The Relations Between Religion and Science - Eight Lectures Preached Before the University of Oxford in the Year 1884
by Frederick, Lord Bishop of Exeter
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First Edition, 8vo, 1884.

Reprinted January and February (twice), 1885, April, 1885;

Re-issue (Crown 8vo), November, 1885, 1903.







—"I give and bequeath my Lands and Estates to the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Oxford for ever, to have and to hold all and singular the said Lands or Estates upon trust, and to the intents and purposes hereinafter mentioned; that is to say, I will and appoint that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford for the time being shall take and receive all the rents, issues, and profits thereof, and (after all taxes, reparations, and necessary deductions made) that he pay all the remainder to the endowment of eight Divinity Lecture Sermons, to be established for ever in the said University, and to be performed in the manner following:

"I direct and appoint, that, upon the first Tuesday in Easter Term, a Lecturer be yearly chosen by the Heads of Colleges only, and by no others, in the room adjoining to the Printing-House, between the hours of ten in the morning and two in the afternoon, to preach eight Divinity Lecture Sermons, the year following, at St. Mary's in Oxford, between the commencement of the last month in Lent Term, and the end of the third week in Act Term.

"Also I direct and appoint, that the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be preached upon either of the following Subjects—to confirm and establish the Christian Faith, and to confute all heretics and schismatics—upon the divine authority of the holy Scriptures—upon the authority of the writings of the primitive Fathers, as to the faith and practice of the primitive Church—upon the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—upon the Divinity of the Holy Ghost—upon the Articles of the Christian Faith, as comprehended in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.

"Also I direct, that thirty copies of the eight Divinity Lecture Sermons shall be always printed, within two months after they are preached; and one copy shall be given to the Chancellor of the University, and one copy to the Head of every College, and one copy to the Mayor of the city of Oxford, and one copy to be put into the Bodleian Library; and the expenses of printing them shall be paid out of the revenue of the Land or Estates given for establishing the Divinity Lecture Sermons; and the preacher shall not be paid, nor be entitled to the revenue, before they are printed.

"Also I direct and appoint, that no person shall be qualified to preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons, unless he hath taken the degree of Master of Arts at least, in one of the two Universities of Oxford or Cambridge; and that the same person shall never preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons twice."




Psalm civ. 24.

O Lord, how manifold are Thy works: in wisdom hast Thou made them all; the earth is full of Thy riches.

The subject introduced: Scientific belief. Mathematics and Metaphysics excluded. The Postulate of Science: the Uniformity of Nature. Hume's account of it. Kant's account of it. Insufficiency of both accounts. Science traced back to observation of the Human Will. The development of Science from this origin. The increasing generality of the Postulate: which nevertheless can never attain to universality.



Genesis i. 27.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.

The voice within. The objection of the alleged relativity of knowledge. Absolute knowledge of our own personal identity. Failure to show this to be relative; in particular by Mr. Herbert Spencer. The Moral Law. The command to live according to that Law; Duty. The command to believe in the supremacy of that Law; the lower Faith. The Last Judgment. The hope of Immortality. The personification of the Moral Law in Almighty God; the higher Faith. The spiritual faculty the recipient of Revelation, if any be made. The contrast between Religion and Science.



Genesis i. 27.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.

Contradiction of Free-Will to doctrine of Uniformity. Butler's examination of the question. Hume's solution. Kant's solution. Determinism. The real result of examination of the facts. Interference of the will always possible, but comparatively rare. The need of a fixed nature for our self-discipline, and so for our spiritual life.



Romans i. 20.

For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.

Foundation of the doctrine of Evolution. Great development in recent times. Objection felt by many religious men. Alleged to destroy argument from design. Paley's argument examined. Doctrine of Evolution adds force to the argument, and removes objections to it. Argument from progress; from beauty; from unity. The conflict not real.



Hebrews i. 1.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past to the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by His Son.

The evolution of Knowledge. Does not affect the truth of Science. Nor of Religion. Special characteristic of evolution of Religious Knowledge, that it is due to Revelation. All higher Religions have claimed to be Revelations. The evolution of Religious Knowledge in the Old Testament; yet the Old Testament a Revelation. Still more the New Testament. The miraculous element in Revelation. Its place and need. Harmony of this mode of evolution with the teaching of the Spiritual Faculty.



Psalm c. 3.

Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.

Evolution examined. The formation of the habitable world. The formation of the creatures which inhabit it. Transmission of characteristics. Variations perpetually introduced. Natural selection. On the other side, life not yet accounted for by Evolution. Cause of variations not yet examined. Moral Law incapable of being evolved. Account given in Genesis not at variance with doctrine of Evolution. Evolution of man not inconsistent with dignity of humanity.



St. John xiv. 11.

Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works' sake.

The claim to work miracles parallel to the freedom of the will. The miracles of Revelation need not be miracles of Science. Our Lord's Resurrection, and His miracles of healing, possibly not miraculous in the scientific sense. Different aspect of miracles now and at the time when the Revelation was given. Miracles attested by the Apostles, by our Lord's character, by our Lord's power. Nature of evidence required to prove miracles; not such as to put physical above spiritual evidence; not such as to be unsuited to their own day. Impossibility of demonstrating universal uniformity. Revelation no obstacle to the progress of Science.



1 Corinthians xii. 3.

No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

Uniformity of nature not demonstrated, but established, except in two cases; the interference of human will and of Divine Will. The exception no bar to the progress of Science. Unity to be found not in the physical world, but in the physical and moral combined. The Moral Law rests on itself. Our recognition of it on our own character and choice. But we expect it to show its marks in the physical world: and these are the purpose visible in Creation, the effects produced by Revelation. Nevertheless a demand for more physical evidence; but the physical cannot be allowed to overshadow the spiritual. Dangers to believers from leaning this way: superstition; blindness; stagnation. The guarantee for spiritual perceptiveness: to take Jesus as the Lord of the conscience, the heart, the will.



The subject introduced: Scientific belief. Mathematics and Metaphysics excluded. The Postulate of Science: the Uniformity of Nature. Hume's account of it. Kant's account of it. Insufficiency of both accounts. Science traced back to observation of the Human Will. The development of Science from this origin. The increasing generality of the Postulate: which nevertheless can never attain to universality.



'O Lord, how manifold are Thy works: in wisdom hast Thou made them all; the earth is full of Thy riches.'—Psalm civ. 24.

Those who believe that the creation and government of the world are the work of a Being Whom it is their duty to love with all their hearts, Who loves them with a love beyond all other love, to Whom they look for guidance now and unending happiness hereafter, have a double motive for studying the forms and operations of Nature; because over and above whatever they may gain of the purest and highest pleasure in the study, and whatever men may gain of material comfort in a thousand forms from the results of the study, they cannot but have always present to their minds the thought, that all these things are revelations of His character, and to know them is in a very real measure to know Him. The believer in God, if he have the faculty and the opportunity, cannot find a more proper employment of time and labour and thought than the study of the ways in which God works and the things which God has made. Among religious men we ought to expect to find the most patient, the most truth-seeking, the most courageous of men of science.

We know that it is not always so; and that on the contrary Science and Religion seem very often to be the most determined foes to each other that can be found. The scientific man often asserts that he cannot find God in Science; and the religious man often asserts that he cannot find Science in God. Each often believes himself to be in possession, if not of the whole truth, at any rate of all the truth that it is most important to possess. Science seems to despise religion; and religion to fear and condemn Science. Religion, which certainly ought to put truth at the highest, is charged with refusing to acknowledge truth that has been proved. And Science, which certainly ought to insist on demonstrating every assertion which it makes, is charged with giving the rein to the imagination and treating the merest speculations as well-established facts.

To propose to reconcile these opposites would be a task which hardly any sane man would undertake. It would imply a claim to be able to rise at once above both, and see the truth which included all that both could teach. But it is a very useful undertaking, and not beyond the reach of thoughtful inquiry by an ordinary man, to examine the relations between the two, and thus to help not a few to find a way for themselves out of the perplexity. And this inquiry may well begin by asking what is the origin and nature of scientific belief on the one hand and of religious belief on the other. In this Lecture I propose to deal with the former.

It is not necessary to include in the Science of which I am to speak either Mathematics or Metaphysics. In as far as I need touch on what belongs to either, it will be only for the purpose of answering objections or of excluding what is irrelevant. And the consequent restriction of our consideration to the Science which concerns itself with Nature greatly simplifies the task that I have undertaken. For it will be at once admitted in the present day by all but a very few that the source of all scientific knowledge of this kind is to be found in the observations of the senses, including under that word both the bodily senses which tell us all we know of things external, and that internal sense by which we know all or nearly all that takes place within the mind itself. And so also will it be admitted that the Supreme Postulate, without which scientific knowledge is impossible, is the Uniformity of Nature.

Science lays claim to no revelations. No voice of authority declares what substances there are in the world, what are the properties of those substances, what are the effects and operations of those properties. No traditions handed down from past ages can do anything more than transmit to us observations made in those times, which, so far as we can trust them, we may add to the observations made in our own times. The materials in short which Science has to handle are obtained by experience.

But on the other hand Science can deal with these materials only on the condition that they are reducible to invariable laws. If any observation made by the senses is not capable of being brought under the laws which are found to govern all other observations, it is not yet brought under the dominion of Science. It is not yet explained, nor understood. As far as Science is concerned, it may be called as yet non-existent. It is for this very reason possible that the examination of it may be of the very greatest importance. To explain what has hitherto received no explanation constitutes the very essence of scientific progress. The observation may be imperfect, and may at once become explicable as soon as it is made complete; or, what is of far more value, it may be an instance of the operation of a new law not previously known, modifying and perhaps absorbing the law up to that time accepted. When it was first noticed in Galileo's time that water would not ascend in the suction pipe of a pump to a greater height than 32 feet, the old law that nature abhors a vacuum was modified, and the reasons why and the conditions under which Nature abhors a vacuum were discovered. The suction of fluids was brought under the general law of mechanical pressure. The doctrine that Nature abhorred a vacuum had been a fair generalization and expression of the facts of this kind that up to that time had been observed. A new fact was observed which would not fall under the rule. The examination of this fact led to the old rule being superseded; and Science advanced a great step at once. So in our own day was the planet Neptune discovered by the observation of certain facts which could not be squared with the facts previously observed unless the Law of Gravitation was to be corrected. The result in this case was not the discovery of a new Law but of a new Planet; and consequently a great confirmation of the old Law. But in each case and in every similar case the investigation of the newly observed fact proceeds on the assumption that Nature will be found uniform, and on no other assumption can Science proceed at all.

Now it is this assumption which must be first examined. What is its source? What is its justification? What, if any, are its limits?

It is not an assumption that belongs to Science only. It is in some form or other at the bottom of all our daily life. We eat our food on the assumption that it will nourish us to-day as it nourished us yesterday. We deal with our neighbours in the belief that we may safely trust those now whom we have trusted and safely trusted heretofore. We never take a journey without assuming that wood and iron will hold a carriage together, that wheels will roll upon axles, that steam will expand and drive the piston of an engine, that porters and stokers and engine-drivers will do their accustomed duties. Our crops are sown in the belief that the earth will work its usual chemistry, that heat and light and rain will come in their turn and have their usual effects, and the harvest will be ready for our gathering in the autumn. Look on while a man is tried for his life before a jury. Every tittle of the evidence is valued both by the judge and jury according to its agreement or disagreement with what we believe to be the laws of Nature, and if a witness asserts that something happened which, as far as we know, never happened at any other time since the world began, we set his evidence aside as incredible. And the prisoner is condemned if the facts before us, interpreted on the assumption that the ordinary laws of Nature have held their course, appear to prove his guilt.

What right have we to make such an assumption as this?

The question was first clearly put by Hume, and was handled by him with singular lucidity; but his answer, though very near the truth, was not so expressed as to set the question at rest.

The main relation in which the uniformity of Nature is observed is that of cause and effect. Hume examines this and maintains that there is absolutely nothing contained in it but the notion of invariable sequence. Two phenomena are invariably found connected together; the prior is spoken of as the cause, the posterior as the effect. But there is absolutely nothing in the former to define its relation to the latter, except that when the former is observed the latter, as far as we know, invariably follows. A ball hits another ball of equal size, both being free to move. There is nothing by which prior to experience we can determine what will happen next. It is just as conceivable that the moving ball should come back or should come to rest, as that the ball hitherto at rest should begin to move. A magnet fastened to a piece of wood is floating on water. Another magnet held in the hand is brought very near one of its poles or ends. If two north poles are thus brought together the floating magnet is repelled; if a north and a south pole are brought together the floating magnet is attracted. The motion of the floating magnet is in each case called the effect; the approach of the magnet held in the hand is called the cause. And this cause is, as far as we know, invariably followed by this effect. But to say that one is cause and the other effect is merely to say that one is always followed by the other; and no other meaning, according to Hume, can be attached to the words cause and effect.

Having established this interpretation of these words, Hume goes on to ask: What can be the ground in reason for the principle universally adopted, that the law of cause and effect rules phenomena, and that a cause which has been followed by an effect once will be followed by the same effect always? And he concludes that no rational ground can be found at all, that it is the mere result of custom without anything rational behind it. We are accustomed to see it so, and what we have been so perpetually accustomed to see we believe that we shall continue to see. But why what has always been hitherto should always be hereafter, no reason whatever can be given. The logical conclusion obviously is to discredit all human faculties and to land us in universal scepticism.

It was at this point that Kant took up the question, avowedly in consequence of Hume's reasoning. He considered that Hume had been misled by turning his attention to Physics, and that his own good sense would have saved him from his conclusion had he thought rather of Mathematics. Kant's solution of the problem, based mainly on the reality of Mathematics, and especially of Geometry, is the direct opposite of Hume's.

It will be most easy to give a clear account of Kant's solution by using a very familiar illustration. There is a well-known common toy called a Kaleidoscope, in which bits of coloured glass placed at one end are seen through a small round hole at the other. The bits of glass are not arranged in any order whatever, and by shaking the instrument may be rearranged again and again indefinitely and still without any order whatever. But however they may be arranged in themselves they always form, as seen from the other end, a symmetrical pattern. The pattern indeed varies with every shake of the instrument and consequent re-arrangement of the bits of glass, but it is invariably symmetrical. Now the symmetry in this case is not in the bits of glass; the colours are there no doubt, but the symmetrical arrangement of them is not. The symmetry is entirely due to the instrument. And if a competent enquirer looks into the instrument and examines its construction, he will be able to lay down with absolute certainty the laws of that symmetry which every pattern as seen through the instrument must obey.

Just such an instrument, according to Kant, is the human mind. Space and Time and the Perceptive Faculties are the parts of the instrument. Everything that reaches the senses must submit to the laws of Space and Time, that is, to the Laws of Mathematics, because Space and Time are forms of the mind itself, and, like the kaleidoscope, arrange all things on their way to the senses according to a pattern of their own. This pattern is as it were super-added to the manifestations that come from the things themselves; and if there be any manifestations of such a nature that they could not submit to this addition, or, in other words, could not submit to Mathematical Laws, these manifestations could not affect our senses at all. So too our Understanding has a pattern of its own which it imposes on all things that reach its power of perception. What cannot be accommodated to this pattern cannot be understood at all. Whatever things may be in themselves, their manifestations are not within the range of our intelligence, except by passing through the arranging process which our own mind executes upon them.

It is clear that this wonderfully ingenious speculation rests its claims for acceptance purely on the assertion that it and it alone explains the facts. It cannot be proved from any principle of reason. It assumes that there is a demonstrative science of Mathematics quite independent of experience, and that there are necessary principles of Physics equally independent of experience. And it accounts for the existence of these.

With Mathematics we are not now concerned, and I will pass them by with only one remark. The ground on which Kant's theory stands is not sufficient, for this simple reason. It accounts for one fact; it does not account for another fact. It accounts for the fact that we attach and cannot help attaching a conviction of necessity to all mathematical reasoning. We not only know that two straight lines cannot enclose a space, but we know that this is so and must be so in all places and at all times, and we know it without any proof whatever. This fact Kant accounts for. Space is according to him a part of our kaleidoscope; you can always look into it and see for yourself what are the laws of it. But there is another fact. This space of which we are speaking is unquestionably to our minds not a thing inside of us but outside of us. We are in it. We cannot get rid of a sense that it is independent of ourselves. We can imagine ourselves non-existing, minds and all. We cannot imagine space non-existing. If it be a part of our minds, how is it that we can picture to ourselves the non-existence of the mind which is the whole, but not the non-existence of space which, according to the hypothesis, is the part? For this fact, which we commonly call the objectivity of space, Kant's theory does not account. In fact Kant appears to have no escape from assigning this objectivity of space to delusion. But a theory which requires us to call an ineradicable conviction of consciousness a delusion cannot be said to explain all the facts. John Stuart Mill maintains that the other fact, namely, the conviction of the necessity of mathematical truth, is a delusion. And his account also must be pronounced for that reason to fail in accounting for all the facts.

But our present concern is not with Mathematics but with Physics. And here Kant fails altogether to convince; for, taking Time and the Perceptive Powers of the Understanding as parts of the human mind, he shows, what indeed is clearer and clearer every day, that the principles (so called) of Physics are indispensable Postulates, not indeed of observing with the senses, but of comprehending with the understanding, whatever happens. In order to give anything that can be called an explanation of any event we must show that it falls under the general rules which constitute the uniformity of Nature. We have no other meaning for the words understanding or explaining an event. Thinking, when analysed, is found to consist in bringing all that happens under universal laws, and no phenomenon can be said to be explained in thought except by being so related to all other phenomena. But it does not by any means follow that events cannot happen or cannot affect our senses without being susceptible of such explanation. To say that an event cannot be understood, and to say either that it cannot happen or that it cannot be observed by the senses, are two very different things. The fact is that Mathematics and Physics do not, as Kant assumes, present the same problem for solution, and do not therefore admit of one solution applicable to both. It is not the case that there is a science of abstract Physics corresponding to the science of Mathematics and sharing in the same character of necessity. In Mathematics we have truths which we cannot but accept, and accept as universal and necessary: in Physics we have no such truths, nor has Kant even endeavoured to prove that we have. The very question therefore that we are asked to solve in regard to Mathematics does not present itself in Physics. I am constrained to believe that two and two are four and not five; I am not constrained to believe that if one event is followed by another a great many times it will be so followed always. And the question is, why, without any constraint, I nevertheless so far believe it that I require special evidence in any given case to convince me to the contrary. And Kant's answer is irrelevant. He says that we cannot think the sequence of events unless they fall under the postulates of thinking, that is, the postulates of science; but this is no answer to the question. Why do we believe that, unless the contrary be proved, everything that is observed by the senses is capable of being reduced under these postulates of thinking? The sequence of things cannot otherwise be explained; but why should the sequence of all things that happen be capable of being explained? The question therefore still remains unanswered. What right have we to assume this Uniformity in Nature? or, in other words, what right have we to assume that all phenomena in Nature, observed by our senses, are capable of being brought within the domain of Science? And to answer this question we must approach it from a different side.

And there is the more reason for this because it is undeniable that both the definition and the universality of the relation of cause and effect, as they were accepted by Hume and his followers, are not accepted by men in general. In ordinary language something more is meant by cause and effect than invariable sequence, and the common assumption is not that all Nature obeys this rule with absolutely no variation, but that the rule is sufficiently general for all practical purposes.

If then we begin by asking what is the process of Science in dealing with all questions of causation, we find that this process when reduced to its simplest elements always consists in referring every event as an effect to some cause which we know or believe to have produced some other and similar event. Newton is struck by a falling apple. His first thought is, 'how hard the blow.' His second is wonder, 'how far the earth's attraction, which has caused this hard blow, extends.' His third, 'why not as far as the moon?' And he proceeds to assign the motion of the moon to the same cause as that which produced the motion of the apple. Taking this as a working hypothesis, he examines what would be the motions of all the planets if this were true. And the examination ends with establishing the high probability of the Law of Gravitation.

Now this being the invariable process of Science, it follows that our conception of cause must come originally from that cause which we have within ourselves and with which we cannot but begin, the action of the human will. It is from this action that is obtained that conception which underlies the ordinary conception of cause, namely, that of force or power.

This conception of force or power is derived from the consciousness of our own power to move our limbs, and perhaps too of passions, temptations, sentiments to move or oppose our wills. This power is most distinctly felt when it is resisted. The effort which is necessary when we choose to do what we have barely strength to do, impresses on us more clearly the sense of a force residing in ourselves capable of overcoming resistance. Having the power to move our limbs, and that too against some resistance, we explain, and in no other way can we explain, other motions by the supposition of a similar power. In so doing we are following strictly the scientific instinct and the scientific process. We are putting into the same class the motions that we observe in other things and the motions that we observe in ourselves; the latter are due to acts of our own wills, the former are assigned to similar acts of other wills. Hence in infancy, and in the infancy of mankind, the whole world is peopled with persons because everything that we observe to move is personified. A secret will moves the wind, the sun, the moon, the stars, and each is independent of the others.

Soon a distinction grows up between the things that seem to have a spontaneous motion and those that have not, and spontaneous motion is taken as the sign of life. And all inanimate things, of whatever kind, are held to be moved, if they move at all, by a force outside themselves. Their own force is limited to that of resisting, and does not include that of originating motion. But though they cannot originate motion they are observed to be capable of transmitting it. And the notion of force is expanded by the recognition that it can be communicated from one thing to another and yet to another, and that we may have to go back many steps before we arrive at the will from which it originated. We began with the notion of a power the action of which was or appeared to be self-originated: we come to the notion of a power the action of which is nothing more than the continuance of preceding action. And the special characteristic of the action of this force as thus conceived, which we may call the derivative force, is seen to be its regularity, just as the special characteristic of the self-originating action was its spontaneity.

As experience increases the regularity of the action of the derivative force is more and more observable, and then arises the notion of a law or rule regulating the action of every such force. And a perpetually increasing number of phenomena are brought under this head, and are shown to be, not the immediate results of self-originating action, but the more or less remote results of derivative action governed by laws. And even a large number of those phenomena, which specially belong to life and living creatures, in whom alone, if anywhere, the self-originating action is to be found, are observed to be subject to law and therefore to be the issue not of self-originating but of derivative action. And this observed regularity it is found possible to trace much more widely than it is possible to trace any clear evidence of what we understand by force. And so, at last, we frequently use the word force as it were by anticipation, not to express the cause of the phenomena, which indeed we do not yet know, but as a convenient abbreviation for a large number of facts classed under one head. And this it is which enables Hume to maintain that we mean no more by a cause than an event which is invariably followed by another event. We discover invariability much faster than we can discover causation; and having discovered invariability in any given case, we presume causation even when we cannot yet show it, and use language in accordance with that presumption. Thus, for instance, we speak of the force of gravitation, although we cannot yet prove that there is any such force, and all that we know is that material particles move as if such a force were acting on them.

As Science advances it is seen that the regularity of phenomena is far more important to us than their causes. And the attention of all students of Nature is fixed on that rather than on causation. And this regularity is seen to be more and more widely pervading all phenomena of every class, until the mind is forced to conceive the possibility that it may be absolutely universal, and that even will itself may come within its supreme dominion.

But to the very last the idea of causation retains the traces of its origin. For in the first place every step in this building up of science assumes a permanence underlying all phenomena. We cannot believe that the future will be like the past except because we believe that there is something permanent which was in the past and will be in the future. And this assumption of something permanent in things around us comes from the consciousness of something permanent within us. We know our own permanence. Whatever else we know or do not know about ourselves, we are sure of our own personal identity through successive periods of life. And as our explanation of things outside begins by classing them with things inside we still continue to ascribe permanence to whatever underlies phenomena even when we have long ceased to ascribe individual wills to any except beings like ourselves. And without this assumption of permanence our whole science would come to the ground.

And in the second place let it be remembered that we began with the will causing the motions of the limbs. Now there is, as far as we know, no other power in us to affect external nature than by setting something in motion. We can move our limbs, and by so doing move other things, and by so doing avail ourselves of the laws of Nature to produce remoter effects. But, except by originating motion, we cannot act at all. And, accordingly, throughout all science the attempt is made to reduce all phenomena to motions. Sounds, colours, heat, chemical action, electricity, we are perpetually endeavouring to reduce to vibrations or undulations, that is, to motion of some sort or other. The mind seems to find a satisfaction when a change of whatever kind is shown to be, or possibly to be, the result of movement. And so too all laws of Nature are then felt to be satisfactorily explained when they can be traced to some force exhibited in the movement of material particles. The law of Gravitation has an enormous evidence in support of it considered simply as a fact. And yet how many attempts have been made to represent it as the result of vortices or of particles streaming in all directions and pressing any two bodies together that lie in their path! The facts which establish it are enough. Why then these attempts? What is felt to be yet wanting? What is felt to be wanting is something to show that it is the result of some sort of general or universal motion, and that it thus falls under the same head as other motions, either those which originate in ourselves and are propagated from our bodies to external objects, or those which, springing from an unknown beginning, are for ever continuing as before.

This then is the answer to the question, Why do we believe in the uniformity of Nature? We believe in it because we find it so. Millions on millions of observations concur in exhibiting this uniformity. And the longer our observation of Nature goes on, the greater do we find the extent of it. Things that once seemed irregular are now known to be regular. Things that seemed inexplicable on this hypothesis are now explained. Every day seems to add not merely to the instances but to the wide-ranging classes of phenomena that come under the rule. We had reason long ago to hold that the quantity of matter was invariable. We now have reason to think that the quantity of force acting on matter is invariable. And to this is to be added the evidence of scientific prediction, the range of which is perpetually increasing, and which would be obviously impossible if Nature were not uniform. And yet again to this is to be added that this uniformity does not consist in a vast number of separate and independent laws, but that these laws already form a system with one another, and that that system is daily becoming more complete. We believe in the uniformity of Nature because, as far as we can observe it, that is the character of Nature.

And I use the word character on purpose, because it indicates better than any other word that I could find at once the nature and limitation of our belief.

For, if the origin of this belief be what I have described, it is perfectly clear that, however vast may be the evidence to prove this uniformity, the conclusion can never go beyond the limits of this evidence, and generality can never be confounded with universality. The certainty that Nature is uniform is not at all, and never can be, a certainty of the same kind as the certainty that four times five are twenty.

We can assert that the general character of Nature is uniformity, but we cannot go beyond this. Every separate law of nature is established by induction from the facts, and so too is the general uniformity. Every separate law of Nature is a working hypothesis. So too is the uniformity of Nature a working hypothesis, and it never can be more. It is true that there is far more evidence for the uniformity of Nature as a whole than for any one law of Nature; because a law of Nature is established by the uniformity of sequences in those phenomena to which it applies; whereas every uniformity of sequence, of whatever kind, is an evidence of the general uniformity. The evidence for the uniformity of nature is the accumulated evidence for all the separate uniformities. But, however much greater the quantity of evidence, the kind ever remains the same. There is no means by which we can demonstrate this uniformity. We can only make it probable. We can say that in almost every case all the evidence is one way; but whenever there is evidence to the contrary we cannot refuse to examine it.

If a miracle were worked science could not prove that it was a miracle, nor of course prove that it was not a miracle. To prove it to be a miracle would require not a vast range of knowledge, but absolutely universal knowledge, which it is entirely beyond our faculties to attain. To say that any event was a miracle would be to say that we knew that there was no higher law that could explain it, and this we could not say unless we knew all laws: to say that it was not a miracle would be ex hypothesi to assert what was false. In fact, to assert the occurrence of a miracle is simply to go back to the beginning of science, and to say: Here is an event which we cannot assign to that derivative action to which we have been led to assign the great body of events; we cannot explain it except by referring it to direct and spontaneous action, to a will like our own will. Science has shown that the vast majority of events are due to derivative action regulated by laws. Here is an event which cannot be so explained, any more than the action of our own free will can be so explained. Science may fairly claim to have shown that miracles, if they happen at all, are exceedingly rare. To demonstrate that they never happen at all is impossible, from the very nature of the evidence on which Science rests. But for the same reason Science can never in its character of Science admit that a miracle has happened. Science can only admit that, so far as the evidence goes, an event has happened which lies outside its province.

To believers the progress of Science is a perpetual instruction in the character which God has impressed on His works. That He has put Order in the very first place may be a surprise to us; but it can only be a surprise. In the great machinery of the Universe it constantly happens to us to find that that which is made indispensable, is nevertheless not the highest. The chosen people were not the highest in all moral or even in all spiritual characteristics; if we refuse the explanation given by Goethe that they were chosen for their toughness, yet we have no better to give. The eternal moral law is of all we know the highest and holiest. Yet the religious instinct seems to have been more indispensable for the development of humanity according to the Divine purpose than the observance of that moral law in all its fulness. It would never have occurred to us beforehand to permit in Divine legislation any concession to the hardness of men's hearts; yet we know that it was done. Science now tells us that Order takes a rank in God's work far above where we should have placed it. It is not the highest; it is far from the highest: but it appears to be in some strange way the most indispensable. God is teaching us that Order is far more universal, far more penetrating than we should have supposed. But, nevertheless, it is not itself God; nor the highest revelation of God. It is the stamp which, for reasons higher than itself, He appears to have put on His works. What is the limit to its application we do not know. There may be instances where this Order is apparently broken, but really maintained, because one physical law is absorbed in a higher; there may be instances where the physical law is superseded by a moral law. But we shall neither refuse to recognise that God has stamped this character on His works, nor let it on the other hand come between us and Him. For we know still that He is greater than all that He hath made, and He speaks to us by another voice besides the voice of Science.



The voice within. The objection of the alleged relativity of knowledge. Absolute knowledge of our own personal identity. Failure to show this to be relative; in particular by Mr. Herbert Spencer. The Moral Law. The command to live according to that Law; Duty. The command to believe in the supremacy of that Law; the lower Faith. The Last Judgment. The hope of Immortality. The personification of the Moral Law in Almighty God; the higher Faith. The spiritual faculty the recipient of Revelation, if any be made. The contrast between Religion and Science.



'So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.' Genesis i. 27.

The order of phenomena is not the highest revelation of God, nor is the voice of Science the only nor the most commanding voice that speaks to us about Him. The belief in Him and in the character which we assign to Him does not spring from any observation of phenomena, but from the declaration made to us through the spiritual faculty.

There is within us a voice which tells of a supreme Law unchanged throughout all space and all time; which speaks with an authority entirely its own; which finds corroboration in the revelations of Science, but which never relies on those revelations as its primary or its ultimate sanction; which is no inference from observations by the senses external or internal, but a direct communication from the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom, as philosophers call it, of things in themselves; which commands belief as a duty, and by necessary consequence ever leaves it possible to disbelieve; and in listening to which we are rightly said to walk not by sight but by faith.

Now, before going on to say anything more about the message thus given to us from the spiritual world, it is necessary to consider an objection that meets us on the threshold of all such doctrines, namely, that it is simply impossible for us to know anything whatever of things in themselves. Our knowledge, it is urged, is necessarily relative to ourselves, whereas absolute as distinct from relative knowledge is for ever beyond our reach. We can speak of what things appear to us to be; we cannot speak of what they are. We know or may know whatever comes under the observation of our senses as phenomena; we cannot know what underlies these phenomena. And sometimes it has been maintained that we not only cannot know what it is that underlies the phenomena, but cannot even know whether anything at all underlies the phenomena, and that, for aught we can tell, the whole world and all that exists or happens in it may be nothing but a system of appearances with no substance whatever. This doctrine of the relativity of all knowledge is not only applied to things external but to our very selves. We know ourselves, it is maintained, only through an internal sense which can only tell us how we appear to ourselves, but cannot tell us in any the least degree what we really are.

Now this contention is an instance of a tendency against which we are required to be perpetually on our guard. The final aim of all science and of all philosophy is to find some unity or unities that shall co-ordinate the immense complexity of the world in which we live. Now there is one and only one legitimate way of attaining this aim, and that is by patient, persevering study of the facts. But the facts turn out to be so numerous, so multifarious, that not one life nor one generation but many lives and many generations will assuredly not co-ordinate them sufficiently to bring this aim within probable reach. Hence the incessant temptation, first, to supply by hypothesis what cannot yet be obtained by observation, and, secondly, to bend facts to suit this hypothesis; and, if the framing of such hypotheses be legitimate, the distortion of facts is clearly not legitimate. It seems too long to wait for future ages to complete the task. We must in some sort complete it now; and for that purpose if the facts as we observe them will not suit, we must substitute other facts that will. Accordingly every doctrine must be made complete, and to make this doctrine of the relativity of knowledge complete, we must get rid of all exceptions. But there is one exception that we cannot get rid of, and that is the conviction of our own identity through all changes through which we pass. Every man amongst us passes through incessant changes. His body changes; he may even lose parts of it altogether; he may lose all control over some of his limbs, or over them all. And there are internal as well as external changes in each man. His affections change, his practices, his passions, his resolutions, his purposes, his judgments; everything possibly by which he knows his own character. But through all these changes he is conscious of being still one and the same self. And he knows this; and knows it, not as an inference from any observation of sense external or internal, but directly and intuitively. All other knowledge may conceivably be relative, a knowledge of things as they appear, not of things in themselves. But this is not; it is a knowledge of a thing as it is in itself; for amidst all changes in the phenomena of each man's nature, this still remains absolutely unchanged. We do speak of sameness in application to phenomena; we say this is the same colour as that; this is the same musical note as that; this is the same sensation as that. But here we mean a different thing by the word same. We mean indistinguishability. We mean that we cannot distinguish between the two colours, the two notes, the two sensations. And this no doubt is a relative knowledge, not a knowledge of things in themselves. But we do not mean incapacity of being distinguished when we speak of our own personal identity. When a man thinks to-day of his life of yesterday, and regards himself as the same being through, all the time, he does not simply mean that he cannot distinguish between the being that existed yesterday according to his memory and the being that exists to-day according to his present consciousness: he means that the being is one and the same absolutely and in itself.

And this conviction of personal identity will presently be found to fall in with the revelation of the Moral Law, which is my subject in this Lecture. For it is by virtue of this personal identity that I become responsible for my actions. I am not merely the same thinking subject, I am the same moral agent all through my life. If I changed as fast as the phenomena of my being changed, my responsibility for any evil deed would cease the moment the deed was done. No punishment would be just, because it would not be just to punish one being for the faults of a totally different being. The Moral Law in its application to man requires as a basis the personal identity of each man with himself.

If corroboration were needed of the directness of the intuition by which we get this idea of our own personal identity, it would be found in the entire failure of all attempts to derive that idea from any other source. Comte, the founder of the Positive School, can do nothing with this idea but suggest that it is probably the result of some obscure synergy or co-operation of the faculties. John Stuart Mill passes it by altogether as lying outside the scope of his enquiries and of his doctrine. Mr. Herbert Spencer deals with it in a very weak chapter[1] of his remarkable volume of First Principles. He divides all the manifestations made to our consciousness, or, as we commonly say, all our sensations, into two great classes. He selects as the main but not universal characteristic of the one class, vividness; of the other class, faintness; a distinction first insisted on, though somewhat differently applied, by Hume. He adds various other characteristics of each class, some of them implying very questionable propositions. And we come finally to the following astonishing result. Sensations are divided into two classes; each has seven main characteristics which distinguish it from the other. One of these classes make up the subject, that which I mean when I use the words I myself; the other the object or that which is not I. But there is absolutely nothing to determine which is which, which class is the subject and which is the object, which is I myself, and which is not I myself. Vividness and faintness plainly have nothing in them by which we can assign the one to that which is I, the other to that which is not I. If we were to conjecture, we should be disposed to say that surely the most vivid sensations must be the nearest and therefore must be part of that which is I; but we find it is quite the other way. The faint sensations are characteristic of that which is I, and the vivid of that which is not I. And the same remark applies to each pair of characteristics in succession. The fact is that Mr. Spencer has omitted what is essential to complete his argument; he has not shown, nor endeavoured to show, nor even thought of showing, how out of his seven characteristics of the subject the conception of a subject has grown. It is quite plain that he not only makes his classes first and finds his characteristics afterwards, which we may admit to have been inevitable; but he fails altogether to show how that by which we know the classes apart has grown out of the characteristics that he has given us. The characteristics which he assigns to that which is I, all added together, do not in the slightest degree account for that sense of permanent existence in spite of changes which lies at the root of my distinction of myself from other things. The very word same, in the sense in which I use it when speaking of myself, cannot be defined except by reference to my own sameness with myself. It is a simple idea incapable of analysis, and is indeed, as was pointed out in my last Lecture, the root of the character of permanence which we assign to things external. To say that this conception has been evolved from the characteristics that Mr. Spencer has enumerated is like saying that a cat has been evolved without any intermediate stages from a fish, or a smell from a colour.

But, if we now go a step further, and ask in what form this personal identity presents itself in the world of phenomena, the answer is clear: our personality while bound up with all our other faculties, so that we can speak of our understanding, our affections, our powers of perception and sensation, as parts of ourselves, yet is centred in one faculty which we call the will. 'If there be aught spiritual in man,' says Coleridge, 'the will must be such. If there be a will, there must be a spirituality in man.' The will is the man. It is the will that makes us responsible beings. It is for the action of our will, or the consent of our will, that we come to be called in question. It is by the will that we assert ourselves amidst the existences around us; and as the will is the man in relation to phenomena, so on the other side the will is the one and only force among the forces of this world which takes cognizance of principles and is capable of acting in pursuit of an aim not to be found among phenomena at all. The will is not the whole spiritual faculty. Besides the power of willing we have the power of recognising spiritual truth. And this power or faculty we commonly call the conscience. But the conscience is not a force. It has no power of acting except through the will. It receives and transmits the voice from the spiritual world, and the will is responsible so far as the conscience enlightens it. It is the will whereby the man takes his place in the world of phenomena.

It is then to the man, thus capable of appreciating a law superior in its nature to all phenomena and bearing within himself the conviction of a personal identity underlying all the changes that may be encountered and endured, that is revealed from within the command to live for a moral purpose and believe in the ultimate supremacy of the moral over the physical. The voice within gives this command in two forms; it commands our duty and it commands our faith. The voice gives no proof, appeals to no evidence, but speaks as having a right to command, and requires our obedience by virtue of its own inherent superiority.

Its first command we call duty. The voice within awakes a peculiar sentiment which, except towards its command, is never felt in our souls, the sentiment of reverence. And it commands the pursuit of that, whatever it may be, to which this sentiment of reverence attaches. This is the positive test by which we are to know what is ever to be our highest aim. And along with this there is a negative test by which we are perpetually to correct the other, namely, the test of universality. The moral law in its own nature admits of no exceptions. If a principle of action be derived from this law it has nothing to do with time, or place, or circumstances; it must hold good in the distant future, in planets or stars utterly remote, as fully as it holds good now and here.

This duty we can subdivide under four heads, accordingly as we apply it to our dealings with ourselves, with other moral and spiritual beings, with other creatures that can feel pleasure and pain, with things that are incapable of either. If we are thinking of ourselves only, duty consists in the pursuit of holiness, that is, in the absolute subjection of what does not demand reverence to that which does. It is plain that what deserves reverence in us is that which approaches most nearly to the moral law in character. The appetites, the affections, the passions, have each their own separate objects. They may be useful in the highest degree, but they cannot in themselves deserve reverence, for their objects are not the moral law; they must therefore be absolutely subordinated to the will and the conscience which have for their objects the very law itself. Holiness consists in the subjection of the whole being, not in act alone, but in feeling and desire as well, to the authority of conscience.

If we are thinking of other moral agents, duty prescribes strict and unfailing justice; and justice in its highest and purest form is love, the unfailing recognition of the fullest claims that can be made on us by all who share our own divine superiority: to love God above all else, and to love all spiritual beings as we love ourselves, this is duty in relation to other spiritual beings.

If we are thinking of creatures which, whether moral agents or not, are capable of pain and pleasure, our duty takes the form of goodness or tenderness. We have no right to inflict pain or even refuse pleasure unless, if the circumstances were reversed, we should be bound in conscience to be ready in our turn to bear the same infliction or refusal. The precept, Do as you would be done by, is here supreme, and it is to this class of duties that that precept applies, and the limits of our right to inflict pain on other creatures, whether rational or irrational, will be determined by this rule.

And, lower still, our duty to things that are incapable of all feeling is summed up in that knowledge of them and that use of them which makes them the fittest instruments of a moral life.

The sentiment of reverence is our guide in determining our duty, and the test of universality perpetually comes in to correct the commands of this sentiment and to clear and so to refine the sentiment itself.

As is the case in a certain degree with every other kind of knowledge or belief, so in a very special degree the Moral Law finds its place even in minds that have very little of thought or of cultivation. The most untutored is not insensible to the claim made on our respect by acts of courage, self-sacrifice, generosity, truth; or to the call upon us for reprobation at the sight of acts of falsehood, of meanness, of cruelty, of profligacy. Even in the most untutored there is a sense that these sentiments of respect and reprobation are quite different in kind from the other sentiments which stir the soul. And this is even more clear in condemnation than in approval. However perverted the conscience (the seat of these sentiments) may be, yet the pain of remorse, which is self-reprobation for having broken the moral law, is always, as has been well said, 'quite unlike any other pain we know,' and is felt in some form and measure by every soul that lives. And as the sentiment thus holds a special place in the most untutored, so too does the sense of universality by which we instinctively and invariably correct or defend that sentiment if it be challenged. The moment we are perplexed in regard to what we ought to do or what judgment we ought to pass on something already done, we instinctively, almost involuntarily, endeavour to disentangle the act from all attendant circumstances and to see whether our sentiment of approval or disapproval would still hold good in quite other surroundings. We try to get, at the principle involved and to ascertain whether that principle possesses the universality which is the sure characteristic of the Moral Law.

It will be matter of consideration in a future Lecture how our knowledge of the Eternal Law of the holy, the just, the good, and the right, is thus purified in the individual and in the race. At present it will be enough to have indicated the general principle of what may be called the evolution of the knowledge of morals.

But I now go on from the Moral Law as a duty to the Moral Law as a faith. For the inner voice is not content with commanding a course of conduct and requiring obedience of that kind. This is its first utterance, and the man who hears and obeys unquestionably has within him the true seed of all religion. But though the first utterance it is not the last. For the same voice goes on to require us to believe that this Moral Law which claims obedience from us, equally claims obedience from all else that exists. It is absolutely supreme or it is nothing.

Its title to our obedience is its supremacy, and it has no other title. If it depended on promises of reward or threats of punishment addressed to us, it might be considered as a law for us, but could be no law for others. It would in that case, indeed, be a mere physical law. Things are so arranged for you, and as far as you know for you only, that terrible pain will come to you if you disobey, and wonderful pleasure if you obey. Such a law as that might proceed from a tyrant possessed of absolute power over US and the things that concern US, and might be either good or bad as should happen. But such a law would not be able to claim our reverence. Nay, rather, as is the case with all merely physical laws, it might be our duty to disobey it. In claiming our reverence as well as our obedience, in making its sanction consist in nothing but the fact of its own inherent majesty, the Moral Law calls on us to believe in its supremacy. It claims that it is the last and highest of all laws. The world before us is governed by uniformities as far as we can judge, but above and behind all these uniformities is the supreme uniformity, the eternal law of right and wrong, and all other laws, of whatever kind, must ultimately be harmonised by it alone. The Moral Law would be itself unjust if it bade us disregard all physical laws, and yet was itself subordinate to those physical laws. It has a right to require us to disregard everything but itself, if it be itself supreme; if not, its claim would be unjust. We see here in things around us no demonstrative proof that it is supreme, except what may be summed up in saying that there is a power that makes for righteousness. Enlightened by the Moral Law we can see strongly marked traces of its working in all things. The beauty, the order, the general tendency of all creation accords with the supremacy of the Moral Law over it all. But that is by no means all. We see, and we know that we see, but an infinitesimal fraction of the whole. And the result of this partial vision is that, while there is much in things around us which asserts, there is also much which seems to deny altogether any supremacy whatever in the Moral Law. The universe, as we see it, is not holy, nor just, nor good, nor right. The music of creation is full of discords as yet altogether unresolved. And if we look to phenomena alone, there is no solution of the great riddle. But in spite of all imperfections and contradictions, the voice within, without vouchsafing to give us any solution of the perplexity, or any sanction but its own authoritative command, imperatively requires us to believe that holiness is supreme over unholiness, and justice over injustice, and goodness over evil, and righteousness over unrighteousness. To obey this command and to believe this truth is Faith.

This is the Faith which is perpetually presenting to the believer's mind the vision of a world in which all the inequalities of this present world shall be redressed, in which truth, justice, and love shall visibly reign, in which temptations shall cease and sin shall cease also; in which the upward strivings of noble souls shall find their end, and holiness shall supersede penitence, and hearts shall be pure of all defilement. This is the Faith which holds to the sure conviction that all things shall one day come to judgment; and whether by sudden catastrophe or by sure development, the physical system shall surrender to the moral. This is the Faith which supplies perpetual strength to the hope of immortality; for though it cannot be said that the immortality of the individual soul is of necessity involved in a belief in the supremacy of the Moral Law, yet there is a sense, never without witness in the soul, that all would not be according to justice if a being to whom the Moral Law has been revealed from within is nevertheless in no degree to share in the final revelation of the superiority of that Moral Law over what is without. We cannot say that it is a necessary part of the supremacy of the Moral Law that every one of those who know it should partake of its immortal nature. We cannot even say that it is a necessary part of the ultimate redressing of all injustice and resolution of all the discords of life that the hope of it should prove true in the individual as it will certainly prove true in the universe. For we are unable to weigh individual merit or demerit, and cannot assert for certain that the balance of justice is not maintained even in this present life. But nevertheless the hope that it must and will be so is inextinguishable, and Faith in an Eternal Law of Morals is inextricably bound up with hope of immortality for the being that is endowed with a moral and responsible nature.

Faith in the absolute supremacy of the Moral Law is the first, but this again is not the last step upwards in Faith. We are called upon, and still by the same imperative voice within, to carry our Faith still further, and to believe something yet higher.

For the supremacy of the Moral Law must be a moral, not merely a physical supremacy. In claiming supremacy at all the Moral Law does not assert that somehow by a happy accident, as it were, all things turn out at last in accordance with what is in the highest sense moral. The supremacy of the moral over the physical involves in its very nature an intention to be supreme. It is not the supremacy of justice, if justice is done as the blind result of the working of machinery, even if that be the machinery of the universe. In our very conception of a moral supremacy is involved the conception of an intended supremacy. And the Moral Law in its government of the world reveals itself as possessing the distinctive mark of personality, that is, a purpose and a will. And thus, as we ponder it, this Eternal Law is shown to be the very Eternal Himself, the Almighty God. There is a sense in which we cannot ascribe personality to the Unknown Absolute Being; for our personality is of necessity compassed with limitations, and from these limitations we find it impossible to separate our conception of a person. And it will ever remain true that our highest conceptions of God must fall altogether short of His true nature. When we speak of Him as infinite, we are but denying that He is restrained by limits of time and space as we are. When we speak of Him as absolute, we are but denying that He is subject to conditions as we are. So when we speak of Him as a person, we cannot but acknowledge that His personality far transcends our conceptions. But it still remains the truth that these descriptions of Him are the nearest that we can get, and that for all the moral purposes of life we can argue from these as if they were the full truth. If to deny personality to Him is to assimilate Him to a blind and dead rule, we cannot but repudiate such denial altogether. If to deny personality to Him is to assert His incomprehensibility, we are ready at once to acknowledge our weakness and incapacity. But we dare not let go the truth that the holiness, the justice, the goodness, the righteousness, which the Eternal Moral Law imposes on us as a supreme command, are identical in essential substance in our minds and in His. Indeed, the more we keep before us the true character of that law, the more clearly do we see that the Moral Law is not His command but His nature. He does not make that law. He is that law. Almighty God and the Moral Law are different aspects of what is in itself one and the same. To hold fast to this is the fullest form of Faith. To live by duty is in itself rudimentary religion. To believe that the rule of duty is supreme over all the universe, is the first stage of Faith. To believe in Almighty God is the last and highest.

It will be seen at once by those who have followed me that I am in this Lecture only working out to its logical conclusion what was said long ago by Bishop Butler in England and by Kant in Germany. Butler calls the spiritual faculty whose commands to us I have been examining by the name of conscience: Kant calls it the practical reason. But both alike insist on the ultimate basis of morality being found in the voice within the soul and not in the phenomena observed by the senses. Science by searching cannot find out God. To reduce all the phenomena of the universe to order will not, even if it could ever be completely done, tell us the highest truth that we can attain to concerning spiritual things.

Science may examine all the phases through which religions have passed and treating human beliefs as it treats all other phenomena it can give us a history of religion or of religions. But there is something underlying them all which it cannot treat, and which perpetually evades all attempts to bring it under physical laws. For just as all attempts to explain away our conviction of our own personal identity have invariably failed and will for ever fail to satisfy human consciousness, so too the strictly spiritual element in all religion cannot be got out of phenomena at all. No analysis succeeds in obliterating the fundamental distinction between moral and physical law; or in enabling us to escape the ever increasing sense of the dignity of the former, or in shutting our ears to the still small voice which is totally unlike every other voice within or without. To bring the Moral Law under the dominion of Science and to treat the belief in it as nothing more than one of the phenomena of human nature, it is necessary to treat the sentiment of reverence which it excites, the remorse which follows on disobedience to its commands, the sense of its supremacy, as delusions. It is always possible so to treat these things; but only at the cost of standing lower in the scale of being.

But we have one step further to take. For as the spiritual faculty is the recipient directly or indirectly of that original revelation which God has made of Himself to His rational creatures, so too this appears to be the only faculty which can take cognizance of any fresh revelation that it might please Him to make. If He commands still further duties than those commanded by the supreme Moral Law, if He bids us believe what our reason cannot deduce from the primal belief in that Law and in Himself, it is to that faculty that the command is issued. If over and above the original religion as we may call it there is a revealed religion, it is the spiritual faculty that can alone accept it. Such a revelation may be confirmed by signs or proofs in the world of phenomena. He who is absolute over all nature may compel nature to bear witness to His teaching. The spiritual may burst through the natural on occasion, and that supremacy, which underlies all nature and which is necessarily visible to intelligences that are capable of seeing things as they are in themselves, may force itself into the world of phenomena and show itself in that manner to us. But this always is and must be secondary. The spiritual faculty alone can receive and judge of spiritual truth, and if that faculty be not reached a truly religious belief is not yet attained.

External evidences of revealed religion must have a high place but cannot have the highest. A revealed religion must depend for its permanent hold on our obedience and our duty on its fastening upon our spiritual nature, and if it cannot do that no evidences can maintain it in its place.

This account of the fundamental beliefs of Religion when compared with the fundamental postulates of Science shows that the two begin with the same part of our nature but proceed by opposite methods. Both begin with the human will as possessing a permanent identity and exerting a force of its own. But from this point they separate. Science rests on phenomena observed by the senses; Religion on the voice that speaks directly from the other world. Science postulates uniformity and is excluded wherever uniformity can be denied, but compels conviction within the range of its own postulate. Religion demands the submission of a free conscience, and uses no compulsion but that imposed by its own inherent dignity. Science gives warnings, and if you are capable of understanding scientific argument, you will be incapable of disbelieving the warnings. Certain things will poison you; certain neglects will ruin your health; disregard of scientific construction will bring your roof down on your head; to enter a burning building will risk your life; some of these things you may learn by ordinary experience, some of them by that combination of experience which is called Science. But if you are capable of the necessary reasoning you cannot doubt, however much you may wish to do so. And yet to defy these warnings and take the inevitable consequences of that defiance may be your highest glory. Religion also gives warnings; it assures you that the Eternal Moral Law is supreme; that, sooner or later, those who disobey will find their disobedience is exactly and justly punished; that no appearance to the contrary presented by experience can be trusted. But Religion will not compel you to believe any more than Science will compel you to obey. Disbelieve if you choose and Religion will do nothing but perpetually repeat its warnings and add that your disbelief has lowered you in the scale of being. So too Science gives promises; it promises, to the race rather than to the individual, life on easier conditions, and of greater length; fewer pains, fewer diseases; perpetually increasing comforts; perpetually increasing power over nature. And Science is sure to keep the promises. And yet we may refuse to accept the promises, and it is conceivable that the refusal may be far nobler than the acceptance. And Religion promises also. It promises stainless purity in the soul; and truth and justice and unfailing love; and tenderness to every creature that can feel; and a government of all that is under our dominion with a single eye to the service of God. And we may refuse to believe these promises or to care whether they are kept or not. But the refusal or pursuit of such aims as these determines our position in the judgment of the Supreme and in the court of our own conscience.

God has made man in His own image: that is, He has given man power to understand His works and to acknowledge Himself. And it is in acknowledging God that man finds himself divine. He is a partaker of the divine nature in proportion as he recognises the Supreme Law and makes it the law of his own will. And therefore has his will been made free as well as his mind rational: he has the power to choose as well as the power to know. And our choice lays hold on God Himself and makes us one with Him.



Contradiction of Free-Will to doctrine of Uniformity. Butler's examination of the question. Hume's solution. Kant's solution. Determinism. The real result of examination of the facts. Interference of the will always possible, but comparatively rare. The need of a fixed nature for our self-discipline, and so for our spiritual life.



'So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.' Genesis i. 27.

Religion and Science both begin with the human will. The will is to Science the first example of power, the origin of the conception of cause; the bodily effort made by the will lies at the root of the conception of force. It is by comparing other forces with that force that Science begins its march. And the will is to religion the recipient of the Divine command. To the will the inner voice addresses itself, bidding it act and believe. It is because we have a will that we are responsible. In a world in which there were no creatures endowed with a will, there could be no right-doing or wrong-doing; no approval by conscience and no disapproval; no duty and no faith.

Here is the first possibility of collision between Science and Religion. Science postulates uniformity; Religion postulates liberty. Science cannot ever hope to reduce all phenomena to unity if a whole class of phenomena, all those that belong to the action of human will, are to be excluded from the postulate of invariable sequence. The action of the will is in this case for ever left outside. The evidence for the absolute uniformity of nature seems to be shaken, when it is found that there is so important a part of phenomena to which this law of uniformity cannot be applied. If a human will can thus interfere with the law of uniformity, there enters the possibility that behind some phenomena may lurk the interference of some other will. Religion, on the other hand, tells every man that he is responsible, and how can he be responsible if he is not free? If his action be determined by something which is not himself, how can the moral burden of it be put on him? To tell a man that he is to answer for it if he does something which he is tempted to do, is unmeaning, if he has no power to prevent himself from doing it.

But this is not all. For besides the sense of responsibility we have a direct consciousness of being free, a consciousness which no reasoning appears to extinguish. We sharply distinguish between that which goes on within us in regard to which we are free and that in regard to which we are not free. We cannot help being angry, but we can control our anger. We cannot help our wishes, but we can restrain our indulgence or our pursuit of them. We cannot directly determine our affections, but we can cherish or discourage them. There are extreme cases in which our wills seem powerless, but even here we are conscious of our power to struggle for self-assertion and self-control. There is very much in us which is not free; nay, there is much in us which impels us to action which is not free. But we never confound this with our wills, and when our wills are overpowered by passion or appetite, we call the act no longer a perfectly free act, and do not consider the responsibility for it to be quite the same.

This question of the freedom of the will was considered by Bishop Butler in the Analogy. He contented himself with proving that, make what theory we would concerning the necessity of human action, all men in practice acted on the theory of human freedom. We promise; we accept promises; we punish; we reward; we estimate character; we admire; we shun; we deal with ourselves; we deal with others; as if we and all others were free. And this was enough for his purpose. For he had to reconcile a Divine system of rewards and punishments with our sense of justice. And if he could show, as he did, that rewards and punishments were plainly not inconsistent with that sense of justice in our dealings with one another, it was impossible to call them inconsistent with that sense of justice in God's dealings with us.

But the purpose of these Lectures requires something more, and that for two reasons. For, in the first place, the doctrine of necessity was most often in Bishop Butler's days derived from a conception of a Divine foreknowledge arranging everything by supreme Will, not from the conception of a blind mechanical rule holding all in its unrelaxing grasp. And though to the cold reason it may make no difference how the will is bound, yet to the moral sentiment the two kinds of compulsion differ as life and death. To have no liberty because of being absolutely in the hands of Almighty God is quite another thing from having no liberty, as being under the dominion of a dead iron rule. It seems possible to accept the one and call it an unfathomable mystery; but to accept the other is to call life a delusion and the moral law a dream. And in the second place, the doctrine of necessity advanced as a theory and based on arguments not resting on facts, is a very different antagonist from the same doctrine advanced as a conclusion of science, and as deducible from a mass of co-ordinated observations. We may dismiss the mere theory after showing that it has not substance enough to hold its ground in ordinary life. We cannot so treat what claims to be a scientific inference.

The modern examination of the question begins with Hume, who maintains that the doctrine of liberty and that of necessity are both true and of course compatible with each other. But his arguments touch only the broad question whether they are true for practical purposes, not whether either is true in the strict sense and without exception or modification. To Kant's system, on the contrary, it was essential that both doctrines should be true in the strictest sense. Holding that invariable sequence was a law of Nature known independently of experience and applicable to all phenomena in the minutest detail, he could not allow that any act of the human will lay outside the range of this law. Such an act being a phenomenon must, in his view, be subject to the law which the constitution of our minds imposed on all phenomena apparent to us. And yet, on the other hand, holding that the eternal Moral Law made us responsible for all our acts, he could not but maintain that in the doing of those acts we must be free. His mode of reconciling the two opposites amounted to this, that our action throughout life considered as a whole is free, but that each separate act considered by itself is bound to the preceding acts by the law of invariable sequence. We may illustrate this by the familiar instance of a prism acting on a ray of light. The ray has or may have a colour of its own before it passes through the prism. The prism spreads it out and shows a series of colours. The order in which this series is arranged is determined by the character of the prism acting on the nature of the ray. The colours when combined give the colour of the ray; when separated by the prism each has its own distinct character, and the order of the colours is determined, and invariably determined, by the prism. So too in Kant's view the character of a man in itself may be free, but when it passes through the prism of time into the world of phenomena and is spread over many years it shows a number of separate actions, no one of which taken by itself exhibits the man, though all put together are the true representation of him to human perception. The man is free. His life represents his free choice. But his separate acts are what that free choice becomes when translated into a series of phenomena, and are bound each to the preceding by the law of invariable sequence. It is plain at once that this does not satisfy our consciousness. We are not conscious of freedom as regards our life as a whole; we are conscious of freedom as regards our separate actions. Our life as a whole embraces our past which is absolutely unchangeable, and our future which is not yet within our reach; we are conscious of no present power over either. Our separate acts are perceptibly subject to our own control; nay, it is by the use of our free-will in our separate acts that we are able to change the character of our life or to preserve it from change; and with this corresponds our responsibility. We hold ourselves responsible for each act as it is done; we hold ourselves responsible for the character of our lives only so far as we might have changed it by our acts. The solution leaves the difficulty where it was.

It is now customary with the advocates of the doctrine of necessity to express it by a different word, and call it the doctrine of determinism. The purpose of changing the word is to get rid of all associations with the idea of compulsion; just so in Science it is thought better to get rid of the words cause and effect, and substitute invariable sequence, in order to get rid of the notion of some compulsion recognisable by us in the cause to produce the effect. Determinism does not say to a man 'you will be forced to act in a particular way;' but 'you will assuredly do so.' There will be no compulsion; but the action is absolutely certain. Just as on a given day the moon will eclipse the sun, so in given circumstances you will do the precise thing which it is your character in such circumstances to do. And your sense of freedom is simply the sense that the action proceeds from yourself and not from any force put upon you from without.

But this too does not solve the problem. It is true that in regard to a very large proportion of our actions the sense of freedom seems to be no more than negative. We do what it is our custom, our inclination, our character to do. We are not conscious of any force being put upon us; but neither are we conscious of using any force ourselves. We float as it were down the stream, or hurry along with a determined aim, but having no desire nor purpose to the contrary, the question of freedom or necessity never seems to arise. It is even possible and common for us not to know ourselves as well as others know us, and to do many things which an observer would predict as sure to be our actions, but which we ourselves fancy to be by no means certain. Even in these cases we sometimes awake to the fact that what we are thus allowing in our lives is not consistent with the law of duty, and, do what we may, we cannot then escape the conviction that we are to blame, and that we had power to act otherwise if only we had chosen to exert the power. But it is when a conflict arises between duty and inclination that our inner certainty of our own freedom of will becomes clear and unconquerable. In the great conflicts of the soul between the call of duty and the power of temptation there are two forces at work upon us. We are never for a moment in doubt which is ourselves and which is not ourselves; which is the free agent and which is the blind force; which is responsible for the issue, and which is incapable of responsibility. There is in this case a real sense of compulsion from without, and a real sense of resistance to that compulsion from within. It is impossible in this case to account for the sense of being a free agent, by saying that this merely means that we are conscious of no external force. We are conscious of an external force and we are conscious that this will of ours which struggles against it is not an external force, but our very selves, and this distinction between the will and the forces against which the will is striving is ineffaceable from our minds. That the will is often weak and on that account overpowered, and that after a hard struggle our actions are often determined, not by our wills but by our passions or our appetites, is unquestionable. Often has the believer to pray to God for strength to hold fast to right purpose, and often will he feel that without that strength he must inevitably fall. But he knows that whatever source may supply the strength, it is he that will have to use it, and he that will be responsible for using it or neglecting to do so.

The advocates of determinism urge that every action must have a motive, and that the man always acts on that motive which is the stronger. The first proposition may be granted at once. The freedom of the will is certainly not shown in acting without any motive at all. If there be any human action which appears to be without any motive, it is not in such action that we find human freedom. Such action, if possible at all, must inevitably be mechanical. A man who is acting from mere caprice is even more completely at the mercy of passing inclination than one who is acting from passion or from overpowering temptation. The freedom of the will is not shown in acting without motive, but in choosing between motives. But when it is further said that a man always acts from the stronger motive, the question immediately follows, what determines which is the stronger motive? It cannot be anything in the motives themselves, or all men would act alike in the same circumstances; and it is clear that they do not. It must be therefore something in the man. And if it be something in the man, it must be either his will acting at the moment, which in that case is free, or his character. But if it be his character, then follows the further question, what determines his character? If we are to maintain the uniformity of nature, we must answer by assigning the determination to the sum total of surrounding and preceding circumstances. Nothing will satisfy that law of uniformity but this; that, given such and such parents, such and such circumstances of birth and life, there must be such a character and no other. At what point is there room in this case for any responsibility? I did not on this supposition make my character; it was made for me; any one else born in my stead, and living in my stead, would of necessity have acted exactly as I have done; would have felt the same, and aimed at the same, and won the same moral victories, and suffered the same moral defeats. How can I be held responsible for what is the pure result of the circumstances in which I was born? But if, on the other hand, it be said that our character is not the mere fruit of our antecedents and surroundings, the law of uniformity is clearly broken. A new element has come into the world, namely, my character, which has not come out of the antecedents and surroundings according to any fixed law. The antecedents and surroundings might have been quite the same for any one else, and yet I should have my character and he his, and our lives would have altogether differed.

It is clear that determinism does not get us out of the difficulty. Here, too, as in regard to the necessary truths of mathematics, and in regard to the relativity of all our knowledge, the theory has purchased completeness by the cheap expedient of calling one of the facts to be accounted for a delusion. Such a solution cannot be accepted. In spite of all attempts to explain it away, the fact that we think ourselves free and hold ourselves responsible remains, and remains unaffected.

But let us examine how far the difference between the scientific view and the religious view of human action extends.

Observation certainly shows that a very large proportion of human action, much even of that which appears at first sight to be more especially independent of all law, is really as much regulated by laws of nature as the movements of the planets. I have already pointed out how often an observer can predict a man's actions better than the man himself, and how often the will is certainly passive and consents instead of acting. In these cases there is no reason whatever to deny that nature and not the will is producing the conduct. And not only so, but that which seems most irregular, the kind of action that we call caprice, there is very often just as little reason to call free, as to assign free-will as the cause of the uncertainties of the weather. But it is not in observing individuals so much as in observing masses of men that we get convincing proof that men possess a common nature, and that their conduct is largely regulated by the laws of that nature. That amongst a given large number of men living on the whole in the same conditions from year to year, there should be every year a given number of suicides, of murderers, of thieves and criminals of various kinds, cannot be accounted for in any other way than by the hypothesis that like circumstances will produce like conduct. So, too, in this way only can we account for such a fact as the steadiness in the proportion of men who enter any given profession, of men who quit their country for another, of men who remain unmarried all their lives, of men who enter a university, of men who make any particular choice (such as these) which can be tested by figures. Now, this argument is unanswerable as far as it goes; but it succeeds, like all the other arguments for the uniformity of nature, in establishing the generality, and not at all the universality of that uniformity. Indeed, it falls far short of proving as much uniformity in human action as is proved in the action of inanimate things. The induction which proves the uniformity of the laws of mechanics, of chemistry, of physics, is so far greater than the induction which proves the uniformity of human conduct, that it is hardly possible to put the two side by side. When we turn from abstract arguments to facts, the doctrine of necessity is unquestionably unproven.

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