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the standpoint of the ethical life with its constant activity in the production of spiritual goods — it loses all power to call forth our worship, and appears like a huge spherical aquarium encompassing within itself motion and life, but as a whole rigid, glassy, and motionless. Surely the timeless Absolute is not the supreme solver of human problems, nor the God to whose worship we should summon the aspiring and struggling sons of men.” 1

For the religious consciousness, if we except alone the state of mystical contemplation, God is the will through which the universe shall in the end prefer happiness to misery, good to evil, life to death — and thus carry through to some eventual triumph the adventure in which man is presently engaged. Religious hope and fear, like all hope and fear, are discriminating. They issue from the love of some things and the dread of other things. The believer looks to God for a boon, knowing well the sweet from the bitter. Hence the assurance that things are one, eternal, both infinitely rich and also orderly and coherent, the assurance that as such they are thought or willed, leaves him unmoved. He must know incomparably more before, in his religious perplexity, he knows anything.

§ 11. Conceding the utmost claims of its critics, idealism is to be credited with two substantial contributions to The Virtue and contemporary thought, the proof of the funda

mental validity of logic, and of the indepengance of dent rights of moral science. Through its

insistent promulgation of these truths, idealism has won a fair and a decisive victory over naturalism. Indeed, during the last century, idealism has almost alone defended the citadel of religious philosophy from this most powerful and vicious adversary.

And the failure of idealism is very closely related to its success. The source of its failure lies in the extravagance of the claims which it has made for those branches of knowledge which it has successfully vindicated. For

1 E. W. Lyman: Theology and Human Problems, p. 21.


the Extrava


idealism has sought to prove not only the universality but also the spirituality of logic; it has sought to prove not only the independence of moral science, but its logical or universal character as well. And the result has been to confuse logic, and to formalize life. The extreme claims of religious faith cannot be asserted without a contradiction of the very motive from which faith springs. Spirit so generalized as to coincide with the totality of things has lost its savor. Such an utter consummation of hope is possible only by the abandonment of those particular values for which hope was first entertained. One who demands the possession of the world must be satisfied with the grim and ironical religion of last resort: the promise that the world shall be his who asks of it only that it shall be itself. This — the religion of renunciation

is compatible with any philosophy, and most of all with those philosophies which deny men's first hopes. And if one is to have a religion of renunciation, it is better that the lesson of disillusionment should be taught without the creation of fresh illusions. If the first hopes are to be abandoned, it is better also to abandon the language in which they are traditionally expressed; or openly to profess that such language is employed only in a poetic and devotional sense, to make men brave and without complaint in a merciless environment.

But renunciation is not the only religious implication of philosophy. There is good ground for hope, provided only that hope does not defeat itself through the very extravagance of its claims; through denying the very fears that gave it birth, and seeking to make peace while the enemy is still in arms.



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