The Faiths Of Morality
( Originally Published 1915 )
FROM this time onward the word "faith" will be more frequently employed than the word "belief" in discussion of the various problems falling under the answer to the main inquiry, "What should I Believe?" The reasons for this change in the usage of terms are chiefly these two. The former word is distinctly better adapted to arouse and express the different attitudes taken by the mind — or, rather by the entire Self — toward the objects, conceptions, principles and ideals of morality and religion. Faith is also, in its own proper and customary meaning, more obviously and more intimately subject to the will to believe, and so more appropriately made a matter of consciously recognized obligation. At any rate, this difference is fairly well illustrated in the popular speech as well as by the definitions of the dictionaries. Hence, it is both better ethics and better manners to urge he duty of having faith in the greater truths of morality and religion than to insist upon the solemn obligation to adopt the tenets, and practice the methods, of any political party; or to espouse the speculations of any group of scientists or school of philosophers. It is also significant that exceptions to this rule are usually based upon the claims of the speculators in politics, science, or philosophy, to be them-selves prepared to stand the test of moral principles.
It will further help the clearness of our thinking and the precision of the maxims which it is hoped finally to educe for purposes of practical improvement, if we mention briefly some of the more important distinctions which are to be made between the meanings of these two words. In certain relations they are correctly enough employed with little or no distinction. This is the case even when men are speaking of subjects in ethics and religion. But even then, I think, a somewhat different shade of meaning is expressed, and certainly a quite different degree, if not kind of feeling is awakened, by the use of the word "belief" and the use of the word "faith." Both of these words imply intellectual activity, and some degree of intelligent apprehension of the reality of the object, or the verity of the proposition, in whose behalf the conscious mental assent is invited. But belief is the more general, and the more distinctly intellectual term. Belief is suggestive of a certain deferential attitude before more or less probable evidence looking toward a possible future "knowledge-judgment." Faith, while it oftener suggests the loftiest flights of imagination, the most passion-ate forms of conviction, and the firmest attachments of the will, is not, in the individual act so much concerned with the degree of the probability of the evidence on which it is then based. Especially in religious, and also to a less extent in moral matters, it is customary to distinguish between intellectual belief in the truth presented to the mind, and the fastening of the truth on the heart and will in the attitude of faith.
It must not, however, be hastily concluded from this warrantable as well as popular distinction, that the truths of morality and religion can present themselves as duties to be per-formed, without at the same time recognizing their own duty of perpetually striving to make the form of their presentation a more reasonable form. "Bible religion" — to employ Cardinal Newman's sweetly sarcastic (?) phrase, is never the equivalent of the religious faith required by this religion. On the contrary, it is too often the substitute for, or stifler of, genuine religious faith. "Bible religion" may be only a notional affair; and to a large degree in-correctly notional, at that, and not a genuine experience of intelligent assent. But without the intellectual element which is, the rather, characterized by the word belief, there can be no real faith. This is not, however, true to the full extent of justifying the declaration of Emerson, which is made in his customary suggestive but precariously unqualified way: "The religion which is to guide and fulfil the present, whatever else it is, must be intellectual. The scientific mind must have a faith which is science." The truth is better told in the sentence already quoted from Saint Bernard: "These two" (Faith and Reason in the narrower meaning of the latter word) "comprehend the same truth; but faith in closed and involuted, intelligence in exposed and manifest, form."
Another difference very commonly observed in the popular usage, regards faith as chiefly personal; belief as essentially, quite impersonal. As says the dictionary: "We speak of belief of a proposition, faith in a promise, because a promise emanates from a person." On the other hand, the two words become most nearly, if not wholly, identical in meaning, when they are used with reference to persons or personal relations. In these uses, both are regularly followed by the significant little word "in." We believe in our friend, or we have faith in him; it is almost immaterial which phrase we employ. And yet not quite; for there is another more obvious difference between the two attitudes of mind. Faith is a warm, hearty, and albeit emotional, a very practical sort of word. For when used as to personal relations, it imports a union of belief and trust. This distinguishing characteristic comes most prominently to view, when we consider what a different thing it is to believe in a God and to have faith in our God. It is this essential aspect of faith which makes it the guaranty of morality in all relations with our fellow men, and the very essence of subjective religion in respect of man's attitude toward the Divine Being.
Out of this conception of faith comes the trust we have in personal testimony, "fiducial rather than intellectual belief"; out of it also flows the fine and fundamental virtue of fidelity, or loyalty to causes and to persons. What Lubbock says of two ancient worthies is true of the host of the faithful in heaven and on earth: "The self-sacrifice of Leonidas, and the faith of Regulus, are the glories of history." Fidelity in action answers to the keeping of the faith regarded as a creed or system of articles em-bodying moral or religious beliefs. "'Tis not the dying for a faith that's so hard, Master Harry . . . 'tis the living up to it."
There is one other consideration which may properly influence our choice of the word Faith to indicate the nature of the dutiful, if also reasonable, attitude of the personal life toward the truths of morality and religion. This is found in the fact that this attitude is regularly taken toward certain judgments that have value; because they embody, in however inchoate and imperfect form, certain ideals that claim control over the spirit of man. On this account, our moral and religious beliefs and the conduct of life that responds, either by way of assent or of dissent, to these ideals, and so the entire development of the choicer factors and higher destinies of the personal life, have a supreme worth.
It is, then, not hard to see how the faiths of morality and religion have a peculiar kind of claims, both of a rational and also of a more obviously practical order, upon every person who raises seriously the question, What should I believe? These same faiths, on account of their peculiar nature and relations to the whole intellectual, emotional and practical character of the personal life, offer certain more profound and enduring satisfactions than can be gained by the intellectual acceptance of any other class of truths, such as are made probable in dependence upon scientific exactness or strictly logical consistency. Of all man's beliefs, it is by his moral and religious faiths, that his most intimate character is formed and must be judged; and that his realest and highest success in the evolution of the personal and spiritual life will be eventually determined.
In saying what has just been urged in favor of a specially careful choice of one's moral and religious faiths, there has been no shadow of the intent to withdraw, not to say contradict, what was formerly said in speaking of the duty attached to the acceptance or the rejection of every form of belief. This is the duty of having regard to the "reasonableness" of any belief, when it appears before the will to believe with its claims to an intelligent and righteous adoption into one's family of beliefs. Moral and religious faiths are probably of an intrinsic nature which forbids their being constructed and defended in terms quite satisfactory to the demands of the positive sciences so-called. But that does not diminish their essential reasonableness; nor does it essentially impair their claims upon our moral and religious consciousness to espouse them as faiths to live and to die by. This caution is repeated here as one always to be kept in mind when considering any form of belief; and as especially pertinent when we are confining our attention to the faiths of morality and religion. We do not propose to argue it anew. We shall, how-ever, present some of the many and almost incomparably weighty reasons for a carefully selected faith in the conceptions, principles and ideals of morality. If we have little or no hope of attaining the really undesirable end of a scientific demonstration; we do desire to help ourselves to a generous portion from "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." The fruit of this tree makes excellent sauce with which to season our convictions respecting the good and bad of conduct; also respecting its standing in the market of values, its usefulness in promoting a sanitary form of living the present life, and perhaps of more surely attaining to the life eternal.
It may, then, be unequivocally affirmed that the faith in moral ideals makes a strong appeal before the will to believe, in the name of reason. For, in the first place, these ideals are developments from the accumulated reflection and enlarging social experience of the race through countless centuries. There was never, indeed, a time when, and never a race of men so low in the scale of development that, the distinction does not appear between that-which-is and that-which-ought-to-be, in matters of conduct and of character. This is the same thing as to say that there has always existed before the mind and will of humanity, some kind of ideals of the personal life as a moral affair. The more precise nature of these ideals has, indeed, undergone some change, some important changes; but these have been, in most instances, changes of emphasis and of opportunity rather than alterations in the essential character of the ideals themselves. As we have elsewhere said ("Philosophy of Conduct," p. 363 f.) : "It should be joyfully noticed in this connection how much opportunity for Individuality this view of the unity of virtue permits to every man. Virtuous living is not living in conformity to any one pattern of conduct. It is no dead monotonous agreement in a sort of common stock of virtues, from which each man may win more or less for himself. No man's list either of virtues or of vices precisely resembles that of any other man. Indeed, no man's anger, or pride, or wisdom, or courage, or justice, or kindness, is precisely the counterpart of the same qualities in another. For the unity is in and of each individual selfhood."
It is then undoubtedly true, as Plato long ago saw, that "no single category will adequately express the nature of our highest ideals of the Good." These ideals, whether they are those of art, or of religion, or the case we are now considering — of morality, are susceptible of development; and in order to be followed in a spirit of hopeful pursuit, they must be adaptable to the differences that constitute the temperament and the character of the individuals called to, and capable of, a real personal life, as well as to the vicissitudes of their local environment and historical circumstances. To follow them is not to be precisely like any other person, or even to be precisely like our own best selves at any one time. But such is the case with all human ideals. Such is the quality which enhances their practical value.
There is, however, another, though cognate aspect of the moral ideals to which attention must be directed in order to emphasize the duty of having faith in them. In trying to establish their reasonableness we have spoken of the appeal which they make to reason as the products of the reflection and experience of the whole race through the centuries of its history, so far as we can read the records of this history. This aspect emphasizes their universality and their universally powerful influence. They have proved their claim to our faith and to our fidelity by proving the sincerity of their own faith through their works. We cannot set forth this other and complementary side of the same truth better than by quoting another somewhat longer passage from the same work to which reference was just made (p. 651 f.). "The impression is confirmed and justified that the moral ideals of humanity are the most important factors in the moral life and historical development of man. That this estimate is true has been abundantly proved by the study of ethical phenomena. A similar estimate can be justified of man's more definitely æsthetical and religious ideals. In fact, human history — whether it be the history of the individual, or of the race, or of any particular part of the race, or particular social organization — cannot be understood without admitting that it is all largely founded upon, shot through and through with, guided and inspired by, ideals and judgments of worth. Human history is the record of man's striving to realize his progressively unfolding ethical, artistic, and religious ideals.
"This fundamental truth has its practical side. No philosophy which does not give large room, profound significance, and a mighty potency to the Ideal, can account for the experience of man. Not to use the word in a narrow and technical way, Idealism is the only form of philosophy which can claim to explain the realities of human experience. In a way which gives the key to the rules of right moral practice, it may also be asserted that no one who is not an idealist can possibly be a good man; can even know what kind of reality is meant by the very word Goodness.
"Virtue necessitates belief in the permanency and unconditioned worth of ideas. For virtue is the realization by the actual and historical Self of an ideal selfhood. Morality, or subjective goodness, consists in devotion to the ideal. The nature of the right and the goal of objective morality is given in the progressive realization of the universal, social Ideal. Thus it is that, without the constructive, idealizing activities of thought and imagination; and without the awakening of faith, hope, and inspiration, having for their object these constructions; and without the dominance and guidance of the practical life by these activities; morality is impossible for man. No other work could be less easily spared by man's moral evolution than that which is wrought by this constructive and idealizing activity of his imagination in the ethico-religious life."
These moral ideals, then, exhibit a consistency of constitution, and an endurance under all attempts to disintegrate and disprove them, which is one of the most marvellous facts of human history. So far as the individual can try them by the experimental test, it is testimony of the wisest and morally sanest of man-kind, that they bear the test well. In spite of biblical authority, it is not in fact true that "the righteous are never forsaken nor their seed seen begging bread." And many a Job has seemed to himself for a time to have abundant reason to say:
"Behold I cry out of wrong,
But they who, in spite of these passing experiences, cling with the grasp of a faith, that has drawn near to, and even looked into the pit of Despair, are generally wont to join in the final words of the hero, as the curtain drops at the close of this most wonderful of moral dramas:
"I had heard of thee
Here again we must refer to the truth that in all classes of the greater beliefs of humanity, and especially in the faiths of morality and religion, their reasonableness cannot be fairly estimated, cannot even have its claims understood, without taking into chief account the facts of the beliefs and faiths themselves. This enduring nature of the faith of man in the worth of his moral ideals is truly one of the most suggestive and impressive of psychical and spiritual phenomena. Some of the most pitiful and tragic spectacles in the lives of the choicest sons and daughters of humanity, — of those most worthy to be called true sons and daughters of God, — bear thrilling witness to the unconquerable nature of this faith. No cogency of argument that sets out from the tenets of a eudæmonistic philosophy, no appeals to the profitableness of abandoning or concealing one's position of a sworn allegiance to these ideals, no ecclesiastical or political subtleties, succeed in moving the will of such faithful ones to desert to the other side. Their faith seems fanatical; it may indeed be really fanatical. But reason-able, or not, as respects the conscious grounds on which it firmly places itself, and worthy as it may be for the time of a certain degree of condemnation for its lack of reasonableness, it is always significant testimony to the essential characteristics of the convictions that attach themselves, by act of will, to faith in the worth of moral ideals. And not infrequently, that which the superficial estimate, blurred sentiment, and corrupt practice, of the current time has convicted of fanaticism, turns out to have been, the rather, a sort of untimely, yet divinely inspired insight into a future nobler and worthier embodiment in human faith and human practice of the moral ideals.
Closely connected with this consideration, or, indeed, as an essential part of it, is that optimistic faith which founds and cherishes an undying confidence in the final triumph of the morally good; and of all the other goods that are involved in, and dependent upon, this supreme good. The optimism that is born of faith in the ultimate triumph of the ideals of morality is the only kind of optimism that rests on solid grounds. Unless the moral ideals of the race are clung to, developed toward higher degrees of reasonableness, in their own right, as the saying is, and made more dominant; neither civil service, nor economic advantage, nor scientific progress, will secure the increased welfare of mankind. As long as these ideals maintain the same low standard and feebleness of faith in their right to control the human will, the injustices of peace and the cruelties of war will not cease or even be mitigated in any large degree. The sack of Yang Chou-fu by the Manchus in 1645, when the soldiery murdered and plundered and outraged, within ten days, nearly one million innocent men, women and children, was scarcely more beastly than that of the Tartar City at Sian-fu, two hundred and sixty-five years later, by the Chinese who boasted of their modern culture and zeal as reformers! And the behavior of modern militarism in Christian Europe, when it forsakes the moral ideals of the religion of Jesus for the maxims of a might that makes right as its political ideal, shows scanty improvement over that of ancient Imperial Rome. Yet an eye-witness and sufferer from the horrors of more than two and a half centuries ago closes his sad narrative with this reflection: "Perchance posterity, born in a happier age, may be interested in perusing this diary, and it may serve to point a moral for the unreflecting. It may even cause vindictive and cruel-minded men to reflect on the error of their ways, and thus be of some value, as a solemn warning."
This problem, — namely, that of the final prevalence of moral ideals, and of the duty of an optimistic faith in them, — when viewed from the more definitely religious point of view, becomes the problem of evil as judged from the stand-point of faith in God as perfect Ethical Spirit. That it costs — costs heavily and persistently, enormous loads of toil and suffering — to get ahead with these ideals, the facts forbid us to deny. Our faith in them, in their high worthiness and essential conquering quality, if they are given time enough, must often persist in spite of the patent facts. But the fact that it does so persist is a powerful item of proof of its own trustworthiness. The faith of optimism is. not susceptible of proof by appeal to the course of human history, if we neglect the character and the persistence and the powerful influence of that faith itself. This faith does not rest wholly, or chiefly, on purely empirical grounds. It can never be, and really it never is, established by the calculations of economists, or the partisan claims of politicians, or the traveller's observations of the signs of culture and of material prosperity. But it claims reasonableness for itself, as it springs from the very depths of the personal life, commends it-self to the spirit when making up its estimates of what has real and lasting value in human affairs, and fastens itself upon the will in a way to demand at all costs its fullest and most loyal allegiance.
Voltaire was not so great a scoffer at the religious dogma and ritual of his own day that, profoundly moved by the disaster to Lisbon, he could not write:
"All will one day be well, we fondly hope;
The faiths of morality put a weight of stern obligation upon the moral consciousness of every individual man, and of every community and age in the historical evolution of mankind. Inasmuch as all moral ideals have, from their very nature, a bearing on the control of conduct, they enter at once into the sphere of obligation. They appear clothed in sacred garb at the throne-room of conscience. We may not say whether we will or will not, examine into their reasonableness. We may not say, whether we will, or will not, try to choose the best available among them for our very own. These faiths are not beliefs, to be suspected of superstition as they stand begging before the closed door of the human Will. They give a mandatory summons upon that door. And if we are lovers of righteousness, we will not compel them to plead in the words of Israel's great Love Song,
"Open to me...
As a sort of corollary or practical inference from this faith in the value and ultimate triumph of the ideals of morality, is the belief in the retributive character of good and bad conduct as considered from the moral point of view. This aspect of the problem becomes in the higher forms of monotheistic religion the problem of evil in a universe whose creator and moral ruler is assumed to be a perfectly just and good God. Theology and the philosophy of religion call it an attempt at a Theodicy, or justification of the ways of God to man. This is the question which puzzled the patriarch Job : "Why do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?" It is the same question which the poet Theognis put into the words: "How canst thou, O son of Saturn, put the sinner and the just man on the same footing?" But the pressure of the faith in moral ideals, as these ideals have approached nearer to the goal of a complete reasonableness, has compelled increasing confidence in the firm connection between righteousness and blessedness; although both the righteousness and the blessedness which belongs of right to righteousness, may have to be approached along a path thickly strewn with wrong-doing and its retributive sorrows and pains. Even those systems of reflective thinking which have espoused a sort of moral dualism, and so have represented the schism between the two as eternally seated in the universe, — Evil and Good, and the hopeless, never-ending strife between the two, - have not really escaped the confidence and the hope that characterize the faith of moral optimism. As Pfleiderer says of the oldest and, in a way, the most respectable of these forms of moral Dualism: "The peculiarity of the reform of Zarathustra appears to have consisted in this, that he placed the opposed spirits of the Iranian Nature-religion in two hostile kingdoms, each presided over by a spiritual power; and that, nevertheless, by his exalted idea of the good God and Creator he approached closely to monotheism."
But the other side of this faith in the ideals of morality is the belief in an equally firm connection between suffering and unrighteousness. Even original Buddhism, the religion of Sakya-Muni, although it denied the reality of the gods of Hindi ism and the substantial and eternal existence of the human soul, could not dispense with that belief in retributive justice which is, so to say, the complement of the faith in the value and ultimate triumph of moral ideals. This confidence early Buddhism undertook to express in its doctrine of Karma. "A man's deeds are like seeds," said Gautama; "and wherever his personality may be, there these seeds repose." But in the later developments of Buddhism, the necessity of pictorial concreteness revived and embellished with all its possible horrors, the dogma of a hell of material torture administered by vindictive and more than humanly cruel justice.
The modern age has dropped the embellishments of a belief in the retributive side of the ideals of morality. Indeed, it has gone further, and has succeeded in largely obscuring or discrediting the idea which they attempted to make emphatic in physically repulsive ways. But it has not at all altered the foundations of this belief, as they are laid in the faiths of ethics; whether these faiths be stated in scholastic or in more popular form. Righteousness and blessedness go hand in hand, if we have reference to their march down through the centuries. Unrighteousness is inevitably followed by suffering, — some time, some how, by some one; this is the law of an ethically constituted universe. It is a law which, in the long run, maintains itself over individuals, over communities, over nations, and between individuals and nations.
We cannot indeed indisputably trace in every individual case, and perhaps not in the majority of individual cases, the sufferings of individuals to their own wrong-doing. And it is by no means the most truly righteous, who are most conspicuous in attributing their prosperity, of whatever kind, to their own distinction in righteousness. But on the whole, about all the inescapable ills of life, which every individual is called upon to bear, are due to his own or to some other's wrong-doing. On the other hand, every one who, as the saying is, "aims to do right," although he may not always hit the mark, is entitled to the fullest measure of comfort from that grand and beautiful saying of our favorite Stoic philosopher: "It is difficult, I own, to blend and unite tranquillity in accepting, and energy in using, the facts of life; but it is not impossible." Still less of doubt can be thrown upon the belief that it is wrong conduct which produces most of the confusion and suffering in the relations of classes, and parties, and ranks, and degrees of social or educational or financial distinctions. While, that it is the crimes of peace which produce the woes of war between nations, there is no ground for reasonable doubt.
From all this it follows that the triumph of the ideals of morality must come through the putting-down in some way of the forces of immorality. And the beginning of this is the self-conquest of the individual in the interest of those ideals, the free-choice of a will yielding itself without reserve to the control of those ideals. This is the essence of the personal life, as understood and cultivated from the points of view afforded by the high-places on which are erected the altars of moral faith.
We have returned, then, to the conclusion to which we were conducted when examining the essential distinctions between the lesser and the greater faiths; and the claims which the latter make upon, and the obligations under which they lay, those who are the rich possessors of the gift of personal life. The faiths of morality are such that without them personality cannot exist. Without their acceptance by the will to believe, the personal life cannot develop sanely and successfully. Without cherishing them, the obligations of the personal life cannot be fulfilled. Without their recognition and development, the constitution of society and all social evolution are impossible.
With all our boasting over our social develop-ment — some of which is justified, but most of which is quite unjustified — it can scarcely be denied that the temptations to be weak and delinquent in the faiths of morality are very powerful and efficient at the present time. Indeed, there is no little suppressed contempt, if not open scorn, for some of those ideals of conduct which the best thought and noblest action of the race have evolved in its past history. Among these, the earnest inquirer, What should I believe? may note the following, and be on his guard against them as the chief temptations.
Doubtless, we shall not touch and set vibrating any popular chord of sympathy, by the claim that the current advices of the prevalent ethical and speculative philosophy are decidedly opposed to much profound and efficient faith in the ideals of morality. We do not think to convict any unwilling soul, or even any uninformed mind, by uttering warnings against "Empiricism," "Pragmatism," or the doctrines of Nietzsche and his followers, — frankly avowed, or pseudo, or otherwise. He who thinks that the Uebermensch, is a moral man, or that the higher ethics authorizes nations to use all means in the interests of their own aggrandizement, is already far beyond the range of our voice, whether for purposes of denunciation, or warning, or entreaty. But we would have every man who honestly asks himself the question, What should I believe? examine thoroughly the consequences, as well as the positions of these philosophies in their bearing on the faiths of morality.
And this brings us to another yet more subtle temptation. The age is disinclined to reflection, — especially on fundamental matters of morals and religions. In its clamor for the "practical," it has quite too often and sadly forgotten that the moral is the practical; and that, no more in morals than in any other form of manufacture, can you get the desired product without using the correct method. The right method cannot be secured, presented to the will, and made the object of intelligent choice, without first being subjected to reflection. Even our most active men in experimental science are bitterly complaining of the meagreness of their results, because they have no time for reflection. But the more foreboding phenomenon is the fact that so little of the results which are put forth in the name of science can afford any sure basis for reflection. The same thing is true of our politics, of our law, of our literature, of our education. For debate is not reflection, whether conducted by fluent pens or strident voices. But above all, is this unwillingness or practical inability to reflect pernicious in its effects upon the faiths of morality and religion.
A kindred temptation arises from the pressure of interests that cannot possibly be made consistent with moral ideals. Who can maintain that the prevailing methods of business, of politics, of intercourse between individuals and nations are being shaped chiefly by intelligent regard for the inestimable worth and destined triumph of the ideals of morality? About as little doubt is there that our educational and religious institutions, and even our missionary organizations, are far enough from resisting the tremendous pressure brought to bear upon them in directions adverse to those in which they would be conducted by a perfect and consistent faith in the value and in the final supremacy of moral ideals. Even the decline of any sort of interest in these ideals is, in too many quarters, quite obvious enough to dispense with any reference to particulars.
But all these temptations afford no adequate excuse for the man who does not bow his will to this answer to our question : You should pin your faith to the ideals of morality; and you should, with fidelity, gallantry, and endurance, hold by this faith. In this way, we may not, indeed, escape the experience to which Schiller refers in his ode "To The Ideal."
"The space between the Ideal of man's soul
But we may escape the necessity of lamenting,
"Gone the divine and sweet believing
In a word, then, the faith in moral ideals, in their validity, value, and final triumph, and in their practical control of the issues of life and of human destiny, makes an imperative claim upon the reason and the will of every individual man. Some of this faith is necessary to the constitution of personality, to the "make-up" of a Self. To cherish this faith and to make it the guide and the master of one's conduct, is the essential of all safe and true evolution of personal life. Without this form of the will to believe, — this supremely "great belief " — the final purpose of the divine gift of personality can never be realized.
In closing this Chapter there are two references to thoughts, which carry our minds far beyond the interests of any individual, that may fitly be placed upon the page. One of these emphasizes the intimate connections between the faiths of morality and the religious development of the race. These faiths must themselves, if possible, be more securely grounded in the reality of the Universe as known from every trustworthy source and convincing point of view. In the effort to bring this about we seek the aid of religion. In this way it is aimed to secure the faith in moral principles and moral ideals, by buttressing them with faith in personal, perfect Holy Spirit as the immanent Life of the World, and the ruler and redeemer of humanity. Thus a "real," as well as a "notional," apprehension, or assent by an intuitive act of belief, may be obtained for the faiths of morality.
The relation between the faiths of morality and the higher kinds of literature is not so obvious, but it is scarcely, if at all, less intimate and binding. It is not without significance in this direction that the author of the Introduction to the German Classics finds himself obliged to admit that, for nearly a century, there has been no great religious poetry in Germany, and few or no hymns to compare in poetic fervor and dignity with the Medieval Latin hymns; or in sweet and touching simplicity with holy George Herbert, or with the utterances in song of the German Mystics. For in truth, no great literature can arise and flourish in an age which has no vital and influential faith in a world of moral and religious ideals. It is not the world of sense, except as giving incitement to the insights, and body and form to the world of the spirit as it appears to the eye of faith, which can be the mother, or the foster-mother, of great poetry, essay, drama, philosophy or any form of great literature, in the more exclusive but appropriate meaning of the term.
Only moral fervor, born of a firm trust in the supreme value of spiritual realities, can produce a literature that is worthy to be called great.