning out of his head those foolish logomachies, which impose on no person of refinement.
Well, culture has told us what God was for the Jews; and we learn that ‘I am that I am’ means much the same as ‘ I blow and grow, that I do,’ or ‘I shall breathe, that I shall;’ and this, if surprising, was at all events definite, not to say tangible. However to those of us who do not think that Christianity is called upon to wrap itself any longer in ‘Hebrew old clothes,’ all this is entirely a matter for the historian. But when ‘culture’ went on to tell us what God is for science, we heard words we did not understand about ‘streams,’ and ‘tendencies,’ and ‘the Eternal:’ and, had it been any one else that we were reading, we should have said that, in some literary excursion, they had picked up a metaphysical theory, now out of date, and putting it in phrases, the meaning of which they had never asked themselves, had then served it up to the public as the last result of speculation, or of that ‘flexible common sense’ which is so much better. And as this in the case of ‘culture’ and ‘criticism’ was of course not possible, we concluded that for us once again the light had shone in darkness. But the ‘stream’ and the ‘tendency’ having served their turn, like last week’s placards, now fall into the background, and we learn at last (C. R., p. 995) that ‘the Eternal’ is not eternal at all, unless we give that name to whatever a generation sees happen, and believes both has happened and will happen—just as the habit of washing ourselves might be termed ‘the Eternal not ourselves that makes for cleanliness,’ or ‘Early to bed and early to rise’ the ‘Eternal not ourselves that makes for longevity,’ and so on—that ‘the Eternal,’ in short, is nothing in the world but a piece of literary clap-trap. The consequence is that all we are left with is the assertion that ‘righteousness’ is ‘salvation’ or ‘welfare,’ and that there is a ‘law’ and a ‘Power’ which has something to do with this fact; and here again we must not be ashamed to say that we fail to understand what any one of these phrases mean, and suspect ourselves once more to be on the scent of clap-trap.
If what is meant be this, that what is ordinarily called virtue does always lead to and go with what is ordinarily called happiness, then so far is this from being ‘verifiable’ in every-day experience, that its opposite is so; it is not a fact, either that to be virtuous is always to be happy, or that happiness must always come from virtue. Everybody knows this, Mr. Arnold ‘must know this, and yet he gives it, because it suits his purpose, or because the public, or a large body of the public, desire it; and this is clap-trap.’ (C. R., p. 804).
It is not a fact that to be virtuous is always, and for that reason, to be happy; and, even were it so, yet such a fact can not be the object of the religious consciousness. The reality, which answers to the phrases of culture, is, we suppose, the real existence of the phrases as such in books or in our heads; or again a number of events in time, past, present, and future (i.e. conjunctions of virtue and happiness). We have an abstract term to stand for the abstraction of this or that quality; or again we have a series or collection of particular occurrences. When the literary varnish is removed, is there anything more? But the object of the religious consciousness must be a great deal more. It must be what is real, not only in the heads of this person or set of persons, nor again as this or that finite something or set of somethings. It is in short very different from either those thin abstractions or coarse ‘verifiable’ facts, between which and over which there is for our ‘culture’ no higher third sphere, save that of the literary groping which is helpless as soon as it ceases to be blind.
But let us turn from this trifling, on which we are sorry to have been forced to say even one word; let us go back to the religious consciousness.
Religion, we have seen, must have an object; and that object is neither an abstract idea in the head, nor one particular thing or quality, nor any collection of such things or qualities, nor any phrase which stands for one of them or a collection of them. In short it is nothing finite. It can not be a thing or person in the world; it can not exist in the world, as a part of it, or as this or that course of events in time; it can not be the ‘All,’ the sum of things or persons,—since, if one is not divine, no putting of ones together will beget divinity. All this it is not. Its positive character is that it is real; and further, on examining what we find in the religious consciousness, we discover that it is the ideal self considered as realized and real. The ideal self, which in morality is to be, is here the real ideal which truly is.
For morals the ideal self was an ‘ought,’ an ‘is to be’ that is not; the object of religion is that same ideal self, but here it no longer only ought to be, but also is. This is the nature of the religious object, though the manner of apprehending it may differ widely, may be anything from the vaguest instinct to the most thoughtful reflection.
With religion we may here compare science and art. The artist and poet, however obscurely, do feel and believe that beauty, where it is not seen, yet somehow and somewhere is and is real; though not as a mere idea in people’s heads, nor yet as anything in the visible world. And science, however dimly, starts from and rests upon the preconception that, even against appearances, reason not only ought to be, but really is.
Is then religion a mere mode of theoretic creation and contemplation, like art and science? Is it a lower form or stage of philosophy, or another sort of art, or some kind of compound mixture? It is none of these, and between it and them there is a vital difference.
In the very essence of the religious consciousness we find the relation of our will to the real ideal self. We find ourselves, as this or that will, against the object as the real ideal will, which is not ourselves, and which stands to us in such a way that, though real, it is to be realized, because it is all and the whole reality.
A statement, no doubt, which may stagger us; but the statement, we maintain, of a simple fact of the religious consciousness. If any one likes to call it a delusion, that makes no difference; unless, as some people seem to think, you can get rid of facts by applying phrases to them. And, however surprising the fact may be to the reader, it certainly ought not to be new to him.
We find the same difficulty, that the real is to be realized, both in art and science. The self dimly feels, or fore-feels, itself as full of truth and beauty, and unconsciously sets that fulness before it as an object, a not-itself which is against itself as this or that man. And so the self goes on to realize what it obscurely foreknows as real; it realizes it, although, and because, it is aware of it as real. And in this, so far, art, philosophy, and religion are the same.
But, as we saw, they are also different. In art and science the will of the man who realizes is not of the essence. The essence of the matter is that a certain result should be produced, that, of the unseen object which is divined to be real, a part at least should become visible, that in short, however it comes about, some element of the real should be seen to be realized. Here the end is the sight of the object, as such, and the will which procures that sight is not taken into account. No doubt it would be a great mistake to forget that art and science involve will, and the will of particular persons, and that it is this will which realizes the object; and that hence, since the object of science and art is at least partly identical with the object of religion, both science and art may so far be said to imply religion, since they imply the relation of the particular will to the real ideal. For suppose that the human-divine life is one process, and suppose again that art and science and religion are distinguishable elements or aspects of this one whole process. Then, if this is so, neither art nor science nor religion can exist as a thing by itself, and the two former will necessarily imply the latter. But on the other hand, though we may not divide, yet we have to distinguish; and when by an abstraction we consider one side, e.g. the side of science or that of art, by itself, and take them as mere theoretic activities, then we must say that in this character neither of them is religion; and they are not religion because the will of this or that man, over against the real ideal as will, is not an element in the scientific or artistic process as such. The real ideal of science and art is not will, and the relation of my will to it falls outside them; and we must say, and we think that the reader will agree, that, so soon as the philosopher or artist is conscious of his will in relation to the real ideal, as a will which has demands on him, he ceases to be a mere philosopher or artist as such (which after all no human being is), and becomes also religious or irreligious.
To proceed, we find in the religious consciousness the ideal self as the complete reality; and we have, beside, its claim upon us. Both elements, and their relation, are given in one and the same consciousness. We are given as this will, which, because this will, is to realize the real ideal: the real ideal is given as the will which is wholly real, and therefore to be realized in us.
Now nothing is easier than for a one-sided reflection to rush in with a cry for clearness and consistency, and to apply its favourite ‘either—or.’ ‘If real, how realize? If realize, then not real.’ We, however, must not allow ourselves to give way to the desire for drawing conclusions, but have to observe the facts; and we see that the religious consciousness refuses the dilemma. It holds to both one and the other, and to one because of the other; and pronounces such reflections irreligious.
In the moral consciousness we found two poles, myself and the ideal self. The latter claimed to be real, and to have all as its reality; but, for the moral consciousness, it was not thus real either in the world or in us, and the evil in us and the world was as real. In religion we find once more two poles, myself and the ideal self. But here the latter not only claims to be, but also is real and all reality; and yet (at this stage) it is not realized either in the world or in me. It is not one pole, however, that in religion is different, but both: for morality the world and the self remained both non-moral and immoral, yet each was real; for religion the world is alienated from God, and the self is sunk in sin; and that means that, against the whole reality, they are felt or known as what is not and is contrary to the all and the only real, and yet as things that exist. In sin the self feels itself in contradiction with all that truly is. It is the unreal, that, knowing itself to be so, contradicts itself as the real; it is the real, which, feeling itself to be so, contradicts itself as the unreal, and in the pain of its intolerable discord can find no word so strong, no image so glaring as to portray its torment.
For it really is itself, against which, in sin, it feels itself. We can not stay to develope this doctrine, and must content ourselves with pointing out that the opposite is utterly incomprehensible. The two poles are what they are, because they are against each other in consciousness. In them the self feels itself divided against itself; and, unless they both fall within one subject, how is this possible? We have not the felt struggle of ourself against a perceived or thought external object; we have the felt struggle in us of two wills, with both of which we feel ourselves identified. And this relation of the divine and human will in one subject is a psychological impossibility, unless they are the wills of one subject. Remove that condition, and the phenomena in their specific character instantly disappear. You can not understand the recognition of and desire for the divine will; nor the consciousness of sin and rebellion, with the need for grace on the one hand and its supply on the other; you turn every fact of religion into unmeaning nonsense, and you pluck up by the root and utterly destroy all possibility of the Atonement, when you deny that the religious consciousness implies that God and man are identical in a subject.
For it is the atonement, the reconciliation (call it what you please, and bring it before your mind in the way most easy to you), to which we must come, if we mean to follow the facts of the religious consciousness. Here, as everywhere, the felt contradiction implies, and is only possible through, an unity above the discord: take that away, and the discord goes. The antithesis of the sinful and divine will is implicitly their union; and that union, in the subject, requires only to be made explicit, for the subject, by thought and will.
But for the subject it is not yet explicit; and it is only we who reflect upon the religious consciousness, that see the matter thus. That consciousness as such has not the insight that the divine will is the will of its own true and inmost self: I may know that, as a fact, in God there is the unity of the two natures; but for me God is (here at least) only not my self; the divine is an object between which and me there is a chasm; my inner self may desire it, but can only desire it as an other and a beyond. True that the object is already the identity of God and man, but man does not include me: that object is not in me, it is only for me; it remains an object, and I remain outside. And for the religious consciousness the problem is, How can I be reconciled with this will which is not mine?
And the answer is that in the object the reconciliation of the divine and human is real; the principle is there already; and in its reality, the reality of the reconciliation of the human as such, is ideally contained my reconciliation. Yes, mine is there if only I can take hold of it, if only I can make it my own; but how with the sin that adheres to me can this ever be? How can the human-divine ideal ever be my will?
The answer is, Your will it never can be as the will of your private self, so that your private self should become wholly good. To that self you must die, and by faith be made one with the ideal. You must resolve to give up your will, as the mere will of this or that man, and you must put your whole self, your entire will, into the will of the divine. That must be your one self, as it is your true self; that you must hold to both with thought and will, and all other you must renounce; you must both refuse to recognize it as yours, and practically with your whole self deny it. You must believe that you too really are one with the divine, and must act as if you believed it. In short, you must be justified not by works but solely by faith. This doctrine, which Protestantism, to its eternal glory, has made its own and sealed with its blood, is the very centre of Christianity; and, where you have not this in one form or another, there Christianity is nothing but a name.
In mere morality this faith is impossible. There you have not a real unity of the divine and human, with which to identify yourself; and there again the self, which is outside the ideal, is not known as unreal, and can not be, since the ideal is not all reality.
But what is faith? It is perhaps not an easy question to answer, but in some sort it must be answered; and to neglect it as worthless, or stand aloof from it as a mystery, are both wrong positions. It is easy to say what faith is not. It is not mere belief, the simple holding for true or fact; it is no mere theoretic act of judgment. Everyone knows you may have this, and yet not have faith.
Faith does imply belief, but more than this, it implies also will. If my will is not identified with that which I hold for fact, I have not faith in it. Faith is both the belief in the reality of an object, and the will that that object be real; and where either of these elements fails, there is no faith. But even this is not all. When Mr. Bain, for instance, (p. 526) says, ‘The infant who has found the way to the mother’s breast for food, and to her side for warmth, has made progress in the power of faith,’ we are struck at once by an incongruity. That the child who is most forward in a matter of this sort, is most likely in after life to have what we call faith, we see no reason to believe; that he has it already, we see is an absurdity. And we found above (p. 166) that, even in ‘My Station and its Duties,’ we could not properly speak of faith, because there was there what might be called sight.
What does this point to? Does it mean that faith implies uncertainty, or defective knowledge; and that this is the reason why, where you see, you can not have faith? No, this we think is a mistaken view, and the facts confute it. Certainly you may have faith without feeling sure of the fact; but, generally speaking, a doubt about the fact weakens faith. Nor is it the case that theoretic certainty excludes faith. If it were so, the raising of belief with doubt to belief without doubt would ipso facto destroy faith; and this is not so.
We can not maintain that, when mere belief is raised to speculative certainty, the necessity for faith disappears; or further, that faith is here impossible. We must try to show the cause of the error. What can be said in its favour is this, that sight does exclude faith; and hence faith is not imagined to exist in the Paradise after death, nor, I suppose, in ecstatic vision during life. This is all consistent; but what it points to is the fact, that faith is incompatible, not with such and such a degree, but with such and such a kind of knowledge. Faith is incompatible with common immediate sensuous knowing, or with a higher knowledge of the same simple direct nature: and, because our knowledge of the highest is, in religion, not thus immediate, therefore we are said to have only faith; and faith is, by a confusion, supposed to exclude, not one kind of certainty, but all kinds. Whence the above mistake, which, however, has a truth in it.
Why is it then that faith is incompatible with sensuous knowledge? It is because, in religious language, faith is a rise beyond ‘this world,’ and a rise in which I stay here. What does this mean? Does it mean that the object must not be a part of the visible world? It means this, and more; faith implies the rise in thought, but not that only; it implies also the rise of the will to the object, which is not seen but thought. And this presupposes the practical separation for me of myself and the object. In the mere theoretic rise I do not think of myself, but only of the object: in faith I must also have myself before me; I must perceive the chasm between myself, as this or that unreal part of the unreal finite world, and at the same time must perceive the ideal-real object, which is all reality, and my true reality. And it is this presupposed consciousness of absolute separation (which, in terms of space or time, we express by ‘this world’ and the ‘other world’) which is necessary for faith, and which survives therein as a suppressed element. Hence, where this is not, faith can not be.
Faith then is the recognition of my true self in the religious object, and the identification of myself with that both by judgment and will; the determination to negate the self opposed to the object by making the whole self one with what it really is. It is, in a word, of the heart. It is the belief that only the ideal is real, and the will to realize therefore nothing but the ideal, the theoretical and practical assertion that only as ideal is the self real.
Justification by faith means that, having thus identified myself with the object, I feel myself in that identification to be already one with it, and to enjoy the bliss of being, all falsehood overcome, what I truly am. By my claim to be one with the ideal, which comprehends me too, and by assertion of the non-reality of all that is opposed to it, the evil in the world and the evil incarnate in me through past bad acts, all this falls into the unreal: I being one with the ideal, this is not mine, and so imputation of offences goes with the change of self, and applies not now to my true self, but to the unreal, which I repudiate and hand over to destruction.
In one way faith is of course only ideal, for the bad self does not cease. Yet religion is here very different from morality. Recalling to the reader what we said as to the meaning of ‘evolution’ or ‘progress’ (p. 173), we say here that morality is an evolution or progress. The end, which is involved in these, is becoming realized in the evolution or progress, and therefore is not yet real; and so in morality we have the end presented as what claims to be real, together with the process of its realization, and that means its non-reality. Here we are not what we are, and must welcome a progress; though that means a contradiction, which again we know we are not. But for religious faith the end of the evolution is presented as that which, despite the fact of the evolution, is already evolved; or rather which stands above the element of event, contradiction, and finitude. Despite what seems, we feel that we are more than a progress or evolution, in fact not that at all, but now fully real: and this full reality of ourselves we present to ourselves as an object, and by recognizing, both by judgment and will, in that object our real self, we anticipate, or rather rise above the sphere of, progress. Ourselves being one with that object, we say we are a whole, and harmonious now. So far as we are not so, we are mere appearance; and by the standing will to negate that seeming self, we are one with the true and real self. For this point of view and in this sphere (not outside it) imputation ceases, though the bad self is still a fact; and in this sense faith remains only ideal.
But that it is in any other sense merely ideal, is a vulgar and gross error, which, so far as it rests on St. Paul, rests on an entire misunderstanding of him. In faith we do not rise by the intellect to an idea, and leave our will somewhere else behind us. Where there is no will to realize the object, there is no faith; and where there are no works, there is no will. If works cease, will has ceased; if will has ceased, faith has ceased. Faith is not the desperate leap of a moment; in true religion there is no one washing which makes clean. In Pauline language, that ‘I have died,’ have in idea and by will anticipated the end, proves itself a reality only by the fact that ‘I die daily,’ do perpetually in my particular acts will the realization of the end which is anticipated. Nor does faith mean simply works; it means the works of faith; it means that the ideal, however incompletely, is realized. But, on the other hand, because the ideal is not realized completely and truly as the ideal, therefore I am not justified by the works, which issue from faith, as works; since they remain imperfect. I am justified solely and entirely by the ideal identification; the existence of which in me is on the other hand indicated and guaranteed by works, and in its very essence implies them.
What we have now to do is to ask, What is the object with which the self is made one by faith? For our answer to this question we must go to the facts of the Christian consciousness. But the reader must remember that we shall touch these facts solely so far as is necessary to bring out the connection between religion and morality. We are to keep to a minimum, and the reader must not conclude that we repudiate whatever we say nothing about.
The object, which by faith the self appropriates, is in Christianity nothing alien from and outside the world, not an abstract divine which excludes the human; but it is the inseparable unity of human and divine. It is the ideal which, as will, affirms itself in and by will; it is will which is one with the ideal. And this whole object, while presented in a finite individual form, is not yet truly presented. It is known, in its truth, not until it is apprehended as an organic human-divine totality; as one body with diverse members, as one self which, in many selves, realizes, wills, and loves itself, as they do themselves in it.
And for faith this object is the real, and the only real. What seems to oppose it is, if fact, not reality: and this seeming fact has two forms: one the imperfection and evil in the heart, the inner self; and the other the imperfection and evil in the world of which my external self is a part. In both these spheres, the inner and outer, the object of religion is real; and the object has two corresponding sides, the inner and personal, and the external side; which two sides are sides of a single whole.
Faith involves the belief (1) that the course of the external world, despite appearances, is the realization of the ideal will; (2) that on the inner side the human and divine are one: or the belief (1) that the world is the realization of humanity as a divine organic whole; and (2) that with that whole the inner wills of particular persons are identified. Faith must hold that, in biblical language, there is ‘a kingdom of God,’ that there is an organism which realizes itself in its members, and also in those members, on the subjective side, wills and is conscious of itself, as they will and are conscious of themselves in it.
If the reader will refer back to ‘My Station and its Duties’ (p. 160), he will see that what we had there in the relative totality of the political organism, we have here once more, though with a difference. That difference is that (1) what there was finite (one amongst and against others) is here infinite (a whole in itself), and what there was in a manner visible is here invisible; (2) the relation of the particular subject to the whole was there immediate unity by unreflecting habituation and direct perception; here it involves the thought which rises above the given, and the consciousness of a presupposed and suppressed estrangement.
Here, as in the world of my station, we have the objective side, the many affirmations of the one will, the one body, the real ideal humanity, which in all its members is the same, although in every one it is different; and which is completely realized not in any one this or that, nor in any mere ‘collective unity’ of such particulars, but only in the whole as a whole. And we have the subjective personal side, where the one will of the whole is, in its unity with the conscious members, self-conscious, and wills itself as the personal identity of the universal and particular will.
Such is the object, the fore-realized divine ideal; and by faith the particular man has to make that his, to identify himself therewith, behold and feel himself therewith identified, and in his own self-consciousness have the witness of it. And this, as we explained, is done by the dying to the private self as such, by the bestowal of it on the object, and by the living in the self which is one with the divine ideal that is felt and known as the only real self, and now too as my self. To our previous remarks on this head we have nothing to add, and must proceed to discuss more closely the relation of religion to morality.
These, as we saw, are to a certain extent the same; and the question at once arises, Has the divine will of the religious consciousness any other content than the moral ideal? We answer, Certainly not. Religion is practical; it means doing something which is a duty. Apart from duties, there is no duty; and as all moral duties are also religious, so all religious duties are also moral.
In order to be, religion must do. Its practice is the realization of the ideal in me and in the world. Separate religion from the real world, and you will find it has nothing left it to do; it becomes a form, and so ceases. The practical content which religion carries out comes from the state, society, art, and science. But the whole of this sphere is the world of morality, and all our duties there are moral duties. And if this is so, then this religious duty may collide with that religious duty, just as one moral duty may be contrary to another; but that religion, as such, should be in collision with morality, as such, is out of the question.
So far religion and morality are the same; though, as we have seen, they are also different. The main difference is that what in morality only is to be, in religion somehow and somewhere really is, and what we are to do is done. Whether it is thought of as what is done now, or what will be done hereafter, makes in this respect no practical difference. They are different ways of looking at the same thing; and, whether present or future, the reality is equally certain. The importance for practice of this religious point of view is that what is to be done is approached, not with the knowledge of a doubtful success, but with the fore-felt certainty of already accomplished victory.
Morality, the process of realization, thus survives within religion. It is only as mere morality that it vanishes; as an element it remains and is stimulated. Not only is strength increased by assurance of success, but in addition the importance of success is magnified. The individual life for religion is one with the divine; it possesses infinite worth, a value no terms can express. And the bad gains a corresponding intensity of badness. It is infinitely evil, so that, for the religious consciousness, different amounts of badness are not measurable. All men are equally, because utterly, sinful. But this extreme of evil is therefore the more easy to subdue. It is not a reality against a mere ideal, but a mere fact which is contrary to the whole reality, an unutterable contradiction. Other incentives to good also come in. For the religious consciousness evil is an offence against what we love, and what loves us, not against something not real, which no one can well love. This makes evil worse, and more painful, and increases accordingly the power of good. All external control disappears, and in its place is gratitude to that which has conquered, confidence in it, and inability to be false to it.
It is the same objective will, which in ‘My Station’ we see accomplished, in ideal morality know should be accomplished, and in religion by faith believe accomplished, which reflects itself into itself on the subjective side; and thence reasserts itself explicitly as the real identity of the human and divine will. And so the content of religion and morality is the same, though the spirit in which it is done is widely different.
But all this, we may be told, though true to a certain extent, is one-sided; there is religion beyond all this. And this objection must be attended to. We have never lost sight of the fact it rests upon, although we may have seemed to do so. That fact is what some would call religion proper, the creed, the public cultus, and the sphere of private devotion. These we must now consider, but no further than we are obliged, i.e. so far as the question is touched, Has religious duty another content than the moral content?
Put in this way, the question is on our view of morality absurd. If anything ought to be done, then it must be a moral duty; and the notion of religious duty, as such, outside of and capable of colliding with moral duty as such, is preposterous nonsense. If it is a religious duty to be ‘religious,’ then it is also a moral duty to be religious; precisely as, if it is a moral duty to be moral, it is also a religious duty to be moral.
A better way to put the question is, Does passing from the mere moral sphere into the religious introduce a new order of duties, to take in which morality has now to be extended? That, however, is again an improper question, since, if it is right to be thus ‘religious,’ we have no business previously to narrow morality, i.e. to exclude religiousness from the ideal which morality is to realize. It seems quite plain that the sphere of morality is the sphere of practice, and the sphere of practice is the sphere of morality. There is no escaping this conclusion; and then, so far as religion is practical, the worlds of morality and religion must coincide.
What is really at issue is this, Is religion altogether practical? Is, that is to say, the theoretical element of it co-ordinate with or subordinate to the practical element? Does religion, like art and science, include a theoretical sphere, which in respect of its production in and by the subject is practice, but, in itself and as produced, is not so? And next, if there is such a region, how does it stand to practice? Is it subsidiary to that, or is it an end in itself, when not brought under the practical end? And then further, how in respect of such a region is morality situated?
Instead of trying to give direct answers, the best way to clear the matter will be to begin with the extreme of a one-sided view: and, first, there is an opinion which may be said simply to identify religion with orthodoxy, with the holding for true what is true. No doubt right doctrine is a very important matter, but does that make it religion? Put it to the religious consciousness, and the answer is, No. It is the belief ‘with the heart’ that is wanted; and where that is not, religion is not. Else even the very devils would be religious; for they, as we are told, go further even than is required of them, and add to orthodoxy the fear of God.
So, in morality, a man must know what is right; but no one is moral simply because he has that knowledge. In both cases you can not do, without knowing what you are to do; but mere knowing, apart from doing, is neither religion nor morality.
The next modification of this one-sided opinion is the view, which is all too popular, and says, ‘No doubt it is true that to know is not enough; action ought to follow; but, for all that, it is religion when I say my prayers, or meditate, or go to church, and that whether it goes any further, and whether anything comes of it, or not.’
By denying such a doctrine we ought not to give offence to Christians. Whether we shall give offence or not is another matter. We are sorry if it is so; but nevertheless we deny the assertion, and we think that on our side we have the religious consciousness and the New Testament. There we do not have the love of God and man put side by side, as things which exist or can exist apart, but, where the latter fails, there fails also the former, and with it, I suppose, religion. There we are told that ‘pure religion’ means duty to the afflicted, and the ‘world,’ by which we are not to be spotted, is hardly all spheres outside our devotions, not every region where the authority of the clergyman ceases.
We maintain that neither church-going, meditation, nor prayer, except so far as it reacts on practice and subserves that, is religious at all. Æsthetic or speculative contemplation it may be; it may be a production of the feeling which results from the satisfied religious will; but religious it is not, except so far as it means will to do: and it is not that will, except so far as it manifests itself in religious-moral acts, external or internal—acts, that is, which realize the social, ideal-social, or ideal self, or again which are means to such realization.
It is the same with morality. I may retire into my conscience, enjoy there the happiness of virtue, edify myself with, and find pleasure in the contemplation of it in myself or others; but that by itself is surely not moral. It may be a good thing to do this, but, if so, it is a good only so far as it strengthens the will for good, and so issues in practice. If it go beyond that, it is at best harmless; but it may be, and more often is, pernicious and positively immoral. To dwell on the satisfaction which comes from right doing need not be wrong, but it is very dangerous, it is a most slippery position; for the moment it leads us to enjoyment which does not arise from function, or does not react to stimulate function, then, from that moment, it is bad and goes to corrupt.
If a man were to please himself with thoughts of virtue, and then go out, neglect the virtue, and fall into the vice, would that be morality? But if a man does the same by religion, there are people who call it ‘religious.’
The true doctrine is, that devotional exercises, and sacraments, and church-goings, not only should not and ought not to go by themselves, but that by themselves they simply are not religious at all. They are the isolating a sphere of religion which, so isolated, loses the character of religion, and is often even positively sinful, a hollow mockery of the divine, which takes the enjoyment without giving the activity, and degenerates into what may be well enough as aesthetic or contemplative, but, for all that, is both irreligious and immoral. By themselves, when religiously considered, these things are not ends at all; they are so only when they are means to faith, and so to will, and so to practice in the world.
But how is it that such one-sided views, such gross mistakes, are possible? This is not very hard to understand. And in the first place.
(1) Both in the moral and religious will is implied knowledge, and it obviously matters for practice what a man does know. Hence correct views are wanted; and this, which so far is true, is then twisted into making religion consist in the having right opinions, or in orthodoxy. But as we have seen, the presence of the religious object for the theoretical consciousness, in any form, is not religion.
(2) The second mistake is more common. In morality what we know we feel or see, and can not doubt. There is nothing to believe against appearances. We have a claim and the consciousness that this is satisfied or unsatisfied, but nothing beyond ourselves to hold for true; except so far as in the social object it is before our eyes. But in religion, despite of appearances, we have to believe that something is real. We must have an inward assurance that the reality is above the facts; and we must carry that out against facts in which we can not see the inward reality, and seem to see what is contrary thereto. It is by faith in our reconcilement with the invisible one reality that we are justified.
That inward assurance, the self-consciousness that we are one with the divine, and one with others because one with the divine, naturally does not exist without expressing itself. And moreover it is right that it should express itself; because that expression reacts most powerfully upon the self-consciousness, to intensify it, and so strengthen the conviction and will in which faith consists. It is right that the certainty of identity with the divine, and with others in the divine, should be brought home by the foretasted pleasure of unalloyed union; and that in short is the rationale of the cultus. The cultus is a means to the strengthening of faith, and is an end in itself by subserving that end. As anything more and beyond it is not an end; it may be harmless, and again it may be the destruction of true religion.
And the religious community entails signs of communion; and these, as the cultus generally, entail ministers; and it is generally found more convenient to have certain persons set apart, just as again the state generally finds it convenient to support and regulate one or more religious communities. These ministers, however appointed, are a means to a means to the end; and here we have the rationale of the clerical office.
You can have true religion without sacraments or public worship, and again both without clergymen; just as you can have clergymen and sacraments without true religion. And if a part of the clergy think that they stand in a more intimate relation with the divine Spirit than the rest of the community do, then they both go against the first principles of Christianity, and moreover any one, who does not shut his eyes, can see that the facts of life confute them. What Christianity, if we mistake not, tells them is that, their gifts and functions being not those of others, they have the one spirit in another way from others; but when they want to go from an ‘other’ to a ‘higher,’ then we must tell them that there are steps wanted to reach that conclusion, and such steps as Christianity can not admit.
The sum of the matter is this. Practical faith is the end; and what helps that is good, because that is good; and where a religious ordinance does not help that, there it is not good. And often it may do worse than not help, and then it is positively hurtful.
So with religious exercises, and what too exclusively is called personal piety. They are religious if they are the simple expression of, or helps to, religion; and if not, then they are not religious, and perhaps even irreligious. Religion issues in the practical realizing of the reconcilement; and where there is no such realization, there is no faith, and no religion.
Neither against the clergy, nor the sacraments, nor private devotion am I saying one word; and the reader who so understands me altogether misunderstands me. For a large number of our clergy I have a sincere personal respect, and there is scarcely any office which in my eyes is higher than that of the minister. And I recognize fully the general necessity both for private devotion and public worship. It is the abuse, and the excess of them, against which we have to protest. Whatever is the expression of the religious spirit, which carries itself out in the world, is religious and good, unless it goes to excess: and the excess is measured by the failure to strengthen or the weakening of the will. Just so any institution, observance, or discipline (it matters not what) which strengthens the religious will, is good, provided it does so strengthen it as a whole, and is not in other ways contrary to religion and morality. The same holds good in the moral sphere; there we may have ascetic exercises which strengthen the will, and are therefore, and so far as they do that, good; but not good, or even bad, when they go beyond. But as to what in detail is legitimate or not, all this is matter of particular fact, with which we have nothing to do.
To repeat, public and private exercises are religious and good as the simple voice of, or as means to the strengthening of, the religious will. That will consists in the faith that overcomes the world, by turning it into the Christian world which for faith it is. The inner sphere of religion, which brings home to itself its assurance and its bliss, is only the inner sphere, and by itself is not religion. By itself it is not even the inner, for it is so only when it is the inner of the outer; and that outer, where faith fails, is not, and with it goes the inner as such. A sensuous or semi-sensuous gloating over the pleasures of the anticipated result is, in morals as in religion, when considered in reference to the will, a mere debauchery. Here as there it is the Hedonism which kills practice; and considered as θεωρία, it belongs to art or science, not religion at all. Furthermore sensitiveness or intensity of the religious consciousness is no more religion than that of the moral consciousness is morality; nor again is a right perception in these matters any more than a right perception. It is religion only when the divine will, of which for faith the world is the realization, reflects itself in us; and, with the personal energy of our own and its self-consciousness, carries out both its and our will into the world, which is its own and ours, and gives us, in the feeling which results from function, that inner assurance of identity which precedes and accompanies the action of our will. And thus for religion and morality the content of the will is the same, though the knowledge and the spirit are widely different.
If this is so, then our Essays have, in a way too imperfect, yet brought us to the end, where morality is removed and survives in its fulfilment. In our journey we have not seen much, and much that we have seen was perhaps little worth the effort, or might have been had without it. Be that as it may, the hunt after pleasure in any shape has proved itself a delusion, and the form of duty a snare, and the finite realization of ‘my station’ was truth indeed, and a happiness that called to us to stay, but was too narrow to satisfy wholly the spirit’s hunger; and ideal morality brought the sickening sense of inevitable failure. Here where we are landed at last, the process is at an end, though the best activity here first begins. Here our morality is consummated in oneness with God, and everywhere we find that ‘immortal Love,’ which builds itself for ever on contradiction, but in which the contradiction is eternally resolved.
|Hic nullus labor est, ruborque nullus ;|
Hoc juvit, juvat, et diu juvabit ;
Hoc non deficit, incipitque semper.
Note.—While these last sheets were going through the press, Mr. Harrison’s article (Cont. Rev., May 1876) appeared, and touches so nearly on much that I have said, that it seems advisable to make some remarks upon it, taking it as it stands, and without any reference to Comte’s own views, with which I am not acquainted.
What I have to remark first is, that with the leading idea of Mr. Harrison’s creed, a man may be familiar, and substantially, perhaps, in agreement, without having come into contact, direct or indirect, with Positivism. Whoever may claim to have originated it, it was distinctly set forth forty years ago by Strauss, in intimate connection with the speculative metaphysic of the first quarter of the century. (See an interesting article in the same number of the C. R.) It took its place in German literature as a metaphysical interpretation of the central doctrine of Christianity.
Mr. Harrison appears to believe that in his case the element of metaphysic at least is absent. And here, I think, he makes a great mistake. For what is implied in his credo? He seems to hold that humanity is the evolution of an organic whole, while at the same time he asserts that it is ‘a collective unity,’ and that its evolution is ‘a collective evolution.’ Here we are at once in the midst of metaphysic; and, so far as I understand the matter, of bad metaphysic. To me the evolution of a collection means the evolutions of the units of that collection, and it means no more. To Mr. Harrison it seems to mean a great deal more. He seems to believe that in his collection there is a real identity, which under changes of component parts is permanent and the same; an identity, further, not of mere material particles or of force in general, but a human identity. If this is his belief, what is the basis of it? What is the ground for his assertion that in past, present (and future?) human beings there is a real self-sameness? I find no hint of any ground in the article; and while no one, who knows what metaphysic is, can doubt that in the above assertion we have metaphysic, it is hard to stifle the doubt whether we have not also mere dogmatic metaphysic.
But I may be doing the writer a wrong. Perhaps he does not affirm that, under differences, humanity is one and the same real being. Perhaps all that he means is that the summed particular effects of past and present human lives are existing in, and can be recognized by, the individual. If so, then, unless we are once more to have a metaphysical doctrine of the identity of cause and effect, this commonplace mechanical view is but a small foundation for Mr. Harrison’s superstructure.
Collective humanity is at any rate organic; and that seems to be the reason for the somewhat strange denial of a ‘collective force’ to the universe as a whole (p. 874). In his definition of an organism the writer seems to me to introduce the ideas of identity and teleology (877). If so, we have once more metaphysical doctrine. If not so, then (vid. Essay V. p. 173) the evolution of humanity is a phrase which has no meaning. In the one case what becomes of the writer’s position against the metaphysicians? In the other, what becomes of his religion and his rhetoric?
But, passing by this, what reason is put forward for the belief that humanity is an organism? Mr. Harrison starts from the social organism—a conception, by the way, not wholly unknown to the metaphysic of the beginning of this century. Let that be as it may, how are we to go from the organism of the state to the organism of humanity? Admit the metaphysical assertion, that civilization is ‘the activity of a being just as real as you or I, and far more permanent’ (879)—but does history, after all, verify the belief that all or most of the perished millions who have covered this globe have entered into the main stream of civilization? Does observation of facts now show that all or most of the dwellers on this globe are organically connected? To show mere reciprocal influence is not enough; for that holds good also of mere physical phenomena. Will observation warrant more than the hope that some day, we know not when, humanity may become an organic whole (cf. Trendelenburg, Naturrecht, 610)?
After all this, it may be idle to say anything about religion; but I must point out that, even if humanity be more than the name of an imaginary collection, even if it really is a self-same being which evolves itself amid change of particles, and in which we are members—even then it can not be the object of modern religion. Our minds and hearts are not bounded to one among the phenomena of this one among the bodies in the universe; and to attempt to set this finite phenomenon before us as an object of worship is an attempt to turn the history of religion backwards, and to close on us once more those Jewish fetters which Christian civilization, after so many efforts, has burst through. If humanity is adorable, it is so only because it is not merely the last product of terrestrial developement, but because the idea of the identity of God and man is the absolute truth, because finite rational mind (wherever it exist) is not merely such, but, in another sense than physical or animal nature, is the self-realization of the Spirit in which all moves and lives, and so is an organic whole in that unity. Such a thesis I do not affirm, and to the enormous difficulties which beset it I am not blind. A scientific basis can be given to it, if at all, by a critical metaphysic, whose problems begin where Mr. Harrison’s end, and which asks where he dogmatizes. But whether such a science is possible or impossible, after all a great religion is still a great religion; nor is it easy to believe that it will not be so, when another of the sects which have lived and live in its life has gone the way it seems likely to go.
- Throughout the sequel I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to Vatke’s book, Die Menschliche Freiheit: 1841.
- Compare (Mill, Dissertations, i. 70-1) the definition of poetry as ‘man’s thoughts tinged by his feelings;’ where the whole matter again is, what feelings? Anything in the way of shallow reflection on the psychological form, anything rather than the effort to grasp the content. All that Mill saw wanting in this ‘definition’ was that it missed ‘the poet’s utter unconsciousness of a listener.’ However, to make sure of hitting the mark, he, so to speak, set it down as hit beforehand, and in his own ‘definition’ of poetry introduced ‘the poet’s mind.’ This is much as if we were to say, ‘Religion is the sort of thing you have in a religious man.’
- Cont. Review, xxiv. 988.
- We hear the word ‘verifiable’ from Mr. Arnold pretty often. What is to verify? Has Mr. Arnold put ‘such a tyro’s question’ to himself? If to verify means to find in outward experience, then the object of true religion can not be found as this or that outward thing or quality, and so can not be verified. It is of its essence that in this sense it should be unverifiable.
- ‘Is there a God?’ asks the reader. ‘Oh yes,’ replies Mr. Arnold, ‘and I can verify him in experience.’ ‘And what is he then?’ cries the reader. ‘Be virtuous, and as a rule you will be happy,’ is the answer. ‘Well, and God?’ ‘That is God;’ says Mr. Arnold, ‘There is no deception, and what more do you want?’ I suppose we do want a good deal more. Most of us, certainly the public which Mr. Arnold addresses, want something they can worship; and they will not find that in an hypostasized copy-book heading, which is not much more adorable than ‘Honesty is the best policy,’ or ‘Handsome is that handsome does,’ or various other edifying maxims, which have not yet come to an apotheosis.
- The reader must carefully distinguish what is for (or before) the religious consciousness, and what is only in it, and for us as we investigate it.
- The thoughtful reader may at once object that here we have an incomplete account of religion. That is quite true, and we purposely delay the consideration of religion as a whole. Here we are insisting on certain elements of the religious consciousness, in order to see that they are no more than elements, which call for comprehension in something higher.
- On this whole matter, and not specially with reference to religion, it is worth while to consider the position of our philosophy. People find a subject and object correlated in consciousness; and, having got this in the mind, they at once project it outside the mind, and talk as if two independent realities knocked themselves together, and so produced the unity that apprehends them; while, all the time, to go out of that unity is for us literally to go out of our minds. And when the monstrous nature of their position dawns on some few, and they begin to see that without some higher unity this ‘correlation’ is pure nonsense, then answering to that felt need, they invent a third reality, which is neither subject nor object but the ‘Unknowable’ or the Thing-in-itself (there is no difference). But here, since the two correlates are still left together with, and yet are not, the Unknowable, the question arises, How does this latter stand to them? and the result is that the Unknowable becomes the subject of predicates (see Mr. Spencer’s First Principles), and it becomes impossible for any one who cares for consistency to go on calling it the Unknowable. So it is necessary to go a step further, and, giving up our third, which is not the correlates, to recognize an Identity of subject and object, still however persisting in the statement that this identity is not mind. But here again, as with the Unknowable, and as before with the two correlated realities, it is forgotten that, when mind is made only a part of the whole, there is a question which must be answered; ‘If so, how can the whole be known, and for the mind? If about any matter we know nothing whatever, can we say anything about it? Can we even say that it is? And, if it is not in consciousness, how can we know it? And if it is in and for the mind, how can it be a whole which is not mind, and in which the mind is only a part or element? If the ultimate unity were not self or mind, we could not know that it was not mind: that would mean going out of our minds. And, conversely, if we know it, it can not be not mind. All in short we can know (the psychological form is another question) is the self and elements in the self. To know a not-self is to transcend and leave one’s mind. If we know the whole, it can only be because the whole knows itself in us, because the whole is self or mind, which is and knows, knows and is, the identity and correlation of subject and object’.
There is nothing in the above which has not been before the world for years, and it is time that it should be admitted or refuted. I think it will not be much longer disregarded. Much against its will English thought has been forced from the correlation as far as the identity; and, if it means to hold to the doctrine of ‘relativity of knowledge,’ it must go on to mind or self in some sense of the word, as this identity of inner and outer. Perhaps not that; but if not that, then I think we must begin on a fresh basis, or else give up the attempt to have any theory of first principles. But if we do (as perhaps we may do) the latter, then let me conclude this note by observing that amongst the other doctrines which must go is the doctrine of Relativity.
- I use belief in the ordinary sense. Of course our account of the matter is wrong if all belief is practical. This Mr. Bain (Emotions, Ed. ii. p. 524 and foll.) tries to show; as it seems to us, at the expense of facts, and with not sufficient success to warrant our entering on the matter.
- ‘True faith is no mere thought nor admission of the truth of a history.’ ‘The true Christian is not the man who knows history.’ ‘Christianity should know that faith is not merely a history or a science. To have faith is nought else than for a man to make his will one with God’s, and take up God’s word and might in his will, so that these twain, God’s will and man’s will, turn to one being and substance. Thereupon in the man Christ, in his passion, his dying, his death, and uprising, in his own humanity, is reckoned for righteousness, so that the man becomes Christ, that is after the spiritual man. . . . . He who teaches and wills otherwise is yet in the whoredom of Babylon.’—J. Böhme.
- Hear again the vehement expression of mysticism. ‘When reason tells thee, ‘Thou art outside God,’ then answer thou, ‘No, I am in God, I am in heaven, in it, in him, and for eternity will never leave him. The devil may keep my sins, and the world my flesh; I live in God’s will, his life shall be my life, his will my will; I will be dead in my reason that he may live in me, and all my deeds shall be his deeds.’’
- By the term ‘human’ we understand all rational finite mind. Whether that exists or not outside our planet is not a matter which concerns us, though it does touch very nearly certain forms of Christian belief.
- I need not say that here are very great difficulties. Apart from others, the relation of the physical world to the divine will is a well-known problem. But we have nothing to do with the (possible or impossible) solution of these questions. We have to keep to what is contained in the religious consciousness, and that we take to be as above.
- By faith, and so far as faith holds, the ideal as the self, and the self as the ideal, is all that is real; and so, on the external side of my works, I regard myself as, with others, the member or function of the divine whole. What falls outside, however much a fact, is still unreal. Again, on the inside, through faith I, as the mere this me, no longer am; but only I as the self-conscious personal will of the divine, the spirit of the whole, which, as that spirit, knows itself in me. On both sides, though the form is not swallowed up nor lost, yet the mere particular content of the self has for faith disappeared.
But there is a difference on the two sides, which was also there in ‘My Station,’ but the losing sight of which was there not likely to lead to confusion; while here a confusion on this head may happen, and is a serious matter. To explain—on the inside the particular self knows and feels itself now immediately one with the universal, which is the will of all selves; but on the outside, its realization in works, it is only one member of the whole, one function or set of functions which is not, and which falls outside of, other sides or sets of functions. So long as it remains on the inside, the self is not apart from other selves; it is when it comes out to act that it is forced to distinguish itself.
It is quite true that, when we act, on the inside also the whole will is for each person diverse; for it is not an universal which remains inert. It is presented in a specialized form as what is a relative ‘to be done’ in such and such a case, which, if reflected on, is seen to be not other cases—but on the inner side this reflection, and hence this discrimination, does not exist. The member feels and knows itself, not as this member distinct from that member, but (since for faith the bad self is not) immediately one with the will of the entire organism. On the outside, on the other hand, the knowledge of its distinctness is forced upon it. There its realization is indeed the affirmation of the will of the whole, but the entire whole is not there; some of it is elsewhere, and, as a whole, it is realized only in the whole, which this or that man is not. In its works the self-conscious function finds that it is not other functions; it remains finite, and all possibility of the confounding the merely human with the divine is excluded.
- Religion in the sense of the cultus, &c. will be considered lower down.
- We had this, too, in ‘My Station and its Duties.’ Let me remark that, if humanity is a collection, active gratitude to it is impossible, without the most childish self-delusion. Unless there is a real identity in men, the ‘Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these’ becomes an absurdity. And I have never heard of anyone who, owing a debt to one man, thought he could pay it by giving to another man who was like the first, no matter how like.
- I am happy to say that ‘religieux’ has no English equivalent.
- Religious communities may be called ‘churches;’ but churches in this sense must not be confounded with the Church proper. That is the whole body of Christ, and whether it is limited or not depends on the answer to the question whether the spirit of Christ is limited; whether it is visible or not, is answered with that answer; as also the questions whether it can be divided, re-united, and so forth. A true view of the Church is of the last importance. From that view, in our opinion, it follows that in the one Church proper there is no hierarchy, no spiritual superior, and can be none, because the spirit of Christianity excludes such things. Wherever there are ecclesiastical superiors (as it is convenient that there should be), there ipso facto you have a finite religious body, which, as a consequence, can not be nor represent the Church proper.