Apology For The Belfast Address 1874
( Originally Published 1916 )
THE world has been frequently informed of late that I have raised up against myself a host of enemies; and considering, with few exceptions, the deliverances of the Press, and more particularly of the religious Press, I am forced to admit that the statement is only too true. I derive some comfort, nevertheless, from the reflection of Diogenes, transmitted to us by Plutarch, that "he who would be saved must have good friends or violent enemies; and that he is best off who possesses both." This "best" condition, I have reason to believe, is mine
Reflecting on the fraction I have read of recent remonstrances, appeals, menaces, and judgments—covering not only the world that now is, but that which is to come—I have noticed with mournful interest how trivially men seem to be influenced by what they call their religion, and how potently by that "nature" which it is the alleged province of religion to eradicate or subdue. From fair and manly argument, from the tenderest and holiest sympathy on the part of those who desire my eternal good, I pass by many gradations, through deliberate unfairness, to a spirit of bitterness, which desires with a fervor inexpressible in words my eternal ill. Now, were religion the potent factor, we might expect a homogeneous utterance from those professing a common creed, while, if human nature be the really potent factor, we may expect utterances as heterogeneous as the characters of men. As a matter of fact we have the latter; suggesting to my mind that the common religion, professed and defended by these different people, is merely the accidental conduit through which they pour their own tempers, lofty or low, courteous or vulgar, mild or ferocious, as the case may be. Pure abuse, however, as serving no good end, I have, wherever possible, deliberately avoided reading, wishing, indeed, to keep, not only hatred, malice, and uncharitableness, but even every trace of irritation, far away from my side of a discussion which demands not only good-temper, but largeness, clearness, and many-sidedness of mind, if it is to guide us to even provisional solutions.
It has been stated, with many variations of note and comment, that in the Address as subsequently published by Messrs. Longman I have retracted opinions uttered at Belfast. A Roman Catholic writer is specially strong upon this point. Startled by the deep chorus of dissent which my "dazzling fallacies" have evoked, I am now trying to retreat. This he will by no means tolerate. "It is too late now to seek to hide from the eyes of mankind one foul' blot, one ghastly deformity. Professor Tyndall has himself told us how and where this Address of his was composed. It was written among the glaciers and the solitudes of the Swiss mountains. It was no hasty, hurried, crude production; its every sentence bore marks of thought and care."
My critic intends to be severe: he is simply just. In the "solitudes" to which he refers I worked with deliberation, endeavoring even to purify my intellect by disciplines similar to those enjoined by his own Church for the sanctification of the soul. I tried, moreover, in my ponderings to realize not only the lawful, but the expedient; and to permit no fear to act upon my mind, save that of uttering a single word on which I could not take my stand, either in this or in any other world.
Still my time was so brief, the difficulties arising from my isolated position were so numerous, and my thought and expression so slow, that, in a literary point of view, I halted, not only behind the ideal, but behind the possible. Hence, after the delivery of the Address, I went over it with the desire, not to revoke its principles, but to improve it verbally, and above all to remove any word which might give color to the notion of "crudeness, hurry, or haste."
In connection with the charge of Atheism my critic refers to the Preface to the second issue of the Belfast Address: "Christian men," I there say, "are proved by their writings to have their hours of weakness and of doubt, as well as their hours of strength and of conviction; and men like myself share, in their own way, these variations of mood and tense. Were the religious moods of many of my assailants the only alternative ones, I do not know how strong the claims of the doctrine of 'Material Atheism' upon my allegiance might be. Probably they would be very strong. But, as it is, I have noticed during years of self-observation that it is not in hours of clearness and vigor that this doctrine commends itself to my mind; that in the presence of stronger and healthier thought it ever dissolves and disappears, as offering no solution of the mystery in which we dwell, and of which we form a part."
With reference to this honest and reasonable utterance my censor exclaims, "This is a most remarkable passage. Much as we dislike seasoning polemics with strong words, we assert that this Apology only tends to affix with links of steel to the name of Professor Tyndall the dread imputation against which he struggles."
Here, we have a very fair example of subjective religious vigor. But my quarrel with such exhibitions is that they do not always represent objective fact. No atheistic reasoning can, I hold, dislodge religion from the human heart. Logic cannot deprive us of life, and religion is life to the religious. As an experience of consciousness it is beyond the assaults of logic. But the religious life is often projected in external forms—I use the word in its widest sense—and this embodiment of the religious sentiment will have to bear more and more, as the world be-comes more enlightened, the stress of scientific tests. We must be careful of projecting into external nature that which belongs to ourselves. My critic commits this mistake: he feels, and takes delight in feeling, that I am struggling, and he obviously experiences the most exquisite pleasures of "the muscular sense" in holding me down. His feelings are as real as if his imagination of what mine are were equally real. His picture of my "struggles" is, however, a mere delusion. I do not struggle. I do not fear the charge of Atheism; nor should I even disavow it, in reference to any definition of the Supreme which he, or his order, would be likely to frame. His "links" and his "steel" and his "dread imputations" are, therefore, even more unsubstantial than my "streaks of morning cloud," and they may be permitted to vanish together.
These minor and more purely personal matters at an end, the weightier allegation remains that at Belfast I misused my position by quitting the domain of science, and making an unjustifiable raid into the domain of theology. This I fail to see. Laying aside abuse, I hope my accusers will consent to reason with me. Is it not lawful for a scientific man to speculate on the antecedents of the solar system? Did Kant, Laplace, and William Herschel quit their legitimate spheres, when they pro-longed the intellectual vision beyond the boundary of experience, and propounded the nebular theory? Accepting that theory as probable, is it not permitted to a scientific man to follow up, in idea, the series of changes associated with the condensation of the nebulae; to picture the successive detachment of planets and moons, and the relation of all of them to the sun? If I look upon our earth, with its orbital revolution and axial rotation, as one small issue of the process which made the solar system what it is, will any theologian deny my right to entertain and express this theoretic view? Time was when a multitude of theologians would have been found to do so—when that arch-enemy of science which now vaunts its tolerance would have made a speedy end of the man who might venture to publish any opinion of the kind. But that time, unless the world is caught strangely slumbering, is forever past.
As regards inorganic nature, then, we may traverse, without let or hinderance, the whole distance which separates the nebulæ from the worlds of to-day. Rut only a few years ago this now conceded ground of science was theological ground. I could by no means regard this as the final and sufficient concession of theology; and, at Belfast, I thought it not only my right, but my duty, to state that, as regards the organic world, we must enjoy the freedom which we have already won in regard to the inorganic. I could not discern the shred of a title-deed which gave any man, or any class of men, the right to open the door of one of these worlds to the scientific searcher and to close the other against him. And I considered it frankest, wisest, and in the long run most conducive to permanent peace, to indicate, without evasion or reserve, the ground that belongs to Science, and to which she will assuredly make good her claim.
I have been reminded that an eminent predecessor of mine in the Presidential chair expressed a totally different view of the Cause of things from that enunciated by me. In doing so he transgressed the bounds of science at least as much as I did; but nobody raised an outcry against him. The freedom he took I claim. And looking at what I must regard as the extravagances of the religious world; at the very inadequate and foolish notions concerning this universe which are entertained by the majority of our authorized religious teachers; at the waste of energy on the part of good men over things unworthy, if I may say it without discourtesy, of the attention of en-lightened heathens; the fight about the fripperies of Ritualism, and the verbal quibbles of the Athanasian Creed; the forcing on the public view of Pontigny Pilgrimages; the dating of historic epochs from the definition of the Immaculate Conception; the proclamation of the Divine Glories of the Sacred Heart—standing in the midst of these chimeras, which astound all thinking men, it did not appear to me extravagant to claim the public tolerance for an hour and a half, for the statement of more reasonable views—views more in accordance with the verities which science has brought to light, and which many weary souls would, I thought, welcome with gratification and relief.
But to come to closer quarters. The expression to which the most violent exception has been taken is this: "Abandoning all disguise, the confession I feel bound to make before you is, that I prolong the vision backward across the boundary of the experimental evidence, and discern in that Matter which we, in our ignorance, and notwithstanding our professed reverence for its Creator, have hitherto covered with opprobrium, the promise and potency of every form and quality of life." To call it a "chorus of dissent," as my Catholic critic does, is a mild way of describing the storm of opprobrium with which this statement has been assailed. But the first blast of passion being past, I hope I may again ask my opponents to con-sent to reason. First of all, I am blamed for crossing the boundary of the experimental evidence. This, I reply, is the habitual action of the scientific mind—at least of that portion of it which applies itself to physical investigation. Our theories of light, heat, magnetism, and electricity, all imply the crossing of this boundary. My paper on the "Scientific Use of the Imagination," and my "Lectures on Light," illustrate this point in the amplest manner; and in the Article entitled "Matter and Force" in the present volume I have sought, incidentally, to make clear, that in physics the experiential incessantly leads to the ultra-experiential; that out of experience there always grows something finer than mere experience, and that in their different powers of ideal extension consists, for the most part, the difference between the great and the mediocre investigator. The kingdom of science, then, cometh not by observation and experiment alone, but is completed by fixing the roots of observation and experiment in a region inaccessible to both, and in dealing with which we are forced to fall back upon the picturing power of the mind.
Passing the boundary of experience, therefore, does not, in the abstract, constitute a sufficient ground for censure. There must have been something in my particular mode of crossing it which provoked this tremendous "chorus of dissent."
Let us calmly reason the point out. I hold the nebular theory as it was held by Kant, Laplace, and William Herschel, and as it is held by the best scientific intellects of today. According to it, our sun and planets were once diffused through space as an impalpable haze, out of which, by condensation, came the solar system. What caused the haze to condense? Loss of heat. What rounded the sun and planets? That which rounds a tear —molecular force. For eons, the immensity of which overwhelms man's conceptions, the earth was unfit to maintain what we call life. It is now covered with visible living things. They are not formed of matter different from that of the earth around them. They are, on the contrary, bone of its bone, and flesh of its flesh. How were they introduced? Was life implicated in the nebula ...-as part, it may be, of a vaster and wholly Unfathomable Life; or is it the work of a Being standing outside the nebula, who fashioned it, and vitalized it; but whose own origin and ways are equally past finding out? As far as the eye of science has hitherto ranged through nature, no intrusion of purely creative power into any series of phenomena has ever been observed. The assumption of such a power to account for special phenomena, though often made, has always proved a failure. It is opposed to the very spirit of science; and I therefore assumed the responsibility of holding up, in contrast with it, that method of nature which it has been the vocation and triumph of science to disclose, and in the application of which we can alone hope for further light. Holding, then, that the nebula and the solar system, life included, stand to each other in the relation of the germ to the finished organism, I reaffirm here, not arrogantly, or defiantly, but without a shade of indistinctness, the position laid down at Belfast.
Not with the vagueness belonging to the emotions, but with the definiteness belonging to the understanding, the scientific man has to put to himself these questions regarding the introduction of life upon the earth. He will be the last to dogmatize upon the subject, for he knows best that certainty is here for the present unattainable. His refusal of the creative hypothesis is less an assertion of knowledge than a protest against the assumption of knowledge which must long, if not forever, lie beyond us, and the claim to which is the source of perpetual confusion upon earth. With a mind open to conviction he asks his opponents to show him an authority for the belief they so strenuously and so fiercely uphold. They can do no more than point to the Book of Genesis, or some other portion of the Bible. Profoundly interesting, and indeed pathetic, to me are those attempts of the opening mind of man to appease its hunger for a Cause. But the Book of Genesis has no voice in scientific questions. To the grasp of geology, which it resisted for a time, it at length yielded like potter's clay; its authority as a system of cosmogony being discredited on all bands, by the abandonment of the obvious meaning of its writer. It is a poem, not a scientific treatise. In the former aspect it is forever beautiful: in the latter aspect it has been, and it will continue to be, purely obstructive and hurtful. To knowledge its value has been negative, leading, in rougher ages than ours, to physical, and even in our own "free" age to moral, violence.
No incident connected with the proceedings at Belfast is more instructive than the deportment of the Catholic hierarchy of Ireland; a body usually too wise to confer notoriety upon an adversary by imprudently denouncing him. The "Times," to which I owe a great deal on the score of fair play, where so much has been unfair, thinks that the Irish Cardinal, Archbishops, and Bishops, in a recent manifesto, adroitly employed a weapon which I, at an unlucky moment, placed in their hands. The antecedents of their action cause me to regard it in a different light; and a brief reference to these antecedents will, I think, illuminate not only their proceedings regarding Bel-fast, but other doings which have been recently noised abroad.
Before me lies a document bearing the date of November, 1873, which, after appearing for a moment, unaccountably vanished from public view. It is a Memorial ad-dressed, by Seventy of the Students and Ex-students of the Catholic University in Ireland, to the Episcopal Board of the University; and it constitutes the plainest and bravest remonstrance ever addressed by Irish laymen to their spiritual pastors and masters. It expresses the profoundest dissatisfaction with the curriculum marked out for the students of the University; setting forth the extraordinary fact that the lecture-list for the faculty of Science, published a month before they wrote, did not contain the name of a single Professor of the Physical or Natural Sciences.
The memorialists forcibly deprecate this, and dwell upon the necessity of education in science : "The distinguishing mark of this age is its ardor for science. The natural sciences have, within the last fifty years, become the chiefest study in the world; they are in our time pursued with an activity unparalleled in the history of man-kind. Scarce a year now passes without some discovery being made in these sciences which, as with the touch of the magician's wand, shivers to atoms theories formerly deemed unassailable. It is through the physical and natural sciences that the fiercest assaults are now made on our religion. No more deadly weapon is used against our faith than the facts incontestably proved by modern researches in science."
Such statements must be the reverse of comfortable to a number of gentlemen who, trained in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, have been accustomed to the unquestioning submission of all other sciences to their divine science of Theology. But this is not all: "One thing seems certain, say the memorialists, viz., "that if chairs for the physical and natural sciences be not soon founded in the Catholic University, very many young men will have their faith exposed to dangers which the creation of a school of science in the University would defend them from. For our generation of Irish Catholics are writhing under the sense of their inferiority in science, and are determined that such inferiority shall not long continue; and so, if scientific training be unattainable at our University, they will seek it at Trinity or at the Queen's Colleges, in not one of which is there a Catholic Professor of Science."
Those who imagined the Catholic University at Kensington to' be due to the spontaneous recognition, on the part of the Roman hierarchy, of the intellectual needs of the age, will derive enlightenment from this, and still more from what follows: for the most formidable threat remains. To the picture of Catholic students seceding to Trinity and the Queen's Colleges, the memorialists add this darkest stroke of all: "They will, in the solitude of their own homes, unaided by any guiding advice, devour the works of Haeckel, Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, and Lyell; works innocuous if studied under a professor who would point out the difference between established facts and erroneous inferences, but which are calculated to sap the faith of a solitary student, deprived of a discriminating judgment to which he could refer for a solution of his difficulties."
In the light of the knowledge given by this courageous memorial, and of similar knowledge otherwise derived, the recent Catholic manifesto did not at all strike me as a chuckle over the mistake of a maladroit adversary, but rather as an evidence of profound uneasiness on the part of the Cardinal, the Archbishops, and the Bishops who signed it. They acted toward the Students' Memorial, however, with their accustomed practical wisdom. As one concession to the spirit which it embodied, the Catholic University at Kensington was brought forth, apparently as the effect of spontaneous inward force, and not of outward pressure becoming too formidable to be successfully opposed.
The memorialists point with bitterness to the fact, that "the name of no Irish Catholic is known in connection with the physical and natural sciences." But this, they ought to know, is the complaint of free and cultivated. minds wherever a Priesthood exercises dominant power. Precisely the same complaint has been made with respect to the Catholics of Germany. The great national literature and the scientific achievements of that country, in modern times, are almost wholly the work of Protestants. A vanishingly small fraction of it only is derived from members of the Roman Church, although the number of these in Germany is at least as great as that of the Protestants. "The question arises," says a writer in an able German periodical, "what is the cause of a phenomenon so humiliating to the Catholics? It cannot be referred to want of natural endowment due to climate (for the Protestants of Southern Germany have contributed powerfully to the creations of the German intellect), but purely to outward circumstances. And these are readily discovered in the pressure exercised for centuries by the Jesuitical system, which has crushed out of Catholics every tendency to free mental productiveness." It is, indeed, in Catholic countries that the weight of Ultramontanism has been most severely felt. It is in such countries that the very finest spirits, who have dared, without quitting their faith, to plead for freedom or reform, have suffered extinction. The extinction, however, was more apparent than real, and Hermes, Hirscher, and Gunther, though individually broken and subdued, prepared the way, in Bavaria, for the persecuted but unflinching Frohschammer, for Del-linger, and for the remarkable liberal movement of which Dollinger is the head and guide.
Though molded for centuries to an obedience unparalleled in any other country, except Spain, the Irish intellect is beginning to show signs of independence; demanding a diet more suited to its years than the pabulum of the Middle Ages. As for the recent manifesto in which Pope, Cardinal, Archbishops, and Bishops are united in one grand anathema, its character and fate are shadowed forth by the Vision of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in the Book of Daniel. It resembles the image, whose form was terrible, but the gold, and silver, and brass, and iron of which rested upon feet of clay. And a stone smote the feet of clay; and the iron, and the brass, and the silver, and the gold, were broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind carried them away.
Monsignor Capel has recently been good enough to proclaim at once the friendliness of his Church toward true science, and her right to determine what true science is. Let us dwell for a moment on the proofs of her scientific competence. When Halley's comet appeared in 1456 it was regarded as the harbinger of God's vengeance, the dispenser of war, pestilence, and famine, and by order of the Pope the church bells of Europe were rung to scare the monster away. An additional daily prayer was added to the supplications of the faithful. The comet in due time disappeared, and the faithful were comforted by the assurance that, as in previous instances relating to eclipses, droughts, and rains, so also as regards this "nefarious" comet, victory had been vouchsafed to the Church.
Both Pythagoras and Copernicus had taught the heliocentric doctrine—that the earth revolves round the sun. In the exercise of her right to determine what true science is, the Church, in the Pontificate of Paul V., stepped in, and by the mouth of the holy Congregation of the Index, delivered, on March 5, 1616, the following decree:
"And whereas it hath also come to the knowledge of the said holy congregation that the false Pythagorean doctrine of the mobility of the earth and the immobility of the sun, entirely opposed to Holy Writ, which is taught by Nicolas Copernicus, is now published abroad and received by many. In order that this opinion may not further spread, to the damage of Catholic truth, it is ordered that this and all other books teaching the like doctrine be suspended, and by this decree they are all respectively suspended, forbidden, and condemned."
But why go back to 1456 and 1616? Far be it from me to charge bygone sins upon Monsignor Capel, were it not for the practices he upholds to-day. The most applauded dogmatist and champion of the Jesuits is, I am informed, Perrone. No less than thirty editions of a work of his have been scattered abroad for the healing of the nations. His notions of physical astronomy are virtually those of 1456. He teaches boldly that "God does not rule by universal law . . . that when God orders a given planet to stand still He does not detract from any law passed by Himself, but orders that planet to move round the sun for such and such a time, then to stand still, and then again to move, as His pleasure may be." Jesuitism proscribed Frohschammer for questioning its favorite dog-ma, that every human soul was created by a direct super-natural act of God, and for asserting that man, body and soul, came from his parents. This is the system that now strives for universal power; it is from it, as Monsignor Capel graciously informs us, that we are to learn what is allowable in science, and what is not!
In the face of such facts, which might be multiplied at will, it requires extraordinary bravery of mind, or a reliance upon public ignorance almost as extraordinary, to make the claims made by Monsignor Capel for his Church.
Before me is a very remarkable letter addressed in 1875 by the Bishop of Montpellier to the Deans and Professors of Faculties of Montpellier, in which the writer very clearly lays down the claims of his Church. He had been startled by an incident occurring in a course of lectures on Physiology given by a professor, of whose scientific capacity there was no doubt, but who, it was alleged, rightly or wrongly, had made his course the vehicle of materialism. "Je ne me suis point donné," says the Bishop, "la mission que je remplis au milieu de vous. `Personne, au temoignage de saint Paul, ne s'attribue â soi-même un pareil honneur; il y faut être appelé de Dieu, comme Aaron.' Et pourquoi en est-il ainsi? C'est parce que, selon le même Apôtre, nous devons être les ambassadeurs de Dieu; et il n'est pas dans les usages, pas plus qu'il n'est dans la raison et le droit, qu'un envoyé s'accrédite lui-meme. Mais, si j'ai reçu d'En-Haut une mission; si l'Eglise, au nom de Dieu lui-même, a souscrit mes 'ettres de créance, me siérait-il de manquer aux instructions qu'elle m'a données et d'entendre, en un sens différent du sien, le rôle qu'elle m'a confié?
"Or, Messieurs, la sainte Eglise se croit investie du droit absolu d'enseigner les hommes; elle se croit dépositaire de la vérité, non pas de la vérité fragmentaire, in-complète, mêlée de certitude et d'hésitation, mais de la vérité totale, complète, au point de vue religieux. Bien plus, elle est si sûre de l'infaillibilité que son Fondateur divin lui a communiquée, comme la dot magnifique de leur indissoluble alliance, que, même dans l'ordre naturel, scientifique ou philosophique, moral ou politique, elle n'admet pas qu'un système puisse être soutenu et adopté par des chrétiens, s'il contredit des dogmes définis. Elle considère que la négation volontaire et opiniâtre d'un seul point de sa doctrine rend coupable du péché d'hérésie; et elle pense que toute hérésie formelle, si on ne la rejette pas courageusement avant de paraître devant Dieu, entraine' avec soi la perte certaine de la grâce et de l'eternité.
The Bishop recalls those whom he addresses from the false philosophy of the present to the philosophy of the past, and foresees the triumph of the latter. "Avant que le dix-neuvième siècle s'achève, la vieille philosophie scolastique aura repris sa place dans la juste admiration du monde. Il lui faudra pourtant bien du temps pour guérir les maux de taut genre, causes par son indigne rivale; et pendant de longues années encore, ce nom de philosophie, le plus grand de la langue humaine après celui de religion, sera suspect aux âmes qui se souviendront de la science impie et matérialiste de Locke, de Condillac ou d'Helvétius. L'heure actuelle est aux sciences naturelles: c'est maintenant l'instrument de combat contre l'Eglise et contre toute foi religieuse. Nous ne les redoutons pas." Further on the Bishop warns his readers that everything can be abused. Poetry is good, but in excess it may in-jure practical conduct. "Les mathématiques sont excel-lentes: et Bossuet les a louées `comme étant ce qui sert le plus A la justesse du raisonnement' ; mais si on s'accoutume exclusivement â leur méthode, rien de ce qui appartient à l'ordre moral ne parait plus pouvoir être démontré; et Fénelon a pu parler de l'ensorcellement et des attraits diaboliques de la géométrie."
The learned Bishop thus finally accentuates the claims of the Church: "Comme le définissait le Pape Léon X., au cinquième concile oecuménique de Latran, `Le vrai ne peut pas être contraire à lui-même; par conséquent, toute assertion contraire à une verité de foi revelde est nécessairement et absolument fausse.' Il suit de là que, sans entrer dans l'examen scientifique de telle ou telle question le physiologie, mais par la seule certitude de nos dogmes, nous pouvons juger du sort de telle ou telle hypothèse, qui est une machine de guerre anti-chrétienne plutôt qu'une conquête serieuse sur les secrets et les mystères de la nature. . . . C'est un dogme que l'homme a été formé et façonné des mains de Dieu. Donc il est faux, heretique, contraire à la dignité du Createur et offensant pour son chef-d'oeuvre, de dire que l'homme constitue la septième espèce des singes . . . FIeresie encore de dire que le genre humain n'est pas sorti d'un seul couple, et qu'on y peut compter jusqu'à douze races distinctes!"
The course of life upon earth, as far as Science can see, has been one of amelioration—a steady advance on the whole from the lower to the higher. The continued effort of animated nature is to improve its condition and raise itself to a loftier level. In man improvement and amelioration depend largely upon the growth of conscious knowledge, by which the errors of ignorance are continually moulted, and truth is organized. It is the advance of knowledge that has given a materialistic color to the philosophy of this age. Materialism is therefore not a thing to be mourned over, but to be honestly considered accepted if it be wholly true, rejected if it be wholly false, wisely sifted and turned to account if it embrace a mixture of truth and error. Of late years the study of the nervous system, and its relation to thought and feeling, have profoundly occupied inquiring minds. It is our duty not to shirk—it ought rather to be our privilege to accept—the established results of such inquiries, for here assuredly our ultimate weal depends upon our loyalty to the truth. Instructed as to the control which the nervous system exercises over man's moral and intellectual nature, we shall be better prepared, not only to mend their manifold defects, but also to strengthen and purify both. Is mind degraded by this recognition of its dependence? Assuredly not. Matter, on the contrary, is raised to the level it ought to occupy, and from which timid ignorance would remove it.
But the light is dawning, and it will become stronger as time goes on. Even the Brighton "Church Congress" - affords evidence of this. From the manifold confusions of that assemblage my memory has rescued two items, which it would fain preserve: the recognition of a relation between Health and Religion, and the address of the Rev. Harry Jones. Out of the conflict of vanities his words emerge wholesome and strong, because undrugged by dogma, coming directly from the warm brain of one who knows what practical truth means, and who has faith in its vitality and inherent power of propagation. I wonder whether he is less effectual in his ministry than his more embroidered colleagues? It surely behooves our teachers to come to some definite understanding as to this question of health; to see how, by inattention to it, we are defrauded, negatively and positively: negatively, by the privation of that "sweetness and light" which is the natural concomitant of good health; positively, by the insertion into life of cynicism, ill-temper, and a thousand corroding anxieties which good health would dissipate. We fear and scorn "materialism." But he who knew all about it, and could apply his knowledge, might become the preacher of a' new gospel. Not, however, through the ecstatic moments of the individual does such knowledge come, but through the revelations of science, in connection with the history of mankind.
Why should the Roman Catholic Church call gluttony a mortal sin ? Why should fasting occupy a place in the disciplines of religion? What is the meaning of Luther's advice to the young clergyman who came to him, perplexed with the difficulties of predestination and election, if it be not that, in virtue of its action upon the brain, when wisely applied, there is moral and religious virtue -even in a hydro-carbon? To use the old language, food and drink are creatures of God, and have therefore a spiritual value. Through our neglect of the monitions of a reasonable materialism we sin and suffer daily. I might here point to the train of deadly disorders over which science has given modern society such control—disclosing the lair of the material enemy, insuring his destruction, and thus preventing that moral squalor and hopelessness which habitually tread on the heels of epidemics in the case of the poor.
Rising to higher spheres, the visions of Swedenborg, and the ecstasy of Plotinus and Porphyry, are phases of that psychical condition, obviously connected with the nervous system and state of health, on which is based the Vedic doctrine of the absorption of the individual into the universal soul. Plotinus taught the devout how to pass into a condition of ecstasy. Porphyry complains of having been only once united to God in eighty-six years, while his master Plotinus had been so united six times in sixty years.' A friend who knew Wordsworth informs me that the poet, in some of his moods, was accustomed to seize hold of an external object to assure himself of his own bodily existence. As states of consciousness such phenomena have an undisputed reality, and a substantial identity; but they are connected with the most heterogeneous objective conceptions. The subjective experiences are similar, because of the similarity of the underlying organizations.
But for those who wish to look beyond the practical facts, there will always remain ample room for speculation. Take the argument of the Lucretian introduced in the Belfast Address. As far as I am aware, not one of my assailants has attempted to answer it. Some of them, indeed, rejoice over the ability displayed by Bishop Butler in rolling back the difficulty on his opponent; and they even imagine that it is the Bishop's own argument that is there employed. But the raising of a new difficulty does not abolish—does not even lessen—the old one, and the argument of the Lucretian remains untouched by anything the Bishop has said or can say.
And here it may be permitted me to add a word to an important controversy now going on: and which turns on the question: Do states of consciousness enter as links into the chain of antecedence and sequence, which give rise to bodily actions, and to other states of consciousness; or are they merely by-products, which are not essential to the physical processes going on in the brain? Speaking for myself, it is certain that I have no power of imagining states of consciousness, interposed between the molecules of the brain, and influencing the transference of motion among the molecules. The thought "eludes all mental presentation"; and hence the logic seems of iron strength which claims for the brain an automatic action, uninfluenced by states of consciousness. But it is, I believe, admitted by those who hold the automaton-theory, that states of consciousness are produced by the marshalling of the molecules of the brain: and this production of consciousness by molecular motion is to me quite as inconceivable on mechanical principles as the production of molecular motion by consciousness. If, therefore, I reject one result, I must reject both. I, however, reject neither, and thus stand in the presence of two Incomprehensibles, instead of one Incomprehensible. While accepting fearlessly the facts of materialism dwelt upon in these pages, I bow my head in the dust before that mystery of mind, which has hitherto defied its own penetrative power, and which may ultimately resolve itself into a demonstrable impossibility of self-penetration.
But the secret is an open one—the practical monitions are plain enough, which declare that on our dealings with matter depend our weal and woe, physical and moral. The state of mind which rebels against the recognition of the claims of "materialism" is not unknown to me. I can remember a time when I regarded my body as a weed, so much more highly did I prize the conscious strength and pleasure derived from moral and religious feeling—which, I may add, was mine without the intervention of dogma. The error was not an ignoble one, but this did not save it from the penalty attached to error. Saner knowledge taught me that the body is no weed, and that treated as such it would infallibly avenge itself. Am I personally lowered by this change of front? Not so. Give me their health, and there is no spiritual experience of those earlier years—no resolve of duty, or work of mercy, no work of self-renouncement, no solemnity of thought, no joy in the life and aspects of nature—that would not still be mine; and this without the least reference or regard to any purely personal reward or punishment looming in the future.
And now I have to utter a "farewell" free from bitterness to all my readers; thanking my friends for a sympathy more steadfast, I would fain believe, if less noisy, than the antipathy of my foes; and commending to these a passage from Bishop Butler, which they have either not read or failed to lay to heart. "It seems," saith the Bishop, "that men would be strangely headstrong and self-willed, and disposed to exert themselves with an impetuosity which would render society insupportable, and the living in it impracticable, were it not for some acquired moderation and self-government, some aptitude and readiness in restraining themselves, and concealing their sense of things."