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首页 » 英文宗教小说 » The Varieties of Religious Experience 宗教经验种种 » Lecture XIX OTHER CHARACTERISTICS
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We have wound our way back, after our excursion through mysticism and philosophy, to wherewe were before: the uses of religion, its uses to the individual who has it, and the uses of theindividual himself to the world, are the best arguments that truth is in it. We return to the empiricalphilosophy: the true is what works well, even though the qualification "on the whole" may alwayshave to be added. In this lecture we must revert to description again, and finish our picture of thereligious consciousness by a word about some of its other characteristic elements. Then, in a finallecture, we shall be free to make a general review and draw our independent conclusions.

The first point I will speak of is the part which the aesthetic life plays in determining one'schoice of a religion. Men, I said awhile ago, involuntarily intellectualize their religious experience.

They need formulas, just as they need fellowship in worship. I spoke, therefore, toocontemptuously of the pragmatic uselessness of the famous scholastic list of attributes of the deity,for they have one use which I neglected to consider. The eloquent passage in which Newmanenumerates them[301] puts us on the track of it. Intoning them as he would intone a cathedralservice, he shows how high is their aesthetic value. It enriches our bare piety to carry these exaltedand mysterious verbal additions just as it enriches a church to have an organ and old brasses,marbles and frescoes and stained windows. Epithets lend an atmosphere and overtones to ourdevotion. They are like a hymn of praise and service of glory, and may sound the more sublime forbeing incomprehensible. Minds like Newman's[302] grow as jealous of their credit as heathenpriests are of that of the jewelry and ornaments that blaze upon their idols.

[301] Idea of a University, Discourse III. Section 7.

[302] Newman's imagination so innately craved an ecclesiastical system that he can write: "Fromthe age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion: I know no otherreligion; I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion." And again speaking of himselfabout the age of thirty, he writes: "I loved to act as feeling myself in my Bishop's sight, as if itwere the sight of God." Apologia, 1897, pp. 48, 50.

Among the buildings-out of religion which the mind spontaneously indulges in, the aestheticmotive must never be forgotten. I promised to say nothing of ecclesiastical systems in theselectures. I may be allowed, however, to put in a word at this point on the way in which theirsatisfaction of certain aesthetic needs contributes to their hold on human nature. Although somepersons aim most at intellectual purity and simplification, for others RICHNESS is the supremeimaginative requirement.[303] When one's mind is strongly of this type, an individual religion willhardly serve the purpose. The inner need is rather of something institutional and complex, majesticin the hierarchic interrelatedness of its parts, with authority descending from stage to stage, and atevery stage objects for adjectives of mystery and splendor, derived in the last resort from theGodhead who is the fountain and culmination of the system. One feels then as if in presence ofsome vast incrusted work of jewelry or architecture; one hears the multitudinous liturgical appeal;one gets the honorific vibration coming from every quarter. Compared with such a noblecomplexity, in which ascending and descending movements seem in no way to jar upon stability,in which no single item, however humble, is insignificant, because so many august institutionshold it in its place, how flat does evangelical Protestantism appear, how bare the atmosphere ofthose isolated religious lives whose boast it is that "man in the bush with God may meet."[304]

What a pulverization and leveling of what a gloriously piled-up structure! To an imagination usedto the perspectives of dignity and glory, the naked gospel scheme seems to offer an almshouse fora palace.

[303] The intellectual difference is quite on a par in practical importance with the analogousdifference in character. We saw, under the head of Saintliness, how some characters resentconfusion and must live in purity, consistency, simplicity (above, p. 275 ff.). For others, on thecontrary, superabundance, over-pressure, stimulation, lots of superficial relations, areindispensable. There are men who would suffer a very syncope if you should pay all their debts,bring it about that their engagements had been kept, their letters answered their perplexitiesrelieved, and their duties fulfilled, down to one which lay on a clean table under their eyes withnothing to interfere with its immediate performance. A day stripped so staringly bare would be forthem appalling. So with ease, elegance, tributes of affection, social recognitions--some of usrequire amounts of these things which to others would appear a mass of lying and sophistication.

[304] In Newman's Lectures on Justification Lecture VIII. Section 6, there is a splendid passageexpressive of this aesthetic way of feeling the Christian scheme. It is unfortunately too long toquote.

It is much like the patriotic sentiment of those brought up in ancient empires. How manyemotions must be frustrated of their object, when one gives up the titles of dignity, the crimsonlights and blare of brass, the gold embroidery, the plumed troops, the fear and trembling, and putsup with a president in a black coat who shakes hands with you, and comes, it may be, from a"home" upon a veldt or prairie with one sitting-room and a Bible on its centre-table. It pauperizesthe monarchical imagination!

The strength of these aesthetic sentiments makes it rigorously impossible, it seems to me, thatProtestantism, however superior in spiritual profundity it may be to Catholicism, should at thepresent day succeed in making many converts from the more venerable ecclesiasticism. The latteroffers a so much richer pasturage and shade to the fancy, has so many cells with so many differentkinds of honey, is so indulgent in its multiform appeals to human nature, that Protestantism willalways show to Catholic eyes the almshouse physiognomy. The bitter negativity of it is to theCatholic mind incomprehensible. To intellectual Catholics many of the antiquated beliefs andpractices to which the Church gives countenance are, if taken literally, as childish as they are toProtestants. But they are childish in the pleasing sense of "childlike"--innocent and amiable, andworthy to be smiled in consideration of the undeveloped condition of the dear people's intellects.TotheProtest(on) ant, on the contrary, they are childish in the sense of being idioticfalsehoods. He must stamp out their delicate and lovable redundancy, leaving the Catholic toshudder at his literalness. He appears to the latter as morose as if he were some hard-eyed, numb,monotonous kind of reptile. The two will never understand each other--their centres of emotionalenergy are too different. Rigorous truth and human nature's intricacies are always in need of amutual interpreter.[305] So much for the aesthetic diversities in the religious consciousness.

[305] Compare the informality of Protestantism, where the "meek lover of the good," alone withhis God, visits the sick, etc., for their own sakes, with the elaborate "business" that goes on inCatholic devotion, and carries with it the social excitement of all more complex businesses. Anessentially worldly-minded Catholic woman can become a visitor of the sick on purely coquettishprinciples, with her confessor and director, her "merit" storing up, her patron saints, her privilegedrelation to the Almighty, drawing his attention as a professional devote, her definite "exercises,"and her definitely recognized social pose in the organization.

In most books on religion, three things are represented as its most essential elements. These areSacrifice, Confession, and Prayer. I must say a word in turn of each of these elements, thoughbriefly. First of Sacrifice.

Sacrifices to gods are omnipresent in primeval worship; but, as cults have grown refined, burntofferings and the blood of he-goats have been superseded by sacrifices more spiritual in theirnature. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism get along without ritual sacrifice; so does Christianity, savein so far as the notion is preserved in transfigured form in the mystery of Christ's atonement. Thesereligions substitute offerings of the heart, renunciations of the inner self, for all those vainoblations. In the ascetic practices which Islam, Buddhism, and the older Christianity encourage wesee how indestructible is the idea that sacrifice of some sort is a religious exercise. In lecturing onasceticism I spoke of its significance as symbolic of the sacrifices which life, whenever it is takenstrenuously, calls for.[306] But, as I said my say about those, and as these lectures expressly avoidearlier religious usages and questions of derivation, I will pass from the subject of Sacrificealtogether and turn to that of Confession.

[306] Above, p. 354 ff.

In regard to Confession I will also be most brief, saying my word about it psychologically, nothistorically. Not nearly as widespread as sacrifice, it corresponds to a more inward and moral stageof sentiment. It is part of the general system of purgation and cleansing which one feels one's selfin need of, in order to be in right relations to one's deity. For him who confesses, shams are overand realities have begun; he has exteriorized his rottenness. If he has not actually got rid of it, he atleast no longer smears it over with a hypocritical show of virtue--he lives at least upon a basis ofveracity. The complete decay of the practice of confession in Anglo-Saxon communities is a littlehard to account for. Reaction against popery is of course the historic explanation, for in poperyconfession went with penances and absolution, and other inadmissible practices. But on the <453>

side of the sinner himself it seems as if the need ought to have been too great to accept so summarya refusal of its satisfaction. One would think that in more men the shell of secrecy would have hadto open, the pent-in abscess to burst and gain relief, even though the ear that heard the confessionwere unworthy. The Catholic church, for obvious utilitarian reasons, has substituted auricularconfession to one priest for the more radical act of public confession. We English-speakingProtestants, in the general self-reliance and unsociability of our nature, seem to find it enough ifwe take God alone into our confidence.[307]

[307] A fuller discussion of confession is contained in the excellent work by Frank Granger: TheSoul of a Christian, London, 1900, ch. xii.

The next topic on which I must comment is Prayer--and this time it must be less briefly. We haveheard much talk of late against prayer, especially against prayers for better weather and for therecovery of sick people. As regards prayers for the sick, if any medical fact can be considered tostand firm, it is that in certain environments prayer may contribute to recovery, and should beencouraged as a therapeutic measure. Being a normal factor of moral health in the person, itsomission would be deleterious. The case of the weather is different. Notwithstanding the recencyof the opposite belief,[308] every one now knows that droughts and storms follow from physicalantecedents, and that moral appeals cannot avert them. But petitional prayer is only onedepartment of prayer; and if we take the word in the wider sense as meaning every kind of inwardcommunion or conversation with the power recognized as divine, we can easily see that scientificcriticism leaves it untouched.

[308] Example: "The minister at Sudbury, being at the Thursday lecture in Boston, heard theofficiating clergyman praying for rain. As soon as the service was over, he went to the petitionerand said 'You Boston ministers, as soon as a tulip wilts under your windows, go to church and prayfor rain, until all Concord and Sudbury are under water.'" R. W. Emerson: Lectures andBiographical Sketches, p. 363.

Prayer in this wide sense is the very soul and essence of religion. "Religion," says a liberalFrench theologian, "is an intercourse, a conscious and voluntary relation, entered into by a soul indistress with the mysterious power upon which it feels itself to depend, and upon which its fate iscontingent. This intercourse with God is realized by prayer. Prayer is religion in act; that is, prayeris real religion. It is prayer that distinguishes the religious phenomenon from such similar orneighboring phenomena as purely moral or aesthetic sentiment. Religion is nothing if it be not thevital act by which the entire mind seeks to save itself by clinging to the principle from which itdraws its life. This act is prayer, by which term I understand no vain exercise of words, no mererepetition of certain sacred formula, but the very movement itself of the soul, putting itself in apersonal relation of contact with the mysterious power of which it feels the presence--it may beeven before it has a name by which to call it. Wherever this interior prayer is lacking, there is noreligion; wherever, on the other hand, this prayer rises and stirs the soul, even in the absence offorms or of doctrines, we have living religion. One sees from this why "natural religion, so-called,is not properly a religion. It cuts man off from prayer. It leaves him and God in mutual remoteness,with no intimate commerce, no interior dialogue, no interchange, no action of God in man, noreturn of man to God. At bottom this pretended religion is only a philosophy. Born at epochs ofrationalism, of critical investigations, it never was anything but an abstraction. An artificial anddead creation, it reveals to its examiner hardly one of the characters proper to religion."[309]

[309] Auguste Sabatier: Esquisse d'une Philosophie de la Religion. 2me ed., 1897, pp. 24-26,abridged.

It seems to me that the entire series of our lectures proves the truth of M. Sabatier's contention.

The religious phenomenon, studied as in Inner fact, and apart from ecclesiastical or theologicalcomplications, has shown itself to consist everywhere, and at all its stages, in the consciousnesswhich individuals have of an intercourse between themselves and higher powers with which theyfeel themselves to be related. This intercourse is realized at the time as being both active andmutual. If it be not effective; if it be not a give and take relation; if nothing be really transactedwhile it lasts; if the world is in no whit different for its having taken place; then prayer, taken inthis wide meaning of a sense that SOMETHING IS TRANSACTING, is of course a feeling ofwhat is illusory, and religion must on the whole be classed, not simply as containing elements ofdelusion--these undoubtedly everywhere exist--but as being rooted in delusion altogether, just asmaterialists and atheists have always said it was. At most there might remain, when the directexperiences of prayer were ruled out as false witnesses, some inferential belief that the whole orderof existence must have a divine cause. But this way of contemplating nature, pleasing as it woulddoubtless be to persons of a pious taste, would leave to them but the spectators' part at a play,whereas in experimental religion and the prayerful life, we seem ourselves to be actors, and not ina play, but in a very serious reality.

The genuineness of religion is thus indissolubly bound up with the question whether theprayerful consciousness be or be not deceitful. The conviction that something is genuinelytransacted in this consciousness is the very core of living religion. As to what is transacted, greatdifferences of opinion have prevailed. The unseen powers have been supposed, and are yetsupposed, to do things which no enlightened man can nowadays believe in. It may well prove thatthe sphere of influence in prayer is subjective exclusively, and that what is immediately changed isonly the mind of the praying person. But however our opinion of prayer's effects may come to belimited by criticism, religion, in the vital sense in which these lectures study it, must stand or fallby the persuasion that effects of some sort genuinely do occur. Through prayer, religion insists,things which cannot be realized in any other manner come about: energy which but for prayerwould be bound is by prayer set free and operates in some part, be it objective or subjective, of theworld of facts.

This postulate is strikingly expressed in a letter written by the late Frederic W. H. Myers to afriend, who allows me to quote from it. It shows how independent the prayer-instinct is of usualdoctrinal complications. Mr. Myers writes:-"I am glad that you have asked me about prayer, because I have rather strong ideas on thesubject. First consider what are the facts. There exists around us a spiritual universe, and thatuniverse is in actual relation with the material. From the spiritual universe comes the energy whichmaintains the material; the energy which makes the life of each individual spirit. Our spirits aresupported by a perpetual indrawal of this energy, and the vigor of that indrawal is perpetuallychanging, much as the vigor of our absorption of material nutriment changes from hour to hour.

"I call these 'facts' because I think that some scheme of this kind is the only one consistent withour actual evidence; too complex to summarize here. How, then, should we ACT on these facts?

Plainly we must endeavor to draw in as much spiritual life as possible, and we must place ourminds in any attitude which experience shows to be favorable to such indrawal. PRAYER is thegeneral name for that attitude of open and earnest expectancy. If we then ask to whom to pray, theanswer (strangely enough) must be that THAT does not much matter. The prayer is not indeed apurely subjective thing;--it means a real increase in intensity of absorption of spiritual power orgrace;--but we do not know enough of what takes place in the spiritual world to know how theprayer operates;--WHO is cognizant of it, or through what channel the grace is given. Better letchildren pray to Christ, who is at any rate the highest individual spirit of whom we have anyknowledge. But it would be rash to say that Christ himself HEARS US; while to say that GODhears us is merely to restate the first principle--that grace flows in from the infinite spiritualworld."Let us reserve the question of the truth or falsehood of the belief that power is absorbed until thenext lecture, when our dogmatic conclusions, if we have any, must be reached. Let this lecture stillconfine itself to the description of phenomena; and as a concrete example of an extreme sort, of theway in which the prayerful life may still be led, let me take a case with which most of you must beacquainted, that of George Muller of Bristol, who died in 1898. Muller's prayers were of thecrassest petitional order. Early in life he resolved on taking certain Bible promises in literalsincerity, and on letting himself be fed, not by his own worldly foresight, but by the Lord's hand.

He had an extraordinarily active and successful career, among the fruits of which were thedistribution of over two million copies of the Scripture text, in different languages; the equipmentof several hundred missionaries; the circulation of more than a hundred and eleven million ofscriptural books, pamphlets, and tracts; the building of five large orphanages, and the keeping andeducating of thousands of orphans; finally, the establishment of schools in which over a hundredand twenty-one thousand youthful and adult pupils were taught. In the course of this work Mr.

Muller received and administered nearly a million and a half of pounds sterling, and traveled overtwo hundred thousand miles of sea and land.[310] During the sixty-eight years of his ministry, henever owned any property except his clothes and furniture, and cash in hand; and he left, at the ageof eighty-six, an estate worth only a hundred and sixty pounds.

[310] My authority for these statistics is the little work on Muller, by Frederic G. Warne, NewYork, 1898.

His method was to let his general wants be publicly known, but not to acquaint other people withthe details of his temporary necessities. For the relief of the latter, he prayed directly to the Lord,believing that sooner or later prayers are always answered if one have trust enough. "When I losesuch a thing as a key," he writes, "I ask the Lord to direct me to it, and I look for an answer to myprayer; when a person with whom I have made an appointment does not come, according to thefixed time, and I begin to be inconvenienced by it, I ask the Lord to be pleased to hasten him tome, and I look for an answer; when I do not understand a passage of the word of God, I lift up myheart to the Lord that he would be pleased by his Holy Spirit to instruct me, and I expect to betaught, though I do not fix the time when, and the manner how it should be; when I am going tominister in the Word, I seek help from the Lord, and . . . am not cast down, but of good cheerbecause I look for his assistance."Muller's custom was to never run up bills, not even for a week. "As the Lord deals out to us bythe day, . . . the week's payment might become due and we have no money to meet it; and thusthose with whom we deal might be inconvenienced by us, and we be found acting against thecommandment of the Lord: 'Owe no man anything.' From this day and henceforward whilst theLord gives to us our supplies by the day, we purpose to pay at once for every article as it ispurchased, and never to buy anything except we can pay for it at once, however much it may seemto be needed, and however much those with whom we deal may wish to be paid only by the week."The articles needed of which Muller speaks were the food, fuel, etc., of his orphanages.

Somehow, near as they often come to going without a meal, they hardly ever seem actually to havedone so. "Greater and more manifest nearness of the Lord's presence I have never had than whenafter breakfast there were no means for dinner for more than a hundred persons; or when afterdinner there were no means for the tea, and yet the Lord provided the tea; and all this without onesingle human being having been informed about our need. . . . Through Grace my mind is so fullyassured of the faithfulness of the Lord, that in the midst of the greatest need, I am enabled in peaceto go about my other work. Indeed, did not the Lord give me this, which is the result of trusting inhim, I should scarcely be able to work at all; for it is now comparatively a rare thing that a daycomes when I am not in need for one or another part of the work."[311]

[311] The Life of Trust; Being a Narrative of the Lord's Dealings with George Muller, NewAmerican edition, N. Y., Crowell, pp. 228, 194, 219.

In building his orphanages simply by prayer and faith, Muller affirms that his prime motive was"to have something to point to as a visible proof that our God and Father is the same faithful Godthat he ever was--as willing as ever to prove himself the living God, in our day as formerly, to allthat put their trust in him."[312] For this reason he refused to borrow money for any of hisenterprises. "How does it work when we thus anticipate God by going our own way? We certainlyweaken faith instead of increasing it; and each time we work thus a deliverance of our own we findit more and more difficult to trust in God, till at last we give way entirely to our natural fallenreason and unbelief prevails. How different if one is enabled to wait God's own time, and to lookalone to him for help and deliverance! When at last help comes, after many seasons of prayer itmay be, how sweet it is, and what a present recompense! Dear Christian reader, if you have neverwalked in this path of obedience before, do so now, and you will then know experimentally thesweetness of the joy which results from it."[313]

[312] Ibid., p. 126.

[313] Op. cit., p. 383, abridged.

When the supplies came in but slowly, Muller always considered that this was for the trial of hisfaith and patience When his faith and patience had been sufficiently tried, the Lord would sendmore means. "And thus it has proved,"--I quote from his diary--"for to-day was given me the sumof 2050 pounds, of which 2000 are for the building fund [of a certain house], and 50 for presentnecessities. It is impossible to describe my joy in God when I received this donation. I was neitherexcited nor surprised; for I LOOK out for answers to my prayers. I BELIEVE THAT GODHEARS ME. Yet my heart was so full of joy that I could only SIT before God, and admire him,like David in 2 Samuel vii. At last I cast myself flat down upon my face and burst forth inthanksgiving to God and in surrendering my heart afresh to him for his blessed service."[314]

[314] Ibid., p. 323George Muller's is a case extreme in every respect, and in no respect more so than in theextraordinary narrowness of the man's intellectual horizon. His God was, as he often said, hisbusiness partner. He seems to have been for Muller little more than a sort of supernaturalclergyman interested in the congregation of tradesmen and others in Bristol who were his saints,and in the orphanages and other enterprises, but unpossessed of any of those vaster and wilder andmore ideal attributes with which the human imagination elsewhere has invested him. Muller, inshort, was absolutely unphilosophical. His intensely private and practical conception of hisrelations with the Deity continued the traditions of the most primitive human thought.[315] Whenwe compare a mind like his with such a mind as, for example, Emerson's or Phillips Brooks's, wesee the range which the religious consciousness covers.

[315] I cannot resist the temptation of quoting an expression of an even more primitive style ofreligious thought, which I find in Arber's English Garland, vol. vii. p. 440. Robert Lyde, anEnglish sailor, along with an English boy, being prisoners on a French ship in 1689, set upon thecrew, of seven Frenchmen, killed two, made the other five prisoners, and brought home the ship.

Lyde thus describes how in this feat he found his God a very present help in time of trouble:-"With the assistance of God I kept my feet when they three and one more did strive to throw medown. Feeling the Frenchman which hung about my middle hang very heavy, I said to the boy, 'Goround the binnacle, and knock down that man that hangeth on my back.' So the boy did strike himone blow on the head which made him fall. . . . Then I looked about for a marlin spike or anythingelse to strike them withal. But seeing nothing, I said, 'LORD! what shall I do?' Then casting up myeye upon my left side, and seeing a marlin spike hanging, I jerked my right arm and took hold, andstruck the point four times about a quarter of an inch deep into the skull of that man that had holdof my left arm. [One of the Frenchmen then hauled the marlin spike away from him.] But throughGOD'S wonderful providence! it either fell out of his hand, or else he threw it down, and at thistime the Almighty GOD gave me strength enough to take one man in one hand, and throw at theother's head: and looking about again to see anything to strike them withal, but seeing nothing, Isaid, 'LORD! what shall I do now?' And then it pleased GOD to put me in mind of my knife in mypocket. And although two of the men had hold of my right arm, yet GOD Almighty strengthenedme so that I put my right hand into my right pocket, drew out the knife and sheath, . . . put itbetween my legs and drew it out, and then cut the man's throat with it that had his back to mybreast: and he immediately dropt down, and scarce ever stirred after."--I have slightly abridgedLyde's narrative.

There is an immense literature relating to answers to petitional prayer. The evangelical journalsare filled with such answers, and books are devoted to the subject,[316] but for us Muller's casewill suffice.

[316] As, for instance, In Answer to Prayer, by the Bishop of Ripon and others, London, 1898;Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer, Harrisburg, Pa., 1898 (?); H. L. Hastings:

The Guiding Hand, or Providential Direction, illustrated by Authentic Instances, Boston, 1898(?).

A less sturdy beggar-like fashion of leading the prayerful life is followed by innumerable otherChristians. Persistence in leaning on the Almighty for support and guidance will, such persons say,bring with it proofs, palpable but much more subtle, of his presence and active influence. Thefollowing description of a "led" life, by a German writer whom I have already quoted, would nodoubt appear to countless Christians in every country as if transcribed from their own personalexperience. One finds in this guided sort of life, says Dr. Hilty-"That books and words (and sometimes people) come to one's cognizance just at the verymoment in which one needs them; that one glides over great dangers as if with shut eyes,remaining ignorant of what would have terrified one or led one astray, until the peril is past--thisbeing especially the case with temptations to vanity and sensuality; that paths on which one oughtnot to wander are, as it were, hedged off with thorns; but that on the other side great obstacles aresuddenly removed; that when the time has come for something, one suddenly receives a couragethat formerly failed, or perceives the root of a matter that until then was concealed, or discoversthoughts, talents, yea, even pieces of knowledge and insight, in one's self, of which it is impossibleto say whence they come; finally, that persons help us or decline to help us, favor us or refuse us,as if they had to do so against their will, so that often those indifferent or even unfriendly to usyield us the greatest service and furtherance. (God takes often their worldly goods, from thosewhom he leads, at just the right moment, when they threaten to impede the effort after higherinterests.)"Besides all this, other noteworthy things come to pass, of which it is not easy to give account.

There is no doubt whatever that now one walks continually through 'open doors' and on the easiestroads, with as little care and trouble as it is possible to imagine.

"Furthermore one finds one's self settling one's affairs neither too early nor too late, whereas theywere wont to be spoiled by untimeliness, even when the preparations had been well laid. Inaddition to this, one does them with perfect tranquillity of mind, almost as if they were matters ofno consequence, like errands done by us for another person, in which case we usually act morecalmly than when we act in our own concerns. Again, one finds that one can WAIT for everythingpatiently, and that is one of life's great arts. One finds also that each thing comes duly, one thingafter the other, so that one gains time to make one's footing sure before advancing farther. Andthen every thing occurs to us at the right moment, just what we ought to do, etc., and often in avery striking way, just as if a third person were keeping watch over those things which we are ineasy danger of forgetting.

"Often, too, persons are sent to us at the right time, to offer or ask for what is needed, and whatwe should never have had the courage or resolution to undertake of our own accord.

"Through all these experiences one finds that one is kindly and tolerant of other people, even ofsuch as are repulsive, negligent, or ill-willed, for they also are instruments of good in God's hand,and often most efficient ones. Without these thoughts it would be hard for even the best of usalways to keep our equanimity. But with the consciousness of divine guidance, one sees many athing in life quite differently from what would otherwise be possible.

"All these are things that every human being KNOWS, who has had experience of them; and ofwhich the most speaking examples could be brought forward. The highest resources of worldlywisdom are unable to attain that which, under divine leading, comes to us of its own accord."[317]

[317] C. Hilty: Gluck, Dritter Theil, 1900, pp. 92 ff.

Such accounts as this shade away into others where the belief is, not that particular events aretempered more towardly to us by a superintending providence, as a reward for our reliance, butthat by cultivating the continuous sense of our connection with the power that made things as theyare, we are tempered more towardly for their reception. The outward face of nature need not alter,but the expressions of meaning in it alter. It was dead and is alive again. It is like the differencebetween looking on a person without love, or upon the same person with love. In the latter caseintercourse springs into new vitality. So when one's affections keep in touch with the divinity ofthe world's authorship, fear and egotism fall away; and in the equanimity that follows, one finds inthe hours, as they succeed each other, a series of purely benignant opportunities. It is as if all doorswere opened, and all paths freshly smoothed. We meet a new world when we meet the old world inthe spirit which this kind of prayer infuses.

Such a spirit was that of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus.[318] It is that of mind-curers, of thetranscendentalists, and of the so-called "liberal" Christians. As an expression of it, I will quote apage from one of Martineau's sermons:-[318] "Good Heaven!" says Epictetus, "any one thing in the creation is sufficient to demonstratea Providence, to a humble and grateful mind. The mere possibility of producing milk from grass,cheese from milk, and wool from skins; who formed and planned it? Ought we not, whether we digor plough or eat, to sing this hymn to God? Great is God, who has supplied us with theseinstruments to till the ground; great is God, who has given us hands and instruments of digestion,who has given us to grow insensibly and to breathe in sleep. These things we ought forever tocelebrate. . . . But because the most of you are blind and insensible, there must be some one to fillthis station, and lead, in behalf of all men, the hymn to God; for what else can I do, a lame oldman, but sing hymns to God? Were I a nightingale, I would act the part of a nightingale; were I aswan, the part of a swan. But since I am a reasonable creature, it is my duty to praise God . . . and Icall on you to join the same song." Works, book i. ch. xvi., Carter-Higginson (translation)abridged.

"The universe, open to the eye to-day, looks as it did a thousand years ago: and the morninghymn of Milton does but tell the beauty with which our own familiar sun dressed the earliest fieldsand gardens of the world. We see what all our fathers saw. And if we cannot find God in yourhouse or in mine, upon the roadside or the margin of the sea; in the bursting seed or openingflower; in the day duty or the night musing; in the general laugh and the secret grief; in theprocession of life, ever entering afresh, and solemnly passing by and dropping off; I do not thinkwe should discern him any more on the grass of Eden, or beneath the moonlight of Gethsemane.

Depend upon it, it is not the want of greater miracles, but of the soul to perceive such as areallowed us still, that makes us push all the sanctities into the far spaces we cannot reach. Thedevout feel that wherever God's hand is, THERE is miracle: and it is simply an indevoutnesswhich imagines that only where miracle is, can there be the real hand of God. The customs ofHeaven ought surely to be more sacred in our eyes than its anomalies; the dear old ways, of whichthe Most High is never tired, than the strange things which he does not love well enough ever torepeat. And he who will but discern beneath the sun, as he rises any morning, the supporting fingerof the Almighty, may recover the sweet and reverent surprise with which Adam gazed on the firstdawn in Paradise. It is no outward change, no shifting in time or place; but only the lovingmeditation of the pure in heart, that can reawaken the Eternal from the sleep within our souls: thatcan render him a reality again, and reassert for him once more his ancient name of 'the LivingGod.'"[319]

[319] James Martineau: end of the sermon "Help Thou Mine Unbelief," in Endeavours after aChristian Life, 2d series. Compare with this page the extract from Voysey on p. 270, above, andthose from Pascal and Madame Guyon on p. 281.

When we see all things in God, and refer all things to him, we read in common matters superiorexpressions of meaning. The deadness with which custom invests the familiar vanishes, andexistence as a whole appears transfigured. The state of a mind thus awakened from torpor is wellexpressed in these words, which I take from a friend's letter:-"If we occupy ourselves in summing up all the mercies and bounties we are privileged to have,we are overwhelmed by their number (so great that we can imagine ourselves unable to giveourselves time even to begin to review the things we may imagine WE HAVE NOT). We sumthem and realize that WE ARE ACTUALLY KILLED WITH GOD'S KINDNESS; that we aresurrounded by bounties upon bounties, without which all would fall. Should we not love it; shouldwe not feel buoyed up by the Eternal Arms?"Sometimes this realization that facts are of divine sending, instead of being habitual, is casual,like a mystical experience. Father Gratry gives this instance from his youthful melancholyperiod:-"One day I had a moment of consolation, because I met with something which seemed to meideally perfect. It was a poor drummer beating the tattoo in the streets of Paris. I walked behindhim in returning to the school on the evening of a holiday. His drum gave out the tattoo in such away that, at that moment at least, however peevish I were, I could find no pretext for fault-finding.

It was impossible to conceive more nerve or spirit, better time or measure, more clearness orrichness, than were in this drumming. Ideal desire could go no farther in that direction. I wasenchanted and consoled; the perfection of this wretched act did me good. Good is at least possible,I said. since the ideal can thus sometimes get embodied."[320]

[320] Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse, 1897, p. 122.

In Senancour's novel of Obermann a similar transient lifting of the veil is recorded. In Parisstreets, on a March day, he comes across a flower in bloom, a jonquil:

"It was the strongest expression of desire: it was the first perfume of the year. I felt all thehappiness destined for man. This unutterable harmony of souls, the phantom of the ideal world,arose in me complete. I never felt anything so great or so instantaneous. I know not what shape,what analogy, what secret of relation it was that made me see in this flower a limitless beauty. . . . Ishall never inclose in a conception this power, this immensity that nothing will express; this formthat nothing will contain; this ideal of a better world which one feels, but which, it seems, naturehas not made actual."[321]

[321] Op. cit., Letter XXX.

We heard in previous lectures of the vivified face of the world as it may appear to converts aftertheir awakening.[322] As a rule, religious persons generally assume that whatever natural factsconnect themselves in any way with their destiny are significant of the divine purposes with them.

Through prayer the purpose, often far from obvious, comes home to them, and if it be "trial,"strength to endure the trial is given. Thus at all stages of the prayerful life we find the persuasionthat in the process of communion energy from on high flows in to meet demand, and becomesoperative within the phenomenal world. So long as this operativeness is admitted to be real, itmakes no essential difference whether its immediate effects be subjective or objective. Thefundamental religious point is that in prayer, spiritual energy, which otherwise would slumber,does become active, and spiritual work of some kind is effected really.

[322] Above, p. 243 ff. Compare the withdrawal of expression from the world, in Melancholiacs,p. 148.

So much for Prayer, taken in the wide sense of any kind of communion. As the core of religion,we must return to it in the next lecture.

The last aspect of the religious life which remains for me to touch upon is the fact that itsmanifestations so frequently connect themselves with the subconscious part of our existence. Youmay remember what I said in my opening lecture[323] about the prevalence of the psychopathictemperament in religious biography. You will in point of fact hardly find a religious leader of anykind in whose life there is no record of automatisms. I speak not merely of savage priests andprophets, whose followers regard automatic utterance and action as by itself tantamount toinspiration, I speak of leaders of thought and subjects of intellectualized experience. Saint Paul hadhis visions, his ecstasies, his gift of tongues, small as was the importance he attached to the latter.

The whole array of Christian saints and heresiarchs, including the greatest, the Barnards, theLoyolas, the Luthers, the Foxes, the Wesleys, had their visions, voices, rapt conditions, guidingimpressions, and "openings." They had these things, because they had exalted sensibility, and tosuch things persons of exalted sensibility are liable. In such liability there lie, however,consequences for theology. Beliefs are strengthened wherever automatisms corroborate them.

Incursions from beyond the transmarginal region have a peculiar power to increase conviction. Theinchoate sense of presence is infinitely stronger than conception, but strong as it may be, it isseldom equal to the evidence of hallucination. Saints who actually see or hear their Saviour reachthe acme of assurance. Motor automatisms, though rarer, are, if possible, even more convincingthan sensations. The subjects here actually feel themselves played upon by powers beyond theirwill. The evidence is dynamic; the God or spirit moves the very organs of their body.[324]

[323] Above, pp. 25, 26.

[324] A friend of mine, a first-rate psychologist, who is a subject of graphic automatism, tells methat the appearance of independent actuation in the movements of his arm, when he writesautomatically, is so distinct that it obliges him to abandon a psychophysical theory which he hadpreviously believed in, the theory, namely, that we have no feeling of the discharge downwards ofour voluntary motor-centres. We must normally have such a feeling, he thinks, or the SENSE OFAN ABSENCE would not be so striking as it is in these experiences. Graphic automatism of afully developed kind is rare in religious history, so far as my knowledge goes. Such statements asAntonia Bourignon's, that "I do nothing but lend my hand and spirit to another power than mine,"is shown by the context to indicate inspiration rather than directly automatic writing. In someeccentric sects this latter occurs. The most striking instance of it is probably the bulky volumecalled, "Oahspe, a new Bible in the Words of Jehovah and his angel ambassadors," Boston andLondon, 1891, written and illustrated automatically by Dr. Newbrough of New York, whom Iunderstand to be now, or to have been lately, at the head of the spiritistic community of Shalam inNew Mexico. The latest automatically written book which has come under my notice is"Zertouhem's Wisdom of the Ages," by George A. Fuller, Boston, 1901.

The great field for this sense of being the instrument of a higher power is of course "inspiration."It is easy to discriminate between the religious leaders who have been habitually subject toinspiration and those who have not. In the teachings of the Buddha, of Jesus, of Saint Paul (apartfrom his gift of tongues), of Saint Augustine, of Huss, of Luther, of Wesley, automatic or semiautomaticcomposition appears to have been only occasional. In the Hebrew prophets, on thecontrary, in Mohammed, in some of the Alexandrians, in many minor Catholic saints, in Fox, inJoseph Smith, something like it appears to have been frequent, sometimes habitual. We havedistinct professions of being under the direction of a foreign power, and serving as its mouthpiece.

As regards the Hebrew prophets, it is extraordinary, writes an author who has made a careful studyof them, to see-"How, one after another, the same features are reproduced in the prophetic books. The process isalways extremely different from what it would be if the prophet arrived at his insight into spiritualthings by the tentative efforts of his own genius. There is something sharp and sudden about it. Hecan lay his finger, so to speak, on the moment when it came. And it always comes in the form ofan overpowering force from without, against which he struggles, but in vain. Listen, for instance,[to] the opening of the book of Jeremiah. Read through in like manner the first two chapters of theprophecy of Ezekiel.

"It is not, however, only at the beginning of his career that the prophet passes through a crisiswhich is clearly not self-caused. Scattered all through the prophetic writings are expressionswhich speak of some strong and irresistible impulse coming down upon the prophet, determininghis attitude to the events of his time, constraining his utterance, making his words the vehicle of ahigher meaning than their own. For instance, this of Isaiah's: 'The Lord spake thus to me with astrong hand,'--an emphatic phrase which denotes the overmastering nature of the impulse--'andinstructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people.' . . . Or passages like this fromEzekiel: 'The hand of the Lord God fell upon me,' 'The hand of the Lord was strong upon me.' Theone standing characteristic of the prophet is that he speaks with the authority of Jehovah himself.

Hence it is that the prophets one and all preface their addresses so confidently, 'The Word of theLord,' or 'Thus saith the Lord.' They have even the audacity to speak in the first person, as ifJehovah himself were speaking. As in Isaiah: 'Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called; Iam He, I am the First, I also am the last,'--and so on. The personality of the prophet sinks entirelyinto the background; he feels himself for the time being the mouthpiece of the Almighty."[325]

[325] W. Sanday: The Oracles of God, London, 1892, pp. 49-56, abridged.

"We need to remember that prophecy was a profession, and that the prophets formed aprofessional class. There were schools of the prophets, in which the gift was regularly cultivated.

A group of young men would gather round some commanding figure--a Samuel or an Elisha--andwould not only record or spread the knowledge of his sayings and doings, but seek to catchthemselves something of his inspiration. It seems that music played its part in their exercises. . . . Itis perfectly clear that by no means all of these Sons of the prophets ever succeeded in acquiringmore than a very small share in the gift which they sought. It was clearly possible to 'counterfeit'

prophecy. Sometimes this was done deliberately. . . . But it by no means follows that in all caseswhere a false message was given, the giver of it was altogether conscious of what he was doing.


[326] Op. cit., p. 91. This author also cites Moses's and Isaiah's commissions, as given inExodus, chaps. iii. and iv., and Isaiah, chap. vi.

Here, to take another Jewish case, is the way in which Philo of Alexandria describes hisinspiration:-"Sometimes, when I have come to my work empty, I have suddenly become full; ideas being inan invisible manner showered upon me, and implanted in me from on high; so that through theinfluence of divine inspiration, I have become greatly excited, and have known neither the place inwhich I was, nor those who were present, nor myself, nor what I was saying, nor what I waswriting, for then I have been conscious of a richness of interpretation, an enjoyment of light, amost penetrating insight, a most manifest energy in all that was to be done; having such effect onmy mind as the clearest ocular demonstration would have on the eyes."[327]

[327] Quoted by Augustus Clissold: The Prophetic Spirit in Genius and Madness, 1870, p. 67.

Mr. Clissold is a Swedenborgian. Swedenborg's case is of course the palmary one of audita et visa,serving as a basis of religious revelation.

If we turn to Islam, we find that Mohammed's revelations all came from the subconscious sphere.

To the question in what way he got them-"Mohammed is said to have answered that sometimes he heard a knell as from a bell, and thatthis had the strongest effect on him; and when the angel went away, he had received the revelation.

Sometimes again he held converse with the angel as with a man, so as easily to understand hiswords. The later authorities, however, . . . distinguish still other kinds. In the Itgan (103) thefollowing are enumerated: 1, revelations with sound of bell, 2, by inspiration of the holy spirit inM.'s heart, 3, by Gabriel in human form, 4, by God immediately, either when awake (as in hisjourney to heaven) or in dream. . . . In Almawahib alladuniya the kinds are thus given: 1, Dream,2, Inspiration of Gabriel in the Prophet's heart, 3, Gabriel taking Dahya's form, 4, with the bell-sound, etc., 5, Gabriel in propria persona (only twice), 6, revelation in heaven, 7, God appearing inperson, but veiled, 8, God revealing himself immediately without veil. Others add two other stages,namely: 1, Gabriel in the form of still another man, 2, God showing himself personally indream."[328]

[328] Noldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, 1860, p. 16. Compare the fuller account in Sir WilliamMuir's: Life of Mahomet, 3d ed., 1894, ch. iii.

In none of these cases is the revelation distinctly motor. In the case of Joseph Smith (who hadprophetic revelations innumerable in addition to the revealed translation of the <472> gold plateswhich resulted in the Book of Mormon), although there may have been a motor element, theinspiration seems to have been predominantly sensorial. He began his translation by the aid of the"peep-stones" which he found, or thought or said that he found, with the gold plates --apparently acase of "crystal gazing." For some of the other revelations he used the peep-stones, but seemsgenerally to have asked the Lord for more direct instruction.[329]

[329] The Mormon theocracy has always been governed by direct revelations accorded to thePresident of the Church and its Apostles. From an obliging letter written to me in 1899 by aneminent Mormon, I quote the following extract:-"It may be very interesting for you to know that the President [Mr. Snow] of the Mormon Churchclaims to have had a number of revelations very recently from heaven. To explain fully what theserevelations are, it is necessary to know that we, as a people, believe that the Church of Jesus Christhas again been established through messengers sent from heaven. This Church has at its head aprophet seer, and revelator, who gives to man God's holy will. Revelation is the means throughwhich the will of God is declared directly and in fullness to man. These revelations are got throughdreams of sleep or in waking visions of the mind, by voices without visional appearance or byactual manifestations of the Holy Presence before the eye. We believe that God has come in personand spoken to our prophet and revelator."Other revelations are described as "openings"--Fox's, for example, were evidently of the kindknown in spiritistic circles of to-day as "impressions." As all effective initiators of change mustneeds live to some degree upon this psychopathic level of sudden perception or conviction of newtruth, or of impulse to action so obsessive that it must be worked off, I will say nothing more aboutso very common a phenomenon.

When, in addition to these phenomena of inspiration, we take religious mysticism into theaccount, when we recall the striking and sudden unifications of a discordant self which we saw inconversion, and when we review the extravagant obsessions of tenderness, purity, and self-severitymet with in saintliness, we cannot, I think, avoid the conclusion that in religion we have adepartment of human nature with unusually close relations to the transmarginal or subliminalregion. If the word "subliminal" is offensive to any of you, as smelling too much of psychicalresearch or other aberrations, call it by any other name you please, to distinguish it from the levelof full sunlit consciousness. Call this latter the A-region of personality, if you care to, and call theother the B-region. The B-region, then, is obviously the larger part of each of us, for it is the abodeof everything that is latent and the reservoir of everything that passes unrecorded or unobserved. Itcontains, for example, such things as all our momentarily inactive memories, and it harbors thesprings of all our obscurely motived passions, impulses, likes, dislikes, and prejudices. Ourintuitions, hypotheses, fancies, superstitions, persuasions, convictions, and in general all our non-rational operations, come from it. It is the source of our dreams, and apparently they may return toit. In it arise whatever mystical experiences we may have, and our automatisms, sensory or motor;our life in hypnotic and "hypnoid" conditions, if we are subjects to such conditions; our delusions,fixed ideas, and hysterical accidents, if we are hysteric subjects; our supra-normal cognitions, ifsuch there be, and if we are telepathic subjects. It is also the fountain-head of much that feeds ourreligion. In persons deep in the religious life, as we have now abundantly seen--and this is myconclusion--the door into this region seems unusually wide open; at any rate, experiences makingtheir entrance through that door have had emphatic influence in shaping religious history.

With this conclusion I turn back and close the circle which I opened in my first lecture,terminating thus the review which I then announced of inner religious phenomena as we find themin developed and articulate human individuals. I might easily, if the time allowed, multiply bothmy documents and my discriminations, but a broad treatment is, I believe, in itself better, and themost important characteristics of the subject lie, I think, before us already. In the next lecture,which is also the last one, we must try to draw the critical conclusions which so much materialmay suggest.


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