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Lectures on tke unknown 
God of Herbert Spencer 










RHV. r.KORfiE T. LADI). 


M I 1. \V A t K K K. 






or ^rof, Tyzidstll. 



I. L. HA-USEK & CO., 



THESE two lectures were originally delivered in the 
city of Milwaukee, and with a view to meet the special 
wants of one class of hearers. Here as elsewhere, there 
are supposed to exist a considerable number of intelligent 
and candid minds which are sceptical upon fundamental 
points of religious belief. The being of a personal God and 
the immateriality of the human soul are such fundamental 
points. The substance and style of these lectures were 
wholly determined by the class to whom they were 
addressed. They lay no claims to being exhaustive dis- 
cussions of the subjects which they treat. They are meant 
to be fully up to the level of thought upon which are stand- 
ing those who are, by reading and hearing and thinking 
considerably more cultivated than the average of even in- 
telligent men. They are not meant to compete for a place 
amongst the best things said to the highest critics of what 
is best. Their style is in certain passages somewhat too 
sharp and polemical for the most satisfactory discussion; 

yet this style was found best to aid in the laudable design of 
the speaker. It is hoped that nothing unfair or untrue has 
found entrance. 

The first lecture seems to the author an indisputable ex- 
hibit of the weakness and confusion of thought which are 
found in the first chapters of the First Principles of Herbert 
Spencer. The validity of some arguments used in the sec- 
ond lecture, will be questioned by many candid thinkers 
still further in time to come, as it has been in the past. We 
have the firmest confidence, however, in the ultimate issue. 
Biology, as studied by the scientist, will be found to con- 
tribute toward an enlarged conception of the nature of that 
revelation of himself which is made in all forms of life, by 
the One known to Theology these ages past as the Living 

The two lectures are published at the request ot others, 
and in the hope that they may benefit still more ot the same 
class for whom they were originally intended. 


Among the various methods of propagating religious be- 
liel, there is a very potent and dangerous one which I will 
venture to call the method of "starring." This method is 
in force whenever an opinion upon religious questions is 
adopted solely or chiefly because that opinion has attached 
to itself the authority of some recognized leader of so-called 
"scientific" thought. This is, you will at once see, the old 
method of the ipse-dixit under a somewhat new and less 
trustworthy form. Wherein the form of the method of 
"starring" is in a measure new and peculiarly untrustwor- 
thy, I will now explain. The folly of a somewhat similar 
method is not likely to be denied in the case of those, 
whether professional theologians or not, who hold to so- 
called orthodox opinions in religion. The religiously ortho- 
dox are constantly being reproached for believing untruths 
simply because Augustint-, or Thomas Aquinas, or Duns 
Scotus, or Calvin, or Wesley taught them. I do not claim 
that the orthodox do not deserve this reproach. It is only 

to be said in mitigation of their folly, that they for the most 
part receive these erroneous opinions in good faith, and on 
the ground of the authority of men who were teaching 
truths within their own special sphere of research, and who 
proved their right to be considered authorities, so far as any 
men can be, by the very wide influence and respect they 
earned for their views. But the method of "starring" is 
peculiarly the method at the present time of the religiously 
sceptical and heterodox. It is a vastly worse form of a 
similar method than that of the so-called orthodox. For 
first of all, it begins by pretending to have unusual freedom 
from prejudice, and even indifference to all conclusions; it 
ends all the same by eagerly swallowing some one's dic- 
tum. But further, it receives without questioning the dic- 
tum of notable men, of "stars," when they are shining upon 
subjects upon which they have no special right to give their 
light. If the star turns comet and goes a-wanciering among 
the other spheres, its light is followed all the same . But 
why should Tyndall or Huxley be considered especially 
trustworthy authorities upon theological and religious prob- 
lems ? Is it because they are "stars," and because the 
method of "starring" is good enough for propagating so- 
called heretical opinions ? And further, it is plain that the 
method of "starring" involves a peculiar confidence in 
science and the scientists to settle all manner of problems. 
No man can become a "star" and propagate his views by 
"starring" unless he be a so-called scientist. If we should 
not receive the authority of Augustine cr Paul against that 
of Mr. Huxley upon a question of fact in Anatomy; may 
we not trust the authority of Jesus or John against that of 

any modern scientist upon a question of spiritual insight ? 
Sceptical opinion upon the topic which I have in hand 
to-night has largely been propagated by just this same 
shallow method of "starring." There are many who are 
holding to the Atheism of Nescience simply or largely be- 
cause, as they understand the matter, Herbert Spencer has 
taught the doctrine. Please notice that I wish to use the 
word Atheism with as little obloquy as the word Atheism 
can ever have in common speech. So long as there is a 
self-revealing God, the word Atheism can never be without 
some obloquy. By the Atheism of Nescience I mean that 
sort of Atheism which a man expresses when he declares : 
"Whether there be a God or not I do not know, and if 
there be a God I do not know what sort of being he is 
positively,! know only that there is some sort of Power be- 
hind the phenomena; but the nature of that Power is in- 
scrutable." The ordinary orthodox view is, that this 
Power which is behind the Universe is known to the hu- 
man soul under the forms of power not only, but also of 
will, intelligence and love. Ask then, one who holds to the 
doctrine of the Unknowable, why he has drawn back into 
ignorance so far away irom the view of pious people gen- 
erally ; and he will, it is likely, refer you to Herbert Spen- 
cer. He has taken his opinion in all probability by the 
method of "starring." Is not Mr. Spencer indeed a star of 
the first magnitude, and what is just now indispensable- 
does he not shine with combustibles gathered from all the 
sciences of nature ? If it will help break up prejudice 
which I doubt ; if it will even stir combativeness which I 
do not doubt; I desire to say that Mr. Spencer is not a 


good leader upon fundamental questions of religion. For 
Mr. Spencer is unacquainted with true theology, is waver- 
ing, inconsistent and self-contradictory in his own views. 
That these objections are valid against him as a leader in 
religious opinion, I hope to show true so far as the first 
chapters of his First Principles are concerned. 

What I have to present to you will fall under three di- 
visions. First I shall state, as briefly but as fairly and 
clearly as I can, Mr. Spencer's own doctrine of the 
Unknowable, or to use language which savors more oi 
religion of the Unknown God. Second I shall criticise 
Mr. Spencer's doctrine and show it to be inconsistent and 
incomplete. Third I shall try to sketch the outlines of 
the true doctrine of God as known ,by the human soul. 

Let us attend, then, first of all to a statement of Mr. 
Spencer's doctrine of an Unknown God. Of course Mr. 
Spencer himself does not use the term unknown or un- 
knowable God in setting forth his doctrine: he employs va- 
rious other designations some of which will appear in the 
progress of this discussion to express that prime verity 
with which he deals. I use this term because it serves to 
connect Mr. Spencer's doctrine with my subsequent criti- 
cism of it and with my own statement of the true doctrine. 

Mr. Spencer's doctrine is found in the first part of his 
book on First Principles, and especially in the first two 
chapters of that part. It is an attempt to reconcile the old 
strife between science and religion on the basis of some ab- 
stract truth which both can accept. The argument for the 
reconciliation is as follows. I use Mr. Spencer's own words 
as far as possible. Mr. Spencer begins by affirming that 

there is a "soul of truth" in almost all things erroneous. 
"Even the absurdest report ma}' in nearly every instance be 
traced to an actual occurrence." "And thus it is with hu- 
man beliefs in general," especially "in the case of beliefs that 
have Idng existed and are widely diffused." An ancient 
and widely-spread belief cannot be propagated solely on the 
ground of unquestioned authority; it must contain some 
germ of truth, some element of verity, which gains credence 
for it, and also entitles it to respect. This claim that there 
is a "soul of truth" in all erroneous opinions, Mr. Spencer 
illustrates by the case of human beliefs upon the "origin, 
authority and functions of government." The claim is a 
just one, and Mr. Spencer urges it with clearness and force. 
But he goes on to say, "Of all antagonisms of belief, the 
oldest, the widest, the most profound and the most import- 
ant, is that between religion and science." Now it is prob- 
able, according to the principle of the "soul of truth" con- 
tained in things erroneous, that each party in this antagon- 
ism has "a priori probabilities" in its favor. Mr. Spencer 
then proposes to analyze "the diverse forms of religious be- 
lief which have existed and which still exist," compare them 
with the most abstract truths of science, and find their com- 
mon basis in some "ultimate fact." "Religious ideas of one 
kind or other are almost if not quite universal," and they are 
endless in variety. "That these countless different, and yet 
allied, phenomena presented by all religions are accidental 
or factitious is an untenable supposition." The theory that 
they are due to priestcraft is untenable. These religious 
ideas are as vital as they are universal ; they refuse to be 
destroyed. "Thus the universality of religious ideas, their 


independent evolution among different primitive races, and 
their great vitality, unite in showing that their source must 
be deep-seated instead of superficial." If we say that the 
ideas are the products of the religious sentiment, "there 
equally arises the question Whence comes the sentiment?" 
And whether we hold that this sentiment "resulted from an 
act of special creation," or "arose by a process of evolu- 
tion," we are alike required to treat it with respect. This 
is a sound and creditable conclusion in Mr. Spencer, and one 
which I strongly commend to some of his would-be follow- 
ers. "Positive knowledge," concludes Mr. Spencer, "does 
not and never can fill the whole region of possible thought.'* 
"At the uttermost reach of discovery there arises and must 
ever arise, the question What lies beyond ?" It is with 
this question that Religion has to do. 

Mr. Spencer then turns from the defence of religion to 
the defence of science. Into this part of his argument we 
will not follow, both because we have no quarrel with sci- 
ence, and because his method of defending it does not con- 
cern our discussion. The conclusion arrived at is the one 
already alluded to that "only in some highly abstract 
proposition can religion and science find a common ground." 

This highly abstract proposition, upon the basis of which 
science and religion can be forever reconciled, Mr. Spencer 
then proceeds to state, as it is arrived at from the side of re- 
ligion, in his chapter on "ultimate religious ideas." He be- 
gins the chapter by distinguishing between what he is 
pleased to call real conceptions and symbolic conceptions. 
The fallacy and ignorance of mental philosophy which are 
shown in the handling of this distinction seem to me to run 


through and vitiate the entire chapter; but more concerning 
this further on. Mr. Spencer calls real conceptions only 
such as can be "mentally represented with something like 
completeness;" for instance a small piece of rock or an in- 
dividual man. All our other conceptions, those of "great 
magnitudes, great durations, great numbers," "all those of 
much generality," are "symbolic conceptions." The thought 
seems to be that we can have no real conceptions of things 
other than those which we can represent by sensuous imag- 
ination. The question at once arises, how can we in any 
case be safe in the conviction that any particular one of these 
symbolic conceptions stands for an actual existence ? Only, 
answers Mr. Spencer, when by "some cumulative or indi- 
rect process of thought, or by the fulfillment of predictions 
based on it, we are able to verify the conception." Thus 
our conception of the solar system is symbolic indeed Mr. 
Spencer calls the solar system "an utterly inconceivable ob~ 
ject." But there are many indirect proofs of the existence 
of this object though it be inconceivable; moreover we can 
make predictions upon the ground of our belief that it exists. 
But how is it in the case of the religious ideas which 
men hold and suppose to correspond to certain real exist- 
ences ? They are all not only symbolic conceptions, but 
such symbolic conceptions as cannot be proved legitimate in 
either of the ways indicated above. They are "altogether 
vicious and illusive and in no way distinguishable from pure 
fictions." The atheistic theory of the universe, the theory 
that the universe is self-existent, is "absolutely unthinkable."' 
The pantheistic theory of a self-created universe is equally 
so. The theistic theory of a universe created by some ex. 


ternal agency, is equally vicious, equally unthinkable. And 
all the various ideas of religion as to the nature of the uni- 
verse are as vicious and unthinkable as those of its origin. 
Mr. Spencer proves this by a process of reasoning which it 
is difficult to make intelligible in popular form. He quotes 
largely from Mr. Mansel, who, I need not say, wrote the 
argument which Mr. Spencer uses approvingly, with a very 
different end in view from that which it is here made to 
serve. The process consists in showing that all attempts to 
blend the conceptions of cause, the Absolute and the Infi- 
nite, in one idea of God, land us in hopeless self-contradic- 
tion ; nay, more, that our very conceptions of First Cause, 
Absolute, Infinite are self-contradictory. All these so-called 
religious ideas, and the ideas which men derive from them, 
are, according to Mr. Spencer, symbolic conceptions which 
correspond to no reality we can arrive at, and are "altogether 
vicious and illusive." There is then no known God to whom 
we can intelligently raise an altar of devotion. 

But what ultimate fact is all the while permanent, which ex- 
plains why men so strangely persist in believing in the reality 
of these absurd and self-contradictory fictions ? What ab- 
stract proposition can we find to take the place of the definite 
propositions which men continue to make concerning God 
such as that he is wise and benevolent ? Mr. Spencer 
has his ultimate basis of fact, his most abstract proposition, 
to propose in the room of these illusive and self-contradic- 
tory conceptions. He proposes it in the concluding words 
of his chapter on ultimate religious ideas; and in words 
which I will quote for you. "Here, then," he says and 
the fervor of his language in the consciousness of his great 


discovery is noteworthy "here, then, is an ultimate relig- 
ious truth of the highest possible certainty a truth in which 
religions in general are at one with each other, and with a 
philosophy antagonistic to their special dogmas. And this 
truth, respecting which there is a latent agreement among 
all mankind, from the fetish worshipper to the most stoical 
critic of human creeds, must be the one we seek. If relig- 
ion and science are to be reconciled, the basis of reconcilia- 
tion must be this deepest, widest, most certain of all facts 
thai, the Power which the Universe manifests to us is utter- 
ly inscrutable." 

Further alleged proof of this amazing form of rec- 
onciling science and religion by an abstract prop- 
osition, Mr. Spencer brings forward in the next three 
chapters. It is not necessary that we should examine them 
in detail. The first is upon ultimate scientific ideas; it ends 
with the conclusion that the 'man of science,' 'more than any 
other, truly knows that in its ultimate essence nothing can be 
known.' How such a declaration is likely to suit those 
men of science who know nearly everything and who do 
not believe in 'ultimate essences,' I will not stop to inquire. 
The second chapter discusses the relativity of all knowl- 
edge, and finds in this doctrine further proof of the proposed 
reconciliation of science and religion; while the last chap- 
ter is entitled " The Reconciliation" and is intended espe- 
cially to be pacific and conciliatory towards both sides in the 
great controversy. Each party is dealing with the sarr^e 
unknown and unknowable something; therefore let us 
"qualify disagreement with as much as may be of sym- 


Such is, briefly stated, and with the omission chiefly ot 
such of his arguments as are calculated least to impress the 
mind not especially trained in philosophic thought such 
is Mr. Spencer's doctrine of the Unknowable. It is the 
latest, and perhaps most popularly impressive, of the many 
altars which have been erected to the unknown and unknow- 
able God. By its very nature it is adapted to exclude from 
the ranks both of philosophic religionists and religious sci- 
entists, all who do not bow at the altar. The deity is indeed 
utterly inscrutable, is not called divine, is only called "Power," 
and a few other awe-inspiring terms. But all men are all 
the same invited to fraternize over and upon the altar, are 
forbidden forever to strive further to look for any God 
enshrined in forest or mountain, in earth or star, in the soul, 
or in Jesus called Christ. 

As the second main division of our discussion, I ask your 
attention to a criticism of this doctrine of an unknown God 
as it is held by Mr. Spencer. To save the necessity of 
retracing our steps exactly over the ground just trodden, I 
will place the criticism I have to make in a series of brief 
remarks. Detailed and exhaustive criticism of such a subject 
is not possible in a popular lecture. And 

First. The attempted reconciliation of Mr. Spencer is 
m .ther in theory nor in fact a reconciliation. Remember 
1 lat the main intent of the author seems to be, not to intro- 
duce among the already conflicting forms of religion, a new 
farm, but to find the "ultimate basis" in fact, the "abstract 
proposition," upon which all can philosophically unite. Now 
nothing is more certain than that during the last eighteen 
years there has been no reconciliation accomplished on the 

basis proposed by Mr. Spencer. Some of the scientists are 
more or less avowedly standing upon this basis of Mr. 
Spencer; but, whether stupidly or not, the religious party 
quite refuse to recognize them as standing upon a common 
basis with themselves. They persist, whether stupidly or 
not, in asserting that men have much more knowledge o* 
God than Mr. Spencer admits. They count amongst their 
part}" many men familiar with science, who for their 
familiarity all the more see God revealed in the facts and 
laws of the sciences. There has been a growing disposition 
amongst the party of believers in God to hail all genuine 
science and to consider it as God's truth, as one form of the 
self-revelation of God. But there is no reconciliation, so far 
as can be seen, upon the basis of an unknowable God. Now 
this failure of the scheme to reconcile must be disappointing 
to its author ; for he plainly believed that to reach his point 
of view "must cause a revolution of thought fruitful in bene- 
ficial consequences." The failure creates a presumption 
against the truth of the doctrine of reconciliation. For 
it shows that men in general do not recognize in the doctrine 
the gist of their abiding belief. 

And indeed examination shows us that Mr. Spencer's 
basis not only has not been, but also can never become, one 
of reconciliation between those who believe in a personal 
God and those who do not. Mr. Tyndall has said that "to 
find a legitimate satisfaction for the religious emotions is the 
problem of problems of our day." Men cannot find in the 
Unknowable, even when you spell it with a Capital 
and underscore it, that which satisfies their religious 
emotions. They want to revere God, and who shall tell 


them whether the Unknowable is venerable or not? They 
wish to know that God loves them and that they may love 
God ; but an absolutely inscrutable power is not an object 
for human affection, nor a subject so far as we know of 
affection toward man. Men, so long as they have religious 
feeling, cannot be reconciled upon Mr. Spencer's platform. 
I do not now bring forward this fact as an argument against 
Mr. Spencer's doctrine, but only against the hope that it will 
ever reconcile contending parties. If it be true, it will prove 
futile as a basis of reconciliation, until the religious nature of 
man is changed. This consideration might well teach us 
how much weight lies in the popinjay remarks of the strut- 
ting camp-followers of this great general. They speak as 
school-girls and sophomores, nay, as infants in arms, when 
they talk about five or ten vears as the extreme limit with- 
in which all men will come together and be reconciled, on 
the basis of Mr. Spencer. 

Upon the doctrine of Mr. Spencer I remark, 
Second. That it entirely fails to furnish legitimate satis- 
faction for the religious emotions. I have already said that 
this failure prevents his theory from serving as a basis of 
reconciliation. I now bring forward the failure as a direct 
and strong proof that the doctrine is untrue. Mr. Spencer 
and a very few others may claim that their religious emo- 
tions are satisfied with this abstract proposition : to these 
the reply is valid ; you either give to this abstract proposi- 
tion certain emotions which do not befit it, or else you are 
yourself a stunted and imperfect man in respect to your re- 
ligious emotions. For the truth is that men have hearts as 
well as heads, and that, in religious as in most other beliefs, 


their hearts are as potent as their heads to determine their 
beliefs. Man is a very complex being; and when you try 
to cramp his beliefs by leaving any large part of his com- 
plex being out of the account, you are doomed, in the gen- 
eral and in the long run, to failure. There is no more cer- 
tain fact than that there are in man religious instincts, crav- 
ings, outgoings of soul toward the divine in adoration, trust, 
obedience and love. With all men, except at most a very 
few, an Unknowable the abstract proposition that the 
Power behind the phenomena is inscrutable does not sat- 
isfy this religious nature. The pantheism of Strauss in his 
"Old Faith and the New," is, in this regard, vastly prefer- 
able to Mr. Spencer's barren doctrine. For Strauss at least 
claims that humility, awe, reverence and trust are becoming 
emotions before that universal order which he calls to the 
seat of divinity; and claims also that he personally is in the 
exercise of such religious emotions. But before the abso- 
lutely Unknowable, who can have any emotion whatever ? 
That, however, Mr. Spencer himself knows much of his 
own Unknowable, we shall see by and by. But it is only 
through this clandestine way of fetching in religious feeling 
at the back door, as though an open and front entrance 
were too good for it, that the doctrine ot the Unknowable 
acknowledges it at all. If, then, that doctrine could be 
proved by a concentration of the strongest arguments, its 
proof would only throw the whole nature and life of man 
into hopeless contradiction. The larger half of human na- 
ture would still cry out against it. And if there were no 
logic of the feeling, no translation into the forms of thought 
of the arguments which lie in feeling itself, feeling would 


still play its mighty part. Convince men that God is Un- 
knowable, and they will still recognize him as a person, by 
the instinctive longing to come into personal relations with 
Him of trust and love. 

In calling your attention to another kindred thought 
which makes against Mr. Spencer's statement I remark, 

Third. That Mr. Spencer's own doctrine of a "soul of 
truth" in things erroneous proves too much for his doctrine 
of an Unknown God. His whole argument rests back upon 
this assumption of a "soul of truth" in things erroneous. 
But what is involved in this true assumption? Tust this: 

X / 

that we may criticize man's history and man's nature, and 
that we may expect to find that his permanent and uni- 
versal beliefs are trustworthy and correspond to the reality 
of things. We too set out with Mr. Spencer to criticize 
man's religious nature and history. We do this with confi- 
dence that they will reveal truth to us. Mr. Spencer con- 
cludes that there is at least a Power manifested by the phe- 
nomena; we, and almost all other students of history, con- 
clude that there is more than mere power. Even Mr. Ar- 
nold finds plain traces of a "power which makes for right- 
eousness." We know, then, so far, according to Mr. Ar- 
nold, the nature of this power viz: that it "makes for 
righteousness." But we find far back in all history that 
men have called this power their Heavenly Father. Max 
Mueller finds it in the hymns of the Vedas, every classical 
scholar finds it in the ancient classics, Wilkinson finds il 
upon the hieroglyphics of Egypt, the pious of to-day find il 
in Job and the other oldest books of the Old Testament. Is 
there no soul of truth in this abiding wide-spread belief in a 


Heavenly Father ? Men believe likewise in a moral order, 
in a controller of destiny, in a divine voice speaking through 
the conscience. Will Mr. Spencer account for these beliefs 
by pointing out "the soul of truth" which is in them ? Will 
he not add something to his abstract proposition? Plainly, 
if he refuse, his so-called "soul of truth" in things erroneous 
is scarcely worthy, in this case, of being called a soul: for 
the life-blood has been all sucked out of the idea and the 
carcass tossed over into the "death-kingdom of abstract 

To illustrate by Mr. Spencer's own example. I am deal- 
ing with the phenomena of government in the effort to de- 
termine what is the soul of truth that breathes itself out in 
them all. I call attention to how permanent and wide-spread 
is the belief of men that they must be governed somehow in 
order to social existence; and with the belief a correspond- 
ing practice of instituting and submitting to some form of 
government. No tribe, I say, of South Sea island savages, 
that has not a chief and tribal customs. There must be 
something in all this, I infer with truth; must be some ulti- 
mate fact or abstract proposition upon which can be recon- 
ciled those whose theory is, that government is a blessing, 
and those who hold it to be a fiction or a curse. But the 
proposition must be sufficiently abstract ; for there is endless 
quarrel amongst the advocates of different forms of govern- 
ment, and hopeless difficulty in discussing the origin and na- 
ture of just government. Gathering my wits together for a 
profound statement, I announce the discovery of the ultimate 
fact. I find this highest political truth, this deepest, widest 
and most certain of political facts, in the statement that the 


impulse which the phenomena of politics manifest .to us is 
utterly inscrutable. Oh but, you would say, can you not 
tell us more than that ? Can you not at least, as a philoso- 
pher, venture to explain what the inspired poet Schiller 
means when he sings of "holy order, the daughter of 
heaven, who wove the dearest of all bonds, the impulse to 
the Father-land"? 

I do not see how a student of history who has bent his 
ear to catch the cries of longing, the hymns of praise, the 
prayers for blessing, the accents of devotion and self-surren- 
der, which have been arising from the millions of all nations 
these thousands of years toward the Heavenly Father, can 
see the soul of truth in the barren proposition that the 
Power which the Universe manifests to us is utterly inscru- 
table. And history is a mighty teacher; every whit as 
mighty and as much a revealer of the power behind the 
Universe, as is so-called science. 

But of Mr. Spencer's doctrine of the Unknowable, I re- 

Fourth. That it is largely founded upon a narrow and 
unsound mental philosophy. Mr. Spencer shows, it seems 
to me, considerable ignorance and misconception regarding 
the nature, the process and the grounds of human thought. 
This charge can only be substantiated at present, by indica- 
ting one or two directions in which every reader should 
beware of being misled. 

Mr. Spencer's use * of the words "conceive" and "concep- 
tion," and especially the argument he founds upon his use of 

*Tlie misuse and misunderstanding of the words "coaceive"and ' conception" 
constitute ore of the distinguishing scandals of English and American philo- 
sophical writing. Scarcely anything in pur philosophical language needs more 
attention than the constant aud intelligent discrimination between thought 
proper and the picture- making power of the sensuous imagination. 


those words, indicate a narrow and unsound mental philos- 
ophy. "Conceive" and "conception" in psychological lan- 
guage refer most properly to the work of the understanding 
in abstracting and putting together again the marks of the 
objects with which it deals. For instance, when, from ex- 
perience with many individual men, I draw off those quali- 
ties in which the individuals agree, and then unite them in 
thought to form a notion of man in general, I conceive man; 
and what I conceive in thought is called my conception of 
man. Mr. Spencer seems to think that there is some special 
lack of correspondence to reality in every act of conception, 
where you cannot represent the object in the sensuous imag- 
ination. I can form a picture of Beatrice Cenci, which cor- 
responds to the reality so far as do the pictures of her which 
I have seen; I cannot form such a picture of woman in gen- 
eral. But the amount of clear knowledge in my mind cor- 
responding to the word "woman" is much larger than that 
corresponding to the particular name Beatrice Cenci. But, 
according to Mr. Spencer, all conceptions of "much gener- 
ality" are "symbolic conceptions." The truth is, however, 
that all conceptions whatever are often incomplete, shifting 
in the individual mind, different in different minds; but they 
are all real whenever they correspond to real individuals or 
classes. The act of imagination and the act of conception 
are different things. An act of sensuous imagination is 
sometimes possible as an accompaniment of a conception, 
sometimes not; sometimes helpful, sometimes not. It helps 
my conception of Beatrice Cenci to hold her picture before 
the mind's eye; but it would debase and hinder my concep- 
tion of God to try to frame any picture of Him. But my 

conception, as that highest form of conception which we call 
an idea, is, in the latter case, much clearer than in the for- 
mer. To speak as though this form of clearness upon 
which Mr. Spencer insists, were necessary to a real as 
distinguished from a symbolic conception, is to confuse 
thought with sensuous imagination. 

But further, there is a vast amount ot knowledge which 
does not come to us by the act of "conceiving" at all. All 
our knowledge is girded round with faith. We begin with 
unconscious use of incomprehensible postulates, with 
instinctive acts of trust, with believing many things we 
cannot prove, many things which, when we try to prove 
them, seem to lead us into hopeless self-contradictions. We 
come into the world with what Mr. C. C. Everett has called 
"good faith." The ancient oracle bade everv man "know 
thyself," and, to the novice, what seems easier than to know 
himself? But to the thinker there is much mystery and 
chance for self-contradiction in self-knowledge. Sense, 
perception, thought, freedom, the relation of soul and body, 
the nature of both, are not easy to be explained, have never 
yet been made fully intelligible. No one knows all this 
any better than Mr. Spencer. Why then not admit the 
chance of an imperfect knowledge of God bv that indirect 
proof which enables us to attain the full consciousness of all 
our choicest knowledge? Surely there is more in human 
knowledge than can be ''conceived 1 '' in Mr. Spencer's use of 
the word. Surely there is still a chance at least to verify by 
indirect proof, what he would call our symbolic conception 
of God. 

But, Mr. Spencer argues, this conception of God, so- 


called, is shown to be, when you pick it in pieces, wholly 
constructed of self-contradictory elements. Its definite ele- 
ments are utterly unthinkable in themselves and in their 
union. The only real thing in the conception is the decla- 
ration that the real thing is utterly unknowable. Now, 
were this the place and time, I might follow in detail Mr. 
Spencer's use of the words First Cause, Infinite and Abso- 
lute, and criticise his argument based upon this use. It 
would be found to be a species of that jugglery with words 
in which Mr. Mansel and some of the theologians have 
been so forward and successful. It may be said of the big 
thing Infinite and Absolute, very much what Mr. Martineau 
said of the little thing atom, with which some scientists are 
so fond of dealing. You get out of it by argument just what 
you put into it by assumption. This jugglery is like that of 
the old-time philosophers, who proved that there could be 
no such thing as motion. It represents a real difficulty of 
thought, but it is jugglery with words all the same. 

The last criticism I will now make against the view of 
Mr. Spencer is in the form of what the logicians call an 
drgwnentum ad hominem. I remark 

Fifth, That Mr. Spencer's own admissions overthrow 
his own statement. Indeed, when picked out from scattered 
places and put together into a whole, they almost constitute 
anew the old fullness of knowledge which men have always 
supposed themselves to have concerning God. Let us 
examine the matter. Mr. Spencer declares that the Power 
which the universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable. 
And yet] it appears, as Father Dalgairns sarcastically 


remarks, that a great deal is known about the Unknowable; 
and by Mr. Spencer too. 

For, first of all, the Unknowable is known to be a 
Power; and it must be a great power, for the Universe 
that is, all manifestations of power manifests it to us. But 
power, inconceivably great enough to accomplish all things 
done and even more has been bv Theists from time imme- 
morial held to be an attribute of God. But Mr. Spencer 
speaks of the Power ; and as he nowhere uses the plural 
and doubtless holds to the unity of the Universe, having 
himself made an attempt to represent in philosophy this 
unity of the universe, he must believe in the unity also of 
the Power which the one universe manifests. This is 
promising; for we all incline to have not more than one God, 
if we are indeed to have any at all. Whether it be better to 
have one God than none, or not; it is certainly better to have 
one than many. Well, we have one Power, then; we know 
thus much, on Mr. Spencer's authority, about the unknowa- 

But further, Mr. Spencer clearly reasons as though this 
one Power were the abiding thing amidst all the shifting 
phenomena. And this one Power is not the phenomenal 
universe itself, but that which this universe manifests to us. 
What is the meaning of all this, if the Unknowable be not 
somehow the abiding ground of the phenomena of the uni- 
verse ? But this is almost exactly what Theists mean when 
they intelligently speak of God as the Absolute. Mr. Spen- 
cer also believes in the -permanency of the one Power, 
through a time we might almost say practically eternal if 
his own doctrine of evolution is true. 


And besides all this, the universe manifests to us this one 
abiding power. Indeed ; may we not then inquire under what 
forms the universe manifests the Power to us? To do this 
is to search into the proofs and qualities of the divine exist- 
ence. How does, the universe manifest this Power? as be- 
nevolent or malevolent, as wise or otherwise? may we not 
inquire? No: for it is utterly inscrutable. But it is Power 
One Power abiding Power manifest Power. Force 
Unity Eternity Revelation what else have we than 
all this, known by Mr. Spencer, when pleading ignorance, 
and about the Unknowable? 

But Mr. Spencer knows more than this about the Un- 
knowable. He thinks "very likely there will ever remain a 
need to give shape to that indefinite sense of an Ultimate ex- 
istence which forms the basis of intelligence ;" and on the 
same page he speaks of an "Ultimate Cause" which is one 
with the Unknowable because it cannot be mentally realiz- 
ed at all. This almost takes our breath away. For when 
the heavens were swept clear of all recognizable shapes of 
divinity, here comes rushing in again, borne upon the mighty 
wings of philosophy an ultimate existence and an ultimate 
cause. A cause indeed! an existence indeed! an ultimate 
cause and existence ! Why, this is the very conception we 
forever banished as a fiction, utterly inconceivable. It must 
be that it relurns upon the Pegasus of Matthew Arnold. 
Some poor old dead horse of natural theology has taken 
wings and rushed into the vacuum of the Unknowable, 
bearing upon his back an ultimate existence, an ultimate 
cause. We must summon Mr. Mansel to teach Mr. Spencer 
not to use words so self-contradictory as are found in these 


phrases, an "ultimate existence" and an "Ultimate cause." 
But the sphere of Mr. Spencer's knowledge continues 
widening. For he comes to speak ot the "established order 
of the Unknowable," of the "actions of the Unseen Reality' * 
as well as the resulting rewards and punishments. It seems, 
then, that the Unknowable has an established order of ac- 
tions; and that this system of rewards and punishments un- 
der which we all exist, results in some way or other from the 
actions of the Unknowable, is indeed a part of its established 
order. And now we begin to know a vast deal about the 
Unknowable and of a sort to come very near to any man. 
The moral law is his established order, rewards and punish- 
ments are results of his actions. Bow your heads, then, ye 
sinners for he will give you stripes: the moral order, estab- 
lished and manifested in the Univ erse, will grind you into 
dust. But oh, will it not also save? Is there no inspiration, 
guidance, help, salvation, from the Unseen Reality, the one 
Power, the Ultimate Cause, the established order? 

Mr. Spencer knows something even about this a little 
but only a little. In the closing words of his argument he 
reflects somewhat sadly upon the duty given him to pro- 
claim the doctrine of an Unknown God, and upon the prob- 
ability that his proclamation will not be accepted. But 
"like every other man, he may properly consider himself as 
one of the myriad agencies through whom works the Un- 
known Cause, and when the Unknown Cause produces in 
him a certain belief, he is thereby authorized to profess and 
act out that belief." How glad we are to know all this 
about the Unknowable ! He moves every man, produces 
belief in man, and the belief which he produces has author- 

2 7 

ity. But after all, is not this perhaps the nose of one of 
those poor old dead horses of natural theology, thrust unin- 
vited into the vacuum of the Unknowable ? 

To sum up, however, this last argument, we find that 
there is one comprehensive and abiding Power revealed in 
the universe, that this power is the Ultimate Existence and 
the Ultimate Cause, that it has an established order of 
actions from which result the phenomena of the moral law,, 
that a man may trust the belief which the Power produces 
and act safely upon its authority. And now, what more do 
we need to know about the Unknowable than that which 
Mr. Spencer has told us ? Thought and Love remain to 
be ascribed to this Unknowable in order that the soul of 
man may bow down to the Heavenly Father. Of these 
qualities there are only slightest hints in Mr. Spencer's doc- 
trine ; still there are hints. What, we ask, is more clearly 
manifested than thought in this universe which manifests 
the one Power ? How can there be a universe, a unity of 
force and action, an established order, a course in history 
an evolution or development, without the marks of thought? 
May we not reason from the universal manifestation of 
thought to the One thinking being as confidently as from 
the manifestation of forces to the one Power ? And then > 
how our souls cry out for Love: yes, even the soul of Mr. 
Spencer. He wants to be considered an agency through 
whom works the trustworthy Unknown cause. He quotes 
poetry in a sort of praise of the Unknowable. Is this weak- 
ness in Mr. Spencer ? Is it not rather that strength of 
manhood which is more clearly shown, the more the man 
cries out after God ? 


In fine, our emotions and thoughts are very conflicting in 
view of Mr. Spencer's doctrine. We are disturbed when 
we learn that the time-honored notions of God are utterly 
inconceivable; but we are comforted somewhat on being 
told that the solar system is an "utterly inconceivable ob- 
ject." The doctrine of the Unknowable makes us feel as 
though bereft of something all-important, until we discover 
how much he who promulgates the doctrine knows about 
his own Unknowable. And if Mr. Spencer will let us 
search the universe to see whether there are not Thought 
and Love as well as Power manifested therein, and if he 
considers, as he doubtless does, the entire human soul with 
its beliefs and cravings as a part of the universe, and so es- 
pecially to be searched; we will no further concern our- 
selves with his doctrine. And if you please, what we find, 
provided we find Thought and Love we will call God. 
This is a good word, spelled with only three letters, and 
dear to millions of souls. It gathers and wraps up for con- 
templation all that is dignified in the world without and the 
soul within; it alone makes life worth living and death not 
overmuch to be feared. Why should any man find his re- 
ligion or philosophy in declarations as unsubstantial to 
borrow an illustration -as the enunciation of Mr. Dombey's 
mother-in-law, who never could remember names: "There 
is no what's-his-name but Thingummy; and what-you- 
may-call-it is his prophet." It is thin, cheap philosophy, 
and poor watery religion which, either through excess of 
piety or impiety, knows nothing of God. 

And now in conclusion I will state briefly the doctrine of 
God as known by the human soul. You will listen sympa- 

2 9 

thetically to one who is forced, in ten minutes time, to trace 
the outline of so vast a proof. But if you will listen patient- 
ly, I hope to indicate a very valuable and helpful line of 

Consider First God is known only so far as he is self- 
revealed to us. There is and ever will remain an incalcu- 
lably vast unrevealed depth of divine being and action. No 
wise theology has ever claimed, no thoughtful Theist ever 
supposed, that more than the very little which is revealed, 
can be known of God. But thus the case stands with all 
our knowledge; thus in our daily experience with that most 
intimate form of knowing, a man's knowledge of his own 
soul. There are, as you must guess, thoughtful hearer 
unknown actualities, inconceivable possibilities of being, in 
your own soul. There is a background of your personal 
being which you have never pierced; nay, a fathomless 
depth of personal powers beneath every conscious act. 
You cannot fully comprehend your own vision, or thought, 
or beliefs, or freedom in action. But are you therefore to 
refuse to say, I know I am, I know I see, I know 1 think, 
I know that I am free ? 4 What is given you in these pri- 
mary beliefs and intuitions is not vitiated because you cannot 
fully comprehend their origin or nature. What you do 
know is also not vitiated because there is a vast more be- 
yond. So in the case of our knowledge of God ; we know 
in part, we know fragmentarily, we know with many diffi- 
culties arising at once in the effort to tell how we know. 
We know what God has revealed to us. 

*Tlie thoughts so meagrely and unsatisfactorily traced in the following page* 
have been given a somewhat full expressi-Mi in the two numbers of the Bil liotne- 
ca Sacra for January and October, 187T. 


Consider Second That the self-revelation of God is 
made in the entire universe. Power and Thought and we 
hope you are confident though against many appearances 
also Love, are to be found everywhere. God reveals 
himself in so-called nature. He has stamped his thought 
upon every object and he expresses his order and reason in 
every law. God reveals himself in history. The Power 
which lies behind the struggles of the race upward, which 
coordinates all the otherwise diverse phenomena, which 
says to nations "come," and "go," and weaves the wondrous 
web of universal progress, is none other than the power of 
God. History could not be ; the idea of it is unintelligible, 
without God. All art, with its growing aspiration and 
achievement, tells the praises of that absolute beauty which 
God loves and expresses for us, which in the last analysis he 
himself is. The scientist has good reason to cry out with 
more perfect sincerity, and yet in the words of Kepler: "I 
read thy thoughts, oh God." 

The very first and fundamental postulates of our own being 
are these; the universe is thinkable, and my thought is 
trustworthy and true. So does the universe necessarily 
manifest a thinking One behind and in it; so also does the 
very process of human thought both indicate and guarantee 
a self-revealing God. No doctrine of evolution or second 
causes does away with this necessity of thinking Thought 
itself as behind and in the universe of thinkable persons and 
things. Otherwise all is but a "moving row of shadow-shapes 
that come and go round with this sun-illumined lantern." 
To say that the bee makes the cell without thought, is only 
to make the question more pressing: who made both bee 

and cell, so that bee can make cell, and cell is for the bee, 
and both cell and bee are for me a thinker, in themselves 
and in their relations, thinkable things? 

But, consider Third that God's self-revelation is an en- 
larging and progressive one. It is of its very nature his- 
toric and going forward toward a goal. We think we dis- 
cover progress in history; we are confident that progress 
will continue to be made. What is the inference from the 
discovery? what is the meaning of the conviction? What 
power except one of exceeding thought and broad benevo- 
lence could so weave the phenomena of progress? This is the 
work of God. His self-revelation is never, then, a completed 
one. There is ever more and more to follow. There are a few, 
a very few things, which we must know about God, if we 
are to live aright. We must know enough to call him 
Heavenly Father. We must be wise enough to receive in 
docility his wisdom, in gladness to receive his love and an- 
swer it with returning love. This done, we may go on and 
on in learning more of God. Aod should we be borne as 
on the wings of archangels throughout countless ages, there 
would be still more, and more and yet more beyond to be 
revealed of Him. 

But, consider Fourth For each man the organ through 
and within which God's self-revelation comes, is his en- 
tire soul. All the powers of complex man are concerned in 
this knowledge of God. This is true of even those faculties 
and activities which are generally considered to have little 
to do with a man's knowledge of God. Strength and weak- 
ness of body ought alike to reveal to us our Father in Heav- 
en. For when we think of it, the strength we call our own 

3 2 

is only the inflow into us of the divine forces from without ; 
and our weakness brings more clearly to us the sense of 
dependence upon some one not ourselves. The growth of 
trust and love and self-surrender in the family, fit us to re- 
ceive enlarged knowledge of God. The first cry of the 
first child ought to make the parent's own heart cry out like 
n hungry child to the all-Father in Heaven. 

Our deep seated cravings, our constant dissatisfaction, 
teach us of a God and lead us toward Him. The soul is 
normally and necessarily hungry for things which cannot 
come from the orchards and gardens of this world. Man is 
made to desire fruits of Paradise. The sense of depend- 
ence leads in the same direction, viz., toward the Absolute 
toward God. The voice of conscience whispers or thund- 
ers within the soul the message of a spiritual law with un- 
limited sanctions, and showing by its very nature that it is 
a law given by a Holy One, even by God. Man is made 
for the self-revelation of God: and every man's completeness 
of manhood may be tested by the amount of truth he has 
learned concerning God. But if a man distort his soul, he 
cannot have the clear vision of God. No amount of subtle 
ratiocination will bring it to a man who has shut his inner 
eye to the art-work of his spiritual nature. The failure of 
such a man by arguments to reach the Eternal does not 
prove the arguments for God's existence unsound ; it does not 
prove there is no God, does not prove there is only an un- 
knowable God. The failure proves that the man's soul 
is awry and unsymmetrical. He may reason well, but 
he has not heard the evidence. He cannot hear it, for he 
has quenched the witness within. 


The whole truth was long since stated clearly enough in 
a book with which you are all doubtless familiar. I quote, in 
these last sentences, a philosophy more comprehensive and 
sound, a religion more cheering and nourishing, than are to 
be found in the barren abstraction of Herbert Spencer. 
"The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." "Who 
is this]that darkeneth counsel by words-without knowledge?" 
"Gird up now thy loins like a man and declare thou unto 
me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment?" "Canst thou 
by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Al- 
mighty to perfection? If iniquity be in thy hand, put it 
away then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot." 
"Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, because 
thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and 
hast revealed them unto babes." "God is love he that 
loveth not knoweth not God." "Beloved, if God so loved 
us, we ought to love one another." "No man hath seen 
God at any time." "If we love one another, God dvvelleth in 
us, and his love is perfected in us." 


In the chart of those persons who are looking to the 
heavens of science for guidance out of the slavery of super- 
stition, Mr. Tyndall is set down as a "star" of the first mag- 
nitude. And indeed, as a brilliant experimenter and lec- 
turer within a certain limited sphere of the physical sciences, 
he has high claims to this position. It is not strange then, 
that the celebrated proposal for a prayer guage, absurd as 
it was, derived much extra consideration from the under- 
standing that so bright a star as Mr. Tyndall was' shining 
through the proposal. Nor is it any stranger that the dec- 
laration of this scientist concerning "the promise and poten- 
cy of every form and quality of life," in his celebrated Bel- 
fast address in 1874, was greeted when first made, as we 
are told it was, with "whirlwinds of applause." Nor, fur- 
ther, can we wonder, when we consider how much weight 
is given by many minds to the most trivial declarations of 
so-called great scientists and leading thinkers, that the dec- 
laration of this Belfast address has since been welcomed in 


so many quarters. It seems that multitudes regard it as the 
"death-knell of superstition." 

But as for me, I suspect that we have here again an ex- 
ample of starring. Starring, as some of you will remember, 
I defined to be the method of propagating opinions in phi- 
losophy and religion upon the mere authority of some 
recognized teacher in the natural sciences. For the method, 
then, in which this declared opinion of Mr. Tyndall has been 
propagated, we make no effort to conceal our contempt. 
Starring is contemptible; and he who gets his opinions 
largely in this way is likely to have only contemptible 

But the opinion thus propagated, both from its nature 
and its source, is entitled to something quite different from 
either unquestioning acceptance or contemptuous rejection. 
It is entitled to thoughtful examination. And not to the 
connection of any particular advocate with the opinion, so 
much as to the opinion itself, would we direct such exami- 
nation. Because, however, the opinion is at present so 
closely connected with the name of this scientist, I will 
make three preliminary remarks upon Mr. Tyndall, as the 
advocate of this opinion . 

And, First I think we may say that this opinion is one 
which Mr. Tyndall is not especially competent to give. 
For the question involved in the opinion is not one of science 
in Mr. Tyndall's sphere of researches, but rather one Of 
philosophy or theology. Not that any man has not a right 
to form an opinion upon the problem of matter and mind ; 
but that the problem is one which calls as much for thor- 
ough training in the knowledge of mind, both finite and ab- 


solute, as in the knowledge of so-called material things. 
And Mr. Tyndall is far from being an acute philosopher or 
theologian. He declares that he discerns in matter "the 
promise and potency of all terrestrial life." But suppose we 
ask of him, on what grounds do you base your declaration ? 
From his own words we find that in making the declara- 
tion he relies upon the "continuity of nature," that he "by 
an intellectual necessity crosses the boundary," and so dis- 
cerns in matter this large "promise and potency." But in 
order to do this Mr. Tyndall must step out of his own do- 
main of research. For, the "continuity of nature," and our 
right to make inferences upon it, as well as every form of 
"intellectual necessity," whether real or only alleged, in- 
volve questions of metaphysics rather than physics. 

Besides, when a student of material forces and laws de- 
clares that the promise and potency of everything terrest- 
rial is with him, he virtually tells the student of mind I am 
your superior in your own sphere of research, and I explain 
everything, so far as explanation is possible. There is no 
mind which is not matter, and there are no forces of mind 
which are not resolvable into physical forces. Now, this is 
shallow arrogance in the case of any man who has not 
made of mind a special and thorough study. When, then, 
Mr. Tyndall tells us of phenomena and laws of matter 
which he has observed, we all accept with gratitude his 
contributions to our stock of knowledge. But when he 
comes with the proposal to explain, by swallowing, up all 
the phenomena and laws of m nd which the student of mind 
has observed, the latter may say fo him : not quite so fast 
please step back on your own ground, my dear sir tor I 


am your peer, and perhaps superior here. Is it incredible 
that philosophers and theologians should pbject when an- 
tagonistic opinions upon their own special topics of research 
are likely to be widely propagated by the shallow method 
of starring ? 

On the connection of Mr. Tyndall with the opinion of his 
Belfast address, I remark 

Second That this expression of opinion is in quite obvi- 
ous contradiction with other expressions of opinion from 
Mr. Tyndall upon the same general topic. It is indeed a 
small thing for a modern scientist to contradict himself con- 
stantly when handling truths of philosophy and religion. 
Are we to attribute this habit of self-contradiction to can- 
dor ? Are we not rather to attribute it to lack of training 
in thought upon these truths, together with the pressure of 
natural instincts, beliefs and emotions, upon the narrow,' hard 
conclusions of the scientific intellect ? 

The statement that in matter is to be discerned "the 
promise and potency of every form and quality of life" is as 
bald and clearly defined Materialism as one can readily 
find. Men in general suppose that there are two classes of 
phenomena, so diverse that they prove the existence of two 
different substances, one called matter, the other, mind. 
That the two are connected in the world of experience, no 
one can doubt. But Prof. Tyndall alleges them to be so 
connected that the phenomena of mind are to be wholly ex- 
plained by those of matter; that matter is the sole cause of 
what we are pleased to call mind. And yet in his own 
essay on Scientific Materialism he recognizes in the facts of 
consciousness another class of phenomena, the connection 


of which with Physics is unthinkable; and declares that the 
"chasm between" the two classes ot phenomena must ever 
remain "intellectually impassable." Has Mr. Tyndall, then, 
passed in thought his own "intellectually impassable" 
chasm ? Has he qualified himself to announce as the con- 
nection of cause and effect his own "unthinkable" connec- 
tion ? Or has he perhaps changed his opinion, as he has a 
perfect right to do, in the time between these two declara- 
tions of it ? 

But in November, 1875, i tne Fortnightly Review, we 
find him adopting the words of Du Bois Raymond : "it is 
absolutely and forever inconceivable that a number of car- 
bon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms should be 
otherwise than indifferent as to their own position and mo- 
tion." To these words of Du Bois Raymond, he adds in 
his own words: "The continuity between molecular pro- 
cesses and the phenomena of consciousness is a rock on 
which materialism must inevitably split whenever it pre- 
tends to be a complete philosophy of the human mind.'* 
Has Mr. Tyndall conceived his own absolutely inconceiv- 
able ? Has he split upon the rock since he sailed upon it, 
or did he sail upon it in full consciousness that his material- 
ism, like that of all others, would thereon be split ? 

But recall again the declaration of the Belfast address. In 
matter is "the promise and potency of every form and qual- 
ity of life." The link then, between the phenomena of 
matter and those of mind is that of cause and effect ; matter 
is the cause, mind is only one division of the phenomena of 
matter. For, the potency is in matter and we can discern 
it; this potency includes, we are also told, "every form of 


terrestrial life;" the life which we call consciousness and 
free will, as well as that arrangement of the molecules of 
the crystal which we do not call life. And yet Mr. Tyn- 
dall elsewhere declares, "we do not possess the intellectual 
organ, nor apparently any rudiment of the organ which 
would enable us to pass by a process of reasoning from the 
one to the other." Has there been a recent unexpected 
development of an undiscovered rudimentary organ ? This 
would be a remarkable instance of evolution. But however 
candid this great scientist may be in contradicting himseli, 
we should scarcely expect him to indulge this sort of candor 
within the limits of one address. The more, however, we 
study the path of these stars when shining upon great 
depths of metaphysics and religion, the more do we dis- 
cover of their aberrations. And Mr. Tyndall contradicts 
himself, flatly but unconsciously, in this Belfast address. 
For just after his dictum about "promise and potency," he 
says the following: "We can trace the development of a 
nervous system and correlate with it the parallel phenome- 
na of sensation and thought. But we try to soar in a 
vacuum the moment we seek to comprehend the connection 
between them." "There is no fusion possible between the 
two classes of facts no motor energy in the intellect of man 
to carry it without logical rupture from one to the other." 
Mr. Tyndall adds these words to what he has just said of 
the promise and potency of matter, apparently through fear 
of the title materialist . "There is, you will observe," he 
has just said, "no very rank materialism here." What we 
do observe is, first the declaration of rank materialism, 

and then another declaration which is not materialism at all, 
but a rank contradiction of the first declaration. 

Taking all that this writer has said upon this topic and 
trying to put it together, we are in great straits. We find 
that Mr. Tyndall feels the "intellectual necessity of crossing 
the boundary," and overleaping a chasm which remains "in- 
tellectually impassable." That he feels himself called to 
discern an "unthinkable connection." That he soars upon the 
"promise and potency" of matter into a "vacuum." That 
he, to use his own borrowed illustration makes the effort 
of the man who tries to lift himself by his own waistband. 
One would think these logical somersaults impossible for a 
man thoroughly trained in the strictly inductive methods of 
modern science. But alas, this is the use which some of 
our scientists make of the Baconian induction. And we 
shall see that other great star, Mr. Huxley, wandering, 
comet-like, amongst the spheres, while trying to give his 
light upon the nature and origin of that protoplasm, which 
he supposes to be explained by calling it carbonic acid, 
water and ammonia. 

Upon the connection between Mr. Tyndall and his opin- 
ion I make this third remark that this particular opinion 
of Mr. Tyndall is pure and simple Materialism. I use the 
word Materialism with as little opprobrium as possible. 
Just so long as man has a self-asserting soul and is conscious 
of his own likeness and relations to God, materialism will 
have to bear some opprobrium. Nor do I call Mr. Tyndall 
a materialist. For in the presence of so many explanations 
of his own position I should rather he would himself choose 
the one by which to abide. He evidently dislikes the term. 


He is not, as I have shown, a consistent and thorough 
materialist. Indeed, he has made more declarations of 
opinion con than pro materialism. I only say, then, that 
when he declares that in matter is to be discerned "the 
promise and potency of every form and quality of life," this 
particular declaration is materialism. It is to use his own 
term "very rank materialism." Mr. Tyndall makes this 
declaration, approving to some extent what Bruno declared 
that matter is "the universal mother who brings forth all 
things as the fruit of her own womb." He also says, stating 
Mr. Spencer's opinion with approbation, "Our states of 
consciousness are mere symbols of an outside entity which 
produces them and determines the order of their succes- 
sion." This outside entity is one with what Mr. Tyndall 
calls matter. Thought, that is, and feeling and choice of 
man are all only "symbols" of the same outside entity of 
which the movements in the protoplasm of brain are also 
symbols. The movements of protoplasm are the causes of 
what we call states of consciousness. And this protoplasm, 
according to Mr. Huxley, is only carbonic acid, water and 
ammonia. If any form of expressing Materialism smells 
rank to heaven, surely it is this. The materialistic view of 
the problem oi matter and mind is that which explains the 
latter entirely by the former. Atoms, and movements of 
atoms, give me these, and I will explain the universe, so far 
as- explanation is now possible this is the promise of ma- 
terialism's hypothesis this is the promise discerned in Mr. 
Tyndall's outlook beyond the boundary. 

Now, when Mr. Tyndall tries to show, as he did in his 
controversy with Mr. Martineau that the declaration of 


his Belfast address is not materialism, because he has him- 
self elsewhere declared that materialism is unsatisfactory 
the reply is pertinent ; so much the worse for your case, for 
you prove that you have often contradicted yourself; not 
that others are mistaken when they allege this particular 
declaration to be pure and simple even "rank" material- 
ism. But leaving the great scientist to adjust his own 
various declarations as best he may, we give our attention 
to that particular one made in the Belfast address. In 
matter is "the promise and potency of every form and qual- 
ity of life." Forgetting henceforth who made the declara- 
tion, we inquire simply is it true ? 

It is so far from true that it merits contradiction in every 
part. So far is it from true, that it is scarcely possible to 
contradict it at once flatly and comprehensively enough. 
Matter, it is said, gives us "the promise and potency of 
every form and quality of life." On the contrary, I aver 
that matter cannot of itself give us anything. Matter cannot 
give us even the so-called material universe. Matter can- 
not give us life. Matter cannot give us mind. In antithesis 
to the sweeping declaration which makes the promise and 
potency of everything to be in matter, let us examine in 
order these three contradictory declarations. Matter can- 
not give us the so-called material universe. This statement 
that there is no potency in matter alone to build up even 
so-called material things, may appear startling to some. 
But let us examine it. 

It is time, then, that we should inquire, what do we mean 
by matter ? It might seem at first sight as though any 
man could give an answer to so simple a question. But a 


little reflection brings us upon unexpected difficulties. We 
find on first examination that we have in experience only 
certain sensations, together with a certain belief that our 
sensations correspond to, and are caused by, the qualities of 
something outside of ourselves. We find on further exam- 
ination that certain ones of our sensations, as for instance 
notably those of color, sound, smell and taste, cannot pos- 
sibly correspond to any qualities in this something outside 
of us. We still, however, believe these sensations to be 
caused by this something not ourselves. Finally, we begin 
to doubt whether we have in our sensations anything which 
corresponds to the outlying reality. At this point Meta- 
physics steps in and tries to show that there are with all 
these sensations, and as a sort of indestructible frame-work 
in which they are set, certain intellectual forms of knowing 
this outside something, and that these forms of knowing 
are proved by their own intrinsic nature to have some cor- 
respondence to the reality of things. But we turn away 
from Metaphysics, as dealing with abstractions and un- 
proved quidities and entities, and go for real knowledge to 
Physics instead. 

We ask of Physics and other kindred sciences, What is 
this unknown something ? What is matter ? In reply we 
hear much talk about two words which many suppose to 
be great solvents of the mystery of the material universe. 
We hear of atoms and force. What is an atom ? we further 
ask. And what is force ? And hereupon the scientists are 
thrown into quite as much divergence and confusion as the 
theologians when asked to define the Trinity. Putting to- 
gether the different assertions and views you can get a 


complete circle, in the following fashion: An atom, say 
many high authorities, as Boscovich, Ampere, and others, 
is only a centre of forces of attraction and repulsion. It is, 
that is to say, the metaphysical point in space around which 
goes on the endless witch-dance of atomic energy. In this 
case everything material is resolved into force; for the om- 
nipotent atom is become only a centre of force. 

What, then, is force? we ask very eagerly, for we have 
reduced the total entity of the universe provided only that 
our answer to the former question is true to this one word, 
force. And now we are told on high scientific authority, 
like that of Prof. Clerk Maxwell, that "force is whatever 
changes or tends to change the motion of a body." What, 
however, is motion if there is nothing to be moved ? And, 
what is the motion of a body, if body is already resolved 
into nothing but motion around centres of motion with 
nothing to be moved ? Surely they are not without reason 
who claim the light of science has led us into the Cimmerian 
darkness where "naught is everything and everything is 
naught." Let us return again to our inquiry, what is an 
atom ? We get most relief from what the science of chem- 
istry has to disclose. With chemistry an atom is simply 
that smallest particle of any simple substance into which the 
substance can be made by chemical processes to divide itself. 
Simple substances are often made to divide themselves into 
atoms by rendering them gaseous. The atom is not, then, 
mentally indivisible, but only actually so. It is the smallest 
portion of any substance as it is known by chemistry. If 
this view of atoms be true, certain important corollaries 
follow. One of them is this: The atom is only such matter 


as we see about us on every hand. It has the qualities of 
matter and no others. You are not to erect gold into a 
god, when it is in the lump or in the atom. There is no 
more divinity in an atom of hydrogen than in a drop of 
water, which is hydrogen combined with oxygen. 

And further, if we know anything with certainty about 
atoms, we know that there are sixty-three different kinds of 
atoms; for there are now known to chemistry that number 
of simple substances. Now all this is very unfavorable to 
the materialistic view. For the materialist likes to get his 
atom down to so small and occult a condition that he can 
slip into it a something which is not matter, and which does 
not at all belong to the atom, any more than the stamp on 
the coin, or the avarice which craves the coin, is a quality 
of native gold. Besides, it is very unfavorable to the evolu- 
tion of materialism to have sixty-three different kinds of 
atoms. For there is thought involved in the difference. 
And what the materialist wants to begin with is a universal 
haze of homogeneous matter. 

But if we accept the fair inferences of chemistry as to the 
existence and nature of the atom, we are again thrown into 
confusion by the following declarations of scientists: Prof. 
Balfour Stewart declares: "a simple elementary atom is 
probably in a state of ceaseless activity and change of form," 
and Clerk Maxwell declares it is "not a hard rigid body," 
"but is capable of internal movements." What, then, of 
those atoms within the elementary atom, which must move 
when it has "internal movements" and change their position 
when it changes its form ? And while Balfour Stewart 
calls the atoms "truly immortal" beings, Herschel declares 


that they have all the characteristics of "manufactured ar- 
ticles;" so Gassendi, so Clerk Maxwell a declaration with 
which, however, Mr. Tyndall seems rather amused. The 
last mentioned author prefers to speak of the atoms as 
"self-moved and self-posited." They are the ground of the 
orderly universe ; they begat themselves and move eternally 
of their own motion. 

What now have we learned concerning the atom ? Not 
much, surely; but more concerning the foundation on which 
stand those who see in atoms "self-moved and self- posi- 
ted" the "promise and potency of every form and quality 
of life." We learn that they know amazingly little about 
atoms, and that scientists generally disagree widely on this 
subject amongst themselves. We learn to suspect that the 
atom is impotent until something else has been put into it. 
That something else is a something -as we shall see very 
different from the atom itself. We learn to suspect that the 
confident world-building which smuggles into little bits of 
matter what does not belong to larger masses, or to matter 
at all as such, and then under the name of science rules out 
universal thought, is ignorant and arrogant assumption. 
We learn that when we are promised a solution of great 
problems by science, we are given only bad and atheistic 
metaphysics for those which are trustworthy in their rec- 
ognition of an Absolute Mind. 

But if we cannot get a world out of atoms alone, may we 
not out of atoms plus force ? Whence, however, do we get 
our notion of force ? And what is force ? "That which 
moves or tends to move a body," is the reply of the scien- 
tist. Yes but while I can see the motion of a body, I 

4 8 

cannot see that which moves or tends to move it. My sen- 
ses cannot give me force from any inspection of the world 
outside. Whence then comes this notion of energy or 
force ? From no whither but from the self-conscious, 
thinking and freely willing soul of man. I am conscious of 
the exertion of force in the control of my own body, and of 
the mental train of ideas and feelings. We might watch 
the silent swing of the heavenly bodies, or the minute and 
mysterious change of protoplasmic matter, to all eternity, 
and never get beyond motion to force, were it not for the 
self-consciousness of a soul which is itself forced to believe 
in causation, and which itself exercises and so demonstrates 
the existence of force. Scientists who have had somewhat 
more philosophical acumen than Mr. Tyndall have recog- 
nized this truth. We are dependent upon self-conscious 
and free spirit for our conception of this very force which 
the materialist wishes to separate entirely from spirit, so 
that he may make it, in its isolation, account for the uni- 
verse, including spirit itself. 

But we need somewhat far beyond atoms and aimless 
movements of atoms to construct a material universe. For 
the very word universe suggests much more. There is 
relation of action, there is interaction amongst forces. 
There is an arrangement and correlation of them so that 
they work together for one end. The scientists are just 
now proclaiming the great law' of the correlation of 
forces. All forces, we are told, are modifications of one 
force, and work one into arid out of the other according to 
fixed laws. This doctrine of the correlation of forces is 
though the contrary is popularly believed as yet proved 


only in a very limited way. Respecting it, Lange, the his- 
torian of materialism, says: in its "strictest and most conse- 
quent meaning it is anything but proved; it is only an ideal 
of the Reason, perhaps, however, indispensable as a goal 
for all empiric'}! research." Supposing it to be proved, to 
what sort of spectacle would nature unceasingly invite us ? 
To the eye of sense there would be only the spectacle of 
unceasing and infinite movements connected together in 
certain invariable forms of sequence. But to the eye of 
reason there would be One Universal Power underlying 
and causing all these movements. And since all our notion 
offeree comes from our own Thought and Free Will, what 
can we do with these many forces in nature, all working 
together in harmony, but refer them to one Absolute, 
Intelligent and Free Cause, an all-producing and intelligent 
Will, who is in them all ? 

In the simplest phenomena of matter there is something 
besides matter. There is Thought; there is Will; there is 
God. We need not only atoms and movements of atoms to 
account tor a world of related things. We need a Will that 
moves according to a plan; and this need leads to the con- 
clusion that Thought and Will are bound together in the 
production of all things. There is not a crystal formed 
without telling the story of something behind the substance 
of it which is not the substance itself. The face of the In- 
finite God looks out upon us through the crystal. Its 
angles are mathematical and orderly; that is, they show 
Thought. The movement of the atoms as they marshal 
themselves and fall into the line required by the type of the 
particular crystal to be formed, tells of an organizing Force 


\vhich is rational. The atoms march to the drum-beat' of 
the living God. Let a man study the curious mechanism 
of the Utricularia or the Pitcher Plants, and note how cun- 
ningly devised is their structure for the capture of the 
insect-life from which thev are to receive the nitrogen 


needed for their own growth and if he be a man of healthy 
mind, he will think on Thought and feel confident that it is 
embodied in the marvellous structure before him. Thought 
is not the illegitimate and posthumous child of the universe 
to be thrust out of the home as a base-born intruder. 
Thought is the parent of the universe ; it is the all-informing 
principle. Instead then, of the promise and potency being 
all in matter, in truth there is in matter, without Will and 
Thought back of, and working out its expression in, matter, 
no chance for any material universe at all. 

And even Mr. Tyndall is fain to defend his shallow dic- 
tum by smuggling into matter something which he needs 
there to help his dictum, but which is not legitimately there 
at all. In his critique of Mr. Martineau he says: "matter I 
define as that mysterious thing by which all this has been 
accomplished." Can anything be more amazing than this? 
In matter, says the Professor, I find the promise and poten- 
cy of all life. This is materialism, say his opponents, and 
atoms and movements of atoms will give you no life no 
universe of any sort. I am not a materialist, retorts the 
Professor; at least not a "very rank" one; and I mean 
something different from atoms I mean the thing that 
does it. 

But it is objected to the view which sees God everywhere 
expressed in the material universe, that these same potent 


scientists have looked the universe with microscope and 
telescope pretty thoroughly over, and have found no 
thought secreted in large quantities anywhere. 

For instance, Du Bois Raymond asks for "a convolution 
of ganglionic globules and nerve-tubes proportioned in size 
to the faculties" of the infinite mind! Suppose in reply we 
ask for a sight of just one atom. Who has seen one ? No- 
body, so far as I can learn, except perhaps the wonderful, 
Dr. Buechner, who calls the atoms of modern times, "discov- 
eries of natural science." Has any one ever seen a physical 
force for instance a current of electricity, a stream of mag- 
netism, one of those tentacula which have been imagined 
as reaching out from all bodies and constituting the so- 
called force of gravitation ? Has the astronomer or the 
scientist ever seen, tasted, smelled, or handled, any of that 
ether, the existence everywhere of which is the indispens- 
able postulate of the theory of the correlation of forces ? 
The answer to all these questions must be, No. Yet out of 
atoms and force and ether and such like entities, the mate- 
rialist makes up his universe. Will he rule out thought ? 
Will he make the immeasurably more remote and complex 
inferences to these unseen realities, and refuse to make the 
nearer and simpler inference to that quality of spiritual 
being which we know, because we live in the constant 
exercise of it ourselves ? And when we say there is some- 
thing you have left out in your reasoning, there is Thought 
and Will issuing force; shall he, then, grow airy and orac- 
ular, and escape by saying, Yes, Yes something that looks 
amazingly like Thought, I admit, but it is really only the 


mysterious something which does it all, and which / define 
to be matter ? 

In further contradiction of the Belfast dictum of material- 
ism I now remark, that 

Matter cannot give us life. 

If it cannot give us the so-called material universe, it 
surely cannot give us life. But there is that in all living 
beings which we find it peculiarly impossible to account for 
on the hypothesis of materialism. If the movements of the 
stars and the rational but complicated action and interaction 
of all terrestrial forces, if the movements in inorganic bodies 
which most closely simulate those of the organic, if the 
forming crystal and the snow-flake and all the vast com- 
plex of non-living things if these could be explained with- 
out the Thought and Free Will of the Absolute; what 
should we still have to say of life ? If atoms and aimless 
movements of atoms, or if "self-moved and self-posited 
atoms," could give us the inorganic, could they also pro- 
duce organism ? Must we not have for the simplest form 
of life something that goes beyond all mechanical, electrical 
or chemical play of atoms ? I say, Yes and to use Mr. 
Tyndall's own words, "the mysterious something" which 
does it, "I define" as life, or vitality. This definition, though 
really no definition at all, is certainly as good as Mr. Tyn- 
dall's. But Mr. Huxley, who is a great biologist, laughs at 
this. He asks, "why should vitality hope for a better fate 
than the other ttys which have disappeared since Martinus 
Scriblerus accounted for the operation of the meat-jack by 
its inherent meat-roasting quality." This is more funny 
than philosophical. For "names are to know things by;" 


and if I find in living organisms certain activities and forces 
which cannot be accounted for by any known laws of 
physics or chemistry, why should I not sum them up by the 
word vitality ? But the great biologist Haeckel has de- 
clared, that all things are equally living, and that there are 
no more difficulties for science in the formation of living or- 
ganism than in such processes as earthquakes, winds, or 

Prof. Huxley too, knows a great deal about protoplasm ; 
and, though he dislikes to be called a materialist, he avow- 
edly uses "materialistic terminology," and speaks of the 
"matter of life" as though there were nothing to be seen in 
it but carbonic acid, water and ammonia. Inasmuch, then, 
as all protoplasm is essentially alike, all so-called life is 
caused by a certain arrangement and relation of these ma- 
terial substances, and the qualities of life are due wholly to 
the qualities of these substances. "I can find no intelligible 
ground," he declares in his essay on Yeast, "for refusing to 
say that the properties of protoplasm result from the nature 
and disposition of its molecules." With Mr. Huxley "the 
properties of protoplasm" cover conscious thought and free 
choice : cover every form of life. 

Let us look at this materialistic way of accounting for all 
life. Now, first of all, it is not true as Mr. Huxley claims, 
that on the disappearance ot a certain amount of carbonic 
acid, water and ammonia, an "equivalent weight" of the 
matter of lite makes its appearance. On the contrary, it is 
true, as we have the uncontradicted assertion of authorities 
in chemistry for saying, that "there can be no weight of 
protoplasm, equivalent chemically, to any amount of car- 


bonic acid, water and ammonia that may or can have dis- 
appeared." These three substances cannot even on paper 
be made to represent protoplasm; much less in practice. 
And to break up dead matter of life into these three requires, 
one hundred and seventy pounds of added oxygen for every 
one hundred pounds of protoplasm. But what does all this 
prove ? Why, just what every intelligent man already 
knows; that living organisms are chemists, that they can 
take compound substances, resolve them into simples, and 
reunite them to build up their own organism. Is there a 
farmer who does not know that his wheat is built up from 
the soil, and that he himself is built up from his wheat ? 
But is this a warrant for saying that a hundred pounds of 
growing wheat is nothing essentially more than a hundred 
pounds of soil, or that man is the product solely of carbonic 
acid, water and ammonia? Here is some chemist hiding 
himself under the process when protoplasm arises trom 
these three substances. And a verv wonderful chemist is 
he too, who can do things which quite baffle every human 
chemist, and lead us to say surely there is some God 
working wonders in this protoplasm. How does proto- 
plasm decompose the compound into the simple, fix the 
simples in new form within itself, after selecting some and 
rejecting others ? No laboratory can show such work as 
this. For instance, that organic force which builds up 
living bodies can decompose carbonic acid at ordinary tem- 
peratures into carbon and oxygen. Vegetable tissue can 
do this ; not all the chemistry of modern science can accom- 
plish the same thing. 

Even matter of life that is just dead shows in itself that it 
has been composed by forces which defy description or im- 


itation by the chemistry of men. But protoplasm living is 
qnite another thing. It differs from dead protoplasm by 
that complex of powers and activities which we call vitality. 
And what can convert the dead protoplasm into the living 
protoplasm ? Prof. Huxley calls it "subtle influences," and 
confesses that the action of living organism is "something 
quite unintelligible." And when we inquire what the 
learned biologist means by "subtle influences" we find that 
it is invariably the presence of other life. No protoplasm is 
formed except by other living protoplasm. No life has 
been discovered, according to Mr. Huxley's own view, in 
even the lowest forms, which is not from antecedent life. 
"In tracing the line of life backwards," says Prof. Tyndall, 
"we reach the protogenes of Haeckel, in which we have a 
type distinguishable from a fragment of albumen only by its 
finely 'granulated character." What then ? that little pro- 
togenes differs from the most grand thing that is not alive, 
more than the Himalaya mountains differ from the mole- 
hill. As says Dr. Elam : "the chemist could quite as easily 
construct a full grown ostrich as this despised bit of finely 
granulated albumen." This living protogenes is, like every 
other living being, found only as it is propagated by pre-ex- 
isting life of its own kind. When, then, you ask what is 
there in the living protoplasm that is not in the simples of 
'which it is composed; the answer is conclusive. There are 
the "subtle influences," the "quite unintelligible" force 
called organic, the act of propagation from pre-existing life ; 
in brief, there is vitality.* 

*Dr. Lionel Beaie, after thirty years' study with th microscope, makes a plain 
issue with Mr. Huxley's unwarranted treatment of what the latter is pleased to 
call protoplasm. He does more than merely to show Mr, Huxley's statement* 


Moreover, we have in the world living beings which are 
not protogenes; we have countless Celenterata, Mollusca, 
Annulosa, Vertebrata ; at the head of the last great type, we 
have man. And these are not protogenes. These are dif- 
ferentiated from it and from each other by something which 
is not matter, but which belongs to life and the types ot life. 
It is puerile to reply that the protoplasm of each is the same, 
that the cell is the same everywhere, that the embryo of the 
higher in its progress toward perfection touches at the 
various stages at which stop the lower forms. This all 
proves, not that man and the monad are the same, because 
carbonic acid, water and ammonia are in each. We start 
with knowing that the difference is infinite even in the mat- 
ter of organism between the two. If the individual cell is 
the same in each, so nearly that the microscope and chemi- 
cal analysis can detect no difference, this goes to prove that 
the vast difference which we knoiv to exiit, is not a micro- 
scopic or chemical variation in the constitution of each. It 
is a difference in what the learned professor is pleased to 
call "subtle influences;" it is a difference that lies in inheri- 
tance and type of life. 

When, then, a great biologist, beginning with a blunder 
in chemistry, tries to make things the same which are 
totally different, and on being accused of confounding things 
unlike, talks of "subtle influences" to cover up the vast 
chasm which he has virtually denied, but knows to exist: 

ann Inferences In very unfavorable light. He demonstrates tlie wonderful and 
inimitable peculiarities of motion, the powers of nutrition and self-propagation, 
which belone distinctively to every form of life. No exhibitions of the forces of 
Physics or Chemistry at all resemble or explain what we know only under the 
names vital and vitality, living and life. Dr. Beale's statements, enforced by an 
abundance of other authorities, make us feel that while Mr. Huxley may be a 
scientific anatomist he is not above gaining applause for his unscientific opinions 
by the poor method of starring. 


we lose our confidence in the acumen and candor of modern 
prophets of materialism. Nor is our respect for what these 
men call science largely increased. 

Now, since Dr. Bastian's claims for spontaneous genera- 
tion came to grief through the demonstrations of Pasteur 
and Prof. Tyndall, scientific men are, in the main, agreed to 
say in the words of the latter : "we cannot point to any sat- 
isfactory experimental proof that life can be developed save 
from demonstrable antecedent life." But this is the very 
proof, as Dr. Bastian pathetically claimed, which is needed 
to establish evolution. And so when (not as scientists at 
all, but as unscientific advocates ol evolution), Mr. Huxley 
looks "beyond the abyss," and Mr. Tyndall "crosses the 
boundary," they see everything, life included, evolving itself 
from "not living matter." But why should a cooling world 
do what a cooling flask could not ? Why should the move- 
ments of an atom be different beyond, from those this side, 
the "boundary and the abyss ?" The great men do not 
answer, but keep on "looking beyond the abyss" and 
"crossing the boundary." Strange that, with such far- 
sight, they cannot find Absolute life in all terrestrial life, 
Thought and Will and Love in the organisms so near at 

And now to answer Mr. Huxley's jest about the meat- 
jack. I speak of density, porosity, compressibility, divisi- 
bility, and other "ttys n in the meat-jack, because I observe 
that meat-jacks have qualities which men are agreed to call 
by these names. And when I see any single meat-jack 
laying hold of the meat upon it, and of the surrounding 
andirons, stone and brick, converting them into its own or- 


ganism and afterward going on to produce other meat- 
jacks similar to itself, then I will speak of the vitality of the 
meat-jack. Until then, I shall not agree with these great 
authorities on the mystery of life; shall refuse to confound 
things which differ as do the monad and the man from the 
meat-jack. In all life there is that which no correct analy- 
sis can resolve into matter and forces of matter; there is 
that which uses matter and physical forces to build up or- 
ganism. We call that something life. Matter cannot give 
us life. And lastly 

Matter cannot give us mind. 

I shall be very brief in my treatment of this division 01 
my theme. Its argument is somewhat known to you all. 
Philosophy and Theology are accused of treating matter 
very contemptuously. Be it so, it was and is a fault. But 
so-called science is avenging the maltreatment fully. Spirit, 
spiritual truth, the Infinite Spirit, are far too often subjects 
to contemn and degrade with it. We even meet, in the 
writings of scientists, with the proposal to study the opera- 
tions of mind by investigating the structure and the func- 
tions of the brain ; because, from the unreliableness of our 
consciousness, no other course offers any hope of success. 
We are very anxious to know how the savant is going to 
study the brain except through consciousness. Will he 
give chloroform to himself as well as the subject of his ex- 
periment before beginning his study ? Long time ago it 
was said: "There is nothing great in man but mind." Biol- 
ogists, like Mr. Huxley, assure us that the great thing is 
the brain; that the workings of the mind are only the sym- 


bols of changes in the brain, and that brain is only proto- 
plasm, which is carbonic acid, water and ammonia. 

This claim, that mind is all managed by brain, and that 
the phenomena of consciousness are directly caused by the 
movements of brain molecules, can be answered physiologi- 
cally. Man an automaton, is the science of Mr. Huxley, 
who forthwith stultifies himself by admitting that choice 
counts for something in the course of events. Dr. Carpen- 
ter, in his valuable work on Mental Physiology and in 
articles in the Contemporary Review, has controverted this 
materialistic view on physiological grounds. But there are 
higher grounds still for directly contradicting it. We stand 
face to face with our own mind. We know what it is to 
think, to feel, to choose. We know that the phenomena of 
thinking, feeling, choosing, are utterly unlike those of mat- 
ter. We have no words to express the difference there is 
between a paralleloptpedon and a thought, between a crys- 
tal of ice and a longing after God, between a pound of 
hydrogen gas and a firm choice to do right. Our own 
bodily organs reveal themselves in their qualities as utterly 
unlike the soul which uses them. Between any conceivable 
movements of the molecules of the brain and human 
thought, feeling, choice, there is a gulf as wide as the diam- 
eter of being. To the movements, in order to get to mental 
phenomena, you have to add something utterly unlike 
movements of molecules, have to add the whole thing to be 
accounted for; have to add thought, feeling, choice. Now 
I know these qualities of mind much more surely than any 
qualities of matter, and so far as I know both at all, I know 
them to differ. What warrant for anything can I have, 


then, if I cannot say qualities so diverse, so contradictor}-, 
so inconceivably unlike, cannot inhere in the same sub- 
stance ? There is mind, and there is matter. 

Still further, I know matter only through mind. I know 
nothing of atoms except through observation and inferences 
made in consciousness. Shall I prate of atoms to contra- 
dict the very consciousness which introduced me to them r 
I know nothing offerees in matter except through my own 
conscious exercise of choice, as voluntary and free. Shall I 
prate of physical forces to the denial of that spiritual energy 
which is the starting-point and symbol for them all ? If I 
must deny the reality and substantial independence of either, 
I will deny rather that of matter than of mind. To see in 
Thought, in the Absolute Mind, "the promise and potency 
of every form and quality of life," is to be far less foolish 
than Mr. Tyndall. If w r e wish a name for that mysterious 
something, which in the world at large and in the individual 
soul of man, accomplishes all this let us call it mind rather 
than matter. But cannot we refuse to be over-wise with 
some modern scientists and affirm as the indestructible data 
of consciousness, there is matter and there is mind, related, 
interacting, but not one; as diverse and irresolvable into 
each other in their substance as they are in their pheno- 
mena ? 

Kind friends in conclusion, a few words which may 
seem to some egotistical. I speak them, facing the sneer of 
the Nation, whose editor thinks ministers are not competent 
to pass judgment on these questions of so-called science. 

To the sneer I will only reply that these are questions of 
Psychology, Logic, Metaphysics, and Theology, quite as 


much as of the sciences'of matter and physical forces, and 
that in such questions I feel myselt fully competent to criti- 
cise the inferences of any scientist. For ten years and mor e 
I have gone to these men whom modern popular scepticism 
makes "stars" of the first magnitude. I have gone to them 
candidly, patiently, frequently, for light upon the great 
problems of life. I have gone -with no fear of consequences, 
because I have held it for indubitable truth, that the 
Thought and Love of our Father in Heaven is in all things, 
and that his truth cannot be found to be self-contradictory. 
I cheerfully acknowledge what these scientists have done to 
make the life of man more comfortable; what also they 
have done, though often unwittingly, to show us more of 
the Eternal, Omnipresent Life, which flows through all. 
But I have in my own mind settled dow r n upon these con- 
clusions regarding such stars of modern scepticism; you 
must take the conclusions for what they seem to you worth. 
I find these "stars" to be, by no means especially fair and 
candid men. I do not now speak only of the modest Dr. 
Buechner, when he calls his opponents who believe in God 
and spiritual realities, such choice names as "speculative 
idiots," "howling pack," "mental slaves," "yelping curs," 
and alludes to them as "strangled snakes" which lie around 
the cradle of science. I mean even Mr. Tyndall as he 
shows himself in controversy with Mr. Martineau. I mean 
even Mr. Huxlev, when he can put the present theorv 01 
Evolution on a par with the law of gravitation, and then 
give in proof such unseasoned, sappy stuff as he dealt out to 
his American audiences. Mr. Huxley must know that 
there is no comparison between the proofs, by observation, 


experiment, deduction, prediction, which can be adduced 
for the shaky hypothesis of Evolution and the demonstrated 
laws of Gravitation. Dr. Elam, indeed, says of the doctrine 
of Evolution, that it is "a flimsy framework of hypothesis, 
constructed upon imaginary or irrelevant facts, with a com- 
plete departure from every established canon of scientific 
investigation." Without going thus far, -we are warranted 
in saying that to place it beside the laws of gravitation, is a 
monstrous fraud upon the public. It may be a fraud of en- 
thusiasm, but it is a fraud nevertheless. I mean even Mr. 
Darwin, perhaps most candid among them all. I will not 
call his theory a "puerile hypothesis," as Mr. Mivart has 
done. I will say, his candor is unfruitful so long as he ad- 
mits that certain objections are fatal to his theory, and at 
the same time neither withdraws the theory, nor removes 
the objections. 

Nor do I find these scientists who are the stars of mod- 
ern popular scepticism, especially competent men compe- 
tent, that is to think and teach the truth outside of the very 
narrow range of facts to which they have devoted them- 
selves. In logic, in metaphysical acumen, in reflective 
analysis, they are, it seems to me, vastly inferior to the 
school-men whom they affect to despise. 

I find, in one word that there is little safety or consola- 
tion in following these stars as they go a-wandering from 
their own narrow, beaten track. That God is unknown, 
that man is an automaton, that all things have come out of 
the homogenous cloud of material atoms, in which was and 
is the promise and potency of every form and quality of 
life are not truths; and to teach them in the name 01 


science is immoral, and tends to mislead and destroy. 
Consequences, says Mr. Huxley, are the "beacons of wise 
men" and the "scare- crows of fools." These stars will not 
guide you into what is most true in philosophy or religion: 
but they may be your beacons, until you find your life in 
union of soul with the source of all life, your light in him 
who proclaimed and who is, the true light; even the light 
which lighteth every man coming into the world. 


Santa Barbara 


Series 9482 




A 000877449 9