Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/66

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out God; canst thou find out the perfection of the Almighty? It is more high than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know?'[1]

Will it be said, experience might also have shown to Israel a not ourselves which did not make for his happiness, but rather made against it, baffled his claims to it? But no man, as I have elsewhere remarked,[2] who simply follows his own consciousness, is aware of any claims, any rights, whatever; what he gets of good makes him thankful, what he gets of ill seems to him natural. His simple spontaneous feeling is well expressed by that saying of Izaak Walton: 'Every misery that I miss is a new mercy, and therefore let us be thankful.' It is true, the not ourselves of which we are thankfully conscious we inevitably speak of and speak to as a man; for 'man never knows hows anthropomorphic he is.' And as time proceeds, imagination and reasoning keep working upon this substructure, and build from it a magnified and non-natural man. Attention is then drawn, afterwards, to causes outside ourselves which seem to make for sin and suffering; and then either these causes have to be reconciled by some highly ingenious scheme with the magnified and non-natural man's power, or a second magnified and non-natural man has to be supposed, who pulls the contrary way to the first. So arise Satan and his angels. But all this is secondary, and comes much later. Israel, the founder of our religion, did not begin with this. He began with experience. He knew from thankful experience the not ourselves which makes for righteousness, and knew how little we know about God besides.


The language of the Bible, then, is literary, not scientific language; language thrown out at an object of conscious-

  1. Job, xi, 7.
  2. Culture and Anarchy, p. 192.