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                                by William James

                       A STUDY IN HUMAN NATURE
            Being the Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion
                 Delivered at Edinburgh in 1901-1902

  THIS book would never have been written had I not been honored
with an appointment as Gifford Lecturer on Natural Religion at the
University of Edinburgh. In casting about me for subjects of the two
courses of ten lectures each for which I thus became responsible, it
seemed to me that the first course might well be a descriptive one
on 'Man's Religious Appetites,' and the second a metaphysical one on
'Their Satisfaction through Philosophy.' But the unexpected growth
of the psychological matter as I came to write it out has resulted
in the second subject being postponed entirely, and the description of
man's religious constitution now fills the twenty lectures. In Lecture
XX I have suggested rather than stated my own philosophic conclusions,
and the reader who desires immediately to know them should turn to the
'Conclusions,' and to the 'Postscript' of the book. I hope to be
able at some later day to express them in more explicit form.
  In my belief that a large acquaintance with particulars often
makes us wiser than the possession of abstract formulas, however deep,
I have loaded the lectures with concrete examples, and I have chosen
these among the extremer expressions of the religious temperament.
To some readers I may consequently seem, before they get beyond the
middle of the book, to offer a caricature of the subject. Such
convulsions of piety, they will say, are not sane. If, however, they
will have the patience to read to the end, I believe that this
unfavorable impression will disappear; for I there combine the
religious impulses with other principles of common sense which serve
as correctives of exaggeration, and allow the individual reader to
draw as moderate conclusions as he will.
  My thanks for help in writing these lectures are due to Edwin D.
Starbuck, of Stanford University, who made over to me his large
collection of manuscript material; to Henry W. Rankin, of East
Northfield, a friend unseen but proved, to whom I owe precious
information; to Theodore Flournoy, of Geneva, to Canning Schiller,
of Oxford, and to my colleague Benjamin Rand, for documents; to my
colleague Dickinson S. Miller, and to my friends, Thomas Wren Ward, of
New York, and Wincenty Lutoslawski, late of Cracow, for important
suggestions and advice. Finally, to conversations with the lamented
Thomas Davidson and to the use of his books, at Glenmore, above
Keene Valley, I owe more obligations than I can well express.
     March, 1902.

                              LECTURE I
                        RELIGION AND NEUROLOGY
  IT is with no small amount of trepidation that I take my place
behind this desk, and face this learned audience. To us Americans, the
experience of receiving instruction from the living voice, as well
as from the books, of European scholars, is very familiar. At my own
University of Harvard, not a winter passes without its harvest,
large or small, of lectures from Scottish, English, French, or
German representatives of the science or literature of their
respective countries whom we have either induced to cross the ocean to
address us, or captured on the wing as they were visiting our land. It
seems the natural thing for us to listen whilst the Europeans talk.
The contrary habit, of talking whilst the Europeans listen, we have
not yet acquired; and in him who first makes the adventure it begets a
certain sense of apology being due for so presumptuous an act.
Particularly must this be the case on a soil as sacred to the American
imagination as that of Edinburgh. The glories of the philosophic chair
of this university were deeply impressed on my imagination in boyhood.
Professor Fraser's Essays in Philosophy, then just published, was
the first philosophic book I ever looked into, and I well remember the
awe-struck feeling I received from the account of Sir William
Hamilton's class-room therein contained. Hamilton's own lectures
were the first philosophic writings I ever forced myself to study, and
after that I was immersed in Dugald Stewart and Thomas Brown. Such
juvenile emotions of reverence never get outgrown; and I confess
that to find my humble self promoted from my native wilderness to be
actually for the time an official here, and transmuted into a
colleague of these illustrious names, carries with it a sense of
dreamland quite as much as of reality.
  But since I have received the honor of this appointment I have
felt that it would never do to decline. The academic career also has
its heroic obligations, so I stand here without further deprecatory
words. Let me say only this, that now that the current, here and at
Aberdeen, has begun to run from west to east, I hope it may continue
to do so. As the years go by, I hope that many of my countrymen may be
asked to lecture in the Scottish universities, changing places with
Scotsmen lecturing in the United States; I hope that our people may
become in all these higher matters even as one people; and that the
peculiar philosophic temperament, as well as the peculiar political
temperament, that goes with our English speech may more and more
pervade and influence the world.
  As regards the manner in which I shall have to administer this
lectureship, I am neither a theologian, nor a scholar learned in the
history of religions, nor an anthropologist. Psychology is the only
branch of learning in which I am particularly versed. To the
psychologist the religious propensities of man must be at least as
interesting as any other of the facts pertaining to his mental
constitution. It would seem, therefore, that, as a psychologist, the
natural thing for me would be to invite you to a descriptive survey of
those religious propensities.
  If the inquiry be psychological, not religious institutions, but
rather religious feelings and religious impulses must be its
subject, and I must confine myself to those more developed
subjective phenomena recorded in literature produced by articulate and
fully self-conscious men, in works of piety and autobiography.
Interesting as the origins and early stages of a subject always are,
yet when one seeks earnestly for its full significance, one must
always look to its more completely evolved and perfect forms. It
follows from this that the documents that will most concern us will be
those of the men who were most accomplished in the religious life
and best able to give an intelligible account of their ideas and
motives. These men, of course, are either comparatively modern
writers, or else such earlier ones as have become religious
classics. The documents humains which we shall find most instructive
need not then be sought for in the haunts of special erudition- they
lie along the beaten highway; and this circumstance, which flows so
naturally from the character of our problem, suits admirably also your
lecturer's lack of special theological learning. I may take my
citations, my sentences and paragraphs of personal confession, from
books that most of you at some time will have had already in your
hands, and yet this will be no detriment to the value of my
conclusions. It is true that some more adventurous reader and
investigator, lecturing here in future, may unearth from the shelves
of libraries documents that will make a more delectable and curious
entertainment to listen to than mine. Yet I doubt whether he will
necessarily, by his control of so much more out-of-the-way material,
get much closer to the essence of the matter in hand.
  The question, What are the religious propensities? and the question,
What is their philosophic significance? are two entirely different
orders of question from the logical point of view; and, as a failure
to recognize this fact distinctly may breed confusion, I wish to
insist upon the point a little before we enter into the documents
and materials to which I have referred.
  In recent books on logic, distinction is made between two orders
of inquiry concerning anything. First, what is the nature of it? how
did it come about? what is its constitution, origin, and history?
And second, What is its importance, meaning, or significance, now that
it is once here? The answer to the one question is given in an
existential judgment or proposition. The answer to the other is a
proposition of value, what the Germans call a Werthurtheil, or what we
may, if we like, denominate a spiritual judgment. Neither judgment can
be deduced immediately from the other. They proceed from diverse
intellectual preoccupations, and the mind combines them only by making
them first separately, and then adding them together.
  In the matter of religions it is particularly easy to distinguish
the two orders of question. Every religious phenomenon has its history
and its derivation from natural antecedents. What is nowadays called
the higher criticism of the Bible is only a study of the Bible from
this existential point of view, neglected too much by the earlier
church. Under just what biographic conditions did the sacred writers
bring forth their various contributions to the holy volume? And what
had they exactly in their several individual minds, when they
delivered their utterances? These are manifestly questions of
historical fact, and one does not see how the answer to them can
decide offhand the still further question: of what use should such a
volume, with its manner of coming into existence so defined, be to
us as a guide to life and a revelation? To answer this other
question we must have already in our mind some sort of a general
theory as to what the peculiarities in a thing should be which give it
value for purposes of revelation; and this theory itself would be what
I just called a spiritual judgment. Combining it with our
existential judgment, we might indeed deduce another spiritual
judgment as to the Bible's worth. Thus if our theory of
revelation-value were to affirm that any book, to possess it, must
have been composed automatically or not by the free caprice of the
writer, or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors
and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably
fare ill at our hands. But if, on the other hand, our theory should
allow that a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and
passions and deliberate human composition, if only it be a true record
of the inner experiences of great-souled persons wrestling with the
crises of their fate, then the verdict would be much more favorable.
You see that the existential facts by themselves are insufficient
for determining the value; and the best adepts of the higher criticism
accordingly never confound the existential with the spiritual problem.
With the same conclusions of fact before them, some take one view, and
some another, of the Bible's value as a revelation, according as their
spiritual judgment as to the foundation of values differs.
  I make these general remarks about the two sorts of judgment,
because there are many religious persons- some of you now present,
possibly, are among them- who do not yet make a working use of the
distinction, and who may therefore feel at first a little startled
at the purely existential point of view from which in the following
lectures the phenomena of religious experience must be considered.
When I handle them biologically and psychologically as if they were
mere curious facts of individual history, some of you may think it a
degradation of so sublime a subject, and may even suspect me, until my
purpose gets more fully expressed, of deliberately seeking to
discredit the religious side of life.
  Such a result is of course absolutely alien to my intention; and
since such a prejudice on your part would seriously obstruct the due
effect of much of what I have to relate, I will devote a few more
words to the point.
  There can be no doubt that as a matter of fact a religious life,
exclusively pursued, does tend to make the person exceptional and
eccentric. I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer, who
follows the conventional observances of his country, whether it be
Buddhist, Christian, or Mohammedan. His religion has been made for him
by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms
by imitation, and retained by habit. It would profit us little to
study this second-hand religious life. We must make search rather
for the original experiences which were the pattern-setters to all
this mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct. These experiences
we can only find in individuals for whom religion exists not as a dull
habit, but as an acute fever rather. But such individuals are
'geniuses' in the religious line; and like many other geniuses who
have brought forth fruits effective enough for commemoration in the
pages of biography, such religious geniuses have often shown
symptoms of nervous instability. Even more perhaps than other kinds of
genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical
visitations. Invariably they have been creatures of exalted
emotional sensibility. Often they have led a discordant inner life,
and had melancholy during a part of their career. They have known no
measure, been liable to obsessions and fixed ideas; and frequently
they have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions, and
presented all sorts of peculiarities which are ordinarily classed as
pathological. Often, moreover, these pathological features in their
career have helped to give them their religious authority and
  If you ask for a concrete example, there can be no better one than
is furnished by the person of George Fox. The Quaker religion which he
founded is something which it is impossible to overpraise. In a day of
shams, it was a religion of veracity rooted in spiritual inwardness,
and a return to something more like the original gospel truth than men
had ever known in England. So far as our Christian sects to-day are
evolving into liberality, they are simply reverting in essence to
the position which Fox and the early Quakers so long ago assumed. No
one can pretend for a moment that in point of spiritual sagacity and
capacity, Fox's mind was unsound. Every one who confronted him
personally, from Oliver Cromwell down to county magistrates and
jailers, seems to have acknowledged his superior power. Yet from the
point of view of his nervous constitution, Fox was a psychopath or
detraque of the deepest dye. His Journal abounds in entries of this
  "As I was walking with several friends, I lifted up my head, and saw
three steeple-house spires, and they struck at my life. I asked them
what place that was? They said, Lichfield. Immediately the word of the
Lord came to me, that I must go thither. Being come to the house we
were going to, I wished the friends to walk into the house, saying
nothing to them of whither I was to go. As soon as they were gone I
stept away, and went by my eye over hedge and ditch till I came within
a mile of Lichfield; where, in a great field, shepherds were keeping
their sheep. Then was I commanded by the Lord to pull off my shoes.
I stood still, for it was winter: but the word of the Lord was like
a fire in me. So I put off my shoes, and left them with the shepherds;
and the poor shepherds trembled, and were astonished. Then I walked on
about a mile, and as soon as I was got within the city, the word of
the Lord came to me again, saying: Cry, 'Wo to the bloody city of
Lichfield!' So I went up and down the streets, crying with a loud
voice, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield! It being market day, I went
into the market-place, and to and fro in the several parts of it,
and made stands, crying as before, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!
And no one laid hands on me. As I went thus crying through the
streets, there seemed to me to be a channel of blood running down
the streets, and the market-place appeared like a pool of blood.
When I had declared what was upon me, and felt myself clear, I went
out of the town in peace: and returning to the shepherds gave them
some money, and took my shoes of them again. But the fire of the
Lord was so on my feet, and all over me, that I did not matter to
put on my shoes again, and was at a stand whether I should or no, till
I felt freedom from the Lord so to do: then, after I had washed my
feet, I put on my shoes again. After this a deep consideration came
upon me, for what reason I should be sent to cry against that city,
and call it The bloody city! For though the parliament had the
minister one while, and the king another, and much blood had been shed
in the town during the wars between them, yet there was no more than
had befallen many other places. But afterwards I came to understand,
that in the Emperor Diocletian's time a thousand Christians were
martyr'd in Lichfield. So I was to go, without my shoes, through the
channel of their blood, and into the pool of their blood in the
market-place, that I might raise up the memorial of the blood of those
martyrs, which had been shed above a thousand years before, and lay
cold in their streets. So the sense of this blood was upon me, and I
obeyed the word of the Lord."
  Bent as we are on studying religion's existential conditions, we
cannot possibly ignore these pathological aspects of the subject. We
must describe and name them just as if they occurred in
non-religious men. It is true that we instinctively recoil from seeing
an object to which our emotions and affections are committed handled
by the intellect as any other object is handled. The first thing the
intellect does with an object is to class it along with something
else. But any object that is infinitely important to us and awakens
our devotion feels to us also as if it must be sui generis and unique.
Probably a crab would be filled with a sense of personal outrage if it
could hear us class it without ado or apology as a crustacean, and
thus dispose of it. "I am no such thing," it would say; "I am
  The next thing the intellect does is to lay bare the causes in which
the thing originates. Spinoza says: "I will analyze the actions and
appetites of men as if it were a question of lines, of planes, and
of solids." And elsewhere he remarks that he will consider our
passions and their properties with the same eye with which he looks on
all other natural things, since the consequences of our affections
flow from their nature with the same necessity as it results from
the nature of a triangle that its three angles should be equal to
two right angles. Similarly M. Taine, in the introduction to his
history of English literature, has written: "Whether facts be moral or
physical, it makes no matter. They always have their causes. There are
causes for ambition, courage, veracity, just as there are for
digestion, muscular movement, animal heat. Vice and virtue are
products like vitriol and sugar." When we read such proclamations of
the intellect bent on showing the existential conditions of absolutely
everything, we feel- quite apart from our legitimate impatience at the
somewhat ridiculous swagger of the program, in view of what the
authors are actually able to perform- menaced and negated in the
springs of our innermost life. Such cold-blooded assimilations
threaten, we think, to undo our soul's vital secrets, as if the same
breath which should succeed in explaining their origin would
simultaneously explain away their significance, and make them appear
of no more preciousness, either, than the useful groceries of which M.
Taine speaks.
  Perhaps the commonest expression of this assumption that spiritual
value is undone if lowly origin be asserted is seen in those
comments which unsentimental people so often pass on their more
sentimental acquaintances. Alfred believes in immortality so
strongly because his temperament is so emotional. Fanny's
extraordinary conscientiousness is merely a matter of
over-instigated nerves. William's melancholy about the universe is due
to bad digestion- probably his liver is torpid. Eliza's delight in her
church is a symptom of her hysterical constitution. Peter would be
less troubled about his soul if he would take more exercise in the
open air, etc. A more fully developed example of the same kind of
reasoning is the fashion, quite common nowadays among certain writers,
of criticising the religious emotions by showing a connection
between them and the sexual life. Conversion is a crisis of puberty
and adolescence. The macerations of saints, and the devotion of
missionaries, are only instances of the parental instinct of
self-sacrifice gone astray. For the hysterical nun, starving for
natural life, Christ is but an imaginary substitute for a more earthly
object of affection. And the like. *
  * As with many ideas that float in the air of one's time, this
notion shrinks from dogmatic general statement and expresses itself
only partially and by innuendo. It seems to me that few conceptions
are less instructive than this re-interpretation of religion as
perverted sexuality. It reminds one, so crudely is it often
employed, of the famous Catholic taunt, that the Reformation may be
best understood by remembering that its fons et origo was Luther's
wish to marry a nun:- the effects are infinitely wider than the
alleged causes, and for the most part opposite in nature. It is true
that in the vast collection of religious phenomena, some are
undisguisedly amatory- e.g., sex-deities and obscene rites in
polytheism, and ecstatic feelings of union with the Saviour in a few
Christian mystics. But then why not equally call religion an
aberration of the digestive function, and prove one's point by the
worship of Bacchus and Ceres, or by the ecstatic feelings of some
other saints about the Eucharist? Religious language clothes itself in
such poor symbols as our life affords, and the whole organism gives
overtones of comment whenever the mind is strongly stirred to
expression. Language drawn from eating and drinking is probably as
common in religious literature as is language drawn from the sexual
life. We 'hunger and thirst' after righteousness; we 'find the Lord
a sweet savor;' we 'taste and see that he is good.' 'Spiritual milk
for American babes, drawn from the breasts of both testaments,' is a
sub-title of the once famous New England Primer, and Christian
devotional literature indeed quite floats in milk, thought of from the

point of view, not of the mother, but of the greedy babe.
  Saint Francois de Sales, for instance, thus describes the 'orison of
quietude': "In this state the soul is like a little child still at the
breast, whose mother, to caress him whilst he is still in her arms,
makes her milk distill into his mouth without his even moving his
lips. So it is here.... Our Lord desires that our will should be
satisfied with sucking the milk which His Majesty pours into our
mouth, and that we should relish the sweetness without even knowing
that it cometh from the Lord." And again: "Consider the little
infants, united and joined to the breasts of their nursing mothers,
you will see that from time to time they press themselves closer by
little starts to which the pleasure of sucking prompts them. Even
so, during its orison, the heart united to its God oftentimes makes
attempts at closer union by movements during which it presses closer
upon the divine sweetness." Chemin de la Perfection, ch. xxxi.;
Amour de Dieu, vii. ch. i.
  In fact, one might almost as well interpret religion as a perversion
of the respiratory function. The Bible is full of the language of
respiratory oppression: "Hide not thine ear at my breathing; my
groaning is not hid from thee; my heart panteth, my strength faileth
me; my bones are hot with my roaring all the night long; as the hart
panteth after the water-brooks, so my soul panteth after thee, O my
God." God's Breath in Man is the title of the chief work of our best
known American mystic (Thomas Lake Harris); and in certain
non-Christian countries the foundation of all religious discipline
consists in regulation of the inspiration and expiration.
  These arguments are as good as much of the reasoning one hears in
favor of the sexual theory. But the champions of the latter will
then say that their chief argument has no analogue elsewhere. The
two main phenomena of religion, namely, melancholy and conversion,
they will say, are essentially phenomena of adolescence, and therefore
synchronous with the development of sexual life. To which the retort
again is easy. Even were the asserted synchrony unrestrictedly true as
a fact (which it is not), it is not only the sexual life, but the
entire higher mental life which awakens during adolescence. One
might then as well set up the thesis that the interest in mechanics,
physics, chemistry, logic, philosophy, and sociology, which springs up
during adolescent years along with that in poetry and religion, is
also a perversion of the sexual instinct:- but that would be too
absurd. Moreover, if the argument from synchrony is to decide, what is
to be done with the fact that the religious age par excellence would
seem to be old age, when the uproar of the sexual life is past?
  The plain truth is that to interpret religion one must in the end
look at the immediate content of the religious consciousness. The
moment one does this, one sees how wholly disconnected it is in the
main from the content of the sexual consciousness. Everything about
the two things differs, objects, moods, faculties concerned, and
acts impelled to. Any general assimilation is simply impossible:
what we find most often is complete hostility and contrast. If now the
defenders of the sex-theory say that this makes no difference to their
thesis; that without the chemical contributions which the sex-organs
make to the blood, the brain would not be nourished so as to carry
on religious activities, this final proposition may be true or not
true; but at any rate it has become profoundly uninstructive: we can
deduce no consequences from it which help us to interpret religion's
meaning or value. In this sense the religious life depends just as
much upon the spleen, the pancreas, and the kidneys as on the sexual
apparatus, and the whole theory has lost its point in evaporating into
a vague, general assertion of the dependence, somehow, of the mind
upon the body.
  We are surely all familiar in a general way with this method of
discrediting states of mind for which we have an antipathy. We all use
it to some degree in criticising persons whose states of mind we
regard as overstrained. But when other people criticise our own more
exalted soul-flights by calling them 'nothing but' expressions of
our organic disposition, we feel outraged and hurt, for we know
that, whatever be our organism's peculiarities, our mental states have
their substantive value as revelations of the living truth; and we
wish that all this medical materialism could be made to hold its
  Medical materialism seems indeed a good appellation for the too
simple-minded system of thought which we are considering. Medical
materialism finishes up Saint Paul by calling his vision on the road
to Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being
an epileptic. It snuffs out Saint Teresa as an hysteric, Saint Francis
of Assisi as an hereditary degenerate. George Fox's discontent with
the shams of his age, and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats
as a symptom of a disordered colon. Carlyle's organ-tones of misery it
accounts for by a gastro-duodenal catarrh. All such mental
over-tensions, it says, are, when you come to the bottom of the
matter, mere affairs of diathesis (auto-intoxications most
probably), due to the perverted action of various glands which
physiology will yet discover.
  And medical materialism then thinks that the spiritual authority
of all such personages is successfully undermined. *
  * For a first-rate example of medical-materialist reasoning, see
an article on 'les Varietes du Type devot,' by Dr. Binet-Sangle, in
the Revue de l'Hypnotisme, xiv. 161.
  Let us ourselves look at the matter in the largest possible way.
Modern psychology, finding definite psycho-physical connections to
hold good, assumes as a convenient hypothesis that the dependence of
mental states upon bodily conditions must be thorough-going and
complete. If we adopt the assumption, then of course what medical
materialism insists on must be true in a general way, if not in
every detail: Saint Paul certainly had once an epileptoid, if not an
epileptic seizure; George Fox was an hereditary degenerate; Carlyle
was undoubtedly auto-intoxicated by some organ or other, no matter
which,- and the rest. But now, I ask you, how can such an
existential account of facts of mental history decide in one way or
another upon their spiritual significance? According to the general
postulate of psychology just referred to, there is not a single one of
our states of mind, high or low, healthy or morbid, that has not
some organic process as its condition. Scientific theories are
organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are; and if
we only knew the facts intimately enough, we should doubtless see 'the
liver' determining the dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it
does those of the Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul.
When it alters in one way the blood that percolates it, we get the
methodist, when in another way, we get the atheist form of mind. So of
all our rapturer, and our drynesses, our longings and pantings, our
questions and beliefs. They are equally organically founded, be they
of religious or of non-religious content.
  To plead the organic causation of a religious state of mind, then,
in refutation of its claim to possess superior spiritual value, is
quite illogical and arbitrary, unless one have already worked out in
advance some psycho-physical theory connecting spiritual values in
general with determinate sorts of physiological change. Otherwise none
of our thoughts and feelings, not even our scientific doctrines, not
even our dis-beliefs, could retain any value as revelations of the
truth, for every one of them without exception flows from the state of
their possessor's body at the time.
  It is needless to say that medical materialism draws in point of
fact no such sweeping skeptical conclusion. It is sure, just as
every simple man is sure, that some states of mind are inwardly
superior to others, and reveal to us more truth, and in this it simply
makes use of an ordinary spiritual judgment. It has no physiological
theory of the production of these its favorite states, by which it may
accredit them; and its attempt to discredit the states which it
dislikes, by vaguely associating them with nerves and liver, and
connecting them with names connoting bodily affliction, is
altogether illogical and inconsistent.
  Let us play fair in this whole matter, and be quite candid with
ourselves and with the facts. When we think certain states of mind
superior to others, is it ever because of what we know concerning
their organic antecedents? No! it is always for two entirely different
reasons. It is either because we take an immediate delight in them; or
else it is because we believe them to bring us good consequential
fruits for life. When we speak disparagingly of 'feverish fancies,'
surely the fever-process as such is not the ground of our disesteem-
for aught we know to the contrary, 103 degrees or 104 degrees
Fahrenheit might be a much more favorable temperature for truths to
germinate and sprout in, than the more ordinary blood-heat of 97 or 98
degrees. It is either the disagreeableness itself of the fancies, or
their inability to bear the criticisms of the convalescent hour.
When we praise the thoughts which health brings, health's peculiar
chemical metabolisms have nothing to do with determining our judgment.
We know in fact almost nothing about these metabolisms. It is the
character of inner happiness in the thoughts which stamps them as
good, or else their consistency with our other opinions and their
serviceability for our needs, which make them pass for true in our
  Now the more intrinsic and the more remote of these criteria do
not always hang together. Inner happiness and serviceability do not
always agree. What immediately feels most 'good' is not always most
'true,' when measured by the verdict of the rest of experience. The
difference between Philip drunk and Philip sober is the classic
instance in corroboration. If merely 'feeling good' could decide,
drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience. But its
revelations, however acutely satisfying at the moment, are inserted
into an environment which refuses to bear them out for any length of
time. The consequence of this discrepancy of the two criteria is the
uncertainty which still prevails over so many of our spiritual
judgments. There are moments of sentimental and mystical experience-
we shall hereafter hear much of them- that carry an enormous sense
of inner authority and illumination with them when they come. But they
come seldom, and they do not come to every one; and the rest of life
makes either no connection with them, or tends to contradict them more
than it confirms them. Some persons follow more the voice of the
moment in these cases, some prefer to be guided by the average
results. Hence the sad discordancy of so many of the spiritual
judgments of human beings; a discordancy which will be brought home to
us acutely enough before these lectures end.
  It is, however, a discordancy that can never be resolved by any
merely medical test. A good example of the impossibility of holding
strictly to the medical tests is seen in the theory of the
pathological causation of genius promulgated by recent authors.
"Genius," said Dr. Moreau, "is but one of the many branches of the
neuropathic tree." "Genius," says Dr. Lombroso, "is a symptom of
hereditary degeneration of the epileptoid variety, and is allied to
moral insanity." "Whenever a man's life," writes Mr. Nisbet, "is at
once sufficiently illustrious and recorded with sufficient fullness to
be a subject of profitable study, he inevitably falls into the
morbid category.... And it is worthy of remark that, as a rule, the
greater the genius, the greater the unsoundness." *
  * J.F. NISBET: The Insanity of Genius, 3d. ed., London, 1893, pp.
xvi, xxiv.
  Now do these authors, after having succeeded in establishing to
their own satisfaction that the works of genius are fruits of disease,
consistently proceed thereupon to impugn the value of the fruits? Do
they deduce a new spiritual judgment from their new doctrine of
existential conditions? Do they frankly forbid us to admire the
productions of genius from now onwards? and say outright that no
neuropath can ever be a revealer of new truth?
  No! their immediate spiritual instincts are too strong for them
here, and hold their own against inferences which, in mere love of
logical consistency, medical materialism ought to be only too glad
to draw. One disciple of the school, indeed, has striven to impugn the
value of works of genius in a wholesale way (such works of
contemporary art, namely, as he himself is unable to enjoy, and they
are many) by using medical arguments. * But for the most part the
masterpieces are left unchallenged; and the medical line of attack
either confines itself to such secular productions as every one admits
to be intrinsically eccentric, or else addresses itself exclusively to
religious manifestations. And then it is because the religious
manifestations have been already condemned because the critic dislikes
them on internal or spiritual grounds.
  * MAX NORDAU, in his bulky book entitled Degeneration.
  In the natural sciences and industrial arts it never occurs to any
one to try to refute opinions by showing up their author's neurotic
constitution. Opinions here are invariably tested by logic and by
experiment, no matter what may be their author's neurological type. It
should be no otherwise with religious opinions. Their value can only
be ascertained by spiritual judgments directly passed upon them,
judgments based on our own immediate feeling primarily; and
secondarily on what we can ascertain of their experiential relations
to our moral needs and to the rest of what we hold as true.
  Immediate luminousness, in short, philosophical reasonableness,
and moral helpfulness are the only available criteria. Saint Teresa
might have had the nervous system of the placidest cow, and it would
not now save her theology, if the trial of the theology by these other
tests should show it to be contemptible. And conversely if her
theology can stand these other tests, it will make no difference how
hysterical or nervously off her balance Saint Teresa may have been
when she was with us here below.
  You see that at bottom we are thrown back upon the general
principles by which the empirical philosophy has always contended that
we must be guided in our search for truth. Dogmatic philosophies
have sought for tests for truth which might dispense us from appealing
to the future. Some direct mark, by noting which we can be protected
immediately and absolutely, now and forever, against all mistake- such
has been the darling dream of philosophic dogmatists. It is clear that
the origin of the truth would be an admirable criterion of this
sort, if only the various origins could be discriminated from one
another from this point of view, and the history of dogmatic opinion
shows that origin has always been a favorite test. Origin in immediate
intuition; origin in pontifical authority; origin in supernatural
revelation, as by vision, hearing, or unaccountable impression; origin
in direct possession by a higher spirit, expressing itself in prophecy
and warning; origin in automatic utterance generally,- these origins
have been stock warrants for the truth of one opinion after another
which we find represented in religious history. The medical
materialists are therefore only so many belated dogmatists, neatly
turning the tables on their predecessors by using the criterion of
origin in a destructive instead of an accreditive way.
  They are effective with their talk of pathological origin only so
long as supernatural origin is pleaded by the other side, and
nothing but the argument from origin is under discussion. But the
argument from origin has seldom been used alone, for it is too
obviously insufficient. Dr. Maudsley is perhaps the cleverest of the
rebutters of supernatural religion on grounds of origin. Yet he
finds himself forced to write:-
  "What right have we to believe Nature under any obligation to do her
work by means of complete minds only? She may find an incomplete
mind a more suitable instrument for a particular purpose. It is the
work that is done, and the quality in the worker by which it was done,
that is alone of moment; and it may be no great matter from a cosmical
standpoint, if in other qualities of character he was singularly
defective- if indeed he were hypocrite, adulterer, eccentric, or
lunatic.... Home we come again, then, to the old and last resort of
certitude,- namely the common assent of mankind, or of the competent
by instruction and training among mankind." *
  * H. MAUDSLEY: Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings, 1886, pp.
257, 256.
  In other words, not its origin, but the way in which it works on the
whole, is Dr. Maudsley's final test of a belief. This is our own
empiricist criterion; and this criterion the stoutest insisters on
supernatural origin have also been forced to use in the end. Among the
visions and messages some have always been too patently silly, among
the trances and convulsive seizures some have been too fruitless for
conduct and character, to pass themselves off as significant, still
less as divine. In the history of Christian mysticism the problem
how to discriminate between such messages and experiences as were
really divine miracles, and such others as the demon in his malice was
able to counterfeit, thus making the religious person twofold more the
child of hell he was before, has always been a difficult one to solve,
needing all the sagacity and experience of the best directors of
conscience. In the end it had to come to our empiricist criterion:
By their fruits ye shall know them, not by their roots. Jonathan
Edwards's Treatise on Religious Affections is an elaborate working out
of this thesis. The roots of a man's virtue are inaccessible to us. No
appearances whatever are infallible proofs of grace. Our practice is
the only sure evidence, even to ourselves, that we are genuinely
  "In forming a judgment of ourselves now," Edwards writes, "we should
certainly adopt that evidence which our supreme Judge will chiefly
make use of when we come to stand before him at the last day.... There
is not one grace of the Spirit of God, of the existence of which, in
any professor of religion, Christian practice is not the most decisive
evidence.... The degree in which our experience is productive of
practice shows the degree in which our experience is spiritual and
  Catholic writers are equally emphatic. The good dispositions which a
vision, or voice, or other apparent heavenly favor leave behind them
are the only marks by which we may be sure they are not possible
deceptions of the tempter. Says Saint Teresa:-
  "Like imperfect sleep which, instead of giving more strength to
the head, doth but leave it the more exhausted, the result of mere
operations of the imagination is but to weaken the soul. Instead of
nourishment and energy she reaps only lassitude and disgust: whereas a
genuine heavenly vision yields to her a harvest of ineffable spiritual
riches, and an admirable renewal of bodily strength. I alleged these
reasons to those who so often accused my visions of being the work
of the enemy of mankind and the sport of my imagination.... I showed
them the jewels which the divine hand had left with me:- they were
my actual dispositions. All those who knew me saw that I was
changed; my confessor bore witness to the fact; this improvement,
palpable in all respects, far from being hidden, was brilliantly
evident to all men. As for myself, it was impossible to believe that
if the demon were its author, he could have used, in order to lose
me and lead me to hell, an expedient so contrary to his own
interests as that of uprooting my vices, and filling me with masculine
courage and other virtues instead, for I saw clearly that a single one
of these visions was enough to enrich me with all that wealth." *
  * Autobiography, ch. xxviii.
  I fear I may have made a longer excursus than was necessary, and
that fewer words would have dispelled the uneasiness which may have
arisen among some of you as I announced my pathological programme.
At any rate you must all be ready now to judge the religious life by
its results exclusively, and I shall assume that the bugaboo of morbid
origin will scandalize your piety no more.
  Still, you may ask me, if its results are to be the ground of our
final spiritual estimate of a religious phenomenon, why threaten us at
all with so much existential study of its conditions? Why not simply
leave pathological questions out?
  To this I reply in two ways: First, I say, irrepressible curiosity
imperiously leads one on; and I say, secondly, that it always leads to
a better understanding of a thing's significance to consider its
exaggerations and perversions, its equivalents and substitutes and
nearest relatives elsewhere. Not that we may thereby swamp the thing
in the wholesale condemnation which we pass on its inferior congeners,
but rather that we may by contrast ascertain the more precisely in
what its merits consist, by learning at the same time to what
particular dangers of corruption it may also be exposed.
  Insane conditions have this advantage, that they isolate special
factors of the mental life, and enable us to inspect them unmasked
by their more usual surroundings. They play the part in mental anatomy
which the scalpel and the microscope play in the anatomy of the
body. To understand a thing rightly we need to see it both out of
its environment and in it, and to have acquaintance with the whole
range of its variations. The study of hallucinations has in this way
been for psychologists the key to their comprehension of normal
sensation, that of illusions has been the key to the right
comprehension of perception. Morbid impulses and imperative
conceptions, 'fixed ideas,' so called, have thrown a flood of light on
the psychology of the normal will; and obsessions and delusions have
performed the same service for that of the normal faculty of belief.
  Similarly, the nature of genius has been illuminated by the
attempts, of which I already made mention, to class it with
psychopathical phenomena. Borderland insanity, crankiness, insane
temperament, loss of mental balance, psychopathic degeneration (to use
a few of the many synonyms by which it has been called), has certain
peculiarities and liabilities which, when combined with a superior
quality of intellect in an individual, make it more probable that he
will make his mark and affect his age, than if his temperament were
less neurotic. There is of course no special affinity between
crankiness as such and superior intellect, * for most psychopaths have
feeble intellects, and superior intellects more commonly have normal
nervous systems. But the psychopathic temperament, whatever be the
intellect with which it finds itself paired, often brings with it
ardor and excitability of character. The cranky person has
extraordinary emotional susceptibility. He is liable to fixed ideas
and obsessions. His conceptions tend to pass immediately into belief
and action; and when he gets a new idea, he has no rest till he
proclaims it, or in some way 'works it off.' "What shall I think of
it?" a common person says to himself about a vexed question but in a
'cranky' mind "What must I do about it?" is the form the question
tends to take. In the autobiography of that high-souled woman, Mrs.
Annie Besant, I read the following passage: "Plenty of people wish
well to any good cause, but very few care to exert themselves to
help it, and still fewer will risk anything in its support. 'Some
one ought to do it, but why should I?' is the ever re-echoed phrase of
weak-kneed amiability. 'Some one ought to do it, so why not I?' is the
cry of some earnest servant of man, eagerly forward springing to
face some perilous duty. Between these two sentences lie whole
centuries of moral evolution." True enough! and between these two
sentences lie also the different destinies of the ordinary sluggard
and the psychopathic man. Thus, when a superior intellect and a
psychopathic temperament coalesce- as in the endless permutations
and combinations of human faculty, they are bound to coalesce often
enough- in the same individual, we have the best possible condition
for the kind of effective genius that gets into the biographical
dictionaries. Such men do not remain mere critics and understanders
with their intellect. Their ideas possess them, they inflict them, for
better or worse, upon their companions or their age. It is they who
get counted when Messrs Lombroso, Nisbet, and others invoke statistics
to defend their paradox.
  * Superior intellect, as Professor Bain has admirably shown, seems
to consist in nothing so much as in a large development of the faculty
of association by similarity.
  To pass now to religious phenomena, take the melancholy which, as we
shall see, constitutes an essential moment in every complete religious
evolution. Take the happiness which achieved religious belief confers.
Take the trance-like states of insight into truth which all
religious mystics report. * These are each and all of them special
cases of kinds of human experience of much wider scope. Religious
melancholy, whatever peculiarities it may have qua religious, is at
any rate melancholy. Religious happiness is happiness. Religious
trance is trance. And the moment we renounce the absurd notion that
a thing is exploded away as soon as it is classed with others, or
its origin is shown; the moment we agree to stand by experimental
results and inner quality, in judging of values,- who does not see
that we are likely to ascertain the distinctive significance of
religious melancholy and happiness, or of religious trances, far
better by comparing them as conscientiously as we can with other
varieties of melancholy, happiness, and trance, than by refusing to
consider their place in any more general series, and treating them
as if they were outside of nature's order altogether?
  * I may refer to a criticism of the insanity theory of genius in the
Psychological Review, ii. 287 (1895).
  I hope that the course of these lectures will confirm us in this
supposition. As regards the psychopathic origin of so many religious
phenomena, that would not be in the least surprising or disconcerting,
even were such phenomena certified from on high to be the most
precious of human experiences. No one organism can possibly yield to
its owner the whole body of truth. Few of us are not in some way
infirm, or even diseased; and our very infirmities help us
unexpectedly. In the psychopathic temperament we have the emotionality
which is the sine qua non of moral perception; we have the intensity
and tendency to emphasis which are the essence of practical moral
vigor; and we have the love of metaphysics and mysticism which carry
one's interests beyond the surface of the sensible world. What,
then, is more natural than that this temperament should introduce
one to regions of religious truth, to corners of the universe, which
your robust Philistine type of nervous system, forever offering its
biceps to be felt, thumping its breast, and thanking Heaven that it
hasn't a single morbid fibre in its composition, would be sure to hide
forever from its self-satisfied possessors?
  If there were such a thing as inspiration from a higher realm, it
might well be that the neurotic temperament would furnish the chief
condition of the requisite receptivity. And having said thus much, I
think that I may let the matter of religion and neuroticism drop.
  The mass of collateral phenomena, morbid or healthy, with which
the various religious phenomena must be compared in order to
understand them better, forms what in the slang of pedagogics is
termed 'the apperceiving mass' by which we comprehend them. The only
novelty that I can imagine this course of lectures to possess lies
in the breadth of the apperceiving mass. I may succeed in discussing
religious experiences in a wider context than has been usual in
university courses.

                              LECTURE II
  MOST books on the philosophy of religion try to begin with a precise
definition of what its essence consists of. Some of these would-be
definitions may possibly come before us in later portions of this
course, and I shall not be pedantic enough to enumerate any of them to
you now. Meanwhile the very fact that they are so many and so
different from one another is enough to prove that the word 'religion'
cannot stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather a
collective name. The theorizing mind tends always to the
over-simplification of its materials. This is the root of all that
absolutism and one-sided dogmatism by which both philosophy and
religion have been infested. Let us not fall immediately into a
one-sided view of our subject, but let us rather admit freely at the
outset that we may very likely find no one essence, but many
characters which may alternately be equally important in religion.
If we should inquire for the essence of 'government,' for example, one
man might tell us it was authority, another submission, another
police, another an army, another an assembly, another a system of
laws; yet all the while it would be true that no concrete government
can exist without all these things, one of which is more important
at one moment and others at another. The man who knows governments
most completely is he who troubles himself least about a definition
which shall give their essence. Enjoying an intimate acquaintance with
all their particularities in turn, he would naturally regard an
abstract conception in which these were unified as a thing more
misleading than enlightening. And why may not religion be a conception
equally complex? *
  * I can do no better here than refer my readers to the extended
and admirable remarks on the futility of all these definitions of
religion, in an article by Professor Leuba, published in the Monist
for January, 1901, after my own text was written.
  Consider also the 'religious sentiment' which we see referred to
in so many books, as if it were a single sort of mental entity.
  In the psychologies and in the philosophies of religion, we find the
authors attempting to specify just what entity it is. One man allies
it to the feeling of dependence; one makes it a derivative from
fear; others connect it with the sexual life; others still identify it
with the feeling of the infinite; and so on. Such different ways of
conceiving it ought of themselves to arouse doubt as to whether it
possibly can be one specific thing; and the moment we are willing to
treat the term 'religious sentiment' as a collective name for the many
sentiments which religious objects may arouse in alternation, we see
that it probably contains nothing whatever of a psychologically
specific nature. There is religious fear, religious love, religious
awe, religious joy, and so forth. But religious love is only man's
natural emotion of love directed to a religious object; religious fear
is only the ordinary fear of commerce, so to speak, the common quaking
of the human breast, in so far as the notion of divine retribution may
arouse it; religious awe is the same organic thrill which we feel in a
forest at twilight, or in a mountain gorge; only this time it comes
over us at the thought of our supernatural relations; and similarly of
all the various sentiments which may be called into play in the
lives of religious persons. As concrete states of mind, made up of a
feeling plus a specific sort of object, religious emotions of course
are psychic entities distinguishable from other concrete emotions; but
there is no ground for assuming a simple abstract 'religious
emotion' to exist as a distinct elementary mental affection by itself,
present in every religious experience without exception.
  As there thus seems to be no one elementary religious emotion, but
only a common storehouse of emotions upon which religious objects
may draw, so there might conceivably also prove to be no one
specific and essential kind of religious object, and no one specific
and essential kind of religious act.
  The field of religion being as wide as this, it is manifestly
impossible that I should pretend to cover it. My lectures must be
limited to a fraction of the subject. And, although it would indeed be
foolish to set up an abstract definition of religion's essence, and
then proceed to defend that definition against all comers, yet this
need not prevent me from taking my own narrow view of what religion
shall consist in for the purpose of these lectures, or, out of the
many meanings of the word, from choosing the one meaning in which I
wish to interest you particularly, and proclaiming arbitrarily that
when I say 'religion' I mean that. This, in fact, is what I must do,
and I will now preliminarily seek to mark out the field I choose.
  One way to mark it out easily is to say what aspects of the
subject we leave out. At the outset we are struck by one great
partition which divides the religious field. On the one side of it
lies institutional, on the other personal religion. As M.P. Sabatier
says, one branch of religion keeps the divinity, another keeps man
most in view. Worship and sacrifice, procedures for working on the
dispositions of the deity, theology and ceremony and ecclesiastical
organization, are the essentials of religion in the institutional
branch. Were we to limit our view to it, we should have to define
religion as an external art, the art of winning the favor of the gods.
In the more personal branch of religion it is on the contrary the
inner dispositions of man himself which form the centre of interest,
his conscience, his deserts, his helplessness, his incompleteness. And
although the favor of the God, as forfeited or gained, is still an
essential feature of the story, and theology plays a vital part
therein, yet the acts to which this sort of religion prompts are
personal not ritual acts, the individual transacts the business by
himself alone, and the ecclesiastical organization, with its priests
and sacraments and other go-betweens, sinks to an altogether secondary
place. The relation goes direct from heart to heart, from soul to
soul, between man and his maker.
  Now in these lectures I propose to ignore the institutional branch
entirely, to say nothing of the ecclesiastical organization, to
consider as little as possible the systematic theology and the ideas
about the gods themselves, and to confine myself as far as I can to
personal religion pure and simple. To some of you personal religion,
thus nakedly considered, will no doubt seem too incomplete a thing
to wear the general name. "It is a part of religion," you will say,
"but only its unorganized rudiment; if we are to name it by itself, we
had better call it man's conscience or morality than his religion. The
name 'religion' should be reserved for the fully organized system of
feeling, thought, and institution, for the Church, in short, of
which this personal religion, so called, is but a fractional element."
  But if you say this, it will only show the more plainly how much the
question of definition tends to become a dispute about names. Rather
than prolong such a dispute, I am willing to accept almost any name
for the personal religion of which I propose to treat. Call it
conscience or morality, if you yourselves prefer, and not religion-
under either name it will be equally worthy of our study. As for
myself, I think it will prove to contain some elements which
morality pure and simple does not contain, and these elements I
shall soon seek to point out; so I will myself continue to apply the
word 'religion' to it; and in the last lecture of all, I will bring in
the theologies and the ecclesiasticisms, and say something of its
relation to them.
  In one sense at least the personal religion will prove itself more
fundamental than either theology or ecclesiasticism. Churches, when
once established, live at second hand upon tradition; but the founders
of every church owed their power originally to the fact of their
direct personal communion with the divine. Not only the superhuman
founders, the Christ, the Buddha, Mahomet, but all the originators
of Christian sects have been in this case;- so personal religion
should still seem the primordial thing, even to those who continue
to esteem it incomplete.
  There are, it is true, other things in religion chronologically more
primordial than personal devoutness in the moral sense. Fetishism
and magic seem to have preceded inward piety historically- at least
our records of inward piety do not reach back so far. And if fetishism
and magic be regarded as stages of religion, one may say that personal
religion in the inward sense and the genuinely spiritual
ecclesiasticisms which it founds are phenomena of secondary or even
tertiary order. But, quite apart from the fact that many
anthropologists- for instance, Jevons and Frazer- expressly oppose
'religion' and 'magic' to each other, it is certain that the whole
system of thought which leads to magic, fetishism, and the lower
superstitions may just as well be called primitive science as called
primitive religion. The question thus becomes a verbal one again;
and our knowledge of all these early stages of thought and feeling
is in any case so conjectural and imperfect that farther discussion
would not be worth while.
  Religion, therefore, as I now ask you arbitrarily to take it,
shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual
men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in
relation to whatever they may consider the divine. Since the
relation may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it is evident
that out of religion in the sense in which we take it, theologies,
philosophies, and ecclesiastical organizations may secondarily grow.
In these lectures, however, as I have already said, the immediate
personal experiences will amply fill our time, and we shall hardly
consider theology or ecclesiasticism at all.
  We escape much controversial matter by this arbitrary definition
of our field. But, still, a chance of controversy comes up over the
word 'divine,' if we take it in the definition in too narrow a
sense. There are systems of thought which the world usually calls
religious, and yet which do not positively assume a God. Buddhism is
in this case. Popularly, of course, the Buddha himself stands in place
of a God; but in strictness the Buddhistic system is atheistic. Modern
transcendental idealism, Emersonianism, for instance, also seems to
let God evaporate into abstract Ideality. Not a deity in concreto, not
a superhuman person, but the immanent divinity in things, the
essentially spiritual structure of the universe, is the object of
the transcendentalist cult. In that address to the graduating class at
Divinity College in 1838 which made Emerson famous, the frank
expression of this worship of mere abstract laws was what made the
scandal of the performance.
  "These laws," said the speaker, "execute themselves. They are out of
time, out of space, and not subject to circumstance: Thus, in the soul
of man there is a justice whose retributions are instant and entire.
He who does a good deed is instantly ennobled. He who does a mean deed
is by the action itself contracted. He who puts off impurity thereby
puts on purity. If a man is at heart just, then in so far is he God;
the safety of God, the immortality of God, the majesty of God, do
enter into that man with justice. If a man dissemble, deceive, he
deceives himself, and goes out of acquaintance with his own being.
Character is always known. Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish;
murder will speak out of stone walls. The least admixture of a lie-
for example, the taint of vanity, any attempt to make a good
impression, a favorable appearance- will instantly vitiate the effect.
But speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and
the very roots of the grass underground there do seem to stir and move
to bear your witness. For all things proceed out of the same spirit,
which is differently named love, justice, temperance, in its different
applications, just as the ocean receives different names on the
several shores which it washes. In so far as he roves from these ends,
a man bereaves himself of power, of auxiliaries. His being
shrinks... he becomes less and less, a mote, a point, until absolute
badness is absolute death. The perception of this law awakens in the
mind a sentiment which we call the religious sentiment, and which
makes our highest happiness. Wonderful is its power to charm and to
command. It is a mountain air. It is the embalmer of the world. It
makes the sky and the hills sublime, and the silent song of the
stars is it. It is the beatitude of man. It makes him illimitable.
When he says 'I ought'; when love warns him; when he chooses, warned
from on high, the good and great deed; then, deep melodies wander
through his soul from supreme wisdom. Then he can worship, and be
enlarged by his worship; for he can never go behind this sentiment.
All the expressions of this sentiment are sacred and permanent in
proportion to their purity. [They] affect us more than all other
compositions. The sentences of the olden time, which ejaculate this
piety, are still fresh and fragrant. And the unique impression of
Jesus upon mankind, whose name is not so much written as ploughed into
the history of this world, is proof of the subtle virtue of this
infusion." *
  * Miscellanies, 1868, p. 120 (abridged).
  Such is the Emersonian religion. The universe has a divine soul of
order, which soul is moral, being also the soul within the soul of
man. But whether this soul of the universe be a mere quality like
the eye's brilliancy or the skin's softness, or whether it be a
self-conscious life like the eye's seeing or the skin's feeling, is
a decision that never unmistakably appears in Emerson's pages. It
quivers on the boundary of these things, sometimes leaning one way,
sometimes the other, to suit the literary rather than the
philosophic need. Whatever it is, though, it is active. As much as
if it were a God, we can trust it to protect all ideal interests and
keep the world's balance straight. The sentences in which Emerson,
to the very end, gave utterance to this faith are as fine as
anything in literature: "If you love and serve men, you cannot by
any hiding or stratagem escape the remuneration. Secret retributions
are always restoring the level, when disturbed, of the divine justice.
It is impossible to tilt the beam. All the tyrants and proprietors and
monopolists of the world in vain set their shoulders to heave the bar.
Settles forevermore the ponderous equator to its line, and man and
mote, and star and sun, must range to it, or be pulverized by the
recoil." *
  * Lectures and Biographical Sketches, 1868, p. 186.
  Now it would be too absurd to say that the inner experiences that
underlie such expressions of faith as this and impel the writer to
their utterance are quite unworthy to be called religious experiences.
The sort of appeal that Emersonian optimism, on the one hand, and
Buddhistic pessimism, on the other, make to the individual and the
sort of response which he makes to them in his life are in fact
indistinguishable from, and in many respects identical with, the
best Christian appeal and response. We must therefore, from the
experiential point of view, call these godless or quasi-godless creeds
'religions'; and accordingly when in our definition of religion we
speak of the individual's relation to 'what he considers the
divine,' we must interpret the term 'divine' very broadly, as denoting
any object that is godlike, whether it be a concrete deity or not.
  But the term 'godlike,' if thus treated as a floating general
quality, becomes exceedingly vague, for many gods have flourished in
religious history, and their attributes have been discrepant enough.
What then is that essentially godlike quality- be it embodied in a
concrete deity or not- our relation to which determines our
character as religious men? It will repay us to seek some answer to

this question before we proceed farther.
  For one thing, gods are conceived to be first things in the way of
being and power. They overarch and envelop, and from them there is
no escape. What relates to them is the first and last word in the
way of truth. Whatever then were most primal and enveloping and deeply
true might at this rate be treated as godlike, and a man's religion
might thus be identified with his attitude, whatever it might be,
towards what he felt to be the primal truth.
  Such a definition as this would in a way be defensible. Religion,
whatever it is, is a man's total reaction upon life, so why not say
that any total reaction upon life is a religion? Total reactions are
different from casual reactions, and total attitudes are different
from usual or professional attitudes. To get at them you must go
behind the foreground of existence and reach down to that curious
sense of the whole residual cosmos as an everlasting presence,
intimate or alien, terrible or amusing, lovable or odious, which in
some degree every one possesses. This sense of the world's presence,
appealing as it does to our peculiar individual temperament, makes
us either strenuous or careless, devout or blasphemous, gloomy or
exultant, about life at large; and our reaction, involuntary and
inarticulate and often half unconscious as it is, is the completest of
all our answers to the question, "What is the character of this
universe in which we dwell?" It expresses our individual sense of it
in the most definite way. Why then not call these reactions our
religion, no matter what specific character they may have?
Non-religious as some of these reactions may be, in one sense of the
word 'religious,' they yet belong to the general sphere of the
religious life, and so should generically be classed as religious
reactions. "He believes in No-God, and he worships him," said a
colleague of mine of a student who was manifesting a fine atheistic
ardor; and the more fervent opponents of Christian doctrine have often
enough shown a temper which, psychologically considered, is
indistinguishable from religious zeal.
  But so very broad a use of the word 'religion' would be
inconvenient, however defensible it might remain on logical grounds.
There are trifling, sneering attitudes even towards the whole of life;
and in some men these attitudes are final and systematic. It would
strain the ordinary use of language too much to call such attitudes
religious, even though, from the point of view of an unbiased critical
philosophy, they might conceivably be perfectly reasonable ways of
looking upon life. Voltaire, for example, writes thus to a friend,
at the age of seventy-three: "As for myself," he says, "weak as I
am, I carry on the war to the last moment, I get a hundred
pike-thrusts, I return two hundred, and I laugh. I see near my door
Geneva on fire with quarrels over nothing, and I laugh again; and,
thank God, I can look upon the world as a farce even when it becomes
as tragic as it sometimes does. All comes out even at the end of the
day, and all comes out still more even when all the days are over."
  Much as we may admire such a robust old gamecock spirit in a
valetudinarian, to call it a religious spirit would be odd. Yet it
is for the moment Voltaire's reaction on the whole of life. Je m'en
fiche is the vulgar French equivalent for our English ejaculation 'Who
cares?' And the happy term je m'en fichisme recently has been invented
to designate the systematic determination not to take anything in life
too solemnly. 'All is vanity' is the relieving word in an difficult
crises for this mode of thought, which that exquisite literary
genius Renan took pleasure, in his later days of sweet decay, in
putting into coquettishly sacrilegious forms which remain to us as
excellent expressions of the 'all is vanity' state of mind. Take the
following passage, for example,- we must hold to duty, even against
the evidence, Renan says,- but he then goes on:-
  "There are many chances that the world may be nothing but a fairy
pantomime of which no God has care. We must therefore arrange
ourselves so that on neither hypothesis we shall be completely
wrong. We must listen to the superior voices, but in such a way that
if the second hypothesis were true we should not have been too
completely duped. If in effect the world be not a serious thing, it is
the dogmatic people who will be the shallow ones, and the worldly
minded whom the theologians now call frivolous will be those who are
really wise.
  "In utrumque paratus, then. Be ready for anything- that perhaps is
wisdom. Give ourselves up, according to the hour, to confidence, to
skepticism, to optimism, to irony, and we may be sure that at
certain moments at least we shall be with the truth.... Good-humor
is a philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take
her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintain that one should
always talk of philosophy with a smile. We owe it to the Eternal to be
virtuous; but we have the right to add to this tribute our irony as
a sort of personal reprisal. In this way we return to the right
quarter jest for jest; we play the trick that has been played on us.
Saint Augustine's phrase: Lord, if we are deceived, it is by thee!
remains a fine one, well suited to our modern feeling. Only we wish
the Eternal to know that if we accept the fraud, we accept it
knowingly and willingly. We are resigned in advance to losing the
interest on our investments of virtue, but we wish not to appear
ridiculous by having counted on them too securely." *
  * Feuilles detachees, pp. 394-398 (abridged).
  Surely all the usual associations of the word 'religion' would
have to be stripped away if such a systematic parti pris of irony were
also to be denoted by the name. For common men 'religion,' whatever
more special meanings it may have, signifies always a serious state of
mind. If any one phrase could gather its universal message, that
phrase would be, 'All is not vanity in this Universe, whatever the
appearances may suggest.' If it can stop anything, religion as
commonly apprehended can stop just such chaffing talk as Renan's. It
favors gravity, not pertness; it says 'hush' to all vain chatter and
smart wit.
  But if hostile to light irony, religion is equally hostile to
heavy grumbling and complaint. The world appears tragic enough in some
religions, but the tragedy is realized as purging, and a way of
deliverance is held to exist. We shall see enough of the religious
melancholy in a future lecture; but melancholy, according to our
ordinary use of language, forfeits all title to be called religious
when, in Marcus Aurelius's racy words, the sufferer simply lies
kicking and screaming after the fashion of a sacrificed pig. The
mood of a Schopenhauer or a Nietzsche,- and in a less degree one may
sometimes say the same of our own sad Carlyle,- though often an
ennobling sadness, is almost as often only peevishness running away
with the bit between its teeth. The sallies of the two German
authors remind one, half the time, of the sick shriekings of two dying
rats. They lack the purgatorial note which religious sadness gives
  There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any
attitude which we denominate religious. If glad, it must not grin or
snicker; if sad, it must not scream or curse. It is precisely as being
solemn experiences that I wish to interest you in religious
experiences. So I propose- arbitrarily again, if you please- to narrow
our definition once more by saying that the word 'divine,' as employed
therein, shall mean for us not merely the primal and enveloping and
real, for that meaning if taken without restriction might well prove
too broad. The divine shall mean for us only such a primal reality
as the individual feels impelled to respond to solemnly and gravely,
and neither by a curse nor a jest.
  But solemnity, and gravity, and all such emotional attributes, admit
of various shades; and, do what we will with our defining, the truth
must at last be confronted that we are dealing with a field of
experience where there is not a single conception that can be
sharply drawn. The pretension, under such conditions, to be rigorously
'scientific' or 'exact' in our terms would only stamp us as lacking in
understanding of our task. Things are more or less divine, states of
mind are more or less religious, reactions are more or less total, but
the boundaries are always misty, and it is everywhere a question of
amount and degree. Nevertheless, at their extreme of development,
there can never be an question as to what experiences are religious.
The divinity of the object and the solemnity of the reaction are too
well marked for doubt. Hesitation as to whether a state of mind is
'religious,' or 'moral,' or 'philosophical,' is only likely to arise
when the state of mind is weakly characterized, but in that case it
will be hardly worthy of our study at all. With states that can only
by courtesy be called religious we need have nothing to do, our only
profitable business being with what nobody can possibly feel tempted
to call anything else. I said in my former lecture that we learn
most about a thing when we view it under a microscope, as it were,
or in its most exaggerated form. This is as true of religious
phenomena as of any other kind of fact. The only cases likely to be
profitable enough to repay our attention will therefore be cases where
the religious spirit is unmistakable and extreme. Its fainter
manifestations we may tranquilly pass by. Here, for example, is the
total reaction upon life of Frederick Locker Lampson, whose
autobiography, entitled 'Confidences,' proves him to have been a
most amiable man.
  "I am so far resigned to my lot that I feel small pain at the
thought of having to part from what has been called the pleasant habit
of existence, the sweet fable of life. I would not care to live my
wasted life over again, and so to prolong my span. Strange to say, I
have but little wish to be younger. I submit with a chill at my heart.
I humbly submit because it is the Divine Will, and my appointed
destiny. I dread the increase of infirmities that will make me a
burden to those around me, those dear to me. No! let me slip away as
quietly and comfortably as I can. Let the end come, if peace come with
  "I do not know that there is a great deal to be said for this world,
or our sojourn here upon it; but it has pleased God so to place us,
and it must please me also. I ask you, what is human life? Is not it a
maimed happiness- care and weariness, weariness and care, with the
baseless expectation, the strange cozenage of a brighter to-morrow? At
best it is but a froward child, that must be played with and
humored, to keep it quiet till it falls asleep, and then the care is
over." *
  * Op. cit., pp. 314, 313.
  This is a complex, a tender, a submissive, and a graceful state of
mind. For myself, I should have no objection to calling it on the
whole a religious state of mind, although I dare say that to many of
you it may seem too listless and half-hearted to merit so good a name.
But what matters it in the end whether we call such a state of mind
religious or not? It is too insignificant for our instruction in any
case; and its very possessor wrote it down in terms which he would not
have used unless he had been thinking of more energetically
religious moods in others, with which he found himself unable to
compete. It is with these more energetic states that our sole business
lies, and we can perfectly well afford to let the minor notes and
the uncertain border go.
  It was the extremer cases that I had in mind a little while ago when
I said that personal religion, even without theology or ritual,
would prove to embody some elements that morality pure and simple does
not contain. You may remember that I promised shortly to point out
what those elements were. In a general way I can now say what I had in
  "I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite
utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and
when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic
comment is said to have been: "Gad! she'd better!" At bottom the whole
concern of both morality and religion is with the manner of our
acceptance of the universe. Do we accept it only in part and
grudgingly, or heartily and altogether? Shall our protests against
certain things in it be radical and unforgiving, or shall we think
that, even with evil, there are ways of living that must lead to good?
If we accept the whole, shall we do so as if stunned into submission,-
as Carlyle would have us- "Gad! we'd better!"- or shall we do so
with enthusiastic assent? Morality pure and simple accepts the law
of the whole which it finds reigning, so far as to acknowledge and
obey it, but it may obey it with the heaviest and coldest heart, and
never cease to feel it as a yoke. But for religion, in its strong
and fully developed manifestations, the service of the highest never
is felt as a yoke. Dull submission is left far behind, and a mood of
welcome, which may fill any place on the scale between cheerful
serenity and enthusiastic gladness, has taken its place.
  It makes a tremendous emotional and practical difference to one
whether one accept the universe in the drab discolored way of stoic
resignation to necessity, or with the passionate happiness of
Christian saints. The difference is as great as that between passivity
and activity, as that between the defensive and the aggressive mood.
Gradual as are the steps by which an individual may from one state
into the other, many as are the intermediate stages which different

individuals represent, yet when you place the typical extremes
beside each other for comparison, you feel that two discontinuous
psychological universes confront you, and that in passing from one
to the other a 'critical point' has been overcome.
  If we compare stoic with Christian ejaculations we see much more
than a difference of doctrine; rather is it a difference of
emotional mood that parts them. When Marcus Aurelius reflects on the
eternal reason that has ordered things, there is a frosty chill
about his words which you rarely find in a Jewish, and never in a
Christian piece of religious writing. The universe is 'accepted' by
all these writers; but how devoid of passion or exultation the
spirit of the Roman Emperor is! Compare his fine sentence "If gods
care not for me or my children, here is a reason for it," with Job's
cry: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!" and you immediately
see the difference I mean. The anima mundi, to whose disposal of his
own personal destiny the Stoic consents, is there to be respected
and submitted to, but the Christian God is there to be loved and the
difference of emotional atmosphere is like that between an arctic
climate and the tropics, though the outcome in the way of accepting
actual conditions uncomplainingly may seem in abstract terms to be
much the same.
  "It is a man's duty," says Marcus Aurelius, "to comfort himself
and wait for the natural dissolution, and not to be vexed, but to find
refreshment solely in these thoughts- first that nothing will happen
to me which is not conformable to the nature of the universe; and
secondly that I need do nothing contrary to the God and deity within
me; for there is no man who can compel me to transgress. * He is an
abscess on the universe who withdraws and separates himself from the
reason of our common nature, through being displeased with the
things which happen. For the same nature produces these, and has
produced thee too. And so accept everything which happens, even if
it seem disagreeable, because it leads to this, the health of the
universe and to the prosperity and felicity of Zeus. For he would
not have brought on any man what he has brought, if it were not useful
for the whole. The integrity of the whole is mutilated if thou cuttest
off anything. And thou dost cut off, as far as it is in thy power,
when thou art dissatisfied, and in a manner triest to put anything out
of the way." *(2)
  * Book V., ch. x. (abridged).
  *(2) Book V., ch. ix. (abridged).
  Compare now this mood with that of the old Christian author of the
Theologia Germanica:-
  "Where men are enlightened with the true light, they renounce all
desire and choice, and commit and commend themselves and all things to
the eternal Goodness, so that every enlightened man could say: 'I
would fain be to the Eternal Goodness what his own hand is to a
man.' Such men are in a state of freedom, because they have lost the
fear of pain or hell, and the hope of reward or heaven, and are living
in pure submission to the eternal Goodness, in the perfect freedom
of fervent love. When a man truly perceiveth and considereth
himself, who and what he is, and findeth himself utterly vile and
wicked and unworthy, he falleth into such a deep abasement that it
seemeth to him reasonable that all creatures in heaven and earth
should rise up against him. And therefore he will not and dare not
desire any consolation and release; but he is willing to be unconsoled
and unreleased; and he doth not grieve over his sufferings, for they
are right in his eyes, and he hath nothing to say against them. This
is what is meant by true repentance for sin; and he who in this
present time entereth into this hell, none may console him. Now God
hath not forsaken a man in this hell, but He is laying his hand upon
him, that the man may not desire nor regard anything but the eternal
Good only. And then, when the man neither careth for nor desireth
anything but the eternal Good alone, and seeketh not himself nor his
own things, but the honour of God only, he is made a partaker of all
manner of joy, bliss, peace, rest, and consolation, and so the man
is henceforth in the kingdom of heaven. This hell and this heaven
are two good safe ways for a man, and happy is he who truly findeth
them." *
  * Chaps. x., xi. (abridged): Winkworth's translation.
  How much more active and positive the impulse of the Christian
writer to accept his place in the universe is! Marcus Aurelius
agrees to the scheme- the German theologian agrees with it. He
literally abounds in agreement, he runs out to embrace the divine
  Occasionally, it is true, the Stoic rises to something like a
Christian warmth of sentiment, as in the often quoted passage of
Marcus Aurelius:-
  "Everything harmonizes with me which is harmonious to thee, O
Universe. Nothing for me is too early nor too late, which is in due
time for thee. Everything is fruit to me which thy seasons bring, O
Nature: from thee are all things, in thee are all things, to thee
all things return. The poet says, Dear City of Cecrops; and wilt
thou not say, Dear City of Zeus?" *
  * Book IV., SS 23.
  But compare even as devout a passage as this with a genuine
Christian outpouring, and it seems a little cold. Turn, for
instance, to the Imitation of Christ:-
  "Lord, thou knowest what is best; let this or that be according as
thou wilt. Give what thou wilt, so much as thou wilt, when thou
wilt. Do with me as thou knowest best, and as shall be most to thine
honour. Place me where thou wilt, and freely work thy will with me
in all things.... When could it be evil when thou wert near? I had
rather be poor for thy sake than rich without thee. I choose rather to
be a pilgrim upon the earth with thee, than without thee to possess
heaven. Where thou art, there is heaven; and where thou art not,
behold there death and hell." *
  * Benham's translation: Book III., chaps. xv., lix. Compare Mary
Moody Emerson: "Let me be a blot on this fair world, the obscurest,
the loneliest sufferer, with one proviso,- that I know it is His
agency. I will love Him though He shed frost and darkness on every way
of mine." R.W. EMERSON: Lectures and Biographical Sketches, p. 188.
  It is a good rule in physiology, when we are studying the meaning of
an organ, to ask after its most peculiar and characteristic sort of
performance, and to seek its office in that one of its functions which
no other organ can possibly exert. Surely the same maxim holds good in
our present quest. The essence of religious experiences, the thing
by which we finally must judge them, must be that element or quality
in them which we can meet nowhere else. And such a quality will be
of course most prominent and easy to notice in those religious
experiences which are most one-sided, exaggerated, and intense.
  Now when we compare these intenser experiences with the
experiences of tamer minds, so cool and reasonable that we are tempted
to call them philosophical rather than religious, we find a
character that is perfectly distinct. That character, it seems to
me, should be regarded as the practically important differentia of
religion for our purpose; and just what it is can easily be brought
out by comparing the mind of an abstractly conceived Christian with
that of a moralist similarly conceived.
  A life is manly, stoical, moral, or philosophical, we say, in
proportion as it is less swayed by paltry personal considerations
and more by objective ends that call for energy, even though that
energy bring personal loss and pain. This is the good side of war,
in so far as it calls for 'volunteers.' And for morality life is a
war, and the service of the highest is a sort of cosmic patriotism
which also calls for volunteers. Even a sick man, unable to be
militant outwardly, can carry on the moral warfare. He can willfully
turn his attention away from his own future, whether in this world
or the next. He can train himself to indifference to his present
drawbacks and immerse himself in whatever objective interests still
remain accessible. He can follow public news, and sympathize with
other people's affairs. He can cultivate cheerful manners, and be
silent about his miseries. He can contemplate whatever ideal aspects
of existence his philosophy is able to present to him, and practice
whatever duties, such as patience, resignation, trust, his ethical
system requires. Such a man lives on his loftiest, largest plane. He
is a high-hearted freeman and no pining slave. And yet he lacks
something which the Christian par excellence, the mystic and ascetic
saint, for example, has in abundant measure, and which makes of him
a human being of an altogether different denomination.
  The Christian also spurns the pinched and mumping sick-room
attitude, and the lives of saints are full of a kind of callousness to
diseased conditions of body which probably no other human records
show. But whereas the merely moralistic spurning takes an effort of
volition, the Christian spurning is the result of the excitement of
a higher kind of emotion, in the presence of which no exertion of
volition is required. The moralist must hold his breath and keep his
muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all
goes well- morality suffices. But the athletic attitude tends ever
to break down, and it inevitably does break down even in the most
stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears
invade the mind. To suggest personal will and effort to one all
sicklied o'er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest
the most impossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his
very powerlessness, to feel that the spirit of the universe recognizes
and secures him, all decaying and failing as he is. Well, we are all
such helpless failures in the last resort. The sanest and best of us
are of one clay with lunatics and prison inmates, and death finally
runs the robustest of us down. And whenever we feel this, such a sense
of the vanity and provisionality of our voluntary career comes over us
that all our morality appears but as a plaster hiding a sore it can
never cure, and all our well-doing as the hollowest substitute for
that well-being that our lives ought to be grounded in, but, alas! are
  And here religion comes to our rescue and takes our fate into her
hands. There is a state of mind, known to religious men, but to no
others, in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has
been displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as
nothing in the floods and waterspouts of God. In this state of mind,
what we most dreaded has become the habitation of our safety, and
the hour of our moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday.
The time for tension in our soul is over, and that of happy
relaxation, of calm deep breathing, of an eternal present, with no
discordant future to be anxious about, has arrived. Fear is not held
in abeyance as it is by mere morality, it is positively expunged and
washed away.
  We shall see abundant examples of this happy state of mind in
later lectures of this course. We shall see how infinitely
passionate a thing religion at its highest flights can be. Like
love, like wrath, like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other
instinctive eagerness and impulse, it adds to life an enchantment
which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else.
This enchantment, coming as a gift when it does come,- a gift of our
organism, the physiologists will tell us, a gift of God's grace, the
theologians say,- is either there or not there for us, and there are
persons who can no more become possessed by it than they can fall in
love with a given woman by mere word of command. Religious feeling
is thus an absolute addition to the Subject's range of life. It
gives him a new sphere of power. When the outward battle is lost,
and the outer world disowns him, it redeems and vivifies an interior
world which otherwise would be an empty waste.
  If religion is to mean anything definite for us, it seems to me that
we ought to take it as meaning this added dimension of emotion, this
enthusiastic temper of espousal, in regions where morality strictly so
called can at best but bow its head and acquiesce. It ought to mean
nothing short of this new reach of freedom for us, with the struggle
over, the keynote of the universe sounding in our ears, and
everlasting possession spread before our eyes. *
  * Once more, there are plenty of men, constitutionally sombre men,
in whose religious life this rapturousness is lacking. They are
religious in the wider sense; yet in this acutest of all senses they
are not so, and it is religion in the acutest sense that I wish,
without disputing about words, to study first, so as to get at its
typical differentia.
  This sort of happiness in the absolute and everlasting is what we
find nowhere but in religion. It is parted off from all mere animal
happiness, all mere enjoyment of the present, by that element of
solemnity of which I have already made so much account. Solemnity is a
hard thing to define abstractly, but certain of its marks are patent
enough. A solemn state of mind is never crude or simple- it seems to
contain a certain measure of its own opposite in solution. A solemn
joy preserves a sort of bitter in its sweetness; a solemn sorrow is
one to which we intimately consent. But there are writers who,
realizing that happiness of a supreme sort is the prerogative of
religion, forget this complication, and call all happiness, as such,
religious. Mr. Havelock Ellis, for example, identifies religion with
the entire field of the soul's liberation from oppressive moods.
  "The simplest functions of physiological life," he writes, "may be
its ministers. Every one who is at all acquainted with the Persian
mystics knows how wine may be regarded as an instrument of religion.
Indeed, in all countries and in all ages, some form of physical
enlargement- singing, dancing, drinking, sexual excitement- has been
intimately associated with worship. Even the momentary expansion of
the soul in laughter is, to however slight an extent, a religious
exercise.... Whenever an impulse from the world strikes against the
organism, and the resultant is not discomfort or pain, not even the
muscular contraction of strenuous manhood, but a joyous expansion or
aspiration of the whole soul- there is religion. It is the infinite
for which we hunger, and we ride gladly on every little wave that
promises to bear us towards it." *
  * The New Spirit, p. 232.
  But such a straight identification of religion with any and every
form of happiness leaves the essential peculiarity of religious
happiness out. The more commonplace happinesses which we get are
'reliefs,' occasioned by our momentary escapes from evils either
experienced or threatened. But in its most characteristic embodiments,
religious happiness is no mere feeling of escape. It cares no longer
to escape. It consents to the evil outwardly as a form of sacrifice-
inwardly it knows it to be permanently overcome. If you ask how
religion thus falls on the thorns and faces death, and in the very act
annuls annihilation, I cannot explain the matter, for it is religion's
secret, and to understand it you must yourself have been a religious
man of the extremer type. In our future examples, even of the simplest
and healthiest-minded type of religious consciousness, we shall find
this complex sacrificial constitution, in which a higher happiness
holds a lower unhappiness in check. In the Louvre there is a
picture, by Guido Reni, of St. Michael with his foot on Satan's
neck. The richness of the picture is in large part due to the
fiend's figure being there. The richness of its allegorical meaning
also is due to his being there- that is, the world is all the richer
for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck.
In the religious consciousness, that is just the position in which the
fiend, the negative or tragic principle, is found; and for that very
reason the religious consciousness is so rich from the emotional point
of view. * We shall see how in certain men and women it takes on a
monstrously ascetic form. There are saints who have literally fed on
the negative principle, on humiliation and privation, and the
thought of suffering and death,- their souls growing in happiness just
in proportion as their outward state grew more intolerable. No other
emotion than religious emotion can bring a man to this peculiar
pass. And it is for that reason that when we ask our question about
the value of religion for human life, I think we ought to look for the
answer among these violenter examples rather than among those of a
more moderate hue.
  * I owe this allegorical illustration to my lamented colleague and
friend, Charles Carroll Everett.
  Having the phenomenon of our study in its acutest possible form to
start with, we can shade down as much as we please later. And if in
these cases, repulsive as they are to our ordinary worldly way of
judging, we find ourselves compelled to acknowledge religion's value
and treat it with respect, it will have proved in some way its value
for life at large. By subtracting and toning down extravagances we may
thereupon proceed to trace the boundaries of its legitimate sway.
  To be sure, it makes our task difficult to have to deal so much with
eccentricities and extremes. "How can religion on the whole be the
most important of all human functions," you may ask, "if every several
manifestation of it in turn have to be corrected and sobered down
and pruned away?" Such a thesis seems a paradox impossible to
sustain reasonably,- yet I believe that something like it will have to
be our final contention. That personal attitude which the individual
finds himself impelled to take up towards what he apprehends to be the
divine and you will remember that this was our definition will prove
to be both a helpless and a sacrificial attitude. That is, we shall
have to confess to at least some amount of dependence on sheer
mercy, and to practice some amount of renunciation, great or small, to
save our souls alive. The constitution of the world we live in
requires it:-
               "Entbehren sollst du! sollst entbehren!
                Das ist der ewige Gesang
                Der jedem an die Ohren klingt,
                Den, unser ganzes Leben lang
                Uns heiser jede Stunde singt."
  For when all is said and done, we are in the end absolutely
dependent on the universe; and into sacrifices and surrenders of
some sort, deliberately looked at and accepted, we are drawn and
pressed as into our only permanent positions of repose. Now in those
states of mind which fall short of religion, the surrender is
submitted to as an imposition of necessity, and the sacrifice is
undergone at the very best without complaint. In the religious life,
on the contrary, surrender and sacrifice are positively espoused: even
unnecessary givings-up are added in order that the happiness may
increase. Religion thus makes easy and felicitous what in any case
is necessary; and if it be the only agency that can accomplish this
result, its vital importance as a human faculty stands vindicated
beyond dispute. It becomes an essential organ of our life,
performing a function which no other portion of our nature can so
successfully fulfill. From the merely biological point of view, so
to call it, this is a conclusion to which, so far as I can now see, we
shall inevitably be led, and led moreover by following the purely
empirical method of demonstration which I sketched to you in the first
lecture. Of the farther office of religion as a metaphysical
revelation I will say nothing now.
  But to foreshadow the terminus of one's investigations is one thing,
and to arrive there safely is another. In the next lecture, abandoning
the extreme generalities which have engrossed us hitherto, I propose
that we begin our actual journey by addressing ourselves directly to
the concrete facts.

                             LECTURE III
                      THE REALITY OF THE UNSEEN
  WERE one asked to characterize the life of religion in the
broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it
consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our
supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto. This
belief and this adjustment are the religious attitude in the soul. I
wish during this hour to call your attention to some of the
psychological peculiarities of such an attitude as this, of belief
in an object which we cannot see. All our attitudes, moral, practical,
or emotional, as well as religious, are due to the 'objects' of our
consciousness, the things which we believe to exist, whether really or
ideally, along with ourselves. Such objects may be present to our
senses, or they may be present only to our thought. In either case
they elicit from us a reaction; and the reaction due to things of
thought is notoriously in many cases as strong as that due to sensible
presences. It may be even stronger. The memory of an insult may make
us angrier than the insult did when we received it. We are
frequently more ashamed of our blunders afterwards than we were at the
moment of making them; and in general our whole higher prudential
and moral life is based on the fact that material sensations
actually present may have a weaker influence on our action than
ideas of remoter facts.
  The more concrete objects of most men's religion, the deities whom
they worship, are known to them only in idea. It has been
vouchsafed, for example, to very few Christian believers to have had a
sensible vision of their Saviour; though enough appearances of this
sort are on record, by way of miraculous exception, to merit our
attention later. The whole force of the Christian religion, therefore,
so far as belief in the divine personages determines the prevalent
attitude of the believer, is in general exerted by the instrumentality
of pure ideas, of which nothing in the individual's past experience
directly serves as a model.
  But in addition to these ideas of the more concrete religious
objects, religion is full of abstract objects which prove to have an
equal power. God's attributes as such, his holiness, his justice,
his mercy, his absoluteness, his infinity, his omniscience, his
tri-unity, the various mysteries of the redemptive process, the
operation of the sacraments, etc., have proved fertile wells of
inspiring meditation for Christian believers. * We shall see later
that the absence of definite sensible images is positively insisted on
by the mystical authorities in all religions as the sine qua non of
a successful orison, or contemplation of the higher divine truths.
Such contemplations are expected (and abundantly verify the
expectation, as we shall also see) to influence the believer's
subsequent attitude very powerfully for good.
  * Example: "I have had much comfort lately in meditating on the
passages which show the personality of the Holy Ghost, and his
distinctness from the Father and the Son. It is a subject that
requires searching into to find out, but, when realized, gives one
so much more true and lively a sense of the fullness of the Godhead,
and its work in us and to us, than when only thinking of the Spirit in
its effect on us." AUGUSTUS HARE: Memorials, i. 244, Maria Hare to
Lucy H. Hare.
  Immanuel Kant held a curious doctrine about such objects of belief
as God, the design of creation, the soul, its freedom, and the life
hereafter. These things, he said, are properly not objects of
knowledge at all. Our conceptions always require a sense-content to
work with, and as the words 'soul,' 'God,' 'immortality,' cover no
distinctive sense-content whatever, it follows that theoretically
speaking they are words devoid of any significance. Yet strangely
enough they have a definite meaning for our practice. We can act as if
there were a God; feel as if we were free; consider Nature as if she
were full of special designs; lay plans as if we were to be
immortal; and we find then that these words do make a genuine
difference in our moral life. Our faith that these unintelligible
objects actually exist proves thus to be a full equivalent in
praktischer Hinsicht, as Kant calls it, or from the point of view of
our action, for a knowledge of what they might be, in case we were
permitted positively to conceive them. So we have the strange
phenomenon, as Kant assures us, of a mind believing with all its
strength in the real presence of a set of things of no one of which it
can form any notion whatsoever.
  My object in thus recalling Kant's doctrine to your mind is not to
express any opinion as to the accuracy of this particularly uncouth
part of his philosophy, but only to illustrate the characteristic of
human nature which we are considering, by an example so classical in
its exaggeration. The sentiment of reality can indeed attach itself so
strongly to our object of belief that our whole life is polarized
through and through, so to speak, by its sense of the existence of the
thing believed in, and yet that thing, for purpose of definite
description, can hardly be said to be present to our mind at all. It
is as if a bar of iron, without touch or sight, with no representative
faculty whatever, might nevertheless be strongly endowed with an inner
capacity for magnetic feeling; and as if, through the various arousals
of its magnetism by magnets coming and going in its neighborhood, it
might be consciously determined to different attitudes and tendencies.
Such a bar of iron could never give you an outward description of
the agencies that had the power of stirring it so strongly; yet of
their presence, and of their significance for its life, it would be
intensely aware through every fibre of its being.
  It is not only the Ideas of pure Reason, as Kant styled them, that
have this power of making us vitally feel presences that we are
impotent articulately to describe. All sorts of higher abstractions
bring with them the same kind of impalpable appeal. Remember those
passages from Emerson which I read at my last lecture. The whole
universe of concrete objects, as we know them, swims, not only for
such a transcendentalist writer, but for all of us, in a wider and
higher universe of abstract ideas, that lend it its significance. As
time, space, and the ether soak through all things, so (we feel) do
abstract and essential goodness, beauty, strength, significance,
justice, soak through all things good, strong, significant, and just.
  Such ideas, and others equally abstract, form the background for all
our facts, the fountain-head of all the possibilities we conceive
of. They give its 'nature,' as we call it, to every special thing.
Everything we know is 'what' it is by sharing in the nature of one
of these abstractions. We can never look directly at them, for they
are bodiless and featureless and footless, but we grasp all other
things by their means, and in handling the real world we should be
stricken with helplessness in just so far forth as we might lose these
mental objects, these adjectives and adverbs and predicates and
heads of classification and conception.
  This absolute determinability of our mind by abstractions is one
of the cardinal facts in our human constitution. Polarizing and
magnetizing us as they do, we turn towards them and from them, we seek
them, hold them, hate them, bless them, just as if they were so many
concrete beings. And beings they are, beings as real in the realm
which they inhabit as the changing things of sense are in the realm of
  Plato gave so brilliant and impressive a defense of this common
human feeling, that the doctrine of the reality of abstract objects
has been known as the platonic theory of ideas ever since. Abstract
Beauty, for example, is for Plato a perfectly definite individual
being, of which the intellect is aware as of something additional to
all the perishing beauties of the earth. "The true order of going," he
says, in the often quoted passage in his 'Banquet,' "is to use the
beauties of earth as steps along which one mounts upwards for the sake
of that other Beauty, going from one to two, and from two to all
fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, and from fair actions
to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of
absolute Beauty, and at last knows what the essence of Beauty is." *
In our last lecture we had a glimpse of the way in which a platonizing
writer like Emerson may treat the abstract divineness of things, the
moral structure of the universe, as a fact worthy of worship. In those
various churches without a God which to-day are spreading through
the world under the name of ethical societies, we have a similar
worship of the abstract divine, the moral law believed in as an
ultimate object. 'Science' in many minds is genuinely taking the place
of a religion. Where this is so, the scientist treats the 'Laws of
Nature' as objective facts to be revered. A brilliant school of
interpretation of Greek mythology would have it that in their origin
the Greek gods were only half-metaphoric personifications of those
great spheres of abstract law and order into which the natural world
falls apart- the sky-sphere, the ocean-sphere, the earth-sphere, and
the like; just as even now we may speak of the smile of the morning,
the kiss of the breeze, or the bite of the cold, without really
meaning that these phenomena of nature actually wear a human
face. *(2)
  * Symposium, Jowett, 1871, i. 527.
  *(2) Example: "Nature is always so interesting, under whatever
aspect she shows herself, that when it rains, I seem to see a
beautiful woman weeping. She appears the more beautiful, the more
afflicted she is." B. de St. Pierre.
  As regards the origin of the Greek gods, we need not at present seek
an opinion. But the whole array of our instances leads to a conclusion
something like this: It is as if there were in the human consciousness
a sense of reality, a feeling of objective presence, a perception of
what we may call 'something there,' more deep and more general than
any of the special and particular 'senses' by which the current
psychology supposes existent realities to be originally revealed. If
this were so, we might suppose the senses to waken our attitudes and
conduct as they so habitually do, by first exciting this sense of
reality; but anything else, any idea, for example, that might
similarly excite it, would have that same prerogative of appearing
real which objects of sense normally possess. So far as religious
conceptions were able to touch this reality-feeling, they would be
believed in in spite of criticism, even though they might be so
vague and remote as to be almost unimaginable, even though they
might be such non-entities in point of whatness, as Kant makes the
objects of his moral theology to be.
  The most curious proofs of the existence of such an undifferentiated
sense of reality as this are found in experiences of hallucination. It
often happens that an hallucination is imperfectly developed: the
person affected will feel a 'presence' in the room, definitely
localized, facing in one particular way, real in the most emphatic
sense of the word, often coming suddenly, and as suddenly gone; and
yet neither seen, heard, touched, nor cognized in any of the usual
'sensible' ways. Let me give you an example of this, before I pass
to the objects with whose presence religion is more peculiarly
  An intimate friend of mine, one of the keenest intellects I know,
has had several experiences of this sort. He writes as follows in
response to my inquiries:-
  "I have several times within the past few years felt the so-called
'consciousness of a presence.' The experiences which I have in mind
are clearly distinguishable from another kind of experience which I
have had very frequently, and which I fancy many persons would also
call the 'consciousness of a presence.' But the difference for me
between the two sets of experience is as great as the difference
between feeling a slight warmth originating I know not where, and
standing in the midst of a conflagration with all the ordinary
senses alert.
  "It was about September, 1884, when I had the first experience. On
the previous night I had had, after getting into bed at my rooms in
College, a vivid tactile hallucination of being grasped by the arm,
which made me get up and search the room for an intruder; but the
sense of presence properly so called came on the next night. After I
had got into bed and blown out the candle, I lay awake awhile thinking
on the previous night's experience, when suddenly I felt something
come into the room and stay close to my bed. It remained only a minute
or two. I did not recognize it by any ordinary sense, and yet there
was a horribly unpleasant 'sensation' connected with it. It stirred
something more at the roots of my being than any ordinary
perception. The feeling had something of the quality of a very large
tearing vital pain spreading chiefly over the chest, but within the
organism- and yet the feeling was not pain so much as abhorrence.
At all events, something was present with me, and I knew its
presence far more surely than I have ever known the presence of any
fleshly living creature. I was conscious of its departure as of its
coming: an almost instantaneously swift going through the door, and
the 'horrible sensation' disappeared.
  "On the third night when I retired my mind was absorbed in some
lectures which I was preparing, and I was still absorbed in these when
I became aware of the actual presence (though not of the coming) of
the thing that was there the night before, and of the 'horrible
sensation.' I then mentally concentrated all my effort to charge
this 'thing,' if it was evil, to depart, if it was not evil, to tell
me who or what it was, and if it could not explain itself, to go,
and that I would compel it to go. It went as on the previous night,
and my body quickly recovered its normal state.
  "On two other occasions in my life I have had precisely the same
'horrible sensation.' Once it lasted a full quarter of an hour. In all
three instances the certainty that there in outward space there
stood something was indescribably stronger than the ordinary certainty
of companionship when we are in the close presence of ordinary
living people. The something seemed close to me, and intensely more
real than any ordinary perception. Although I felt it to be like
unto myself, so to speak, or finite, small, and distressful, as it
were, I didn't recognize it as any individual being or person."
  Of course such an experience as this does not connect itself with
the religious sphere. Yet it may upon occasion do so; and the same
correspondent informs me that at more than one other conjuncture he
had the sense of presence developed with equal intensity and
abruptness, only then it was filled with a quality of joy.
  "There was not a mere consciousness of something there, but fused in
the central happiness of it, a startling awareness of some ineffable
good. Not vague either, not like the emotional effect of some poem, or
scene, or blossom, of music, but the sure knowledge of the close
presence of a sort of mighty person, and after it went, the memory
persisted as the one perception of reality. Everything else might be a
dream, but not that."
  My friend, as it oddly happens, does not interpret these latter
experiences theistically, as signifying the presence of God. But it
would clearly not have been unnatural to interpret them as a
revelation of the deity's existence. When we reach the subject of
mysticism, we shall have much more to say upon this head.
  Lest the oddity of these phenomena should disconcert you, I will
venture to read you a couple of similar narratives, much shorter,
merely to show that we are dealing with a well-marked natural kind
of fact. In the first case, which I take from the Journal of the
Society for Psychical Research, the sense of presence developed in a
few moments into a distinctly visualized hallucination,- but I leave
that part of the story out.
  "I had read," the narrator says, "some twenty minutes or so, was
thoroughly absorbed in the book, my mind was perfectly quiet, and
for the time being my friends were quite forgotten, when suddenly
without a moment's warning my whole being seemed roused to the highest
state of tension or aliveness, and I was aware, with an intenseness
not easily imagined by those who had never experienced it, that
another being or presence was not only in the room, but quite close to
me. I put my book down, and although my excitement was great, I felt
quite collected, and not conscious of any sense of fear. Without
changing my position, and looking straight at the fire, I knew somehow
that my friend A.H. was standing at my left elbow, but so far behind
me as to be hidden by the armchair in which I was leaning back. Moving
my eyes round slightly without otherwise changing my position, the
lower portion of one leg became visible, and I instantly recognized
the gray-blue material of trousers he often wore, but the stuff
appeared semi-transparent, reminding me of tobacco smoke in
consistency,"- * and hereupon the visual hallucination came.
  * Journal of the S.P.R., February, 1895, p. 26.
  Another informant writes:-
  "Quite early in the night I was awakened.... I felt as if I had been
aroused intentionally, and at first thought some one was breaking into
the house.... I then turned on my side to go to sleep again, and
immediately felt a consciousness of a presence in the room, and
singular to state, it was not the consciousness of a live person,
but of a spiritual presence. This may provoke a smile, but I can
only tell you the facts as they occurred to me. I do not know how to
better describe my sensations than by simply stating that I felt a
consciousness of a spiritual presence.... I felt also at the same time
a strong feeling of superstitious dread, as if something strange and
fearful were about to happen." *
  * E. GURNEY: Phantasms of the Living, i. 384.
  Professor Flournoy of Geneva gives me the following testimony of a
friend of his, a lady, who has the gift of automatic or involuntary
  "Whenever I practice automatic writing, what makes me feel that it
is not due to a subconscious self is the feeling I always have of a
foreign presence, external to my body. It is sometimes so definitely
characterized that I could point to its exact position. This
impression of presence is impossible to describe. It varies in
intensity and clearness according to the personality from whom the
writing professes to come. If it is some one whom I love, I feel it
immediately, before any writing has come. My heart seems to
recognize it."
  In an earlier book of mine I have cited at full length a curious
case of presence felt by a blind man. The presence was that of the
figure of a gray-bearded man dressed in a pepper and salt suit,
squeezing himself under the crack of the door and moving across the
floor of the room towards a sofa. The blind subject of this
quasi-hallucination is an exceptionally intelligent reporter. He is
entirely without internal visual imagery and cannot represent light or
colors to himself, and is positive that his other senses, hearing,
etc., were not involved in this false perception. It seems to have
been an abstract conception rather, with the feelings of reality and
spatial outwardness directly attached to it- in other words, a fully
objectified and exteriorized idea.
  Such cases, taken along with others which would be too tedious for
quotation, seem sufficiently to prove the existence in our mental
machinery of a sense of present reality more diffused and general than
that which our special senses yield. For the psychologists the tracing
of the organic seat of such a feeling would form a pretty problem-
nothing could be more natural than to connect it with the muscular
sense, with the feeling that our muscles were innervating themselves
for action. Whatsoever thus innervated our activity, or 'made our
flesh creep,'- our senses are what do so oftenest,- might then
appear real and present, even though it were but an abstract idea. But
with such vague conjectures we have no concern at present, for our
interest lies with the faculty rather than with its organic seat.
  Like all positive affections of consciousness, the sense of
reality has its negative counterpart in the shape of a feeling of
unreality by which persons may be haunted, and of which one
sometimes hears complaint:-
  "When I reflect on the fact that I have made my appearance by
accident upon a globe itself whirled through space as the sport of the
catastrophes of the heavens," says Madame Ackermann; "when I see
myself surrounded by beings as ephemeral and incomprehensible as I
am myself, and all excitedly pursuing pure chimeras, I experience a
strange feeling of being in a dream. It seems to me as if I have loved
and suffered and that erelong I shall die, in a dream. My last word
will be, 'I have been dreaming.'" *
  * Pensees d'un Solitaire, p. 66.
  In another lecture we shall see how in morbid melancholy this
sense of the unreality of things may become a carking pain, and even
lead to suicide.
  We may now lay it down as certain that in the distinctively
religious sphere of experience, many persons (how many we cannot tell)
possess the objects of their belief, not in the form of mere
conceptions which their intellect accepts as true, but rather in the
form of quasi-sensible realities directly apprehended. As his sense of
the real presence of these objects fluctuates, so the believer
alternates between warmth and coldness in his faith. Other examples
will bring this home to one better than abstract description, so I
proceed immediately to cite some. The first example is a negative one,
deploring the loss of the sense in question. I have extracted it
from an account given me by a scientific man of my acquaintance, of
his religious life. It seems to me to show clearly that the feeling of
reality may be something more like a sensation than an intellectual
operation properly so-called.
  "Between twenty and thirty I gradually became more and more agnostic
and irreligious, yet I cannot say that I ever lost that 'indefinite
consciousness' which Herbert Spencer describes so well, of an Absolute
Reality behind phenomena. For me this Reality was not the pure
Unknowable of Spencer's philosophy, for although I had ceased my
childish prayers to God, and never prayed to It in a formal manner,
yet my more recent experience shows me to have been in a relation to
It which practically was the same thing as prayer. Whenever I had
any trouble, especially when I had conflict with other people,
either domestically or in the way of business, or when I was depressed
in spirits or anxious about affairs, I now recognize that I used to
fall back for support upon this curious relation I felt myself to be
in to this fundamental cosmical It. It was on my side, or I was on Its
side, however you please to term it, in the particular trouble, and it
always strengthened me and seemed to give me endless vitality to
feel its underlying and supporting presence. In fact, it was an
unfailing fountain of living justice, truth, and strength, to which
I instinctively turned at times of weakness, and it always brought
me out. I know now that it was a personal relation I was in to it,
because of late years the power of communicating with it has left
me, and I am conscious of a perfectly definite loss. I used never to
fail to find it when I turned to it. Then came a set of years when
sometimes I found it, and then again I would be wholly unable to
make connection with it. I remember many occasions on which at night
in bed, I would be unable to get to sleep on account of worry. I
turned this way and that in the darkness, and groped mentally for
the familiar sense of that higher mind of my mind which had always
seemed to be close at hand as it were, closing the passage, and
yielding support, but there was no electric current. A blank was there
instead of It: I couldn't find anything. Now, at the age of nearly
fifty, my power of getting into connection with it has entirely left
me; and I have to confess that a great help has gone out of my life.
Life has become curiously dead and indifferent; and I can now see that
my old experience was probably exactly the same thing as the prayers
of the orthodox, only I did not call them by that name. What I have
spoken of as 'It' was practically not Spencer's Unknowable, but just
my own instinctive and individual God, whom I relied upon for higher
sympathy, but whom somehow I have lost."
  Nothing is more common in the pages of religious biography than
the way in which seasons of lively and of difficult faith are
described as alternating. Probably every religious person has the
recollection of particular crises in which a directer vision of the
truth, a direct perception, perhaps, of a living God's existence,
swept in and overwhelmed the languor of the more ordinary belief. In
James Russell Lowell's correspondence there is a brief memorandum of
an experience of this kind:-
  "I had a revelation last Friday evening. I was at Mary's, and
happening to say something of the presence of spirits (of whom, I
said, I was often dimly aware), Mr. Putnam entered into an argument
with me on spiritual matters. As I was speaking, the whole system rose
up before me like a vague destiny looming from the Abyss. I never
before so clearly felt the Spirit of God in me and around me. The
whole room seemed to me full of God. The air seemed to waver to and
fro with the presence of Something I knew not what. I spoke with the
calmness and clearness of a prophet. I cannot tell you what this
revelation was. I have not yet studied it enough. But I shall
perfect it one day, and then you shall hear it and acknowledge its
grandeur." *
  * Letters of Lowell, i. 75.
  Here is a longer and more developed experience from a manuscript
communication by a clergyman,- I take it from Starbuck's manuscript
  "I remember the night, and almost the very spot on the hill-top,
where my soul opened out, as it were, into the Infinite, and there was
a rushing together of the two worlds, the inner and the outer. It
was deep calling unto deep,- the deep that my own struggle had
opened up within being answered by the unfathomable deep without,
reaching beyond the stars. I stood alone with Him who had made me, and
all the beauty of the world, and love, and sorrow, and even
temptation. I did not seek Him, but felt the perfect unison of my
spirit with His. The ordinary sense of things around me faded. For the
moment nothing but an ineffable joy and exaltation remained. It is
impossible fully to describe the experience. It was like the effect of
some great orchestra when all the separate notes have melted into
one swelling harmony that leaves the listener conscious of nothing
save that his soul is being wafted upwards, and almost bursting with
its own emotion. The perfect stillness of the night was thrilled by
a more solemn silence. The darkness held a presence that was all the
more felt because it was not seen. I could not any more have doubted
that He was there than that I was. Indeed, I felt myself to be, if
possible, the less real of the two.
  "My highest faith in God and truest idea of him were then born in
me. I have stood upon the Mount of Vision since, and felt the
Eternal round about me. But never since has there come quite the
same stirring of the heart. Then, if ever, I believe, I stood face
to face with God, and was born anew of his spirit. There was, as I
recall it, no sudden change of thought or of belief, except that my
early crude conception had, as it were, burst into flower. There was
no destruction of the old, but a rapid, wonderful unfolding. Since
that time no discussion that I have heard of the proofs of God's
existence has been able to shake my faith. Having once felt the
presence of God's spirit, I have never lost it again for long. My most
assuring evidence of his existence is deeply rooted in that hour of
vision, in the memory of that supreme experience, and in the
conviction, gained from reading and reflection, that something the
same has come to all who have found God. I am aware that it may justly
be called mystical. I am not enough acquainted with philosophy to
defend it from that or any other charge. I feel that in writing of
it I have overlaid it with words rather than put it clearly to your
thought. But, such as it is, I have described it as carefully as I now
am able to do."
  Here is another document, even more definite in character, which,
the writer being a Swiss, I translate from the French original. *
  * I borrow it, with Professor Flournoy's permission, from his rich
collection of psychological documents.
  "I was in perfect health: we were on our sixth day of tramping,
and in good training. We had come the day before from Sixt to Trient
by Buet. I felt neither fatigue, hunger, nor thirst, and my state of
mind was equally healthy. I had had at Forlaz good news from home; I
was subject to no anxiety, either near or remote, for we had a good
guide, and there was not a shadow of uncertainty about the road we
should follow. I can best describe the condition in which I was by
calling it a state of equilibrium. When all at once I experienced a
feeling, of being raised above myself, I felt the presence of God- I
tell of the thing just as I was conscious of it- as if his goodness
and his power were penetrating me altogether. The throb of emotion was
so violent that I could barely tell the boys to pass on and not wait
for me. I then sat down on a stone, unable to stand any longer, and my
eyes overflowed with tears. I thanked God that in the course of my
life he had taught me to know him, that he sustained my life and
took pity both on the insignificant creature and on the sinner that
I was. I begged him ardently that my life might be consecrated to
the doing of his will. I felt his reply, which was that I should do
his will from day to day, in humility and poverty, leaving him, the
Almighty God, to be judge of whether I should some time be called to
bear witness more conspicuously. Then, slowly, the ecstasy left my
heart; that is, I felt that God had withdrawn the communion which he
had granted, and I was able to walk on, but very slowly, so strongly
was I still possessed by the interior emotion. Besides, I had wept
uninterruptedly for several minutes, my eyes were swollen, and I did
not wish my companions to see me. The state of ecstasy may have lasted
four or five minutes, although it seemed at the time to last much
longer. My comrades waited for me ten minutes at the cross of
Barine, but I took about twenty-five or thirty minutes to join them,
for as well as I can remember, they said that I had kept them back for
about half an hour. The impression had been so profound that in
climbing slowly the slope I asked myself if it were possible that
Moses on Sinai could have had a more intimate communication with
God. I think it well to add that in this ecstasy of mine God had
neither form, color, odor, nor taste; moreover, that the feeling of
his presence was accompanied with no determinate localization. It
was rather as if my personality had been transformed by the presence
of a spiritual spirit. But the more I seek words to express this
intimate intercourse, the more I feel the impossibility of
describing the thing by any of our usual images. At bottom the
expression most apt to render what I felt is this: God was present,
though invisible; he fell under no one of my senses, yet my
consciousness perceived him."
  The adjective 'mystical' is technically applied, most often, to
states that are of brief duration. Of course such hours of rapture
as the last two persons describe are mystical experiences, of which in
a later lecture I shall have much to say. Meanwhile here is the
abridged record of another mystical or semi-mystical experience, in
a mind evidently framed by nature for ardent piety. I owe it to
Starbuck's collection. The lady who gives the account is the
daughter of a man well known in his time as a writer against
Christianity. The suddenness of her conversion shows well how native
the sense of God's presence must be to certain minds. She relates that
she was brought up in entire ignorance of Christian doctrine, but,
when in Germany, after being talked to by Christian friends, she
read the Bible and prayed, and finally the plan of salvation flashed
upon her like a stream of light.
  "To this day," she writes, "I cannot understand dallying with
religion and the commands of God. The very instant I heard my Father's
cry calling unto me, my heart bounded in recognition. I ran, I
stretched forth my arms, I cried aloud, 'Here, here I am, my
Father.' Oh, happy child, what should I do? 'Love me,' answered my
God. 'I do, I do,' I cried passionately. 'Come unto me,' called my
Father. 'I will,' my heart panted. Did I stop to ask a single
question? Not one. It never occurred to me to ask whether I was good
enough, or to hesitate over my unfitness, or to find out what I
thought of his church, or... to wait until I should be satisfied.
Satisfied! I was satisfied. Had I not found my God and my Father?
Did he not love me? Had he not called me? Was there not a Church
into which I might enter?... Since then I have had direct answers to
prayer- so significant as to be almost like talking with God and
hearing his answer. The idea of God's reality has never left me for
one moment."
  Here is still another case, the writer being a man aged
twenty-seven, in which the experience, probably almost as
characteristic, is less vividly described:-
  "I have on a number of occasions felt that I had enjoyed a period of
intimate communion with the divine. These meetings came unasked and
unexpected, and seemed to consist merely in the temporary obliteration
of the conventionalities which usually surround and cover my
life.... Once it was when from the summit of a high mountain I
looked over a gashed and corrugated landscape extending to a long
convex of ocean that ascended to the horizon, and again from the
same point when I could see nothing beneath me but a boundless expanse
of white cloud, on the blown surface of which a few high peaks,
including the one I was on, seemed plunging about as if they were
dragging their anchors. What I felt on these occasions was a temporary
loss of my own identity, accompanied by an illumination which revealed
to me a deeper significance than I had been wont to attach to life. It
is in this that I find my justification for saying that I have enjoyed
communication with God. Of course the absence of such a being as
this would be chaos. I cannot conceive of life without its presence."
  Of the more habitual and so to speak chronic sense of God's presence
the following sample from Professor Starbuck's manuscript collection
may serve to give an idea. It is from a man aged forty-nine,- probably
thousands of unpretending Christians would write an almost identical
  "God is more real to me than any thought or thing or person. I
feel his presence positively, and the more as I live in closer harmony
with his laws as written in my body and mind. I feel him in the
sunshine or rain; and awe mingled with a delicious restfulness most
nearly describes my feelings. I talk to him as to a companion in
prayer and praise, and our communion is delightful. He answers me
again and again, often in words so clearly spoken that it seems my
outer ear must have carried the tone, but generally in strong mental
impressions. Usually a text of Scripture, unfolding some new view of
him and his love for me, and care for my safety. I could give hundreds
of instances, in school matters, social problems, financial
difficulties, etc. That he is mine and I am his never leaves me, it is
an abiding joy. Without it life would be a blank, a desert, a
shoreless, trackless waste."
  I subjoin some more examples from writers of different ages and
sexes. They are also from Professor Starbuck's collection, and their
number might be greatly multiplied. The first is from a man
twenty-seven years old:-
  "God is quite real to me. I talk to him and often get answers.
Thoughts sudden and distinct from any I have been entertaining come to
my mind after asking God for his direction. Something over a year
ago I was for some weeks in the direst perplexity. When the trouble
first appeared before me I was dazed, but before long (two or three
hours) I could hear distinctly a passage of Scripture: 'My grace is
sufficient for thee.' Every time my thoughts turned to the trouble I
could hear this quotation. I don't think I ever doubted the
existence of God, or had him drop out of my consciousness. God has
frequently stepped into my affairs very perceptibly, and I feel that
he directs many little details all the time. But on two or three
occasions he has ordered ways for me very contrary to my ambitions and
  Another statement (none the less valuable psychologically for
being so decidedly childish) is that of a boy of seventeen:-
  "Sometimes as I go to church, I sit down, join in the service, and
before I go out I feel as if God was with me, right side of me,
singing and reading the Psalms with me.... And then again I feel as if
I could sit beside him, and put my arms around him, kiss him, etc.
When I am taking Holy Communion at the altar, I try to get with him
and generally feel his presence.
  I let a few other cases follow at random:-
  "God surrounds me like the physical atmosphere. He is closer to me
than my own breath. In him literally I live and move and have my
  "There are times when I seem to stand in his very presence, to
talk with him. Answers to prayer have come, sometimes direct and
overwhelming in their revelation of his presence and powers. There are
times when God seems far off, but this is always my own fault."-
  "I have the sense of a presence, strong, and at the same time
soothing, which hovers over me. Sometimes it seems to enwrap me with
sustaining arms."
  Such is the human ontological imagination, and such is the
convincingness of what it brings to birth. Unpicturable beings are
realized, and realized with an intensity almost like that of an
hallucination. They determine our vital attitude as decisively as
the vital attitude of lovers is determined by the habitual sense, by
which each is haunted, of the other being in the world. A lover has
notoriously this sense of the continuous being of his idol, even
when his attention is addressed to other matters and he no longer
represents her features. He cannot forget her; she uninterruptedly
affects him through and through.
  I spoke of the convincingness of these feelings of reality, and I
must dwell a moment longer on that point. They are as convincing to
those who have them as any direct sensible experiences can be, and
they are, as a rule, much more convincing than results established
by mere logic ever are. One may indeed be entirely without them;
probably more than one of you here present is without them in any
marked degree; but if you do have them, and have them at all strongly,
the probability is that you cannot help regarding them as genuine
perceptions of truth, as revelations of a kind of reality which no
adverse argument, however unanswerable by you in words, can expel from
your belief. The opinion opposed to mysticism in philosophy is
sometimes spoken of as rationalism. Rationalism insists that all our
beliefs ought ultimately to find for themselves articulate grounds.
Such grounds, for rationalism, must consist of four things: (1)
definitely statable abstract principles; (2) definite facts of
sensation; (3) definite hypotheses based on such facts; and (4)
definite inferences logically drawn. Vague impressions of something
indefinable have no place in the rationalistic system, which on its
positive side is surely a splendid intellectual tendency, for not only
are all our philosophies fruits of it, but physical science (amongst
other good things) is its result.
  Nevertheless, if we look on man's whole mental life as it exists, on
the life of men that lies in them apart from their learning and
science, and that they inwardly and privately follow, we have to
confess that the part of it of which rationalism can give an account
is relatively superficial. It is the part that has the prestige
undoubtedly, for it has the loquacity, it can challenge you for
proofs, and chop logic, and put you down with words. But it will
fail to convince or convert you all the same, if your dumb
intuitions are opposed to its conclusions. If you have intuitions at
all, they come from a deeper level of your nature than the
loquacious level which rationalism inhabits. Your whole subconscious
life, your impulses, your faiths, your needs, your divinations, have
prepared the premises, of which your consciousness now feels the
weight of the result; and something in you absolutely knows that
that result must be truer than any logic-chopping rationalistic
talk, however clever, that may contradict it. This inferiority of
the rationalistic level in founding belief is just as manifest when
rationalism argues for religion as when it argues against it. That
vast literature of proofs of God's existence drawn from the order of
nature, which a century ago seemed so overwhelmingly convincing,
to-day does little more than gather dust in libraries, for the
simple reason that our generation has ceased to believe in the kind of
God it argued for. Whatever sort of a being God may be, we know to-day
that he is nevermore that mere external inventor of 'contrivances'
intended to make manifest his 'glory' in which our
great-grandfathers took such satisfaction, though just how we know
this we cannot possibly make clear by words either to others or to
ourselves. I defy any of you here fully to account for your persuasion
that if a God exist he must be a more cosmic and tragic personage than
that Being.
  The truth is that in the metaphysical and religious sphere,
articulate reasons are cogent for us only when our inarticulate
feelings of reality have already been impressed in favor of the same
conclusion. Then, indeed, our intuitions and our reason work together,
and great world-ruling systems, like that of the Buddhist or of the
Catholic philosophy, may grow up. Our impulsive belief is here
always what sets up the original body of truth, and our articulately
verbalized philosophy is but its showy translation into formulas.
The unreasoned and immediate assurance is the deep thing in us, the
reasoned argument is but a surface exhibition. Instinct leads,
intelligence does but follow. If a person feels the presence of a
living God after the fashion shown by my quotations, your critical
arguments, be they never so superior, will vainly set themselves to
change his faith.
  Please observe, however, that I do not yet say that it is better
that the subconscious and non-rational should thus hold primacy in the
religious realm. I confine myself to simply pointing out that they
do so hold it as a matter of fact.
  So much for our sense of the reality of the religious objects. Let
me now say a brief word more about the attitudes they
characteristically awaken.
  We have already agreed that they are solemn; and we have seen reason
to think that the most distinctive of them is the sort of joy which
may result in extreme cases from absolute self-surrender. The sense of
the kind of object to which the surrender is made has much to do
with determining the precise complexion of the joy; and the whole
phenomenon is more complex than any simple formula allows. In the
literature of the subject, sadness and gladness have each been
emphasized in turn. The ancient saying that the first maker of the
Gods was fear receives voluminous corroboration from every age of
religious history; but none the less does religious history show the
part which joy has evermore tended to play. Sometimes the joy has been
primary; sometimes secondary, being the gladness of deliverance from
the fear. This latter state of things, being the more complex, is also
the more complete; and as we proceed, I think we shall have abundant
reason for refusing to leave out either the sadness or the gladness,
if we look at religion with the breadth of view which it demands.
Stated in the completest possible terms, a man's religion involves
both moods of contraction and moods of expansion of his being. But the
quantitative mixture and order of these moods vary so much from one
age of the world, from one system of thought, and from one
individual to another, that you may insist either on the dread and the
submission, or on the peace and the freedom as the essence of the
matter, and still remain materially within the limits of the truth.
The constitutionally sombre and the constitutionally sanguine onlooker
are bound to emphasize opposite aspects of what lies before their
  The constitutionally sombre religious person makes even of his
religious peace a very sober thing. Danger still hovers in the air
about it. Flexion and contraction are not wholly checked. It were
sparrowlike and childish after our deliverance to explode into
twittering laughter and caper-cutting, and utterly to forget the
imminent hawk on bough. Lie low, rather, lie low; for you are in the
hands of a living God. In the Book of Job, for example, the
impotence of man and the omnipotence of God is the exclusive burden of
its author's mind. "It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?-
deeper than hell; what canst thou know?" There is an astringent relish
about the truth of this conviction which some men can feel, and
which for them is as near an approach as can be made to the feeling of
religious joy.
  "In Job," says that coldly truthful writer, the author of Mark
Rutherford, "God reminds us that man is not the measure of his
creation. The world is immense, constructed on no plan or theory which
the intellect of man can grasp. It is transcendent everywhere. This is
the burden of every verse, and is the secret, if there be one, of
the poem. Sufficient or insufficient, there is nothing more.... God is
great, we know not his ways. He takes from us all we have, but yet
if we possess our souls in patience, we may pass the valley of the
shadow, and come out in sunlight again. We may or we may not!...
What more have we to say now than God said from the whirlwind over two
thousand five hundred years ago?" *
  * Mark Rutherford's Deliverance, London, 1885, pp. 196, 198.
  If we turn to the sanguine onlooker, on the other hand, we find that
deliverance is felt as incomplete unless the burden be altogether
overcome and the danger forgotten. Such onlookers give us
definitions that seem to the sombre minds of whom we have just been
speaking to leave out all the solemnity that makes religious peace
so different from merely animal joys. In the opinion of some writers
an attitude might be called religious, though no touch were left in it
of sacrifice or submission, no tendency to flexion, no bowing of the
head. Any "habitual and regulated admiration," says Professor J.R.
Seeley, * "is worthy to be called a religion"; and accordingly he
thinks that our Music, our Science, and our so-called
'Civilization,' as these things are now organized and admiringly
believed in, form the more genuine religions of our time. Certainly
the unhesitating and unreasoning way in which we feel that we must
inflict our civilization upon 'lower' races, by means of Hotchkiss
guns, etc., reminds one of nothing so much as of the early spirit of
Islam spreading its religion by the sword.
  * In his book (too little read, I fear), Natural Religion, 3d
edition, Boston, 1886, pp. 91, 122.
  In my last lecture I quoted to you the ultra-radical opinion of
Mr. Havelock Ellis, that laughter of any sort may be considered a
religious exercise, for it bears witness to the soul's emancipation. I
quoted this opinion in order to deny its adequacy. But we must now
settle our scores more carefully with this whole optimistic way of
thinking. It is far too complex to be decided off-hand. I propose
accordingly that we make of religious optimism the theme of the next
two lectures.

                          LECTURES IV AND V
  IF we were to ask the question: 'What is human life's chief
concern?' one of the answers we should receive would be: 'It is
happiness.' How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is
in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do,
and of all they are willing to endure. The hedonistic school in ethics
deduces the moral life wholly from the experiences of happiness and
unhappiness which different kinds of conduct bring; and, even more
in the religious life than in the moral life, happiness and
unhappiness seem to be the poles round which the interest revolves. We
need not go so far as to say with the author whom I lately quoted that
any persistent enthusiasm is, as such, religion, nor need we call mere
laughter a religious exercise; but we must admit that any persistent
enjoyment may produce the sort of religion which consists in a
grateful admiration of the gift of so happy an existence; and we
must also acknowledge that the more complex ways of experiencing
religion are new manners of producing happiness, wonderful inner paths
to a supernatural kind of happiness, when the first gift of natural
existence is unhappy, as it so often proves itself to be.
  With such relations between religion and happiness, it is perhaps
not surprising that men come to regard the happiness which a religious
belief affords as a proof of its truth. If a creed makes a man feel
happy, he almost inevitably adopts it. Such a belief ought to be true;
therefore it is true- such, rightly or wrongly, is one of the
'immediate inferences' of the religious logic used by ordinary men.
  "The near presence of God's spirit," says a German writer, * "may be
experienced in its reality- indeed only experienced. And the mark by
which the spirit's existence and nearness are made irrefutably clear
to those who have ever had the experience is the utterly
incomparable feeling of happiness which is connected with the
nearness, and which is therefore not only a possible and altogether
proper feeling for us to have here below, but is the best and most
indispensable proof of God's reality. No other proof is equally
convincing, and therefore happiness is the point from which every
efficacious new theology should start."
  * C. HILTY: Gluck, dritter Theil, 1900, p. 18.
  In the hour immediately before us, I shall invite you to consider
the simpler kinds of religious happiness, leaving the more complex
sorts to be treated on a later day.
  In many persons, happiness is congenital and irreclaimable.
'Cosmic emotion' inevitably takes in them the form of enthusiasm and
freedom. I speak not only of those who are animally happy. I mean
those who, when unhappiness is offered or proposed to them, positively
refuse to feel it, as if it were something mean and wrong. We find
such persons in every age, passionately flinging themselves upon their
sense of the goodness of life, in spite of the hardships of their
own condition, and is spite of the sinister theologies into which they
may be born. From the outset their religion is one of union with the
divine. The heretics who went before the reformation are lavishly
accused by the church writers of antinomian practices, just as the
first Christians were accused of indulgence in orgies by the Romans.
It is probable that there never has been a century in which the
deliberate refusal to think ill of life has not been idealized by a
sufficient number of persons to form sects, open or secret, who
claimed all natural things to be permitted. Saint Augustine's maxim,
Dilige et quod vis fac,- if you but love [God], you may do as you
incline,- is morally one of the profoundest of observations, yet it is
pregnant, for such persons, with passports beyond the bounds of
conventional morality. According to their characters they have been
refined or gross; but their belief has been at all times systematic
enough to constitute a definite religious attitude. God was for them a
giver of freedom, and the sting of evil was overcome. Saint Francis
and his immediate disciples were, on the whole, of this company of
spirits, of which there are of course infinite varieties. Rousseau
in the earlier years of his writing, Diderot, B. de Saint Pierre,
and many of the leaders of the eighteenth century anti-christian
movement were of this optimistic type. They owed their influence to
a certain authoritativeness in their feeling that Nature, if you
will only trust her sufficiently, is absolutely good.
  It is to be hoped that we all have some friend, perhaps more often
feminine than masculine, and young than old, whose soul is of this
sky-blue tint, whose affinities are rather with flowers and birds
and all enchanting innocencies than with dark human passions, who
can think no ill of man or God, and in whom religious gladness,
being in possession from the outset, needs no deliverance from any
antecedent burden.
  "God has two families of children on this earth," says Francis W.
Newman, * "the once-born and the twice-born," and the once-born he
describes as follows: "They see God, not as a strict Judge, not as a
Glorious Potentate; but as the animating Spirit of a beautiful
harmonious world, Beneficent and Kind, Merciful as well as Pure. The
same characters generally have no metaphysical tendencies: they do not
look back into themselves. Hence they are not distressed by their
own imperfections: yet it would be absurd to call them self-righteous;
for they hardly think of themselves at all. This childlike quality
of their nature makes the opening of religion very happy to them:
for they no more shrink from God, than a child from an emperor, before
whom the parent trembles: in fact, they have no vivid conception of
any of the qualities in which the severer Majesty of God
consists. *(2) He is to them the impersonation of Kindness and
Beauty. They read his character, not in the disordered world of man,
but in romantic and harmonious nature. Of human sin they know perhaps
little in their own hearts and not very much in the world; and human
suffering does but melt them to tenderness. Thus, when they approach
God, no inward disturbance ensues; and without being as yet
spiritual, they have a certain complacency and perhaps romantic sense
of excitement in their simple worship."
  * The Soul; its Sorrows and its Aspirations, 3d edition, 1852, pp.
89, 91.
  *(2) I once heard a lady describe the pleasure it gave her to
think that she "could always cuddle up to God."
  In the Romish Church such characters find a more congenial soil to
grow in than in Protestantism, whose fashions of feeling have been set
by minds of a decidedly pessimistic order. But even in Protestantism
they have been abundant enough; and in its recent 'liberal'
developments of Unitarianism and latitudinarianism generally, minds of
this order have played and still are playing leading and
constructive parts. Emerson himself is an admirable example.
Theodore Parker is another,- here are a couple of characteristic
passages from Parker's correspondence. *
  * JOHN WEISS: Life of Theodore Parker, i. 152, 32.
  "Orthodox scholars say: 'In the heathen classics you find no
consciousness of sin.' It is very true- God be thanked for it. They
were conscious of wrath, of cruelty, avarice, drunkenness, lust,
sloth, cowardice, and other actual vices, and struggled and got rid of
the deformities, but they were not conscious of 'enmity against
God,' and didn't sit down and whine and groan against non-existent
evil. I have done wrong things enough in my life, and do them now; I
miss the mark, draw bow, and try again. But I am not conscious of
hating God, or man, or right, or love, and I know there is much
'health in me'; and in any body, even now, there dwelleth many a
good thing, spite of consumption and Saint Paul." In another letter
Parker writes: "I have swum in clear sweet waters all my days; and
if sometimes they were a little cold, and the stream ran adverse and
something rough, it was never too strong to be breasted and swum
through. From the days of earliest boyhood, when I went stumbling
through the grass,... up to the gray-bearded manhood of this time,
there is none but has left me honey in the hive of memory that I now
feed on for present delight, When I recall the years... I am filled
with a sense of sweetness and wonder that such little things can
make a mortal so exceedingly rich. But I must confess that the
chiefest of all my delights is still the religious."
  Another good expression of the 'once-born' type of consciousness,
developing straight and natural, with no element of morbid compunction
or crisis, is contained in the answer of Dr. Edward Everett Hale,
the eminent Unitarian preacher and writer, to one of Dr. Starbuck's
circulars. I quote a part of it:-
  "I observe, with profound regret, the religious struggles which come
into many biographies, as if almost essential to the formation of
the hero. I ought to speak of these, to say that any man has an
advantage, not to be estimated, who is born, as I was, into a family
where the religion is simple and rational; who is trained in the
theory of such a religion, so that he never knows, for an hour, what
these religious or irreligious struggles are. I always knew God
loved me, and I was always grateful to him for the world he placed
me in. I always liked to tell him so, and was always glad to receive
his suggestions to me.... I can remember perfectly that when I was
coming to manhood, the half-philosophical novels of the time had a
deal to say about the young men and maidens who were facing the
'problem of life.' I had no idea whatever what the problem of life
was. To live with all my might seemed to me easy; to learn where there
was so much to learn seemed pleasant and almost of course; to lend a
hand, if one had a chance, natural; and if one did this, why, he
enjoyed life because he could not help it, and without proving to
himself that he ought to enjoy it.... A child who is early taught that
he is God's child, that he may live and move and have his being in
God, and that he has, therefore, infinite strength at hand for the
conquering of any difficulty, will take life more easily, and probably
will make more of it, than one who is told that he is born the child
of wrath and wholly incapable of good." *
  * STARBUCK: Psychology of Religion, pp. 305, 306.
  One can but recognize in such writers as these the presence of a
temperament organically weighted on the side of cheer and fatally
forbidden to linger, as those of opposite temperament linger, over the
darker aspects of the universe. In some individuals optimism may
become quasi-pathological. The capacity for even a transient sadness
or a momentary humility seems cut off from them as by a kind of
congenital anaesthesia. *
  * "I know not to what physical laws philosophers will some day refer
the feelings of melancholy. For myself, I find that they are the
most voluptuous of all sensations," writes Saint Pierre, and
accordingly he devotes a series of sections of his work on Nature to
the Plaisirs de la Ruine, Plaisirs des Tombeaux, Ruines de la
Nature, Plaisirs de la Solitude- each of them more optimistic than the
  This finding of a luxury in woe is very common during adolescence.
The truth-telling Marie Bashkirtseff expresses it well:-
  "In this depression and dreadful uninterrupted suffering, I don't
condemn life. On the contrary, I like it and find it good. Can you
believe it? I find everything good and pleasant, even my tears, my
grief. I enjoy weeping, I enjoy my despair. I enjoy being
exasperated and sad. I feel as if these were so many diversions, and I
love life in spite of them all. I want to live on. It would be cruel
to have me die when I am so accommodating. I cry, I grieve, and at the
same time I am pleased- no, not exactly that- I know not how to
express it. But everything in life pleases me. I find everything
agreeable, and in the very midst of my prayers for happiness, I find
myself happy at being miserable. It is not I who undergo all this-
my body weeps and cries; but something inside of me which is above
me is glad of it all." Journal de Marie Bashkirtseff, i. 67.
  The supreme contemporary example of such an inability to feel evil
is of course Walt Whitman.
  "His favorite occupation," writes his disciple, Dr. Bucke, seemed to
be strolling or sauntering about outdoors by himself, looking at the
grass, the trees, the flowers, the vistas of light, the varying
aspects of the sky, and listening to the birds, the crickets, the tree
frogs, and all the hundreds of natural sounds. It was evident that
these things gave him a pleasure far beyond what they give to ordinary
people. Until I knew the man," continues Dr. Bucke, "it had not
occurred to me that any one could derive so much absolute happiness
from these things as be did. He was very fond of flowers, either
wild or cultivated; liked all sorts. I think he admired lilacs and
sunflowers just as much as roses. Perhaps, indeed, no man who ever
lived liked so many things and disliked so few as Walt Whitman. All
natural objects seemed to have a charm for him. All sights and
sounds seemed to please him. He appeared to like (and I believe he did
like) all the men, women, and children he saw (though I never knew him
to say that he liked any one), but each who knew him felt that he
liked him or her, and that he liked others also. I never knew him to
argue or dispute, and he never spoke about money. He always justified,
sometimes playfully, sometimes quite seriously, those who spoke
harshly of himself or his writings, and I often thought he even took
pleasure in the opposition of enemies. When I first knew [him], I used
to think that he watched himself, and would not allow his tongue to
give expression to fretfulness, antipathy, complaint, and
remonstrance. It did not occur to me as possible that these mental
states could be absent in him. After long observation, however, I
satisfied myself that such absence or unconsciousness was entirely
real. He never spoke deprecatingly of any nationality or class of men,
or time in the world's history, or against any trades or
occupations- not even against any animals, insects, or inanimate
things, nor any of the laws of nature, nor any of the results of those
laws, such as illness, deformity, and death. He never complained or
grumbled either at the weather, pain, illness, or anything else. He
never swore. He could not very well, since he never spoke in anger and
apparently never was angry. He never exhibited fear, and I do not
believe he ever felt it." *
  * R.M. BUCKE: Cosmic Consciousness, pp. 182-186, abridged.
  Walt Whitman owes his importance in literature to the systematic
expulsion from his writings of all contractile elements. The only
sentiments he allowed himself to express were of the expansive
order; and he expressed these in the first person, not as your mere
monstrously conceited individual might so express them, but
vicariously for all men, so that a passionate and mystic ontological
emotion suffuses his words, and ends by persuading the reader that men
and women, life and death, and all things are divinely good.
  Thus it has come about that many persons to-day regard Walt
Whitman as the restorer of the eternal natural religion. He has
infected them with his own love of comrades, with his own gladness
that he and they exist. Societies are actually formed for his cult;
a periodical organ exists for its propagation, in which the lines of
orthodoxy and heterodoxy are already beginning to be drawn; * hymns
are written by others in his peculiar prosody; and he is even
explicitly compared with the founder of the Christian religion, not
altogether to the advantage of the latter.
  * I refer to The Conservator, edited by Horace Traubel, and
published monthly at Philadelphia.
  Whitman is often spoken of as a 'pagan.' The word nowadays means
sometimes the mere natural animal man without a sense of sin;
sometimes it means a Greek or Roman with his own peculiar religious
consciousness. In neither of these senses does it fitly define this
poet. He is more than your mere animal man who has not tasted of the
tree of good and evil. He is aware enough of sin for a swagger to be
present in his indifference towards it, a conscious pride in his
freedom from flexions and contractions, which your genuine pagan in
the first sense of the word would never show.
  "I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and
  I stand and look at them long and long;
  They do not sweat and whine about their condition.
  They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
  Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of
owning things,
  Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of
years ago
  Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth." *
  * Song of Myself, 32.
  No natural pagan could have written these well-known lines. But on
the other hand Whitman is less than a Greek or Roman; for their
consciousness, even in Homeric times, was full to the brim of the
sad mortality of this sunlit world, and such a consciousness Walt
Whitman resolutely refuses to adopt. When, for example, Achilles,
about to slay Lycaon, Priam's young son, hears him sue for mercy, he
stops to say:-
  "Ah, friend, thou too must die: why thus lamentest thou? Patroclos
too is dead, who was better far than thou.... Over me too hang death
and forceful fate. There cometh morn or eve or some noonday when my
life too some man shall take in battle, whether with spear he smite,
or arrow from the string." *
  * Iliad, XXI., E. Myers's translation.
  Then Achilles savagely severs the poor boy's neck with his sword,
heaves him by the foot into the Scamander, and calls to the fishes
of the river to eat the white fat of Lycaon. Just as here the
cruelty and the sympathy each ring true, and do not mix or interfere
with one another, so did the Greeks and Romans keep all their
sadnesses and gladnesses unmingled and entire. Instinctive good they
did not reckon sin; nor had they any such desire to save the credit of
the universe as to make them insist, as so many of us insist, that
what immediately appears as evil must be 'good in the making,' or
something equally ingenious. Good was good, and bad just bad, for
the earlier Greeks. They neither denied the ills of nature,- Walt
Whitman's verse, 'What is called good is perfect and what is called
bad is just as perfect,' would have been mere silliness to them,-
nor did they, in order to escape from those ills, invent 'another
and a better world' of the imagination, in which, along with the ills,
the innocent goods of sense would also find no place. This integrity
of the instinctive reactions, this freedom from all moral sophistry
and strain, gives a pathetic dignity to ancient pagan feeling. And
this quality Whitman's outpourings have not got. His optimism is too
voluntary and defiant; his gospel has a touch of bravado and an
affected twist, * and this diminishes its effect on many readers who
yet are well disposed towards optimism, and on the whole quite willing
to admit that in important respects Whitman is of the genuine
lineage of the prophets.
  * "God is afraid of me!" remarked such a titanic-optimistic friend
in my presence one morning when he was feeling particularly hearty and
cannibalistic. The defiance of the phrase showed that a Christian
education in humility still rankled in his breast.
  If, then, we give the name of healthy-mindedness to the tendency
which looks on all things and sees that they are good, we find that we
must distinguish between a more involuntary and a more voluntary or
systematic way of being healthy-minded. In its involuntary variety,
healthy mindedness is a way of feeling happy about things immediately.
In its systematical variety, it is an abstract way of conceiving
things as good. Every abstract way of conceiving things selects some
one aspect of them as their essence for the time being, and disregards
the other aspects. Systematic healthy-mindedness, conceiving good as
the essential and universal aspect of being, deliberately excludes
evil from its field of vision; and although, when thus nakedly stated,
this might seem a difficult feat to perform for one who is
intellectually sincere with himself and honest about facts, a little
reflection shows that the situation is too complex to lie open to so
simple a criticism.
  In the first place, happiness, like every other emotional state, has
blindness and insensibility to opposing facts given it as its
instinctive weapon for self-protection against disturbance. When
happiness is actually in possession, the thought of evil can no more
acquire the feeling of reality than the thought of good can gain
reality when melancholy rules. To the man actively happy, from
whatever cause, evil simply cannot then and there be believed in. He
must ignore it; and to the bystander he may then seem perversely to
shut his eyes to it and hush it up.
  But more than this: the hushing of it up may, in a perfectly
candid and honest mind, grow into a deliberate religious policy, or
parti pris. Much of what we call evil is due entirely to the way men
take the phenomenon. It can so often be converted into a bracing and
tonic good by a simple change of the sufferer's inner attitude from
one of fear to one of fight; its sting so often departs and turns into
a relish when, after vainly seeking to shun it, we agree to face about
and bear it cheerfully, that a man is simply bound in honor, with
reference to many of the facts that seem at first to disconcert his
peace, to adopt this way of escape. Refuse to admit their badness;
despise their power; ignore their presence; turn your attention the
other way; and so far as you yourself are concerned at any rate,
though the facts may still exist, their evil character exists no
longer. Since you make them evil or good by your own thoughts about
them, it is the ruling of your thoughts which proves to be your
principal concern.
  The deliberate adoption of an optimistic turn of mind thus makes its
entrance into philosophy. And once in, it is hard to trace its
lawful bounds. Not only does the human instinct for happiness, bent on
self-protection by ignoring, keep working in its favor, but higher
inner ideals have weighty words to say. The attitude of unhappiness is
not only painful, it is mean and ugly. What can be more base and
unworthy than the pining, puling, mumping mood, no matter by what
outward ills it may have been engendered? What is more injurious to
others? What less helpful as a way out of the difficulty? It but
fastens and perpetuates the trouble which occasioned it, and increases
the total evil of the situation. At all costs, then, we ought to
reduce the sway of that mood; we ought to scout it in ourselves and
others, and never show it tolerance. But it is impossible to carry
on this discipline in the subjective sphere without zealously
emphasizing the brighter and minimizing the darker aspects of the
objective sphere of things at the same time. And thus our resolution
not to indulge in misery, beginning at a comparatively small point
within ourselves, may not stop until it has brought the entire frame
of reality under a systematic conception optimistic enough to be
congenial with its needs.
  In all this I say nothing of any mystical insight or persuasion that
the total frame of things absolutely must be good. Such mystical
persuasion plays an enormous part in the history of the religious
consciousness, and we must look at it later with some care. But we
need not go so far at present. More ordinary non-mystical conditions
of rapture suffice for my immediate contention. All invasive moral
states and passionate enthusiasms make one feelingless to evil in some
direction. The common penalties cease to deter the patriot, the
usual prudences are flung by the lover to the winds. When the
passion is extreme, suffering may actually be gloried in, provided
it be for the ideal cause, death may lose its sting, the grave its
victory. In these states, the ordinary contrast of good and ill
seems to be swallowed up in a higher denomination, an omnipotent
excitement which engulfs the evil, and which the human being
welcomes as the crowning experience of his life. This, he says, is
truly to live, and I exult in the heroic opportunity and adventure.
  The systematic cultivation of healthy-mindedness as a religious
attitude is therefore consonant with important currents in human
nature, and is anything but absurd. In fact, we all do cultivate it
more or less, even when our professed theology should in consistency
forbid it. We divert our attention from disease and death as much as
we can; and the slaughter-houses and indecencies without end on
which our life is founded are huddled out of sight and never
mentioned, so that the world we recognize officially in literature and
in society is a poetic fiction far handsomer and cleaner and better
than the world that really is. *
  * "As I go on in this life, day by day, I become more of a
bewildered child; I cannot get used to this world, to procreation,
to heredity, to sight, to hearing; the commonest things are a burthen.
The prim, obliterated, polite surface of life, and the broad, bawdy,
and orgiastic- or monadic foundations, form a spectacle to which no
habit reconciles me." R.L. STEVENSON: Letters, ii. 355.
  The advance of liberalism, so-called, in Christianity, during the
past fifty years, may fairly be called a victory of healthy-mindedness
within the church over the morbidness with which the old hell-fire
theology was more harmoniously related. We have now whole
congregations whose preachers, far from magnifying our consciousness
of sin, seem devoted rather to making little of it. They ignore, or
even deny, eternal punishment, and insist on the dignity rather than
on the depravity of man. They look at the continual preoccupation of
the old-fashioned Christian with the salvation of his soul as
something sickly and reprehensible rather than admirable; and a
sanguine and 'muscular' attitude, which to our forefathers would
have seemed purely heathen, has become in their eyes an ideal
element of Christian character. I am not asking whether or not they
are right, I am only pointing out the change.
  The persons to whom I refer have still retained for the most part
their nominal connection with Christianity, in spite of their
discarding of its more pessimistic theological elements. But in that
'theory of evolution' which, gathering momentum for a century, has
within the past twenty-five years swept so rapidly over Europe and
America, we see the ground laid for a new sort of religion of
Nature, which has entirely displaced Christianity from the thought
of a large part of our generation. The idea of a universal evolution
lends itself to a doctrine of general meliorism and progress which
fits the religious needs of the healthy-minded so well that it seems
almost as if it might have been created for their use. Accordingly
we find 'evolutionism' interpreted thus optimistically and embraced as
a substitute for the religion they were born in, by a multitude of our
contemporaries who have either been trained scientifically, or been
fond of reading popular science, and who had already begun to be
inwardly dissatisfied with what seemed to them the harshness and
irrationality of the orthodox Christian scheme. As examples are better
than descriptions, I will quote a document received in answer to
Professor Starbuck's circular of questions. The writer's state of mind
may by courtesy be called a religion, for it is his reaction on the
whole nature of things, it is systematic and reflective, and it
loyally binds him to certain inner ideals. I think you will
recognize in him, coarse-meated and incapable of wounded spirit as
he is, a sufficiently familiar contemporary type.
  Q. What does Religion mean to you?
  A. It means nothing; and it seems, so far as I can observe,
useless to others. I am sixty-seven years of age and have resided in
X. fifty years, and have been in business forty-five, consequently I
have some little experience of life and men, and some women too, and I
find that the most religious and pious people are as a rule those most
lacking in uprightness and morality. The men who do not go to church
or have any religious convictions are the best. Praying, singing of
hymns, and sermonizing are pernicious- they teach us to rely on some
supernatural power, when we ought to rely on ourselves. I teetotally
disbelieve in a God. The God-idea was begotten in ignorance, fear, and
a general lack of any knowledge of Nature. If I were to die now, being
in a healthy condition for my age, both mentally and physically, I
would just as lief, yes, rather, die with a hearty enjoyment of music,
sport, or any other rational pastime. As a timepiece stops, we die-
there being no immortality in either case.
  Q. What comes before your mind corresponding to the words God,
Heaven, Angels, etc.?
  A. Nothing whatever. I am a man without a religion. These words mean
so much mythic bosh.
  Q. Have you had any experience which appeared providential?
  A. None whatever. There is no agency of the superintending kind. A
little judicious observation as well as knowledge of scientific law
will convince any one of this fact.
  Q. What things work most strongly on your emotions?
  A. Lively songs and music; Pinafore instead of an Oratorio. I like
Scott, Burns, Byron, Longfellow, especially Shakespeare, etc., etc. Of
songs, the Star-spangled Banner, America, Marseillaise, and all
moral and soul-stirring songs, but wishy-washy hymns are my
detestation. I greatly enjoy nature, especially fine weather, and
until within a few years used to walk Sundays into the country, twelve
miles often, with no fatigue, and bicycle forty or fifty. I have
dropped the bicycle. I never go to church, but attend lectures when
there are any good ones. All of my thoughts and cogitations have
been of a healthy and cheerful kind, for instead of doubts and fears I
see things as they are, for I endeavor to adjust myself to my
environment. This I regard as the deepest law. Mankind is a
progressive animal. I am satisfied he will have made a great advance
over his present status a thousand years hence.
  Q. What is your notion of sin?
  A. It seems to me that sin is a condition, a disease, incidental
to man's development not being yet advanced enough. Morbidness over it
increases the disease. We should think that a million of years hence
equity, justice, and mental and physical good order will be so fixed
and organized that no one will have any idea of evil or sin.
  Q. What is your temperament?
  A. Nervous, active, wide-awake, mentally and physically. Sorry
that Nature compels us to sleep at all.
  If we are in search of a broken and a contrite heart, clearly we
need not look to this brother. His contentment with the finite incases
him like a lobster-shell and shields him from all morbid repining at
his distance from the Infinite. We have in him an excellent example of
the optimism which may be encouraged by popular science.
  To my mind a current far more important and interesting
religiously than that which sets in from natural science towards
healthy-mindedness is that which has recently poured over America
and seems to be gathering force every day,- I am ignorant what
foothold it may yet have acquired in Great Britain,- and to which, for
the sake of having a brief designation, I will give the title of the
'Mind-cure movement.' There are various sects of this 'New Thought,'
to use another of the names by which it calls itself; but their
agreements are so profound that their differences may be neglected for
my present purpose, and I will treat the movement, without apology, as
if it were a simple thing.
  It is a deliberately optimistic scheme of life, with both a
speculative and a practical side. In its gradual development during
the last quarter of a century, it has taken up into itself a number of
contributory elements, and it must now be reckoned with as a genuine
religious power. It has reached the stage, for example, when the
demand for its literature is great enough for insincere stuff
mechanically produced for the market, to be to a certain extent
supplied by publishers,- a phenomenon never observed, I imagine, until
a religion has got well past its earliest insecure beginnings.
  One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels;
another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism; another
is Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism, with its messages of
'law' and 'progress' and 'development'; another the optimistic popular
science evolutionism of which I have recently spoken; and, finally,
Hinduism has contributed a strain. But the most characteristic feature
of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct. The
leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving
power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering
efficacy of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for
doubt, fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind. *
Their belief has in a general way been corroborated by the practical
experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day a mass
imposing in amount.
  * 'Cautionary Verses for Children': this title of a much used
work, published early in the nineteenth century, shows how far the
muse of evangelical protestantism in England, with her mind fixed on
the idea of danger, had at last drifted away from the original
gospel freedom. Mind-care might be briefly called a reaction against
all that religion of chronic anxiety which marked the earlier part
of our century in the evangelical circles of England and America.
  The blind have been made to see, the halt to walk; lifelong invalids
have had their health restored. The moral fruits have been no less
remarkable. The deliberate adoption of a healthy-minded attitude has
proved possible to many who never supposed they had it in them;
regeneration of character has gone on on an extensive scale; and
cheerfulness has been restored to countless homes. The indirect
influence of this has been great. The mind-cure principles are
beginning so to pervade the air that one catches their spirit at
second-hand. One hears of the 'Gospel of Relaxation' of the 'Don't
Worry Movement,' of people who repeat to themselves, 'Youth, health,
vigor!' when dressing in the morning, as their motto for the day.
Complaints of the weather are getting to be forbidden in many
households; and more and more people are recognizing it to be bad form
to speak of disagreeable sensations, or to make much of the ordinary
inconveniences and ailments of life. These general tonic effects on
public opinion would be good even if the more striking results were
non-existent. But the latter abound so that we can afford to
overlook the innumerable failures and self-deceptions that are mixed
in with them (for in everything human failure is a matter of
course), and we can also overlook the verbiage of a good deal of the
mind-cure literature, some of which is so moonstruck with optimism and
so vaguely expressed that an academically trained intellect finds it
almost impossible to read it at all.
  The plain fact remains that the spread of the movement has been
due to practical fruits, and the extremely practical turn of character
of the American people has never been better shown than by the fact
that this, their only decidedly original contribution to the
systematic philosophy of life, should be so intimately knit up with
concrete therapeutics. To the importance of mind-cure the medical
and clerical professions in the United States are beginning, though
with much recalcitrancy and protesting, to open their eyes. It is
evidently bound to develop still farther, both speculatively and
practically, and its latest writers are far and away the ablest of the
group. * It matters nothing that, just as there are hosts of persons
who cannot pray, so there are greater hosts who cannot by any
possibility be influenced by the mind-curers' ideas. For our immediate
purpose, the important point is that so large a number should exist
who can be so influenced. They form a psychic type to be studied
with respect. *(2)
  * I refer to Mr. Horatio W. Dresser and Mr. Henry Wood, especially
the former. Mr. Dresser's works are published by G.P. Putnam's Sons,
New York and London; Mr. Wood's by Lee & Shepard, Boston.
  *(2) Lest my own testimony be suspected, I will quote another
reporter, Dr. H.H. Goddard, of Clark University, whose thesis on
"the Effects of Mind on Body as evidenced by Faith Cures" is published
in the American Journal of Psychology for 1899 (vol. x.). This critic,
after a wide study of the facts, concludes that the cures by mind-cure
exist, but are in no respect different from those now officially
recognized in medicine as cures by suggestion; and the end of his
essay contains an interesting physiological speculation as to the
way in which the suggestive ideas may work (p. 67 of the reprint).
As regards the general phenomenon of mental cure itself, Dr. Goddard
writes: "In spite of the severe criticism we have made of reports of
cure, there still remains a vast amount of material, showing a
powerful influence of the mind in disease. Many cases are of
diseases that have been diagnosed and treated by the best physicians
of the country, or which prominent hospitals have tried their hand
at curing, but without success. People of culture and education have
been treated by this method with satisfactory results. Diseases of
long standing have been ameliorated, and even cured.... We have traced
the mental element through primitive medicine and folk-medicine of
to-day, patent medicine, and witchcraft. We are convinced that it is
impossible to account for the existence of these practices, if they
did not cure disease, and that if they cured disease, it must have
been the mental element that was effective. The same argument
applies to those modern schools of mental therapeutics- Divine Healing
and Christian Science. It is hardly conceivable that the large body of
intelligent people who comprise the body known distinctively as Mental
Scientists should continue to exist if the whole thing were a
delusion. It is not a thing of a day; it is not confined to a few;
it is not local. It is true that many failures are recorded, but
that only adds to the argument. There must be many and striking
successes to counterbalance the failures, otherwise the failures would
have ended the delusion.... Christian Science, Divine Healing, or
Mental Science do not, and never can in the very nature of things,
cure all diseases; nevertheless, the practical applications of the
general principles of the broadest mental science will tend to prevent
disease.... We do find sufficient evidence to convince us that the
proper reform in mental attitude would relieve many a sufferer of ills
that the ordinary physician cannot touch; would even delay the
approach of death to many a victim beyond the power of absolute
cure, and the faithful adherence to a truer philosophy of life will
keep many a man well, and give the doctor time to devote to
alleviating ills that are unpreventable" (pp. 33, 34 of reprint).
  To come now to a little closer quarters with their creed. The
fundamental pillar on which it rests is nothing more than the
general basis of all religious experience, the fact that man has a
dual nature, and is connected with two spheres of thought, a shallower
and a profounder sphere, in either of which he may learn to live
more habitually. The shallower and lower sphere is that of the fleshly
sensations, instincts, and desires, of egotism, doubt, and the lower
personal interests. But whereas Christian theology has always
considered frowardness to be the essential vice of this part of
human nature, the mind-curers say that the mark of the beast in it
is fear; and this is what gives such an entirely new religious turn to
their persuasion.
  "Fear," to quote a writer of the school, "has had its uses in the
evolutionary process, and seems to constitute the whole of forethought
in most animals; but that it should remain any part of the mental
equipment of human civilized life is an absurdity. I find that the
fear element of forethought is not stimulating to those more civilized
persons to whom duty and attraction are the natural motives, but is
weakening and deterrent. As soon as it becomes unnecessary, fear
becomes a positive deterrent, and should be entirely removed, as
dead flesh is removed from living tissue. To assist in the analysis of
fear, and in the denunciation of its expressions, I have coined the
word fearthought to stand for the unprofitable element of forethought,

and have defined the word 'worry' as fearthought in
contradistinction to forethought. I have also defined fearthought as
the self-imposed or self-permitted suggestion of inferiority, in order
to place it where it really belongs, in the category of harmful,
unnecessary, and therefore not respectable things." *
  * HORACE FLETCHER: Happiness as found in Forethought minus
Fearthought, Menticulture Series, ii. Chicago and New York, Stone,
1897, pp. 21-25, abridged.
  The 'misery-habit,' the 'martyr-habit,' engendered by the
prevalent 'fearthought,' get pungent criticism from the mind-cure
  "Consider for a moment the habits of life into which we are born.
There are certain social conventions or customs and alleged
requirements, there is a theological bias, a general view of the
world. There are conservative ideas in regard to our early training,
our education, marriage, and occupation in life. Following close
upon this, there is a long series of anticipations, namely, that we
shall suffer certain children's diseases, diseases of middle life,,
and of old age; the thought that we shall grow old, lose our
faculties, and again become childlike; while crowning all is the
fear of death. Then there is a long line of particular fears and
trouble-bearing expectations, such, for example, as ideas associated
with certain articles of food, the dread of the east wind, the terrors
of hot weather, the aches and pains associated with cold weather,
the fear of catching cold if one sits in a draught, the coming of
hay-fever upon the 14th of August in the middle of the day, and so
on through a long list of fears, dreads, worriments, anxieties,
anticipations, expectations, pessimisms, morbidities, and the whole
ghostly train of fateful shapes which our fellow-men, and especially
physicians, are ready to help us conjure up, an array worthy to rank
with Bradley's 'unearthly ballet of bloodless categories.'
  "Yet this is not all. This vast array is swelled by innumerable
volunteers from daily life,- the fear of accident, the possibility
of calamity, the loss of property, the chance of robbery, of fire,
or the outbreak of war. And it is not deemed sufficient to fear for
ourselves. When a friend is taken ill, we must forthwith fear the
worst and apprehend death. If one meets with sorrow... sympathy
means to enter into and increase the suffering." *
  * H.W. DRESSER: Voices of Freedom, New York, 1899, p. 38.
  "Man," to quote another writer, "often has fear stamped upon him
before his entrance into the outer world; he is reared in fear; all
his life is passed in bondage to fear of disease and death, and thus
his whole mentality becomes cramped, limited, and depressed, and his
body follows its shrunken pattern and specification.... Think of the
millions of sensitive and responsive souls among our ancestors who
have been under the dominion of such a perpetual nightmare! Is it
not surprising that health exists at all? Nothing but the boundless
divine love, exuberance, and vitality, constantly poured in, even
though unconsciously to us, could in some degree neutralize such an
ocean of morbidity." *
  * HENRY WOOD: Ideal Suggestion through Mental Photography, Boston,
1899, p. 54.
  Although the disciples of the mind-cure often use Christian
terminology, one sees from such quotations how widely their notion
of the fall of man diverges from that of ordinary Christians. *
  * Whether it differs so much from Christ's own notion is for the
exegetists to decide. According to Harnack, Jesus felt about evil
and disease much as our mind-curers do. "What is the answer which
Jesus sends to John the Baptist?" asks Harnack, and says it is this:
"'The blind see, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the
deaf hear, the dead rise up, and the gospel is preached to the
poor.' That is the 'coming of the kingdom,' or rather in these
saving works the kingdom is already there. By the overcoming and
removal of misery, of need, of sickness, by these actual effects
John is to see that the new time has arrived. The casting out of
devils is only a part of this work of redemption, but Jesus points
to that as the sense and seal of his mission. Thus to the wretched,
sick, and poor did he address himself, but not as a moralist, and
without a trace of sentimentalism. He never makes groups and
departments of the ills; he never spends time in asking whether the
sick one 'deserves' to be cured; and it never occurs to him to
sympathize with the pain or the death. He nowhere says that sickness
is a beneficent infliction, and that evil has a healthy use. No, he
calls sickness sickness and health health. All evil, all wretchedness,
is for him something dreadful; it is of the great kingdom of Satan;
but he feels the power of the Saviour within him. He knows that
advance is possible only when weakness is overcome when sickness is
made well." Das Wesen des Christenthums, 1900, p. 39.
  Their notion of man's higher nature is hardly less divergent,
being decidedly pantheistic. The spiritual in man appears in the
mind-cure philosophy as partly conscious, but chiefly subconscious;
and through the subconscious part of it we are already one with the
Divine without any miracle of grace, or abrupt creation of a new inner
man. As this view is variously expressed by different writers, we find
in it traces of Christian mysticism, of transcendental idealism, of
vedantism, and of the modern psychology of the subliminal self. A
quotation or two will put us at the central point of view:-
  "The great central fact of the universe is that spirit of infinite
life and power that is back of all, that manifests itself in and
through all. This spirit of infinite life and power that is back of
all is what I call God. I care not what term you may use, be it Kindly
Light, Providence, the Over-Soul, Omnipotence, or whatever term may be
most convenient, so long as we are agreed in regard to the great
central fact itself. God then fills the universe alone, so that all is
from Him and in Him, and there is nothing that is outside. He is the
life of our life, our very life itself. We are partakers of the life
of God; and though we differ from Him in that we are individualized
spirits, while He is the Infinite Spirit, including us, as well as all
else beside, yet in essence the life of God and the life of man are
identically the same, and so are one. They differ not in essence or
quality; they differ in degree.
  "The great central fact in human life is the coming into a conscious
vital realization of our oneness with this Infinite Life. and the
opening of ourselves fully to this divine inflow. In just the degree
that we come into a conscious realization of our oneness with the
Infinite Life, and open ourselves to this divine inflow, do we
actualize in ourselves the qualities and powers of the Infinite
Life, do we make ourselves channels through which the Infinite
Intelligence and Power can work. In just the degree in which you
realize your oneness with the Infinite Spirit, you will exchange
dis-ease for ease, inharmony for harmony, suffering and pain for
abounding health and strength. To recognize our own divinity, and
our intimate relation to the Universal, is to attach the belts of
our machinery to the power. house of the Universe. One need remain
in hell no longer than one chooses to; we can rise to any heaven we
ourselves choose; and when we choose so to rise, all the higher powers
of the Universe combine to help us heavenward." *
  * R.W. TRINE: In Tune with the Infinite, 26th thousand, N. Y., 1899.
I have strung scattered passages together.
  Let me now pass from these abstracter statements to some more
concrete accounts of experience with the mind-cure religion. I have
many answers from correspondents- the only difficulty is to choose.
The first two whom I shall quote are my personal friends. One of them,
a woman, writing as follows, expresses well the feeling of
continuity with the Infinite Power, by which all mind-cure disciples
are inspired.
  "The first underlying cause of all sickness, weakness, or depression
is the human sense of separateness from that Divine Energy which we
call God. The soul which can feel and affirm in serene but jubilant
confidence, as did the Nazarene: 'I and my Father are one,' has no
further need of healer, or of healing. This is the whole truth in a
nutshell, and other foundation for wholeness can no man lay than
this fact of impregnable divine union. Disease can no longer attack
one whose feet are planted on this rock, who feels hourly, momently,
the influx of the Deific Breath. If one with Omnipotence, how can
weariness enter the consciousness, how illness assail that indomitable
  "This possibility of annulling forever the law of fatigue has been
abundantly proven in my own case; for my earlier life bears a record
of many, many years of bedridden invalidism, with spine and lower
limbs paralyzed. My thoughts were no more impure than they are to-day,
although my belief in the necessity of illness was dense and
unenlightened; but since my resurrection in the flesh, I have worked
as a healer unceasingly for fourteen years without a vacation, and can
truthfully assert that I have never known a moment of fatigue or pain,
although coming in touch constantly with excessive weakness,
illness, and disease of all kinds. For how can a conscious part of
Deity be sick?- since 'Greater is he that is with us than all that can
strive against us.'"
  My second correspondent, also a woman, sends me the following
  "Life seemed difficult to me at one time. I was always breaking
down, and had several attacks of what is called nervous prostration,
with terrible insomnia, being on the verge of insanity; besides having
many other troubles, especially of the digestive organs. I had been
sent away from home in charge of doctors, had taken all the narcotics,
stopped all work, been fed up, and in fact knew all the doctors within
reach. But I never recovered permanently till this New Thought took
possession of me.
  "I think that the one thing which impressed me most was learning the
fact that we must be in absolutely constant relation or mental touch
(this word is to me very expressive) with that essence of life which
permeates all and which we call God. This is almost unrecognizable
unless we live it into ourselves actually, that is, by a constant
turning to the very innermost, deepest consciousness of our real
selves or of God in us, for illumination from within, just as we
turn to the sun for light, warmth, and invigoration without. When
you do this consciously, realizing that to turn inward to the light
within you is to live in the presence of God or your divine self,
you soon discover the unreality of the objects to which you have
hitherto been turning and which have engrossed you without.
  "I have come to disregard the meaning of this attitude for bodily
health as such, because that comes of itself, as an incidental result,
and cannot be found by any special mental act or desire to have it,
beyond that general attitude of mind I have referred to above. That
which we usually make the object of life, those outer things we are
all so wildly seeking, which we so often live and die for, but which

then do not give us peace and happiness, they should all come of
themselves as accessory, and as the mere outcome or natural result
of a far higher life sunk deep in the bosom of the spirit. This life
is the real seeking of the kingdom of God, the desire for his
supremacy in our hearts, so that all else comes as that which shall be
'added unto you'- as quite incidental and as a surprise to us,
perhaps; and yet it is the proof of the reality of the perfect poise
in the very centre of our being.
  "When I say that we commonly make the object of our life that
which we should not work for primarily, I mean many things which the
world considers praiseworthy and excellent, such as success in
business, fame as author or artist, physician or lawyer, or renown
in philanthropic undertakings. Such things should be results, not
objects. I would also include pleasures of many kinds which seem
harmless and good at the time, and are pursued because many accept
them- I mean conventionalities, sociabilities, and fashions in their
various development, these being mostly approved by the masses,
although they may be unreal and even unhealthy superfluities."
  Here is another case, more concrete, also that of a woman. I read
you these cases without comment,- they express so many varieties of
the state of mind we are studying.
  "I had been a sufferer from my childhood till my fortieth year.
[Details of ill-health are given which I omit.] I had been in
Vermont several months hoping for good from the change of air, but
steadily growing weaker, when one day during the latter part of
October, while resting in the afternoon, I suddenly heard as it were
these words: 'You will be healed and do a work you never dreamed
of.' These words were impressed upon my mind with such power I said at
once that only God could have put them there. I believed them in spite
of myself and of my suffering and weakness, which continued until
Christmas, when I returned to Boston. Within two days a young friend
offered to take me to a mental healer (this was January 7, 1881).
The healer said: 'There is nothing but Mind; we are expressions of the
One Mind; body is only a mortal belief; as a man thinketh so is he.' I
could not accept all she said, but I translated all that was there for
me in this way; 'There is nothing but God; I am created by Him, and am
absolutely dependent upon Him; mind is given me to use; and by just so
much of it as I will put upon the thought of right action in body I
shall be lifted out of bondage to my ignorance and fear and past
experience.' That day I commenced accordingly to take a little of
every food provided for the family, constantly saying to myself:
'The Power that created the stomach must take care of what I have
eaten.' By holding these suggestions through the evening I went to bed
and fell asleep, saying: 'I am soul, spirit, just one with God's
Thought of me,' and slept all night without waking, for the first time
in several years [the distress-turns had usually recurred about two
o'clock in the night]. I felt the next day like an escaped prisoner,
and believed I had found the secret that would in time give me perfect
health. Within ten days I was able to eat anything provided for
others, and after two weeks I began to have my own positive mental
suggestions of Truth, which were to me like stepping-stones. I will
note a few of them; they came about two weeks apart.
  "1st. I am Soul, therefore it is well with me.
  "2d. I am Soul, therefore I am well.
  "3d. A sort of inner vision of myself as a four-footed beast with
a protuberance on every part of my body where I had suffering, with my
own face, begging me to acknowledge it as myself. I resolutely fixed
my attention on being well, and refused to even look at my old self in
this form.
  "4th. Again the vision of the beast far in the background, with
faint voice. Again refusal to acknowledge.
  "5th. Once more the vision, but only of my eyes with the longing
look; and again the refusal. Then came the conviction, the inner
consciousness, that I was perfectly well and always had been, for I
was Soul, an expression of God's Perfect Thought. That was to me the
perfect and completed separation between what I was and what I
appeared to be. I succeeded in never losing sight after this of my
real being, by constantly affirming this truth, and by degrees (though
it took me two years of hard work to get there) I expressed health
continuously throughout my whole body.
  "In my subsequent nineteen years' experience I have never known this
Truth to fail when I applied it, though in my ignorance I have often
failed to apply it, but through my failures I have learned the
simplicity and trustfulness of the little child."
  But I fear that I risk tiring you by so many examples, and I must
lead you back to philosophic generalities again. You see already by
such records of experience how impossible it is not to class mind-cure
as primarily a religious movement. Its doctrine of the oneness of
our life with God's life is in fact quite indistinguishable from an
interpretation of Christ's message which in these very Gifford
lectures has been defended by some of your very ablest Scottish
religious philosophers. *
  * The Cairds, for example. In EDWARD CAIRD'S Glasgow Lectures of
1890-92 passages like this abound:-
  "The declaration made in the beginning of the ministry of Jesus that
'the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand,'
passes with scarce a break into the announcement that the kingdom of
God is among you and the importance of this announcement is asserted
to be such that it makes, so to speak, a difference in kind between
the greatest saints and prophets who lived under the previous reign of
division, and 'the least in the kingdom of heaven.' The highest
ideal is brought close to men and declared to be within their reach,
they are called on to be 'perfect as their Father in heaven is
perfect.' The sense of alienation and distance from God which had
grown upon the pious in Israel must in proportion as they had
learned to look upon Him as no mere national divinity, but as a God of
justice who would punish Israel for its sin as certainly as Edom or
Moab, is declared to be no longer in place; and the typical form of
Christian prayer points to the abolition of the contrast between
this world and the next which thought all the history of the Jews
had continually been growing wider: 'As in heaven, so on earth.' The
sense of the division of man from God, as a finite being from the
Infinite, as weak and sinful from the Omnipotent Goodness, is not
indeed lost; but it can no longer overpower the consciousness of
oneness. The terms 'Son' and 'Father' at once state the opposition and
mark its limit. They show that it is not an absolute opposition, but
one which presupposes an indestructible principle of unity, that can
and must become a principle of reconciliation." The Evolution of
Religion, ii. pp. 146, 147.
  But philosophers usually profess to give a quasi-logical explanation
of the existence of evil, whereas of the general fact of evil in the
world, the existence of the selfish, suffering, timorous finite
consciousness, the mind-curers, so far as I am acquainted with them,
profess to give no speculative explanation. Evil is empirically
there for them as it is for everybody, but the practical point of view
predominates, and it would ill agree with the spirit of their system
to spend time in worrying over it as a 'mystery' or 'problem,' or in
'laying to heart' the lesson of its experience, after the manner of
the Evangelicals. Don't reason about it, as Dante says, but give a
glance and pass beyond! It is Avidhya, ignorance! something merely
to be outgrown and left behind, transcended and forgotten. Christian
Science so-called, the sect of Mrs. Eddy, is the most radical branch
of mind-cure in its dealings with evil. For it evil is simply a lie,
and any one who mentions it is a liar. The optimistic ideal of duty
forbids us to pay it the compliment even of explicit attention. Of
course, as our next lectures will show us, this is a bad speculative
omission, but it is intimately linked with the practical merits of the
system we are examining. Why regret a philosophy of evil, a mind-curer
would ask us, if I can put you in possession of a life of good?
  After all, it is the life that tells; and mind-cure has developed
a living system of mental hygiene which may well claim to have
thrown all previous literature of the Diatetik der Seele into the
shade. This system is wholly and exclusively compacted of optimism:
'Pessimism leads to weakness. Optimism leads to power.' 'Thoughts
are things,' as one of the most vigorous mind-cure writers prints in
bold type at the bottom of each of his pages; and if your thoughts are
of health, youth, vigor, and success, before you know it these
things will also be your outward portion. No one can fail of the
regenerative influence of optimistic thinking, pertinaciously pursued.
Every man owns indefeasibly this inlet to the divine. Fear, on the
contrary, and all the contracted and egoistic modes of thought, are
inlets to destruction. Most mind-curers here bring in a doctrine
that thoughts are 'forces,' and that, by virtue of a law that like
attracts like, one man's thoughts draw to themselves as allies all the
thoughts of the same character that exist the world over. Thus one
gets, by one's thinking, reinforcements from elsewhere for the
realization of one's desires; and the great point in the conduct of
life is to get the heavenly forces on one's side by opening one's
own mind to their influx.
  On the whole, one is struck by a psychological similarity between
the mind-cure movement and the Lutheran and Wesleyan movements. To the
believer in moralism and works, with his anxious query, 'What shall
I do to be saved?' Luther and Wesley replied: 'You are saved now, if
you would but believe it.' And the mind-curers come with precisely
similar words of emancipation. They speak, it is true, to persons
for whom the conception of salvation has lost its ancient
theological meaning, but who labor nevertheless with the same
eternal human difficulty. Things are wrong with them; and 'What
shall I do to be clear, right, sound, whole, well?' is the form of
their question. And the answer is: 'You are well, sound, and clear
already, if you did but know it.' "The whole matter may be summed up
in one sentence," says one of the authors whom I have already
quoted, "God is well, and so are you. You must awaken to the knowledge
of your real being."
  The adequacy of their message to the mental needs of a large
fraction of mankind is what gave force to those earlier gospels.
Exactly the same adequacy holds in the case of the mind-cure
message, foolish as it may sound upon its surface; and seeing its
rapid growth in influence, and its therapeutic triumphs, one is
tempted to ask whether it may not be destined (probably by very reason
of the crudity and extravagance of many of its manifestations) * to
play a part almost as great in the evolution of the popular religion
of the future as did those earlier movements in their day.
  * It remains to be seen whether the school of Mr. Dresser, which
assumes more and more the form of mind-cure experience and academic
philosophy mutually impregnating each other, will score the
practical triumphs of the less critical and rational sects.
  But I here fear that I may begin to 'jar upon the nerves' of some of
the members of this academic audience. Such contemporary vagaries, you
may think, should hardly take so large a place in dignified Gifford
lectures. I can only beseech you to have patience. The whole outcome
of these lectures will, I imagine, be the emphasizing to your mind
of the enormous diversities which the spiritual lives of different men
exhibit. Their wants, their susceptibilities, and their capacities all
vary and must be classed under different heads. The result is that
we have really different types of religious experience; and, seeking
in these lectures closer acquaintance with the healthy-minded type, we
must take it where we find it in most radical form. The psychology
of individual types of character has hardly begun even to be
sketched as yet- our lectures may possibly serve as a crumb-like
contribution to the structure. The first thing to bear in mind
(especially if we ourselves belong to the
clerico-academic-scientific type, the officially and conventionally
'correct' type, 'the deadly respectable' type, for which to ignore
others is a besetting temptation) is that nothing can be more stupid
than to bar out phenomena from our notice, merely because we are
incapable of taking part in anything like them ourselves.
  Now the history of Lutheran salvation by faith, of methodistic
conversions, and of what I call the mind-cure movement seems to
prove the existence of numerous persons in whom- at any rate at a
certain stage in their development- a change of character for the
better, so far from being facilitated by the rules laid down by
official moralists, will take place all the more successfully if those
rules be exactly reversed. Official moralists advise us never to relax
our strenuousness. "Be vigilant, day and night," they adjure us; "hold
your passive tendencies in check; shrink from no effort; keep your
will like a bow always bent." But the persons I speak of find that all
this conscious effort leads to nothing but failure and vexation in
their hands, and only make them twofold more the children of hell they
were before. The tense and voluntary attitude becomes in them an
impossible fever and torment. Their machinery refuses to run at all
when the bearings are made so hot and the belts so tight.
  Under these circumstances the way to success, as vouched for by
innumerable authentic personal narrations, is by an anti-moralistic
method, by the 'surrender' of which I spoke in my second lecture.
Passivity, not activity; relaxation, not intentness, should be now the
rule. Give up the feeling of responsibility, let go your hold,
resign the care of your destiny to higher powers, be genuinely
indifferent as to what becomes of it all, and you will find not only
that you gain a perfect inward relief, but often also, in addition,
the particular goods you sincerely thought you were renouncing. This
is the salvation through self-despair, the dying to be truly born,
of Lutheran theology, the passage into nothing of which Jacob Behmen
writes. To get to it, a critical point must usually be passed, a
corner turned within one. Something must give way, a native hardness
must break down and liquefy; and this event (as we shall abundantly
see hereafter) is frequently sudden and automatic, and leaves on the
Subject an impression that he has been wrought on by an external
  Whatever its ultimate significance may prove to be, this is
certainly one fundamental form of human experience. Some say that
the capacity or incapacity for it is what divides the religious from
the merely moralistic character. With those who undergo it in its
fullness, no criticism avails to cast doubt on its reality. They know;
for they have actually felt the higher powers, in giving up the
tension of their personal will.
  A story which revivalist preachers often tell is that of a man who
found himself at night slipping down the side of a precipice. At
last he caught a branch which stopped his fall, and remained
clinging to it in misery for hours. But finally his fingers had to
loose their hold, and with a despairing farewell to life, he let
himself drop. He fell just six inches. If he had given up the struggle
earlier, his agony would have been spared. As the mother earth
received him, so, the preachers tell us, will the everlasting arms
receive us if we confide absolutely in them, and give up the
hereditary habit of relying on our personal strength, with its
precautions that cannot shelter and safeguards that never save.
  The mind-curers have given the widest scope to this sort of
experience. They have demonstrated that a form of regeneration by
relaxing, by letting go, psychologically indistinguishable from the
Lutheran justification by faith and the Wesleyan acceptance of free
grace, is within the reach of persons who have no conviction of sin
and care nothing for the Lutheran theology. It is but giving your
little private convulsive self a rest, and finding that a greater Self
is there. The results, slow or sudden, or great or small, of the
combined optimism and expectancy, the regenerative phenomena which
ensue on the abandonment of effort, remain firm facts of human nature,
no matter whether we adopt a theistic, a pantheistic-idealistic, or
a medical-materialistic view of their ultimate causal explanation. *
  * The theistic explanation is by divine grace, which creates a new
nature within one the moment the old nature is sincerely given up. The
pantheistic explanation (which is that of most mind-curers) is by
the merging of the narrower private self into the wider or greater
self, the spirit of the universe (which is your own 'subconscious'
self), the moment the isolating barriers of mistrust and anxiety are
removed. The medico-materialistic explanation is that simpler cerebral
processes act more freely where they are left to act automatically
by the shunting-out of physiologically (though in this instance not
spiritually) 'higher' ones which, seeking to regulate, only succeed in
inhibiting results.- Whether this third explanation might, in a
psycho-physical account of the universe, be combined with either of
the others may be left an open question here.
  When we take up the phenomena of revivalistic conversion, we shall
learn something more about all this. Meanwhile I will say a brief word
about the mind-curer's methods.
  They are of course largely suggestive. The suggestive influence of
environment plays an enormous part in all spiritual education. But the
word 'suggestion,' having acquired official status, is unfortunately
already beginning to play in many quarters the part of a wet blanket
upon investigation, being used to fend off all inquiry into the
varying susceptibilities of individual cases. 'Suggestion' is only
another name for the power of ideas, so far as they prove
efficacious over belief and conduct. Ideas efficacious over some
people prove inefficacious over others. Ideas efficacious at some
times and in some human surroundings are not so at other times and
elsewhere. The ideas of Christian churches are not efficacious in
the therapeutic direction to-day, whatever they may have been in
earlier centuries; and when the whole question is as to why the salt
has lost its savor here or gained it there, the mere blank waving of
the word 'suggestion' as if it were a banner gives no light. Dr.
Goddard, whose candid psychological essay on Faith Cures ascribes them
to nothing but ordinary suggestion, concludes by saying that "Religion
[and by this he seems to mean our popular Christianity] has in it
all there is in mental therapeutics, and has it in its best form.
Living up to [our religious] ideas will do anything for us that can be
done." And this in spite of the actual fact that the popular
Christianity does absolutely nothing, or did nothing until mind-cure
came to the rescue. *
  * Within the churches a disposition has always prevailed to regard
sickness as a visitation; something sent by God for our good, either
as chastisement, as warning, or as opportunity for exercising
virtue, and, in the Catholic Church, of earning 'merit.' "Illness,"
says a good Catholic writer (P. LEJEUNE: Introd. a la Vie Mystique,
1899, p. 218), "is the most excellent of corporeal mortifications, the
mortification which one has not one's self chosen, which is imposed
directly by God, and is the direct expression of his will. 'If other
mortifications are of silver,' Mgr. Gay says, 'this one is of gold;
since although it comes of ourselves, coming as it does of original
sin, still on its greater side, as coming (like all that happens) from
the providence of God, it is of divine manufacture. And how just are
its blows! And how efficacious it is!... I do not hesitate to say that
patience in a long illness is mortification's very masterpiece, and
consequently the triumph of mortified souls.'" According to this view,
disease should in any case be submissively accepted, and it might
under certain circumstances even be blasphemous to wish it away.
  Of course there have been exceptions to this, and cures by special
miracle have at all times been recognized within the church's pale,
almost all the great saints having more or less performed them. It was
one of the heresies of Edward Irving, to maintain them still to be
possible. An extremely pure faculty of healing after confession and
conversion on the patient's part, and prayer on the priest's, was
quite spontaneously developed in the German pastor, Joh. Christoph
Blumhardt, in the early forties and exerted during nearly thirty
years. Blumhardt's Life by Zundel (5th edition, Zurich, 1887) gives in
chapters ix., x., xi., and xvii. a pretty full account of his
healing activity, which he invariably ascribed to direct divine
inter-position. Blumhardt was a singularly pure, simple, and
non-fanatical character, and in this part of his work followed no
previous model. In Chicago to-day we have the case of Dr. J.A.
Dowie, a Scottish Baptist preacher, whose weekly 'Leaves of Healing'
were in the year of grace 1900 in their sixth volume, and who,
although he denounces the cares wrought in other sects as
'diabolical counterfeits' of his own exclusively 'Divine Healing,'
must on the whole be counted into the mind-cure movement. In mind-cure
circles the fundamental article of faith is that disease should
never be accepted. It is wholly of the pit. God wants us to be
absolutely healthy, and we should not tolerate ourselves on any
lower terms.
  An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the
force of a revelation. The mind-cure with its gospel of
healthy-mindedness has come as a revelation to many whose hearts the
church Christianity had left hardened. It has let loose their
springs of higher life. In what can the originality of any religious
movement consist, save in finding a channel, until then sealed up,
through which those springs may be set free in some group of human
  The force of personal faith, enthusiasm, and example, and above
all the force of novelty, are always the prime suggestive agency in
this kind of success. If mind-cure should ever become official,
respectable, and intrenched, these elements of suggestive efficacy
will be lost. In its acuter stages every religion must be a homeless
Arab of the desert. The church knows this well enough, with its
everlasting inner struggle of the acute religion of the few against
the chronic religion of the many, indurated into an obstructiveness
worse than that which irreligion opposes to the movings of the Spirit.
"We may pray," says Jonathan Edwards, "concerning all those saints
that are not lively Christians, that they may either be enlivened,
or taken away; if that be true that is often said by some at this day,
that these cold dead saints do more hurt than natural men, and lead
more souls to hell, and that it would be well for mankind if they were
all dead." *
  * Edwards, from whose book on the Revival in New England I quote
these words, dissuades from such a use of prayer, but it is easy to
see that he enjoys making his thrust at the cold dead church members.
  The next condition of success is the apparent existence, in large
numbers, of minds who unite healthy-mindedness with readiness for
regeneration by letting go. Protestantism has been too pessimistic
as regards the natural man, Catholicism has been too legalistic and
moralistic, for either the one or the other to appeal in any
generous way to the type of character formed of this peculiar mingling
of elements. However few of us here present may belong to such a type,
it is now evident that it forms a specific moral combination, well
represented in the world.
  Finally, mind-cure has made what in our protestant countries is an

unprecedentedly great use of the subconscious life. To their
reasoned advice and dogmatic assertion, its founders have added
systematic exercise in passive relaxation, concentration, and
meditation, and have even invoked something like hypnotic practice.
I quote some passages at random:-
  "The value, the potency of ideals is the great practical truth on
which the New Thought most strongly insists,- the development namely
from within outward, from small to great. * Consequently one's thought
should be centred on the ideal outcome, even though this trust be
literally like a step in the dark. *(2) To attain the ability thus
effectively to direct the mind, the New Thought advises the practice
of concentration, or in other words, the attainment of self-control.
One is to learn to marshal the tendencies of the mind, so that they
may be held together as a unit by the chosen ideal. To this end, one
should set apart times for silent meditation, by one's self,
preferably in a room where the surroundings are favorable to spiritual
thought. In New Thought terms, this is called 'entering the
silence.'" *(3)
  * H.W. DRESSER: Voices of Freedom, 46.
  *(2) DRESSER: Living by the Spirit, 58.
  *(3) DRESSER: Voices of Freedom, 33.
  "The time will come when in the busy office or on the noisy street
you can enter into the silence by simply drawing the mantle of your
own thoughts about you and realizing that there and everywhere the
Spirit of Infinite Life, Love, Wisdom, Peace, Power, and Plenty is
guiding, keeping, protecting, leading you. This is the spirit of
continual prayer. * One of the most intuitive men we ever met had a
desk at a city office where several other gentlemen were doing
business constantly, and often talking loudly. Entirely undisturbed by
the many various sounds about him, this self-centred faithful man
would, in any moment of perplexity, draw the curtains of privacy so
completely about him that he would be as fully inclosed in his own
psychic aura, and thereby as effectually removed from all
distractions, as though he were alone in some primeval wood. Taking
his difficulty with him into the mystic silence in the form of a
direct question, to which he expected a certain answer, he would
remain utterly passive until the reply came, and never once through
many years' experience did he find himself disappointed or
misled." *(2)
  * TRINE: In Tune with the Infinite, p. 214.
  *(2) TRINE: p. 117.
  Wherein, I should like to know, does this intrinsically differ
from the practice of 'recollection' which plays so great a part in
Catholic discipline? Otherwise called the practice of the presence
of God (and so known among ourselves, as for instance in Jeremy
Taylor), it is thus defined by the eminent teacher Alvarez de Paz in
his work on Contemplation.
  "It is the recollection of God, the thought of God, which in all
places and circumstances makes us see him present, lets us commune
respectfully and lovingly with him, and fills us with desire and
affection for him.... Would you escape from every ill? Never lose this
recollection of God, neither in prosperity nor in adversity, nor on
any occasion whichsoever it be. Invoke not, to excuse yourself from
this duty, either the difficulty or the importance of your business,
for you can always remember that God sees you, that you are under
his eye. If a thousand times an hour you forget him, reanimate a
thousand times the recollection. If you cannot practice this
exercise continuously, at least make yourself as familiar with it as
possible; and, like unto those who in a rigorous winter draw near
the fire as often as they can, go as often as you can to that ardent
fire which will warm your soul." *
  * Quoted by LEJEUNE: Introd. a la Vie Mystique, 1899, p. 66.
  All the external associations of the Catholic discipline are of
course unlike anything in mind-cure thought, but the purely
spiritual part of the exercise is identical in both communions, and in
both communions those who urge it write with authority, for they
have evidently experienced in their own persons that whereof they
tell. Compare again some mind-cure utterances:-
  "High, healthful, pure thinking can be encouraged, promoted, and
strengthened. Its current can be turned upon grand ideals until it
forms a habit and wears a channel. By means of such discipline the
mental horizon can be flooded with the sunshine of beauty,
wholeness, and harmony. To inaugurate pure and lofty thinking may at
first seem difficult, even almost mechanical, but perseverance will at
length render it easy, then pleasant, and finally delightful.
  "The soul's real world is that which it has built of its thoughts,
mental states, and imaginations. If we will, we can turn our backs
upon the lower and sensuous plane, and lift ourselves into the realm
of the spiritual and Real, and there gain a residence. The
assumption of states of expectancy and receptivity will attract
spiritual sunshine, and it will flow in as naturally as air inclines
to a vacuum.... Whenever the thought is not occupied with one's
daily duty or profession, it should be sent aloft into the spiritual
atmosphere. There are quiet leisure moments by day, and wakeful
hours at night, when this wholesome and delightful exercise may be
engaged in to great advantage. If one who has never made any
systematic effort to lift and control the thought-forces will, for a
single month, earnestly pursue the course here suggested, he will be
surprised and delighted at the result, and nothing will induce him
to go back to careless, aimless, and superficial thinking. At such
favorable seasons the outside world, with all its current of daily
events, is barred out, and one goes into the silent sanctuary of the
inner temple of soul to commune and aspire. The spiritual hearing
becomes delicately sensitive, so that the 'still, small voice' is
audible, the tumultuous waves of external sense are hushed, and
there is a great calm. The ego gradually becomes conscious that it
is face to face with the Divine Presence; that mighty, healing,
loving, Fatherly life which is nearer to us than we are to
ourselves. There is soul-contact with the Parent-Soul, and an influx
of life, love, virtue, health, and happiness from the Inexhaustible
Fountain." *
  * HENRY WOOD: Ideal Suggestion through Mental Photography, pp. 51,
70 (abridged).
  When we reach the subject of mysticism, you will undergo so deep
an immersion into these exalted states of consciousness as to be wet
all over, if I may so express myself; and the cold shiver of doubt
with which this little sprinkling may affect you will have long
since passed away- doubt, I mean, as to whether all such writing be
not mere abstract talk and rhetoric set down pour encourager les
autres. You Will then be convinced, I trust, that these states of
consciousness of 'union' form a perfectly definite class of
experiences, of which the soul may occasionally partake, and which
certain persons may live by in a deeper sense than they live by
anything else with which they have acquaintance. This brings me to a
general philosophical reflection with which I should like to pass from
the subject of healthy-mindedness, and close a topic which I fear is
already only too long drawn out. It concerns the relation of all
this systematized healthy-mindedness and mind-cure religion to
scientific method and the scientific life.
  In a later lecture I shall have to treat explicitly of the
relation of religion to science on the one hand, and to primeval
savage thought on the other. There are plenty of persons to-day
'scientists' or 'positivists,' they are fond of calling themselves-
who will tell you that religious thought is a mere survival, an
atavistic reversion to a type of consciousness which humanity in its
more enlightened examples has long since left behind and outgrown.
If you ask them to explain themselves more fully, they will probably
say that for primitive thought everything is conceived of under the
form of personality. The savage thinks that things operate by personal
forces, and for the sake of individual ends. For him, even external
nature obeys individual needs and claims, just as if these were so
many elementary powers. Now science, on the other hand, these
positivists say, has proved that personality, so far from being an
elementary force in nature, is but a passive resultant of the really
elementary forces, physical, chemical, physiological, and
psycho-physical, which are all impersonal and general in character.
Nothing individual accomplishes anything in the universe save in so
far as it obeys and exemplifies some universal law. Should you then
inquire of them by what means science has thus supplanted primitive
thought, and discredited its personal way of looking at things, they
would undoubtedly say it has been by the strict use of the method of
experimental verification. Follow out science's conceptions
practically, they will say, the conceptions that ignore personality
altogether, and you will always be corroborated. The world is so
made that all your expectations will be experientially verified so
long, and only so long, as you keep the terms from which you infer
them impersonal and universal.
  But here we have mind-cure, with her diametrically opposite
philosophy, setting up an exactly identical claim. Live as if I were
true, she says, and every day will practically prove you right. That
the controlling energies of nature are personal, that your own
personal thoughts are forces, that the powers of the universe will
directly respond to your individual appeals and needs, are
propositions which your whole bodily and mental experience will
verify. And that experience does largely verify these primeval
religious ideas is proved by the fact that the mind-cure movement
spreads as it does, not by proclamation and assertion simply, but by
palpable experiential results. Here, in the very heyday of science's
authority, it carries on an aggressive warfare against the
scientific philosophy, and succeeds by using science's own peculiar
methods and weapons. Believing that a higher power will take care of
us in certain ways better than we can take care of ourselves, if we
only genuinely throw ourselves upon it and consent to use it, it finds
the belief, not only not impugned, but corroborated by its
  How conversions are thus made, and converts confirmed, is evident
enough from the narratives which I have quoted. I will quote yet
another couple of shorter ones to give the matter a perfectly concrete
turn. Here is one:-
  "One of my first experiences in applying my teaching was two
months after I first saw the healer. I fell, spraining my right ankle,
which I had done once four years before, having then had to use a
crutch and elastic anklet for some months, and carefully guarding it
ever since. As soon as I was on my feet I made the positive suggestion
(and felt it through all my being): 'There is nothing but God, all
life comes from him perfectly. I cannot be sprained or hurt, I will
let him take care of it.' Well, I never had a sensation in it, and I
walked two miles that day."
  The next case not only illustrates experiment and verification,
but also the element of passivity and surrender of which awhile ago
I made such account.
  "I went into town to do some shopping one morning, and I had not
been gone long before I began to feel ill. The ill feeling increased
rapidly, until I had pains in an my bones, nausea and faintness,
headache, all the symptoms in short that precede an attack of
influenza. I thought that I was going to have the grippe, epidemic
then in Boston, or something worse. The mind-cure teachings that I had
been listening to all the winter thereupon came into my mind, and I
thought that here was an opportunity to test myself. On my way home
I met a friend, and I refrained with some effort from telling her
how I felt. That was the first step gained. I went to bed immediately,
and my husband wished to send for the doctor. But I told him that I
would rather wait until morning and see how I felt. Then followed
one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
  "I cannot express it in any other way than to say that I did 'lie
down in the stream of life and let it flow over me.' I gave up all
fear of any impending disease; I was perfectly willing and obedient.
There was no intellectual effort, or train of thought. My dominant
idea was: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me even as thou
wilt,' and a perfect confidence that all would be well, that all was
well. The creative life was flowing into me every instant, and I
felt myself allied with the Infinite, in harmony, and full of the
peace that passeth understanding. There was no place in my mind for
a jarring body. I had no consciousness of time or space or persons;
but only of love and happiness and faith.
  "I do not know how long this state lasted, nor when I fell asleep;
but when I woke up in the morning, I was well."
  These are exceedingly trivial instances, * but in them, if we have
anything at all, we have the method of experiment and verification.
For the point I am driving at now, it makes no difference whether
you consider the patients to be deluded victims of their imagination
or not. That they seemed to themselves to have been cured by the
experiments tried was enough to make them converts to the system.
And although it is evident that one must be of a certain mental
mould to get such results (for not every one can get thus cured to his
own satisfaction any more than every one can be cured by the first
regular practitioner whom he calls in), yet it would surely be
pedantic and over-scrupulous for those who can get their savage and
primitive philosophy of mental healing verified in such experimental
ways as this, to give them up at word of command for more scientific
therapeutics. What are we to think of all this? Has science made too
wide a claim?
  * See Appendix to this lecture for two other cases furnished me by
  I believe that the claims of the sectarian scientist are, to say the
least, premature. The experiences which we have been studying during
this hour (and a great many other kinds of religious experiences are
like them) plainly show the universe to be a more many-sided affair
than any sect, even the scientific sect, allows for. What, in the end,
are all our verifications but experiences that agree with more or less
isolated systems of ideas (conceptual systems) that our minds have
framed? But why in the name of common sense need we assume that only
one such system of ideas can be true? The obvious outcome of our total
experience is that the world can be handled according to many
systems of ideas, and is so handled by different men, and will each
time give some characteristic kind of profit, for which he cares, to
the handler, while at the same time some other kind of profit has to
be omitted or postponed. Science gives to all of us telegraphy,
electric lighting, and diagnosis, and succeeds in preventing and
curing a certain amount of disease. Religion in the shape of mind-cure
gives to some of us serenity, moral poise, and happiness, and prevents
certain forms of disease as well as science does, or even better in
a certain class of persons. Evidently, then, the science and the
religion are both of them genuine keys for unlocking the world's
treasure-house to him who can use either of them practically. Just
as evidently neither is exhaustive or exclusive of the other's
simultaneous use. And why, after all, may not the world be so
complex as to consist of many interpenetrating spheres of reality,
which we can thus approach in alternation by using different
conceptions and assuming different attitudes, just as mathematicians
handle the same numerical and spatial facts by geometry, by analytical
geometry, by algebra, by the calculus, or by quaternions, and each
time come out right? On this view religion and science, each
verified in its own way from hour to hour and from life to life, would
be co-eternal. Primitive thought, with its belief in individualized
personal forces, seems at any rate as far as ever from being driven by
science from the field to-day. Numbers of educated people still find
it the directest experimental channel by which to carry on their
intercourse with reality. *
  * Whether the various spheres or systems are ever to fuse integrally
into one absolute conception, as most philosophers assume that they
must, and how, if so, that conception may best be reached, are
questions that only the future can answer. What is certain now is
the fact of lines of disparate conception, each corresponding to
some part of the world's truth, each verified in some degree, each
leaving out some part of real experience.
  The case of mind-cure lay so ready to my hand that I could not
resist the temptation of using it to bring these last truths home to
your attention, but I must content myself to-day with this very
brief indication. In a later lecture the relations of religion both to
science and to primitive thought will have to receive much more
explicit attention.

                          LECTURES IV AND V
  CASE 1. "My own experience is this: I had long been ill, and one
of the first results of my illness, a dozen years before, had been a
diplopia which deprived me of the use of my eyes for reading and
writing almost entirely, while a later one had been to shut me out
from exercise of any kind under penalty of immediate and great
exhaustion. I had been under the care of doctors of the highest
standing both in Europe and America, men in whose power to help me I
had had great faith, with no or ill result. Then, at a time when I
seemed to be rather rapidly losing ground, I heard some things that
gave me interest enough in mental healing to make me try it; I had
no great hope of getting any good from it- it was a chance I tried,
partly because my thought was interested by the new possibility it
seemed to open, partly because it was the only chance I then could
see. I went to X. in Boston, from whom some friends of mine had got,
or thought that they had got, great help; the treatment was a silent
one; little was said, and that little carried no conviction to my
mind; whatever influence was exerted was that of another person's
thought or feeling silently projected on to my unconscious mind,
into my nervous system as it were, as we sat still together. I
believed from the start in the possibility of such action, for I
knew the power of the mind to shape, helping or hindering the body's
nerve-activities, and I thought telepathy probable, although unproved,
but I had no belief in it as more than a possibility, and no strong
conviction nor any mystic or religious faith connected with my thought
of it that might have brought imagination strongly into play.
  "I sat quietly with the healer for half an hour each day, at first
with no result; then, after ten days or so, I became quite suddenly
and swiftly conscious of a tide of new energy rising within me, a
sense of power to pass beyond old halting-places, of power to break
the bounds that, though often tried before, had long been veritable
walls about my life, too high to climb. I began to read and walk as
I had not done for years, and the change was sudden, marked, and
unmistakable. This tide seemed to mount for some weeks, three or
four perhaps, when, summer having come, I came away, taking the
treatment up again a few months later. The lift I got proved
permanent, and left me slowly gaining ground instead of losing it, but
with this lift the influence seemed in a way to have spent itself,
and, though my confidence in the reality of the power had gained
immensely from this first experience, and should have helped me to
make further gain in health and strength if my belief in it had been
the potent factor there, I never after this got any result at all as
striking or as clearly marked as this which came when I made trial
of it first, with little faith and doubtful expectation. It is
difficult to put all the evidence in such a matter into words, to
gather up into a distinct statement all that one bases one's
conclusions on, but I have always felt that I had abundant evidence to
justify (to myself, at least) the conclusion that I came to then,
and since have held to, that the physical change which came at that
time was, first, the result of a change wrought within me by a
change of mental state; and, secondly, that that change of mental
state was not, save in a very secondary way, brought about through the
influence of an excited imagination, or a consciously received
suggestion of an hypnotic sort. Lastly, I believe that this change was
the result of my receiving telepathically, and upon a mental stratum
quite below the level of immediate consciousness, a healthier and more
energetic attitude, receiving it from another person whose thought was
directed upon me with the intention of impressing the idea of this
attitude upon me. In my case the disease was distinctly what would
be classed as nervous, not organic; but from such opportunities as I
have had of observing, I have come to the conclusion that the dividing
line that has been drawn is an arbitrary one, the nerves controlling
the internal activities and the nutrition of the body throughout;
and I believe that the central nervous system, by starting and
inhibiting local centres, can exercise a vast influence upon disease
of any kind, if it can be brought to bear. In my judgment the question
is simply how to bring it to bear, and I think that the uncertainty
and remarkable differences in the results obtained through mental
healing do but show how ignorant we are as yet of the forces at work
and of the means we should take to make them effective. That these
results are not due to chance coincidences my observation of myself
and others makes me sure; that the conscious mind, the imagination,
enters into them as a factor in many cases is doubtless true, but in
many others, and sometimes very extraordinary ones, it hardly seems to
enter in at all. On the whole I am inclined to think that as the
healing action, like the morbid one, springs from the plane of the
normally unconscious mind, so the strongest and most effective
impressions are those which it receives, in some as yet unknown,
subtle way, directly from a healthier mind whose state, through a
hidden law of sympathy, it reproduces."
  CASE II. "At the urgent request of friends, and with no faith and
hardly any hope (possibly owing to a previous unsuccessful
experience with a Christian Scientist), our little daughter was placed
under the care of a healer, and cured of a trouble about which the
physician had been very discouraging in his diagnosis. This interested
me, and I began studying earnestly the method and philosophy of this
method of healing. Gradually an inner peace and tranquility came to me
in so positive a way that my manner changed greatly. My children and
friends noticed the change and commented upon it. All feelings of
irritability disappeared. Even the expression of my face changed
  "I had been bigoted, aggressive, and intolerant in discussion,
both in public and private. I grew broadly tolerant and receptive
toward the views of others. I had been nervous and irritable, coming
home two or three times a week with a sick headache induced, as I then
supposed, by dyspepsia and catarrh. I grew serene and gentle, and
the physical troubles entirely disappeared. I had been in the habit of
approaching every business interview with an almost morbid dread. I
now meet every one with confidence and inner calm.
  "I may say that the growth has all been toward the elimination of
selfishness. I do not mean simply the grosser, more sensual forms, but
those subtler and generally unrecognized kinds, such as express
themselves in sorrow, grief, regret, envy, etc. It has been in the
direction of a practical, working realization of the immanence of
God and the Divinity of man's true, inner self."

                         LECTURES VI AND VII
                            THE SICK SOUL
  AT our last meeting, we considered the healthy-minded temperament,
the temperament which has a constitutional incapacity for prolonged
suffering, and in which the tendency to see things optimistically is
like a water of crystallization in which the individual's character is
set. We saw how this temperament may become the basis for a peculiar
type of religion, a religion in which good, even the good of this
world's life, is regarded as the essential thing for a rational
being to attend to. This religion directs him to settle his scores
with the more evil aspects of the universe by systematically declining
to lay them to heart or make much of them by ignoring them in his
reflective calculations, or even, on occasion, by denying outright
that they exist. Evil is a disease; and worry over disease is itself
an additional form of disease, which only adds to the original
complaint. Even repentance and remorse, affections which come in the
character of ministers of good, may be but sickly and relaxing
impulses, The best repentance is to up and act for righteousness,
and forget that you ever had relations with sin.
  Spinoza's philosophy has this sort of healthy-mindedness woven
into the heart of it, and this has been one secret of its fascination.
He whom Reason leads, according to Spinoza, is led altogether by the
influence over his mind of good. Knowledge of evil is an
'inadequate' knowledge, fit only for slavish minds. So Spinoza
categorically condemns repentance. When men make mistakes, he says,-
  "One might perhaps expect gnawings of conscience and repentance to
help to bring them on the right path, and might thereupon conclude (as
every one does conclude) that these affections are good things. Yet
when we look at the matter closely, we shall find that not only are
they not good, but on the contrary deleterious and evil passions.
For it is manifest that we can always get along better by reason and
love of truth than by worry of conscience and remorse. Harmful are
these and evil, inasmuch as they form a particular kind of sadness;
and the disadvantages of sadness," he continues, "I have already
proved, and shown that we should strive to keep it from our life. Just
so we should endeavor, since uneasiness of conscience and remorse
are of this kind of complexion, to flee and shun these states of
mind." *
  * Tract on God, Man, and Happiness, Book ii. ch. x.
  Within the Christian body, for which repentance of sins has from the
beginning been the critical religious act, healthy-mindedness has
always come forward with its milder interpretation. Repentance
according to such healthy-minded Christians means getting away from
the sin, not groaning and writhing over its commission. The Catholic
practice of confession and absolution is in one of its aspects
little more than a systematic method of keeping healthy-mindedness
on top. By it a man's accounts with evil are periodically squared
and audited, so that he may start the clean page with no old debts
inscribed. Any Catholic will tell us how clean and fresh and free he
feels after the purging operation. Martin Luther by no means
belonged to the healthy-minded type in the radical sense in which we
have discussed it, and be repudiated priestly absolution for sin.
Yet in this matter of repentance he had some very healthy-minded
ideas, due in the main to the largeness of his conception of God.
  "When I was a monk," he says, "I thought that I was utterly cast
away, if at any time I felt the lust of the flesh: that is to say,
if I felt any evil motion, fleshly lust, wrath, hatred, or envy
against any brother. I assayed many ways to help to quiet my
conscience, but it would not be; for the concupiscence and lust of
my flesh did always return, so that I could not rest, but was
continually vexed with these thoughts: This or that sin thou hast
committed: thou art infected with envy, with impatiency, and such
other sins: therefore thou art entered into this holy order in vain,
and all thy good works are unprofitable. But if then I had rightly
understood these sentences of Paul: 'The flesh lusteth contrary to the
Spirit, and the Spirit contrary to the flesh; and these two are one
against another, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would do,'
I should not have so miserably tormented myself, but should have
thought and said to myself, as now commonly I do, 'Martin, thou
shalt not utterly be without sin, for thou hast flesh; thou shalt
therefore feel the battle thereof.' I remember that Staupitz was
wont to say, 'I have vowed unto God above a thousand times that I
would become a better man: but I never performed that which I vowed.
Hereafter I will make no such vow: for I have now learned by
experience that I am not able to perform it. Unless, therefore, God be
favorable and merciful unto me for Christ's sake, I shall not be able,
with all my vows and all my good deeds, to stand before him.' This (of
Staupitz's) was not only a true, but also a godly and a holy
desperation; and this must they all confess, both with mouth and
heart, who will be saved. For the godly trust not to their own
righteousness. They look unto Christ their reconciler, who gave his
life for their sins. Moreover, they know that the remnant of sin which
is in their flesh is not laid to their charge, but freely pardoned.
Notwithstanding, in the mean while they fight in spirit against the
flesh, lest they should fulfill the lusts thereof; and although they
feel the flesh to rage and rebel, and themselves also do fan sometimes
into sin through infirmity, yet are they not discouraged, nor think
therefore that their state and kind of life, and the works which are
done according to their calling, displease God; but they raise up
themselves by faith." *
  * Commentary on Galatians, Philadelphia, 1891, pp. 510-514
  One of the heresies for which the Jesuits got that spiritual genius,
Molinos, the founder of Quietism, so abominably condemned was his
healthy-minded opinion of repentance:-
  "When thou fallest into a fault, in what matter soever it be, do not
trouble nor afflict thyself for it. For they are effects of our
frail Nature, stained by Original Sin. The common enemy will make thee
believe, as soon as thou fallest into any fault, that thou walkest
in error, and therefore art out of God and his favor, and herewith
would he make thee distrust of the divine Grace, telling thee of thy
misery, and making a giant of it; and putting it into thy head that
every day thy soul grows worse instead of better, whilst it so often
repeats these failings. O blessed Soul, open thine eyes; and shut
the gate against these diabolical suggestions, knowing thy misery, and
trusting in the mercy divine. Would not he be a mere fool who, running
at tournament with others, and falling in the best of the career,
should lie weeping on the ground and afflicting himself with
discourses upon his fall? Man (they would tell him), lose no time, get
up and take the course again, for he that rises again quickly and
continues his race is as if he had never fallen. If thou seest thyself
fallen once and a thousand times, thou oughtest to make use of the
remedy which I have given thee, that is, a loving confidence in the
divine mercy. These are the weapons with which thou must fight and
conquer cowardice and vain thoughts. This is the means thou oughtest
to use- not to lose time, not to disturb thyself, and reap no good." *
  * MOLINOS: Spiritual Guide, Book II., chaps. xvii., xviii.
  Now in contrast with such healthy-minded views as these, if we treat
them as a way of deliberately minimizing evil, stands a radically
opposite view, a way of maximizing evil, if you please so to call
it, based on the persuasion that the evil aspects of our life are of
its very essence, and that the world's meaning most comes home to us
when we lay them most to heart. We have now to address ourselves to
this more morbid way of looking at the situation. But as I closed
our last hour with a general philosophical reflection on the
healthy-minded way of taking life, I should like at this point to make
another philosophical reflection upon it before turning to that
heavier task. You will excuse the brief delay.
  If we admit that evil is an essential part of our being and the
key to the interpretation of our life, we load ourselves down with a
difficulty that has always proved burdensome in philosophies of
religion. Theism, whenever it has erected itself into a systematic
philosophy of the universe, has shown a reluctance to let God be
anything less than All-in-All. In other words, philosophic theism
has always shown a tendency to become pantheistic and monistic, and to
consider the world as one unit of absolute fact; and this has been
at variance with popular or practical theism, which latter has ever
been more or less frankly pluralistic, not to say polytheistic, and
shown itself perfectly well satisfied with a universe composed of many
original principles, provided we be only allowed to believe that the
divine principle remains supreme, and that the others are subordinate.
In this latter case God is not necessarily responsible for the
existence of evil; he would only be responsible if it were not finally
overcome. But on the monistic or pantheistic view, evil, like
everything else, must have its foundation in God; and the difficulty
is to see how this can possibly be the case if God be absolutely good.
This difficulty faces us in every form of philosophy in which the
world appears as one flawless unit of fact. Such a unit is an
Individual, and in it the worst parts must be as essential as the
best, must be as necessary to make the individual what he is; since if
any part whatever in an individual were to vanish or alter, it would
no longer be that individual at all. The philosophy of absolute
idealism, so vigorously represented both in Scotland and America
to-day, has to struggle with this difficulty quite as much as
scholastic theism struggled in its time; and although it would be
premature to say that there is no speculative issue whatever from
the puzzle, it is perfectly fair to say that there is no clear or
easy-issue, and that the only obvious escape from paradox here is to
cut loose from the monistic assumption altogether, and to allow the
world to have existed from its origin in pluralistic form, as an
aggregate or collection of higher and lower things and principles,
rather than an absolutely unitary fact. For then evil would not need
to be essential; it might be, and may always have been, an independent
portion that had no rational or absolute right to live with the
rest, and which we might conceivably hope to see got rid of at last.
  Now the gospel of healthy-mindedness, as we have described it, casts
its vote distinctly for this pluralistic view. Whereas the monistic
philosopher finds himself more or less bound to say, as Hegel said,
that everything actual is rational, and that evil, as an element
dialectically required, must be pinned in and kept and consecrated and
have a function awarded to it in the final system of truth,
healthy-mindedness refuses to say anything of the sort. * Evil, it
says, is emphatically irrational, and not to be pinned in, or
preserved, or consecrated in any final system of truth. It is a pure
abomination to the Lord, an alien unreality, a waste element, to be
sloughed off and negated, and the very memory of it, if possible,
wiped out and forgotten. The ideal, so far from being co-extensive
with the whole actual, is a mere extract from the actual, marked by
its deliverance from all contact with this diseased, inferior, and
excrementitious stuff.
  * I say this in spite of the monistic utterances of many mind-cure
writers; for these utterances are really inconsistent with their
attitude towards disease, and can easily be shown not to be
logically involved in the experiences of union with a higher
Presence with which they connect themselves. The higher Presence,
namely, need not be the absolute whole of things, it is quite
sufficient for the life of religious experience to regard it as a
part, if only it be the most ideal part.
  Here we have the interesting notion fairly and squarely presented to
us, of there being elements of the universe which may make no rational
whole in conjunction with the other elements, and which, from the
point of view of any system which those other elements make up, can
only be considered so much irrelevance and accident- so much 'dirt,'
as it were, and matter out of place. I ask you now not to forget
this notion; for although most philosophers seem either to forget it
or to disdain it too much ever to mention it, I believe that we
shall have to admit it ourselves in the end as containing an element
of truth. The mind-cure gospel thus once more appears to us as
having dignity and importance. We have seen it to be a genuine
religion, and no mere silly appeal to imagination to cure disease;
we have seen its method of experimental verification to be not
unlike the method of all science; and now here we find mind-cure as
the champion of a perfectly definite conception of the metaphysical
structure of the world. I hope that, in view of all this, you will not
regret my having pressed it upon your attention at such length.
  Let us now say good-by for a while to all this way of thinking,
and turn towards those persons who cannot so swiftly throw off the
burden of the consciousness of evil, but are congenitally fated to
suffer from its presence. Just as we saw that in healthy-mindedness
there are shallower and profounder levels, happiness like that of
the mere animal, and more regenerate of happiness, so also are there
different levels of the morbid mind, and the one is much more
formidable than the other. There are people for whom evil means only a
mal-adjustment with things, a wrong correspondence of one's life
with the environment. Such evil as this is curable, in principle at
least, upon the natural plane, for merely by modifying either the self
or the things, or both at once, the two terms may be made to fit,
and all go merry as a marriage bell again. But there are others for
whom evil is no mere relation of the subject to particular outer
things, but something more radical and general, a wrongness or vice in
his essential nature, which no alteration of the environment, or any
superficial rearrangement of the inner self, can cure, and which
requires a supernatural remedy. On the whole, the Latin races have
leaned more towards the former way of looking upon evil, as made up of
ills and sins in the plural, removable in detail; while the Germanic
races have tended rather to think of Sin in the singular, and with a
capital S, as of something ineradicably ingrained in our natural
subjectivity, and never to be removed by any superficial piecemeal
operations. * These comparisons of races are always open to exception,
but undoubtedly the northern tone in religion has inclined to the more
intimately pessimistic persuasion, and this way of feeling, being
the more extreme, we shall find by far the more instructive for our
  * Cf., J. MILSAND: Luther et le Serf-Arbitre, 1884, passim.
  Recent psychology has found great use for the word 'threshold' as
a symbolic designation for the point at which one state of mind passes
into another. Thus we speak of the threshold of a man's
consciousness in general, to indicate the amount of noise, pressure,
or other outer stimulus which it takes to arouse his attention at all.
One with a high threshold will doze through an amount of racket by
which one with a low threshold would be immediately waked.
Similarly, when one is sensitive to small differences in any order
of sensation we say he has a low 'difference-threshold'- his mind
easily steps over it into the consciousness of the differences in
question. And just so we might speak of a 'pain-threshold,' a
'fear-threshold,' a 'misery-threshold,' and find it quickly overpassed
by the consciousness of some individuals, but lying too high in others
to be often reached by their consciousness. The sanguine and
healthy-minded live habitually on the sunny side of their misery-line,
the depressed and melancholy live beyond it, in darkness and
apprehension. There are men who seem to have started in life with a
bottle or two of champagne inscribed to their credit; whilst others
seem to have been born close to the pain-threshold, which the
slightest irritants fatally send them over.
  Does it not appear as if one who lived more habitually on one side
of the pain-threshold might need a different sort of religion from one
who habitually lived on the other? This question, of the relativity of
different types of religion to different types of need, arises
naturally at this point, and will become a serious problem ere we have
done. But before we confront it in general terms, we must address
ourselves to the unpleasant task of hearing what the sick souls, as we
may call them in contrast to the healthy-minded, have to say of the
secrets of their prison-house, their own peculiar form of
consciousness. Let us then resolutely turn our backs on the
once-born and their sky-blue optimistic gospel; let us not simply
cry out, in spite of all appearances, "Hurrah for the Universe!- God's
in his Heaven, all's right with the world." Let us see rather
whether pity, pain, and fear, and the sentiment of human
helplessness may not open a profounder view and put into our hands a
more complicated key to the meaning of the situation.
  To begin with, how can things so insecure as the successful
experiences of this world afford a stable anchorage? A chain is no
stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain. In
the healthiest and most prosperous existence, how many links of
illness, danger, and disaster are always interposed? Unsuspectedly
from the bottom of every fountain of pleasure, as the old poet said,
something bitter rises up: a touch of nausea, a falling dead of the
delight, a whiff of melancholy, things that sound a knell, for
fugitive as they may be, they bring a feeling of coming from a
deeper region and often have an appalling convincingness. The buzz
of life ceases at their touch as a piano-string stops sounding when
the damper falls upon it.
  Of course the music can commence again;- and again and again,- at
intervals. But with this the healthy-minded consciousness is left with
an irremediable sense of precariousness. It is a bell with a crack; it
draws its breath on sufferance and by an accident.
  Even if we suppose a man so packed with healthy-mindedness as
never to have experienced in his own person any of these sobering
intervals, still, if he is a reflecting being, he must generalize
and class his own lot with that of others; and, doing so, he must
see that his escape is just a lucky chance and no essential
difference. He might just as well have been born to an entirely
different fortune. And then indeed the hollow security! What kind of a
frame of things is it of which the best you can say is, "Thank God, it
has let me off clear this time!" Is not its blessedness a fragile
fiction? Is not your joy in it a very vulgar glee, not much unlike the
snicker of any rogue at his success? If indeed it were an success,
even on such terms as that! But take the happiest man, the one most
envied by the world, and in nine cases out of ten his inmost
consciousness is one of failure. Either his ideals in the line of
his achievements are pitched far higher than the achievements
themselves, or else he has secret ideals of which the world knows
nothing, and in regard to which he inwardly knows himself to be
found wanting.
  When such a conquering optimist as Goethe can express himself in
this wise, how must it be with less successful men?
  "I will say nothing," writes Goethe in 1824, "against the course
of my existence. But at bottom it has been nothing but pain and
burden, and I can affirm that during the whole of my 75 years, I
have not had four weeks of genuine well-being. It is but the perpetual
rolling of a rock that must be raised up again forever."
  What single-handed man was ever on the whole as successful as
Luther? yet when he had grown old, he looked back on his life as if it
were an absolute failure.
  "I am utterly weary of life. I pray the Lord will come forthwith and
carry me hence. Let him come, above all, with his last Judgment: I
will stretch out my neck, the thunder will burst forth, and I shall be
at rest."- And having a necklace of white agates in his hand at the
time he added: "O God, grant that it may come without delay. I would
readily eat up this necklace to-day, for the Judgment to come
to-morrow."- The Electress Dowager, one day when Luther was dining
with her, said to him: "Doctor, I wish you may live forty years to
come." "Madam," replied he, "rather than live forty years more, I
would give up my chance of Paradise."
  Failure, then, failure! so the world stamps us at every turn. We
strew it with our blunders, our misdeeds, our lost opportunities, with
all the memorials of our inadequacy to our vocation. And with what a
damning emphasis does it then blot us out! No easy fine, no mere
apology or formal expiation, will satisfy the world's demands, but
every pound of flesh exacted is soaked with all its blood. The
subtlest forms of suffering known to man are connected with the
poisonous humiliations incidental to these results.
  And they are pivotal human experiences. A process so ubiquitous
and everlasting is evidently an integral part of life. "There is
indeed one element in human destiny," Robert Louis Stevenson writes,
"that not blindness itself can controvert. Whatever else we are
intended to do, we are not intended to succeed; failure is the fate
allotted." * And our nature being thus rooted in failure, is it any
wonder that theologians should have held it to be essential, and
thought that only through the personal experience of humiliation which
it engenders the deeper sense of life's significance is reached? *(2)
  * He adds with characteristic healthy-mindedness: "Our business is
to continue to fail in good spirits."
  *(2) The God of many men is little more than their court of appeal
against the damnatory judgment passed on their failures by the opinion
of this world. To our own consciousness there is usually a residuum of
worth left over after our sins and errors have been told off- our
capacity of acknowledging and regretting them is the germ of a
better self in posse at least. But the world deals with us in actu and
not in posse: and of this bidden germ, not to be guessed at from
without, it never takes account. Then we turn to the All-knower, who
knows our bad, but knows this good in us also, and who is just. We
cast ourselves with our repentance on his mercy: only by an All-knower
can we finally be judged. So the need of a God very definitely emerges
from this sort of experience of life.
  But this is only the first stage of the world-sickness. Make the
human being's sensitiveness a little greater, carry him a little
farther over the misery-threshold, and the good quality of the
successful moments themselves when they occur is spoiled and vitiated.
All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is
a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish. Can things whose end is
always dust and disappointment be the real goods which our souls
require? Back of everything is the great spectre of universal death,
the all-encompassing blackness:-
  "What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under
the Sun? I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and
behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit. For that which
befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; as the one dieth, so dieth
the other; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.... The
dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the
memory of them is forgotten. Also their love and their hatred and
their envy is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for
ever in anything that is done under the Sun.... Truly the light is
sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the Sun:
but if a man live many years and rejoice in them all, yet let him
remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many."
  In short, life and its negation are beaten up inextricably together.
But if the life be good, the negation of it must be bad. Yet the two
are equally essential facts of existence; and all natural happiness
thus seems infected with a contradiction. The breath of the
sepulchre surrounds it.
  To a mind attentive to this state of things and rightly subject to
the joy-destroying chill which such a contemplation engenders, the
only relief that healthy-mindedness can give is by saying: 'Stuff
and nonsense, get out into the open air!' or 'Cheer up, old fellow,
you'll be all right erelong, if you will only drop your morbidness!'
But in all seriousness, can such bald animal talk as that be treated
as a rational answer? To ascribe religious value to mere
happy-go-lucky contentment with one's brief chance at natural good
is but the very consecration of forgetfulness and superficiality.
Our troubles lie indeed too deep for that cure. The fact that we can
die, that we can be ill at all, is what perplexes us; the fact that we
now for a moment live and are well is irrelevant to that perplexity.
We need a life not correlated with death, a health not liable to
illness, a kind of good that will not perish, a good in fact that
flies beyond the Goods of nature.
  It all depends on how sensitive the soul may become to discords.
"The trouble with me is that I believe too much in common happiness
and goodness," said a friend of mine whose consciousness was of this
sort, "and nothing can console me for their transiency. I am
appalled and disconcerted at its being possible." And so with most
of us: a little cooling down of animal excitability and instinct, a
little loss of animal toughness, a little irritable weakness and
descent of the pain-threshold, will bring the worm at the core of
all our usual springs of delight into full view, and turn us into
melancholy metaphysicians. The pride of life and glory of the world
will shrivel. It is after all but the standing quarrel of hot youth
and hoary eld. Old age has the last word: the purely naturalistic look
at life, however enthusiastically it may begin, is sure to end in
  This sadness lies at the heart of every merely positivistic,
agnostic, or naturalistic scheme of philosophy. Let sanguine
healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of living in the
moment and ignoring and forgetting, still the evil background is
really there to be thought of, and the skull will grin in at the
banquet. In the practical life of the individual, we know how his
whole gloom or glee about any present fact depends on the remoter
schemes and hopes with which it stands related. Its significance and
framing give it the chief part of its value. Let it be known to lead
nowhere, and however agreeable it may be in its immediacy, its glow
and gilding vanish. The old man, sick with an insidious internal
disease, may laugh and quaff his wine at first as well as ever, but he
knows his fate now, for the doctors have revealed it; and the
knowledge knocks the satisfaction out of all these functions. They are
partners of death and the worm is their brother, and they turn to a
mere flatness.
  The lustre of the present hour is always borrowed from the
background of possibilities it goes with. Let our common experiences
be enveloped in an eternal moral order; let our suffering have an
immortal significance; let Heaven smile upon the earth, and deities
pay their visits; let faith and hope be the atmosphere which man
breathes in;- and his days pass by with zest; they stir with
prospects, they thrill with remoter values. Place round them on the
contrary the curdling cold and gloom and absence of all permanent
meaning which for pure naturalism and the popular science evolutionism
of our time are all that is visible ultimately, and the thrill stops
short, or turns rather to an anxious trembling.
  For naturalism, fed on recent cosmological speculations, mankind
is in a position similar to that of a set of people living on a frozen
lake, surrounded by cliffs over which there is no escape, yet
knowing that little by little the ice is melting, and the inevitable
day drawing near when the last film of it will disappear, and to be
drowned ignominiously will be the human creature's portion. The
merrier the skating, the warmer and more sparkling the sun by day, and
the ruddier the bonfires at night, the more poignant the sadness
with which one must take in the meaning of the total situation.
  The early Greeks are continually held up to us in literary works
as models of the healthy-minded joyousness which the religion of
nature may engender. There was indeed much joyousness among the
Greeks- Homer's flow of enthusiasm for most things that the sun shines
upon is steady. But even in Homer the reflective passages are
cheerless, * and the moment the Greeks grew systematically pensive and
thought of ultimates, they became unmitigated pessimists. *(2) The
jealousy of the gods, the nemesis that follows too much happiness, the
all-encompassing death, fate's dark opacity, the ultimate and
unintelligible cruelty, were the fixed background of their
imagination. The beautiful joyousness of their polytheism is only a
poetic modern fiction. They knew no joys comparable in quality of
preciousness to those which we shall erelong see that Brahmans,
Buddhists, Christians, Mohammedans, twice-born people whose religion
is non-naturalistic, get from their several creeds of mysticism and
  * E.g., Iliad, XVII. 446: "Nothing then is more wretched anywhere
than man of all that breathes and creeps upon this earth."
  *(2) E.g., Theognis, 425-428: "Best of all for all things upon earth
is it not to be born nor to behold the splendors of the Sun; next best
to traverse as soon as possible the gates of Hades." See also the
almost identical passage in Oedipus in Colonus, 1225.- The Anthology
is full of pessimistic utterances: "Naked came I upon the earth, naked
I go below the ground- why then do I vainly toil when I see the end
naked before me?"- "How did I come to be? Whence am I? Wherefore did I
come? To pass away. How can I learn aught when naught I know? Being
naught I came to life: once more shall I be what I was. Nothing and
nothingness is the whole race of mortals."- "For death we are all
cherished and fattened like a herd of hogs that is wantonly
  The difference between Greek pessimism and the oriental and modern
variety is that the Greeks had not made the discovery that the
pathetic mood may be idealized, and figure as a higher form of
sensibility. Their spirit was still too essentially masculine for
pessimism to be elaborated or lengthily dwelt on in their classic
literature. They would have despised a life set wholly in a minor key,
and summoned it to keep within the proper bounds of lachrymosity.
The discovery that the enduring emphasis, so far as this world goes,
may be laid on its pain and failure, was reserved for races more
complex, and (so to speak) more feminine than the Hellenes had
attained to being in the classic period. But all the same was the
outlook of those Hellenes blackly pessimistic.
  Stoic insensibility and Epicurean resignation were the farthest
advance which the Greek mind made in that direction. The Epicurean
said: "Seek not to be happy, but rather to escape unhappiness;
strong happiness is always linked with pain; therefore hug the safe
shore, and do not tempt the deeper raptures. Avoid disappointment by
expecting little, and by aiming low; and above all do not fret." The
Stoic said: "The only genuine good that life can yield a man is the
free possession of his own soul; all other goods are lies." Each of
these philosophies is in its degree a philosophy of despair in
nature's boons. Trustful self-abandonment to the joys that freely
offer has entirely departed from both Epicurean and Stoic; and what
each proposes is a way of rescue from the resultant dust-and-ashes
state of mind. The Epicurean still awaits results from economy of
indulgence and damping of desire. The Stoic hopes for no results,
and gives up natural good altogether. There is dignity in both these
forms of resignation. They represent distinct stages in the sobering
process which man's primitive intoxication with sense-happiness is
sure to undergo. In the one the hot blood has grown cool, in the other
it has become quite cold; and although I have spoken of them in the
past tense, as if they were merely historic, yet Stoicism and
Epicureanism will probably be to all time typical attitudes, marking a
certain definite stage accomplished in the evolution of the world-sick
soul. * They mark the conclusion of what we call the once-born period,
and represent the highest flights of what twice-born religion would
call the purely natural man- Epicureanism, which can only by great
courtesy be called a religion, showing his refinement, and Stoicism
exhibiting his moral will. They leave the world in the shape of an
unreconciled contradiction, and seek no higher unity. Compared with
the complex ecstasies which the supernaturally regenerated Christian
may enjoy, or the oriental pantheist indulge in, their receipts for
equanimity are expedients which seem almost crude in their simplicity.
  * For instance, on the very day on which I write this page, the post
brings me some aphorisms from a worldly-wise old friend in
Heidelberg which may serve as a good contemporaneous expression of
Epicureanism: "By the word 'happiness' every human being understands
something different. It is a phantom pursued only by weaker minds. The
wise man is satisfied with the more modest but much more definite term
contentment. What education should chiefly aim at is to save us from a
discontented life. Health is one favoring condition, but by no means
an indispensable one, of contentment. Woman's heart and love are a
shrewd device of Nature, a trap which she sets for the average man, to
force him into working. But the wise man will always prefer work
chosen by himself."
  Please observe, however, that I am not yet pretending finally to
judge any of these attitudes. I am only describing their variety.
  The securest way to the rapturous sorts of happiness of which the
twice-born make report has as an historic matter of fact been
through a more radical pessimism than anything that we have yet
considered. We have seen how the lustre and enchantment may be
rubbed off from the goods of nature. But there is a pitch of
unhappiness so great that the goods of nature may be entirely
forgotten, and all sentiment of their existence vanish from the mental
field. For this extremity of pessimism to be reached, something more
is needed than observation of life and reflection upon death. The
individual must in his own person become the prey of a pathological
melancholy. As the healthy-minded enthusiast succeeds in ignoring
evil's very existence, so the subject of melancholy is forced in spite
of himself to ignore that of all good whatever: for him it may no
longer have the least reality. Such sensitiveness and susceptibility
to mental pain is a rare occurrence where the nervous constitution
is entirely normal; one seldom finds it in a healthy subject even
where he is the victim of the most atrocious cruelties of outward
fortune. So we note here the neurotic constitution, of which I said so
much in my first lecture, making its active entrance on our scene, and
destined to play a part in much that follows. Since these
experiences of melancholy are in the first instance absolutely private
and individual, I can now help myself out with personal documents.
Painful indeed they will be to listen to, and there is almost an
indecency in handling them in public. Yet they lie right in the middle
of our path; and if we are to touch the psychology of religion at
all seriously, we must be willing to forget conventionalities, and
dive below the smooth and lying official conversational surface.
  One can distinguish many kinds of pathological depression. Sometimes
it is mere passive joylessness and dreariness, discouragement,
dejection, lack of taste and zest and spring. Professor Ribot has
proposed the name anhedonia to designate this condition.
  "The state of anhedonia, if I may coin a new word to pair off with
analgesia," he writes, "has been very little studied, but it exists. A
young girl was smitten with a liver disease which for some time
altered her constitution. She felt no longer any affection for her
father and mother. She would have played with her doll, but it was
impossible to find the least pleasure in the act. The same things
which formerly convulsed her with laughter entirely failed to interest
her now. Esquirol observed the case of a very intelligent magistrate
who was also a prey to hepatic disease. Every emotion appeared dead
within him. He manifested neither perversion nor violence, but
complete absence of emotional reaction. If he went to the theatre,
which he did out of habit, he could find no pleasure there. The
thought of his house, of his home, of his wife, and of his absent
children moved him as little, he said, as a theorem of Euclid." *
  * RIBOT: Psychologie des sentiments, p. 54.
  Prolonged seasickness will in most persons produce a temporary
condition of anhedonia. Every good, terrestrial or celestial, is
imagined only to be turned from with disgust. A temporary condition of
this sort, connected with the religious evolution of a singularly
lofty character, both intellectual and moral, is well described by the
Catholic philosopher, Father Gratry, in his autobiographical
recollections. In consequence of mental isolation and excessive
study at the Polytechnic school, young Gratry fell into a state of
nervous exhaustion with symptoms which he thus describes:-
  "I had such a universal terror that I woke at night with a start,
thinking that the Pantheon was tumbling on the Polytechnic school,
or that the school was in flames, or that the Seine was pouring into
the Catacombs, and that Paris was being swallowed up. And when these
impressions were past, all day long without respite I suffered an
incurable and intolerable desolation, verging on despair. I thought
myself, in fact, rejected by God, lost, damned! I felt something
like the suffering of hell. Before that I had never even thought of
hell. My mind had never turned in that direction. Neither discourses
nor reflections had impressed me in that way. I took no account of
hell. Now, and all at once, I suffered in a measure what is suffered
  "But what was perhaps still more dreadful is that every idea of
heaven was taken away from me: I could no longer conceive of
anything of the sort. Heaven did not seem to me worth going to. It was
like a vacuum; a mythological elysium, an abode of shadows less real
than the earth. I could conceive no joy, no pleasure in inhabiting it.
Happiness, joy, light, affection, love- all these words were now
devoid of sense. Without doubt I could still have talked of all
these things, but I had become incapable of feeling anything in
them, of understanding anything about them, of hoping anything from
them, or of believing them to exist. There was my great and
inconsolable grief! I neither perceived nor conceived any longer the
existence of happiness or perfection. An abstract heaven over a
naked rock. Such was my present abode for eternity." *
  * A. GRATRY: Sonvenirs de ma jeunesse, 1880, pp. 119-121,
abridged. Some persons are affected with anhedonia permanently, or
at any rate with a loss of the usual appetite for life. The annals
of suicide supply such examples as the following:-
  An uneducated domestic servant, aged nineteen, poisons herself,
and leaves two letters expressing her motive for the act. To her
parents she writes:-
  "Life is sweet perhaps to some, but I prefer what is sweeter than
life, and that is death. So good-by forever, my dear parents. It is
nobody's fault, but a strong desire of my own which I have longed to
fulfill for three or four years. I have always had a hope that some
day I might have all opportunity of fulfilling it, and now it has
come.... It is a wonder I have put this off so long, but I thought
perhaps I should cheer up a bit and put all thought out of my head."
To her brother she writes: "Good-by forever, my own dearest brother.
By the time you get this I shall be gone forever. I know, dear love,
there is no forgiveness for what I am going to do.... I am tired of
living, so am willing to die.... Life may be sweet to some, but
death to me is sweeter." S.A.K. STRAHAN: Suicide and Insanity, 2d
edition, London, 1894, p. 131.
  So much for melancholy in the sense of incapacity for joyous
feeling. A much worse form of it is positive and active anguish, a
sort of psychical neuralgia wholly unknown to healthy life. Such
anguish may partake of various characters, having sometimes more the
quality of loathing; sometimes that of irritation and exasperation; or
again of self-mistrust and self-despair; or of suspicion, anxiety,
trepidation, fear. The patient may rebel or submit; may accuse
himself, or accuse outside powers; and he may or he may not be
tormented by the theoretical mystery of why he should so have to
suffer. Most case are mixed cases, and we should not treat our
classifications with too much respect. Moreover, it is only a
relatively small proportion of cases that connect themselves with
the religious sphere of experience at all. Exasperated cases, for
instance, as a rule do not. I quote now literally from the first
case of melancholy on which I lay my hand. It is a letter from a
patient in a French asylum.
  "I suffer too much in this hospital, both physically and morally.
Besides the burnings and the sleeplessness (for I no longer sleep
since I am shut up here, and the little rest I get is broken by bad
dreams, and I am waked with a jump by nightmares, dreadful visions,
lightning, thunder, and the rest), fear, atrocious fear, presses me
down, holds me without respite, never lets me go. Where is the justice
in it all! What have I done to deserve this excess of severity?
Under what form will this fear crush me? What would I not owe to any
one who would rid me of my life! Eat, drink, lie awake all night,
suffer without interruption- such is the fine legacy I have received
from my mother! What I fail to understand is this abuse of power.
There are limits to everything, there is a middle way. But God knows
neither middle way nor limits. I say God, but why? All I have known so
far has been the devil. After all, I am afraid of God as much as of
the devil, so I drift along, thinking of nothing but suicide, but with
neither courage nor means here to execute the act. As you read this,
it will easily prove to you my insanity. The style and the ideas are
incoherent enough- I can see that myself. But I cannot keep myself
from being either crazy or an idiot; and, as things are, from whom
should I ask pity? I am defenseless against the invisible enemy who is
tightening his coils around me. I should be no better armed against
him even if I saw him, or had seen him. Oh, if he would but kill me,
devil take him! Death, death, once for all! But I stop. I have raved
to you long enough. I say raved, for I can write no otherwise,
having neither brain nor thoughts left. O God! what a misfortune to be
born! Born like a mushroom, doubtless between an evening and a
morning; and how true and right I was when in our philosophy-year in
college I chewed the cud of bitterness with the pessimists. Yes,
indeed, there is more pain in life than gladness- it is one long agony
until the grave. Think how gay it makes me to remember that this
horrible misery of mine, coupled with this unspeakable fear, may
last fifty, one hundred, who knows how many more years!" *
  * ROUBINOVITCH ET TOULOUSE: La Melancolie, 1897, p. 170, abridged.
  This letter shows two things. First, you see how the entire
consciousness of the poor man is so choked with the feeling of evil
that the sense of there being any good in the world is lost for him
altogether. His attention excludes it, cannot admit it: the sun has
left his heaven. And secondly you see how the querulous temper of
his misery keeps his mind from taking a religious direction.
Querulousness of mind tends in fact rather towards irreligion; and
it has played, so far as I know, no part whatever in the
construction of religious systems.
  Religious melancholy must be cast in a more melting mood. Tolstoy
has left us, in his book called My Confession, a wonderful account
of the attack of melancholy which led him to his own religious
conclusions. The latter in some respects are peculiar; but the
melancholy presents two characters which make it a typical document
for our present purpose. First it is a well-marked case of
anhedonia, of passive loss of appetite for all life's values; and
second, it shows how the altered and estranged aspect which the
world assumed in consequence of this stimulated Tolstoy's intellect to
a gnawing, carking questioning and effort for philosophic relief. I
mean to quote Tolstoy at some length; but before doing so, I will make
a general remark on each of these two points.
  First on our spiritual judgments and the sense of value in general.
  It is notorious that facts are compatible with opposite emotional
comments, since the same fact will inspire entirely different feelings
in different persons, and at different times in the same person; and
there is no rationally deducible connection between any outer fact and
the sentiments it may happen to provoke. These have their source in
another sphere of existence altogether, in the animal and spiritual
region of the subject's being. Conceive yourself, if possible,
suddenly stripped of all the emotion with which your world now
inspires you, and try to imagine it as it exists, purely by itself,
without your favorable or unfavorable, hopeful or apprehensive
comment. It will be almost impossible for you to realize such a
condition of negativity and deadness. No one portion of the universe
would then have importance beyond another; and the whole collection of
its things and series of its events would be without significance,
character, expression, or perspective. Whatever of value, interest, or
meaning our respective worlds may appear endued with are thus pure
gifts of the spectator's mind. The passion of love is the most
familiar and extreme example of this fact. If it comes, it comes; if
it does not come, no process of reasoning can force it. Yet it
transforms the value of the creature loved as utterly as the sunrise
transforms Mont Blanc from a corpse-like gray to a rosy enchantment;
and it sets the whole world to a new tune for the lover and gives a
new issue to his life. So with fear, with indignation, jealousy,
ambition, worship. If they are there, life changes. And whether they
shall be there or not depends almost always upon non-logical, often on
organic conditions. And as the excited interest which these passions
put into the world is our gift to the world, just so are the
passions themselves gifts,- gifts to us, from sources sometimes low
and sometimes high; but almost always non-logical and beyond our
control. How can the moribund old man reason back to himself the
romance, the mystery, the imminence of great things with which our old
earth tingled for him in the days when he was young and well? Gifts,
either of the flesh or of the spirit; and the spirit bloweth where
it listeth; and the world's materials lend their surface passively
to all the gifts alike, as the stage-setting receives indifferently
whatever alternating colored lights may be shed upon it from the
optical apparatus in the gallery.
  Meanwhile the practically real world for each one of us, the
effective world of the individual, is the compound world, the physical
facts and emotional values in indistinguishable combination.
Withdraw or pervert either factor of this complex resultant, and the
kind of experience we call pathological ensues.
  In Tolstoy's case the sense that life had any meaning whatever was
for a time wholly withdrawn. The result was a transformation in the
whole expression of reality. When we come to study the phenomenon of
conversion or religious regeneration, we shall see that a not
infrequent consequence of the change operated in the subject is a
transfiguration of the face of nature in his eyes. A new heaven
seems to shine upon a new earth. In melancholiacs there is usually a
similar change, only it is in the reverse direction. The world now
looks remote, strange, sinister, uncanny. Its color is gone, its
breath is cold, there is no speculation in the eyes it glares with.
"It is as if I lived in another century," says one asylum patient.- "I
see everything through a cloud," says another, "things are not as they
were, and I am changed."- "I see," says a third, "I touch, but the
things do not come near me, a thick veil alters the hue and look of
everything."- "Persons move like shadows, and sounds seem to come from
a distant world."- "There is no longer any past for me; people
appear so strange; it is as if I could not see any reality, as if I
were in a theatre; as if people were actors, and everything were
scenery; I can no longer find myself; I walk, but why? Everything
floats before my eyes, but leaves no impression."- "I weep false
tears, I have unreal hands: the things I see are not real things."-

Such are expressions that naturally rise to the lips of melancholy
subjects describing their changed state. *
  * I cull these examples from the work of G. DUMAS: La Tristesse et
la Joie, 1900.
  Now there are some subjects whom all this leaves a prey to the
profoundest astonishment. The strangeness is wrong. The unreality
cannot be. A mystery is concealed, and a metaphysical solution must
exist. If the natural world is so double-faced and unhomelike, what
world what thing is real? An urgent wondering and questioning is set
up, a poring theoretic activity, and in the desperate effort to get
into right relations with the matter, the sufferer is often led to
what becomes for him a satisfying religious solution.
  At about the age of fifty, Tolstoy relates that he began to have
moments of perplexity, of what he calls arrest, as if he knew not 'how
to live,' or what to do. It is obvious that these were moments in
which the excitement and interest which our functions naturally
bring had ceased. Life had been enchanting, it was now flat sober,
more than sober, dead. Things were meaningless whose meaning had
always been self-evident. The questions 'Why?' and 'What next?'
began to beset him more and more frequently. At first it seemed as
if such questions must be answerable, and as if he could easily find
the answers if he would take the time; but as they ever became more
urgent, he perceived that it was like those first discomforts of a
sick man, to which he pays but little attention till they run into one
continuous suffering, and then he realizes that what he took for a
passing disorder means the most momentous thing in the world for
him, means his death.
  These questions 'Why?' 'Wherefore?' 'What for?' found no response.
  "I felt," says Tolstoy, "that something had broken within me on
which my life had always rested, that I had nothing left to hold on
to, and that morally my life had stopped. An invincible force impelled
me to get rid of my existence, in one way or another. It cannot be
said exactly that I wished to kill myself, for the force which drew me
away from life was fuller, more powerful, more general than any mere
desire. It was a force like my old aspiration to live, only it
impelled me in the opposite direction. It was an aspiration of my
whole being to get out of life.
  "Behold me then, a man happy and in good health, hiding the rope
in order not to hang myself to the rafters of the room where every
night I went to sleep alone; behold me no longer going shooting,
lest I should yield to the too easy temptation of putting an end to
myself with my gun.
  "I did not know what I wanted. I was afraid of life; I was driven to
leave it; and in spite of that I still hoped something from it.
  "All this took place at a time when so far as all my outer
circumstances went, I ought to have been completely happy. I had a
good wife who loved me and whom I loved; good children and a large
property which was increasing with no pains taken on my part. I was
more respected by my kinsfolk and acquaintance than I had ever been; I
was loaded with praise by strangers; and without exaggeration I
could believe my name already famous. Moreover I was neither insane
nor ill. On the contrary, I possessed a physical and mental strength
which I have rarely met in persons of my age. I could mow as well as
the peasants, I could work with my brain eight hours uninterruptedly
and feel no bad effects.
  "And yet I could give no reasonable meaning to any actions of my
life. And I was surprised that I had not understood this from the very
beginning. My state of mind was as if some wicked and stupid jest
was being played upon me by some one. One can live only so long as one
is intoxicated, drunk with life; but when one grows sober one cannot
fail to see that it is all a stupid cheat. What is truest about it
is that there is nothing even funny or silly in it; it is cruel and
stupid, purely and simply.
  "The oriental fable of the traveler surprised in the desert by a
wild beast is very old.
  "Seeking to save himself from the fierce animal, the traveler
jumps into a well with no water in it; but at the bottom of this
well he sees a dragon waiting with open mouth to devour him. And the
unhappy man, not daring to go out lest he should be the prey of the
beast, not daring to jump to the bottom lest he should be devoured
by the dragon, clings to the branches of a wild bush which grows out
of one of the cracks of the well. His hands weaken, and he feels
that he must soon give way to certain fate; but still he clings, and
sees two mice, one white, the other black, evenly moving round the
bush to which he hangs, and gnawing off its roots.
  "The traveler sees this and knows that he must inevitably perish;
but while thus hanging he looks about him and finds on the leaves of
the bush some drops of honey. These he reaches with his tongue and
licks them off with rapture.
  "Thus I hang upon the boughs of life, knowing that the inevitable
dragon of death is waiting ready to tear me, and I cannot comprehend
why I am thus made a martyr. I try to suck the honey which formerly
consoled me; but the honey pleases me no longer, and day and night the
white mouse and the black mouse gnaw the branch to which I cling. I
can see but one thing: the inevitable dragon and the mice- I cannot
turn my gaze away from them.
  "This is no fable, but the literal incontestable truth which every
one may understand. What will be the outcome of what I do to-day? Of
what I shall do to-morrow? What will be the outcome of all my life?
Why should I live? Why should I do anything? Is there in life any
purpose which the inevitable death which awaits me does not undo and
  "These questions are the simplest in the world. From the stupid
child to the wisest old man, they are in the soul of every human
being. Without an answer to them, it is impossible, as I
experienced, for life to go on.
  "'But perhaps,' I often said to myself, 'there may be something I
have failed to notice or to comprehend. It is not possible that the
condition of despair should be natural to mankind.' And I sought for
an explanation in all the branches of knowledge acquired by men. I
questioned painfully and protractedly and with no idle curiosity. I
sought, not with indolence, but laboriously and obstinately for days
and nights together. I sought like a man who is lost and seeks to save
himself,- and I found nothing. I became convinced, moreover, that
all those who before me had sought for an answer in the sciences
have also found nothing. And not only this, but that they have
recognized that the very thing which was leading me to despair- the
meaningless absurdity of life- is the only incontestable knowledge
accessible to man."
  To prove this point, Tolstoy quotes the Buddha, Solomon, and
Schopenhauer. And he finds only four ways in which men of his own
class and society are accustomed to meet the situation. Either mere
animal blindness, sucking the honey without seeing the dragon or the
mice,- "and from such a way," he says, "I can learn nothing, after
what I now know;" or reflective epicureanism, snatching what it can
while the day lasts,- which is only a more deliberate sort of
stupefaction than the first; or manly suicide; or seeing the mice
and dragon and yet weakly and plaintively clinging to the bush of
  Suicide was naturally the consistent course dictated by the
logical intellect.
  "Yet," says Tolstoy, "whilst my intellect was working, something
else in me was working too, and kept me from the deed- a consciousness
of life, as I may call it, which was like a force that obliged my mind
to fix itself in another direction and draw me out of my situation
of despair.... During the whole course of this year, when I almost
unceasingly kept asking myself how to end the business, whether by the
rope or by the bullet, during all that time, alongside of all those
movements of my ideas and observations, my heart kept languishing with
another pining emotion. I can call this by no other name than that
of a thirst for God. This craving for God had nothing to do with the
movement of my ideas,- in fact, it was the direct contrary of that
movement,- but it came from my heart. It was like a feeling of dread
that made me seem like an orphan and isolated in the midst of all
these things that were so foreign. And this feeling of dread was
mitigated by the hope of finding the assistance of some one." *
  * My extracts are from the French translation by 'ZONIA.' In
abridging I have taken the liberty of transposing one passage.
  Of the process, intellectual as well as emotional, which, starting
from this idea of God, led to Tolstoy's recovery, I will say nothing
in this lecture, reserving it for a later hour. The only thing that
need interest us now is the phenomenon of his absolute
disenchantment with ordinary life, and the fact that the whole range
of habitual values may, to a man as powerful and full of faculty as he
was, come to appear so ghastly a mockery.
  When disillusionment has gone as far as this, there is seldom a
restitutio ad integrum. One has tasted of the fruit of the tree, and
the happiness of Eden never comes again. The happiness that comes,
when any does come,- and often enough it fails to return in an acute
form, though its form is sometimes very acute,- is not the simple
ignorance of ill, but something vastly more complex, including natural
evil as one of its elements, but finding natural evil no such
stumbling-block and terror because it now sees it swallowed up in
supernatural good. The process is one of redemption, not of mere
reversion to natural health, and the sufferer, when saved, is saved by
what seems to him a second birth, a deeper kind of conscious being
than he could enjoy before.
  We find a somewhat different type of religious melancholy
enshrined in literature in John Bunyan's autobiography. Tolstoy's
preoccupations were largely objective, for the purpose and meaning
of life in general was what so troubled him; but poor Bunyan's
troubles were over the condition of his own personal self. He was a
typical case of the psychopathic temperament, sensitive of
conscience to a diseased degree, beset by doubts, fears, and insistent
ideas, and a victim of verbal automatisms, both motor and sensory.
These were usually texts of Scripture which, sometimes damnatory and
sometimes favorable, would come in a half-hallucinatory form as if
they were voices, and fasten on his mind and buffet it between them
like a shuttlecock. Added to this were a fearful melancholy
self-contempt and despair.
  "Nay, thought I, now I grow worse and worse; now I am farther from
conversion than ever I was before. If now I should have burned at
the stake, I could not believe that Christ had love for me; alas, I
could neither hear him, nor see him, nor feel him, nor savor any of
his things. Sometimes I would tell my condition to the people of
God, which, when they heard, they would pity me, and would tell of the
Promises. But they had as good have told me that I must reach the
Sun with my finger as have bidden me receive or rely upon the
Promise [Yet] all this while as to the act of sinning, I never was
more tender than now; I durst not take a pin or stick, though but so
big as a straw, for my conscience now was sore, and would smart at
every touch; I could not tell how to speak my words, for fear I should
misplace them. Oh, how gingerly did I then go, in all I did or said! I
found myself as on a miry bog that shook if I did but stir; and was as
there left both by God and Christ, and the spirit, and all good
  "But my original and inward pollution, that was my plague and my
affliction. By reason of that, I was more loathsome in my own eyes
than was a toad; and I thought I was so in God's eyes too. Sin and
corruption, I said, would as naturally bubble out of my heart as water
would bubble out of a fountain. I could have changed heart with
anybody. I thought none but the Devil himself could equal me for
inward wickedness and pollution of mind. Sure, thought I, I am
forsaken of God; and thus I continued a long while, even for some
years together.
  "And now I was sorry that God had made me a man. The beasts,
birds, fishes, etc., I blessed their condition, for they had not a
sinful nature; they were not obnoxious to the wrath of God; they
were not to go to bell-fire after death. I could therefore have
rejoiced, had my condition been as any of theirs. Now I blessed the
condition of the dog and toad, yea, gladly would I have been in the
condition of the dog or horse, for I knew they had no soul to perish
under the everlasting weight of Hell or Sin, as mine was like to do.
Nay, and though I saw this, felt this, and was broken to pieces with
it, yet that which added to my sorrow was, that I could not find
with all my soul that I did desire deliverance. My heart was at
times exceedingly hard. If I would have given a thousand pounds for
a tear, I could not shed one; no, nor sometimes scarce desire to
shed one.
  "I was both a burthen and a terror to myself; nor did I ever so
know, as now, what it was to be weary of my life, and yet afraid to
die. How gladly would I have been anything but myself! Anything but
a man! and in any condition but my own." *
  * Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners: I have printed a number
of detached passages continuously.
  Poor patient Bunyan, like Tolstoy, saw the light again, but we
must also postpone that part of his story to another hour. In a
later lecture I will also give the end of the experience of Henry
Alline, a devoted evangelist who worked in Nova Scotia a hundred years
ago, and who thus vividly describes the high-water mark of the
religious melancholy which formed its beginning. The type was not
unlike Bunyan's.
  "Everything I saw seemed to be a burden to me; the earth seemed
accursed for my sake: all trees, plants, rocks, bills, and vales
seemed to be dressed in mourning and groaning, under the weight of the
curse, and everything around me seemed to be conspiring my ruin. My
sins seemed to be laid open; so that I thought that every one I saw
knew them, and sometimes I was almost ready to acknowledge many
things, which I thought they knew: yea sometimes it seemed to me as if
every one was pointing me out as the most guilty wretch upon earth.
I had now so great a sense of the vanity and emptiness of all things
here below, that I knew the whole world could not possibly make me
happy, no, nor the whole system of creation. When I waked in the
morning, the first thought would be, Oh, my wretched soul, what
shall I do, where shall I go? And when I laid down, would say, I shall
be perhaps in hell before morning. I would many times look on the
beasts with envy, wishing with all my heart I was in their place, that
I might have no soul to lose; and when I have seen birds flying over
my head, have often thought within myself, Oh, that I could fly away
from my danger and distress! Oh, how happy should I be, if I were in
their place!" *
  * The Life and Journal of the Rev. Mr. Henry Alline, Boston, 1806,
pp. 25, 26. I owe my acquaintance with this book to my colleague,
Dr. Benjamin Rand.
  Envy of the placid beasts seems to be a very widespread affection in

this type of sadness.
  The worst kind of melancholy is that which takes the form of panic
fear. Here is an excellent example, for permission to print which I
have to thank the sufferer. The original is in French, and though
the subject was evidently in a bad nervous condition at the time of
which he writes, his case has otherwise the merit of extreme
simplicity. I translate freely.
  "Whilst in this state of philosophic pessimism and general
depression of spirits about my prospects, I went one evening into a
dressing-room in the twilight to procure some article that was
there; when suddenly there fell upon me without any warning, just as
if it came out of the darkness, a horrible fear of my own existence.
Simultaneously there arose in my mind the image of an epileptic
patient whom I had seen in the asylum, a black-haired youth with
greenish skin, entirely idiotic, who used to sit all day on one of the
benches, or rather shelves against the wall, with his knees drawn up
against his chin, and the coarse gray undershirt, which was his only
garment, drawn over them inclosing his entire figure. He sat there
like a sort of sculptured Egyptian cat or Peruvian mummy, moving
nothing but his black eyes and looking absolutely non-human. This
image and my fear entered into a species of combination with each
other. That shape am I, I felt, potentially. Nothing that I possess
can defend me against that fate, if the hour for it should strike
for me as it struck for him. There was such a horror of him, and
such a perception of my own merely momentary discrepancy from him,
that it was as if something hitherto solid within my breast gave way
entirely, and I became a mass of quivering fear. After this the
universe was changed for me altogether. I awoke morning after
morning with a horrible dread at the pit of my stomach, and with a
sense of the insecurity of life that I never knew before, and that I
have never felt since. * It was like a revelation; and although the
immediate feelings passed away, the experience has made me sympathetic
with the morbid feelings of others ever since. It gradually faded, but
for months I was unable to go out into the dark alone.
  * Compare Bunyan: "There was I struck into a very great trembling,
insomuch that at some times I could, for days together, feel my very
body, as well as my mind, to shake and totter under the sense of the
dreadful judgment of God, that should fall on those that have sinned
that most fearful and unpardonable sin. I felt also such clogging
and beat at my stomach, by reason of this my terror, that I was,
especially at some times, as if my breast-bone would have split
asunder.... Thus did I wind, and twine, and shrink, under the burden
that was upon me; which burden also did so oppress me that I could
neither stand, nor go, nor lie, either at rest or quiet."
  "In general I dreaded to be left alone. I remember wondering how
other people could live, how I myself had ever lived, so unconscious
of that pit of insecurity beneath the surface of life. My mother in
particular, a very cheerful person, seemed to me a perfect paradox
in her unconsciousness of danger, which you may well believe I was
very careful not to disturb by revelations of my own state of mind.
I have always thought that this experience of melancholia of mine
had a religious bearing."
  On asking this correspondent to explain more fully what he meant
by these last words, the answer he wrote was this:-
  "I mean that the fear was so invasive and powerful that if I had not
clung to scripture-texts like 'The eternal God is my refuge,' etc.,
'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden,' etc., 'I am the
resurrection and the life,' etc., I think I should have grown really
insane." *
  * For another case of fear equally sudden, see HENRY JAMES:
Society the Redeemed Form of Man, Boston, 1879, pp. 43 ff.
  There is no need of more examples. The cases we have looked at are
enough. One of them gives us the vanity of mortal things; another
the sense of sin; and the remaining one describes the fear of the
universe; and in one or other of these three ways it always is that
man's original optimism and self-satisfaction get leveled with the
  In none of these cases was there any intellectual insanity or
delusion about matters of fact; but were we disposed to open the
chapter of really insane melancholia, with its hallucinations and
delusions, it would be a worse story still- desperation absolute and
complete, the whole universe coagulating about the sufferer into a
material of overwhelming horror, surrounding him without opening or
end. Not the conception or intellectual perception of evil, but the
grisly blood-freezing heart-palsying sensation of it close upon one,
and no other conception or sensation able to live for a moment in
its presence. How irrelevantly remote seem all our usual refined
optimisms and intellectual and moral consolations in presence of a
need of help like this! Here is the real core of the religious
problem: Help! help! No prophet can claim to bring a final message
unless he says things that will have a sound of reality in the ears of
victims such as these. But the deliverance must come in as strong a
form as the complaint, if it is to take effect; and that seems a
reason why the coarser religions, revivalistic, orgiastic, with
blood and miracles and supernatural operations, may possibly never
be displaced. Some constitutions need them too much.
  Arrived at this point, we can see how great an antagonism may
naturally arise between the healthy-minded way of viewing life and the
way that takes all this experience of evil as something essential.
To this latter way, the morbid-minded way, as we might call it,
healthy-mindedness pure and simple seems unspeakably blind and
shallow. To the healthy-minded way, on the other hand, the way of
the sick soul seems unmanly and diseased. With their grubbing in
rat-holes instead of living in the light; with their manufacture of
fears, and preoccupation with every unwholesome kind of misery,
there is something almost obscene about these children of wrath and
cravers of a second birth. If religious intolerance and hanging and
burning could again become the order of the day, there is little doubt
that, however it may have been in the past, the healthy-minded would
at present show themselves the less indulgent party of the two.
  In our own attitude, not yet abandoned, of impartial onlookers, what
are we to say of this quarrel? It seems to me that we are bound to say
that morbid-mindedness ranges over the wider scale of experience,
and that its survey is the one that overlaps. The method of averting
one's attention from evil, and living simply in the light of good is
splendid as long as it will work. It will work with many persons; it
will work far more generally than most of us are ready to suppose; and
within the sphere of its successful operation there is nothing to be
said against it as a religious solution. But it breaks down impotently
as soon as melancholy comes; and even though one be quite free from
melancholy one's self, there is no doubt that healthy-mindedness is
inadequate as a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which
it refuses positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality;
and they may after all be the best key to life's significance, and
possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth.
  The normal process of life contains moments as bad as any of those
which insane melancholy is filled with, moments in which radical
evil gets its innings and takes its solid turn. The lunatic's
visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact. Our
civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual
existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony. If you
protest, my friend, wait till you arrive there yourself! To believe in
the carnivorous reptiles of geologic times is hard for our
imagination- they seem too much like mere museum specimens. Yet
there is no tooth in any one of those museum-skulls that did not daily
through long years of the foretime hold fast to the body struggling in
despair of some fated living victim. Forms of horror just as
dreadful to their victims, if on a smaller spatial scale, fill the
world about us to-day. Here on our very hearths and in our gardens the
infernal cat plays with the panting mouse, or holds the hot bird
fluttering in her jaws. Crocodiles and rattlesnakes and pythons are at
this moment vessels of life as real as we are; their loathsome
existence fills every minute of every day that drags its length along;
and whenever they or other wild beasts clutch their living prey, the
deadly horror which an agitated melancholiac feels is the literally
right reaction on the situation. *
  * Example: "It was about eleven o'clock at night... but I strolled
on still with the people.... Suddenly upon the left side of our
road, a crackling was heard among the bushes; all of us were
alarmed, and in an instant a tiger, rushing out of the jungle, pounced
upon the one of the party that was foremost, and carried him off in
the twinkling of an eye. The rush of the animal, and the crush of
the poor victim's bones in his mouth, and his last cry of distress,
'Ho hai!' involuntarily reechoed by all of us, was over in three
seconds; and then I know not what happened till I returned to my
senses, when I found myself and companions lying down on the ground as
if prepared to be devoured by our enemy, the sovereign of the
forest. I find my pen incapable of describing the terror of that
dreadful moment. Our limbs stiffened, our power of speech ceased,
and our hearts beat violently, and only a whisper of the same 'Ho
hai!' was heard from us. In this state we crept on all fours for
some distance back, and then ran for life with the speed of an Arab
horse for about half an hour, and fortunately happened to come to a
small village.... After this every one of us was attacked with
fever, attended with shivering, in which deplorable state we
remained till morning."- Autobiography of Lutfullah, a Mohammedan
Gentleman, Leipzig, 1857, p. 112.
  It may indeed be that no religious reconciliation with the
absolute totality of things is possible. Some evils, indeed, are
ministerial to higher forms of good; but it may be that there are
forms of evil so extreme as to enter into no good system whatsoever,
and that, in respect of such evil, dumb submission or neglect to
notice is the only practical resource. This question must confront
us on a later day. But provisionally, and as a mere matter of
program and method, since the evil facts are as genuine parts of
nature as the good ones, the philosophic presumption should be that
they have some rational significance, and that systematic
healthy-mindedness, failing as it does to accord to sorrow, pain,
and death any positive and active attention whatever, is formally less
complete than systems that try at least to include these elements in
their scope.
  The completest religions would therefore seem to be those in which
the pessimistic elements are best developed. Buddhism, of course,
and Christianity are the best known to us of these. They are
essentially religions of deliverance: the man must die to an unreal
life before he can be born into the real life. In my next lecture, I
will try to discuss some of the psychological conditions of this
second birth. Fortunately from now onward we shall have to deal with
more cheerful subjects than those which we have recently been dwelling

                             LECTURE VIII
  THE last lecture was a painful one, dealing as it did with evil as a
pervasive element of the world we live in. At the close of it we
were brought into full view of the contrast between the two ways of
looking at life which are characteristic respectively of what we
called the healthy-minded, who need to be born only once, and of the
sick souls, who must be twice-born in order to be happy. The result is
two different conceptions of the universe of our experience. In the
religion of the once-born the world is a sort of rectilinear or
one-storied affair, whose accounts are kept in one denomination, whose
parts have just the values which naturally they appear to have, and of
which a simple algebraic sum of pluses and minuses will give the total
worth. Happiness and religious peace consist in living on the plus
side of the account. In the religion of the twice-born, on the other
hand, the world is a double-storied mystery. Peace cannot be reached
by the simple addition of pluses and elimination of minuses from life.
Natural good is not simply insufficient in amount and transient, there
lurks a falsity in its very being. Cancelled as it all is by death
if not by earlier enemies, it gives no final balance, and can never be
the thing intended for our lasting worship. It keeps us from our
real good, rather; and renunciation and despair of it are our first
step in the direction of the truth. There are two lives, the natural
and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can
participate in the other.
  In their extreme forms, of pure naturalism and pure salvationism,
the two types are violently contrasted; though here as in most other
current classifications, the radical extremes are somewhat ideal
abstractions, and the concrete human beings whom we oftenest meet
are intermediate varieties and mixtures. Practically, however, you all
recognize the difference: you understand, for example, the disdain
of the methodist convert for the mere sky-blue healthy-minded
moralist; and you likewise enter into the aversion of the latter to
what seems to him the diseased subjectivism of the Methodist, dying to
live, as he calls it, and making of paradox and the inversion of
natural appearances the essence of God's truth. *
  * E.g., "Our young people are diseased with the theological problems
of original sin, origin of evil, predestination, and the like. These
never presented a practical difficulty to any man- never darkened
across any man's road, who did not go out of his way to seek them.
These are the soul's mumps, and measles, and whooping-coughs," etc.
EMERSON: 'Spiritual Laws.'
  The psychological basis of the twice-born character seems to be a
certain discordancy or heterogeneity in the native temperament of
the subject, an incompletely unified moral and intellectual
  "Homo duplex, homo duplex!" writes Alphonse Daudet. "The first
time that I perceived that I was two was at the death of my brother
Henri, when my father cried out so dramatically, 'He is dead, he is
dead!' While my first self wept, my second self thought, 'How truly
given was that cry, how fine it would be at the theatre.' I was then
fourteen years old.
  "This horrible duality has often given me matter for reflection. Oh,
this terrible second me, always seated whilst the other is on foot,
acting, living, suffering, bestirring itself. This second me that I
have never been able to intoxicate, to make shed tears, or put to
sleep. And how it sees into things, and how it mocks!" *
  * Notes sur la Vie, p. 1.
  Recent works on the psychology of character have had much to say
upon this point. * Some persons are born with an inner constitution
which is harmonious and well balanced from the outset. Their
impulses are consistent with one another, their will follows without
trouble the guidance of their intellect, their passions; are not
excessive, and their lives are little haunted by regrets. Others are
oppositely constituted; and are so in degrees which may vary from
something so slight as to result in a merely odd or whimsical
inconsistency, to a discordancy of which the consequences may be
inconvenient in the extreme. Of the more innocent kinds of
heterogeneity I find a good example in Mrs. Annie Besant's
  * See, for example, F. Paulhan, in his book Les Caracteres, 1894,
who contrasts les Equilibres, les Unifies, with les Inquiets, les
Contrariants, les Incoherents, les Emiettes, as so many diverse
psychic types.
  "I have ever been the queerest mixture of weakness and strength, and
have paid heavily for the weakness. As a child I used to suffer
tortures of shyness, and if my shoe-lace was untied would feel
shamefacedly that every eye was fixed on the unlucky string; as a girl
I would shrink away from strangers and think myself unwanted and
unliked, so that I was full of eager gratitude to any one who
noticed me kindly; as the young mistress of a house I was afraid of my
servants, and would let careless work pass rather than bear the pain
of reproving the ill-doer; when I have been lecturing and debating
with no lack of spirit on the platform, I have preferred to go without
what I wanted at the hotel rather than to ring and make the waiter
fetch it. Combative on the platform in defense of any cause I cared
for, I shrink from quarrel or disapproval in the house, and am a
coward at heart in private while a good fighter in public. How often
have I passed unhappy quarters of an hour screwing up my courage to
find fault with some subordinate whom my duty compelled me to reprove,
and how often have I jeered at myself for a fraud as the doughty
platform combatant, when shrinking from blaming some lad or lass for
doing their work badly. An unkind look or word has availed to make
me shrink into myself as a snail into its shell, while, on the
platform, opposition makes me speak my best." *
  * ANNIE BESANT: an Autobiography, p. 82.
  This amount of inconsistency will only count as amiable weakness;
but a stronger degree of heterogeneity may make havoc of the subject's
life. There are persons whose existence is little more than a series
of zig-zags, as now one tendency and now another gets the upper
hand. Their spirit wars with their flesh, they wish for incompatibles,
wayward impulses interrupt their most deliberate plans, and their
lives are one long drama of repentance and of effort to repair
misdemeanors and mistakes.
  Heterogeneous personality has been explained as the result of
inheritance- the traits of character of incompatible and
antagonistic ancestors are supposed to be preserved alongside of
each other. * This explanation may pass for what it is worth- it
certainly needs corroboration. But whatever the cause of heterogeneous
personality may be, we find the extreme examples of it in the
psychopathic temperament, of which I spoke in my first lecture. All
writers about that temperament make the inner heterogeneity
prominent in their descriptions. Frequently, indeed, it is only this
trait that leads us to ascribe that temperament to a man at all. A
'degenere superieur' is simply a man of sensibility in many
directions, who finds more difficulty than is common in keeping his
spiritual house in order and running his furrow straight, because
his feelings and impulses are too keen and too discrepant mutually. In
the haunting and insistent ideas, in the irrational impulses, the
morbid scruples, dreads, and inhibitions which beset the
psychopathic temperament when it is thoroughly pronounced, we have
exquisite examples of heterogeneous personality. Bunyan had an
obsession of the words, "Sell Christ for this, sell him for that, sell
him, sell him!" which would run through his mind a hundred times
together, until one day out of breath with retorting, "I will not, I
will not," he impulsively said, "Let him go if he will," and this loss
of the battle kept him in despair for over a year. The lives of the
saints are full of such blasphemous obsessions, ascribed invariably to
the direct agency of Satan. The phenomenon connects itself with the
life of the subconscious self, so-called, of which we must erelong
speak more directly.
  * SMITH BAKER, in Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, September,
  Now in all of us, however constituted, but to a degree the greater
in proportion as we are intense and sensitive and subject to
diversified temptations, and to the greatest possible degree if we are
decidedly psychopathic, does the normal evolution of character chiefly
consist in the straightening out and unifying of the inner self. The
higher and the lower feelings, the useful and the erring impulses,
begin by being a comparative chaos within us- they must end by forming
a stable system of functions in right subordination. Unhappiness is
apt to characterize the period of order-making and struggle. If the
individual be of tender conscience and religiously quickened, the
unhappiness will take the form of moral remorse and compunction, of
feeling inwardly vile and wrong, and of standing in false relations to
the author of one's being and appointer of one's spiritual fate.
This is the religious melancholy and 'conviction of sin' that have
played so large a part in the history of Protestant Christianity.
The man's interior is a battle-ground for what he feels to be two
deadly hostile selves, one actual, the other ideal. As Victor Hugo
makes his Mahomet say:-
       "Je suis le champ vil des sublimes combats:
        Tantot l'homme d'en haut, et tantot l'homme d'en bas;
        Et le mal dans ma bouche avec le bien alterne,
        Comme dans le desert le sable et la citerne."
  Wrong living, impotent aspirations; "What I would, that do I not;
but what I hate, that do I," as Saint Paul says; self-loathing,
self-despair; an unintelligible and intolerable burden to which one is
mysteriously the heir.
  Let me quote from some typical cases of discordant personality, with
melancholy in the form of self-condemnation and sense of sin. Saint
Augustine's case is a classic example. You all remember his
half-pagan, half-Christian bringing up at Carthage, his emigration
to Rome and Milan, his adoption of Manicheism and subsequent
skepticism, and his restless search for truth and purity of life;
and finally how, distracted by the struggle between the two souls in
his breast, and ashamed of his own weakness of will, when so many
others whom he knew and knew of had thrown off the shackles of
sensuality and dedicated themselves to chastity and the higher life,
he heard a voice in the garden say, "Sume, lege" (take and read),
and opening the Bible at random, saw the text, "not in chambering
and wantonness," etc., which seemed directly sent to his address,
and laid the inner storm to rest forever. * Augustine's
psychological genius has given an account of the trouble of having a
divided self which has never been surpassed.
  * LOUIS GOURDON (Essai sur la Conversion de Saint Augustine,
Paris, Fischbacher, 1900) has shown by an analysis of Augustine's
writings immediately after the date of his conversion (A.D. 386)
that the account he gives in the Confessions is premature. The
crisis in the garden marked a definitive conversion from his former
life, but it was to the neo-platonic spiritualism and only a halfway
stage toward Christianity. The latter he appears not fully and
radically to have embraced until four years more had passed.
  "The new will which I began to have was not yet strong enough to
overcome that other will, strengthened by long indulgence. So these
two wills, one old, one new, one carnal, the other spiritual,
contended with each other and disturbed my soul. I understood by my
own experience what I had read, 'flesh lusteth against spirit, and
spirit against flesh.' It was myself indeed in both the wills, yet
more myself in that which I approved in myself than in that which I
disapproved in myself. Yet it was through myself that habit had
attained so fierce a mastery over me, because I had willingly come
whither I willed not. Still bound to earth, I refused, O God, to fight
on thy side, as much afraid to be freed from all bonds, as I ought
to have feared being trammeled by them.
  "Thus the thoughts by which I meditated upon thee were like the
efforts of one who would awake, but being overpowered with
sleepiness is soon asleep again. Often does a man when heavy
sleepiness is on his limbs defer to shake it off, and though not
approving it, encourage it; even so I was sure it was better to
surrender to thy love than to yield to my own lusts, yet, though the
former course convinced me, the latter pleased and held me bound.
There was naught in me to answer thy call, 'Awake, thou sleeper,'
but only drawling, drowsy words, 'Presently; yes, presently; wait a
little while.' But the 'presently' had no 'present,' and the 'little
while' grew long.... For I was afraid thou wouldst hear me too soon,
and heal me at once of my disease of lust, which I wished to satiate
rather than to see extinguished. With what lashes of words did I not
scourge my own soul. Yet it shrank back; it refused, though it had
no excuse to offer.... I said within myself: 'Come, let it be done
now,' and as I said it, I was on the point of the resolve. I all but
did it, yet I did not do it. And I made another effort, and almost
succeeded, yet I did not reach it, and did not grasp it, hesitating to
die to death, and live to life; and the evil to which I was so
wonted held me more than the better life I had not tried." *
  * Confessions, Book VIII., chaps. v., vii., xi., abridged.
  There could be no more perfect description of the divided will, when
the higher wishes lack just that last acuteness, that touch of
explosive intensity, of dynamogenic quality (to use the slang of the
psychologists), that enables them to burst their shell, and make
irruption efficaciously into life and quell the lower tendencies
forever. In a later lecture we shall have much to say about this
higher excitability.
  I find another good description of the divided will in the
autobiography of Henry Alline, the Nova Scotian evangelist, of whose
melancholy I read a brief account in my last lecture. The poor youth's
sins were, as you will see, of the most harmless order, yet they
interfered with what proved to be his truest vocation, so they gave
him great distress.
  "I was now very moral in my life, but found no rest of conscience. I
now began to be esteemed in young company, who knew nothing of my mind
all this while, and their esteem began to be a snare to my soul, for I
soon began to be fond of carnal mirth, though I still flattered myself
that if I did not get drunk, nor curse, nor swear, there would be no
sin in frolicking and carnal mirth, and I thought God would indulge
young people with some (what I called simple or civil) recreation. I
still kept a round of duties, and would not suffer myself to run
into any open vices, and so got along very well in time of health
and prosperity, but when I was distressed or threatened by sickness,
death, or heavy storms of thunder, my religion would not do, and I
found there was something wanting, and would begin to repent my
going so much to frolics, but when the distress was over, the devil
and my own wicked heart, with the solicitations of my associates,
and my fondness for young company, were such strong allurements, I
would again give way, and thus I got to be very wild and rude, at
the same time kept up my rounds of secret prayer and reading; but God,
not willing I should destroy myself, still followed me with his calls,
and moved with such power upon my conscience, that I could not satisfy
myself with my diversions, and in the midst of my mirth sometimes
would have such a sense of my lost and undone condition, that I
would wish myself from the company, and after it was over, when I went
home, would make many promises that I would attend no more on these
frolics, and would beg forgiveness for hours and hours; but when I
came to have the temptation again, I would give way: no sooner would I
hear the music and drink a glass of wine, but I would find my mind
elevated and soon proceed to any sort of merriment or diversion,
that I thought was not debauched or openly vicious; but when I
returned from my carnal mirth I felt as guilty as ever, and could
sometimes not close my eyes for some hours after I had gone to my bed.
I was one of the most unhappy creatures on earth.
  "Sometimes I would leave the company (often speaking to the
fiddler to cease from playing, as if I was tired), and go out and walk
about crying and praying, as if my very heart would break, and
beseeching God that he would not cut me off, nor give me up to
hardness of heart. Oh, what unhappy hours and nights I thus wore away!
When I met sometimes with merry companions, and my heart was ready
to sink, I would labor to put on as cheerful a countenance as
possible, that they might not distrust anything, and sometimes would
begin some discourse with young men or young women on purpose, or
propose a merry song, lest the distress of my soul would be
discovered, or mistrusted, when at the same time I would then rather
have been in a wilderness in exile, than with them or any of their
pleasures or enjoyments. Thus for many months when I was in company, I
would act the hypocrite and feign a merry heart, but at the same
time would endeavor as much as I could to shun their company, oh
wretched and unhappy mortal that I was! Everything I did, and wherever
I went, I was still in a storm, and yet I continued to be the chief
contriver and ring-leader of the frolics for many months after; though
it was a toil and torment to attend them; but the devil and my own
wicked heart drove me about like a slave, telling me that I must do
this and do that, and bear this and bear that, and turn here and
turn there, to keep my credit up, and retain the esteem of my
associates: and all this while I continued as strict as possible in my
duties, and left no stone unturned to pacify my conscience, watching
even against my thoughts, and praying continually wherever I went: for
I did not think there was any sin in my conduct, when I was among
carnal company, because I did not take any satisfaction there, but
only followed it, I thought, for sufficient reasons.
  "But still, all that I did or could do, conscience would roar
night and day."
  Saint Augustine and Alline both emerged into the smooth waters of
inner unity and peace, and I shall next ask you to consider more
closely some of the peculiarities of the process of unification,
when it occurs. It may come gradually, or it may occur abruptly; it
may come through altered feelings, or through altered powers of
action; or it may come through new intellectual insights, or through
experiences which we shall later have to designate as 'mystical.'
However it come, it brings a characteristic sort of relief; and
never such extreme relief as when it is cast into the religious mould.
Happiness! happiness! religion is only one of the ways in which men
gain that gift. Easily, permanently, and successfully, it often
transforms the most intolerable misery into the profoundest and most
enduring happiness.
  But to find religion is only one out of many ways of reaching unity;
and the process of remedying inner incompleteness and reducing inner
discord is a general psychological process, which may take place
with any sort of mental material, and need not necessarily assume
the religious form. In judging of the religious types of
regeneration which we are about to study, it is important to recognize
that they are only one species of a genus that contains other types as
well. For example, the new birth may be away from religion into
incredulity; or it may be from moral scrupulosity into freedom and
license; or it may be produced by the irruption into the
individual's life of some new stimulus or passion, such as love,
ambition, cupidity, revenge, or patriotic devotion. In all these
instances we have precisely the same psychological form of event,- a
firmness, stability, and equilibrium succeeding a period of storm
and stress and inconsistency. In these non-religious cases the new man
may also be born either gradually or suddenly.
  The French philosopher Jouffroy has left an eloquent memorial of his
own 'counter-conversion,' as the transition from orthodoxy to
infidelity has been well styled by Mr. Starbuck. Jouffroy's doubts had
long harassed him; but he dates his final crisis from a certain
night when his disbelief grew fixed and stable, and where the
immediate result was sadness at the illusions he had lost.
  "I shall never forget that night of December," writes Jouffroy,
"in which the veil that concealed from me my own incredulity was torn.
I hear again my steps in that narrow naked chamber where long after
the hour of sleep had come I had the habit of walking up and down. I
see again that moon, half-veiled by clouds, which now and again
illuminated the frigid window-panes. The hours of the night flowed
on and I did not note their passage. Anxiously I followed my thoughts,
as from layer to layer they descended towards the foundation of my
consciousness, and, scattering one by one all the illusions which
until then had screened its windings from my view, made them every
moment more clearly visible.
  "Vainly I clung to these last beliefs as a shipwrecked sailor clings
to the fragments of his vessel; vainly, frightened at the unknown void
in which I was about to float, I turned with them towards my
childhood, my family, my country, all that was dear and sacred to
me: the inflexible current of my thought was too strong,- parents,
family, memory, beliefs, it forced me to let go of everything. The
investigation went on more obstinate and more severe as it drew near
its term, and did not stop until the end was reached. I knew then that
in the depth of my mind nothing was left that stood erect.
  "This moment was a frightful one; and when towards morning I threw
myself exhausted on my bed, I seemed to feel my earlier life, so
smiling and so full, go out like a fire, and before me another life
opened, sombre and unpeopled, where in future I must live alone, alone
with my fatal thought which had exiled me thither, and which I was
tempted to curse. The days which followed this discovery were the
saddest of my life." *
  * TH. JOUFFROY: Nouveaux Melanges philosophiques, 2me edition, p.
83. I add two other cases of counter-conversion dating from a
certain moment. The first is from Professor Starbuck's manuscript
collection, and the narrator is a woman.
  "Away down in the bottom of my heart, I believe I was always more or
less skeptical about 'God;' skepticism grew as an undercurrent, all
through my early youth, but it was controlled and covered by the

emotional elements in my religious growth. When I was sixteen I joined
the church and was asked if I loved God. I replied 'Yes,' as was
customary and expected. But instantly with a flash something spoke
within me, 'No, you do not.' I was haunted for a long time with
shame and remorse for my falsehood and for my wickedness in not loving
God, mingled with fear that there might be an avenging God who would
punish me in some terrible way.... At nineteen, I had an attack of
tonsilitis. Before I had quite recovered, I heard told a story of a
brute who had kicked his wife downstairs, and then continued the
operation until she became insensible. I felt the horror of the
thing keenly. Instantly this thought flashed through my mind: 'I
have no use for a God who permits such things.' This experience was
followed by months of stoical indifference to the God of my previous
life, mingled with feelings of positive dislike and a somewhat proud
defiance of him. I still thought there might be a God. If so he
would probably damn me, but I should have to stand it. I felt very
little fear and no desire to propitiate him. I have never had any
personal relation with him since this painful experience."
  The second case exemplifies how small an additional stimulus will
overthrow the mind into a new state of equilibrium when the process of
preparation and incubation has proceeded far enough. It is like the
proverbial last straw added to the camel's burden, or that touch of
a needle which makes the salt in a supersaturated fluid suddenly begin
to crystallize out.
  Tolstoy writes: "S., a frank and intelligent man, told me as follows
how he ceased to believe:-
  "He was twenty-six years old when one day on a hunting expedition,
the time for sleep having come, he set himself to pray according to
the custom he had held from childhood.
  "His brother, who was hunting with him, lay upon the hay and
looked at him. When S. had finished his prayer and was turning to
sleep, the brother said, 'Do you still keep up that thing?' Nothing
more was said. But since that day, now more than thirty years ago,
S. has never prayed again; he never takes communion, and does not go
to church. All this, not because he became acquainted with convictions
of his brother which he then and there adopted; not because he made
any new resolution in his soul, but merely because the words spoken by
his brother were like the light push of a finger against a leaning
wall already about to tumble by its own weight. These words but showed
him that the place wherein he supposed religion dwelt in him had
long been empty, and that the sentences he uttered, the crosses and
bows which he made during his prayer, were actions with no inner
sense. Having once seized their absurdity, he could no longer keep
them up." Ma Confession, p. 8.
  In John Foster's Essay on Decision of Character, there is an account
of a case of sudden conversion to avarice, which is illustrative
enough to quote:-
  A young man, it appears, "wasted, in two or three years, a large
patrimony in profligate revels with a number of worthless associates
who called themselves his friends, and who, when his last means were
exhausted, treated him of course with neglect or contempt. Reduced
to absolute want, he one day went out of the house with an intention
to put an end to his life; but wandering awhile almost
unconsciously, he came to the brow of an eminence which overlooked
what were lately his estates. Here he sat down, and remained fixed
in thought a number of hours, at the end of which he sprang from the
ground with a vehement, exulting emotion. He had formed his
resolution, which was, that all these estates should be his again;
he had formed his plan, too, which he instantly began to execute. He
walked hastily forward, determined to seize the first opportunity,
of however humble a kind, to gain any money, though it were ever so
despicable a trifle, and resolved absolutely not to spend, if he could
help it, a farthing of whatever he might obtain. The first thing
that drew his attention was a heap of coals shot out of carts on the
pavement before a house. He offered himself to shovel or wheel them
into the place where they were to be laid, and was employed. He
received a few pence for the labor; and then, in pursuance of the
saving part of his plan, requested some small gratuity of meat and
drink, which was given him. He then looked out for the next thing that
might chance; and went, with indefatigable industry, through a
succession of servile employments in different places, of longer and
shorter duration, still scrupulous in avoiding, as far as possible,
the expense of a penny. He promptly seized every opportunity which
could advance his design, without regarding the meanness of occupation
or appearance. By this method he had gained, after a considerable
time, money enough to purchase in order to sell again a few cattle, of
which he had taken pains to understand the value. He speedily but
cautiously turned his first gains into second advantages; retained
without a single deviation his extreme parsimony; and thus advanced by
degrees into larger transactions and incipient wealth. I did not hear,
or have forgotten, the continued course of his life, but the final
result was, that he more than recovered his lost possessions, and died
an inveterate miser, worth L60,000 (pounds)." *
  * Op. cit., Letter III., abridged.
  I subjoin an additional document which has come into my
possession, and which represents in a vivid way what is probably a
very frequent sort of conversion, if the opposite of 'falling in
love,' falling out of love, may be so termed. Falling in love also
conforms frequently to this type, a latent process of unconscious
preparation often preceding a sudden awakening to the fact that the
mischief is irretrievably done. The free and easy tone in this
narrative gives it a sincerity that speaks for itself.
  "For two years of this time I went through a very bad experience,
which almost drove me mad. I had fallen violently in love with a
girl who, young as she was, had a spirit of coquetry like a cat. As
I look back on her now, I hate her, and wonder how I could ever have
fallen so low as to be worked upon to such an extent by her
attractions. Nevertheless, I fell into a regular fever, could think of
nothing else; whenever I was alone, I pictured her attractions, and
spent most of the time when I should have been working, in recalling
our previous interviews, and imagining future conversations. She was
very pretty, good humored, and jolly to the last degree, and intensely
pleased with my admiration. Would give me no decided answer yes or no,
and the queer thing about it was that whilst pursuing her for her
hand, I secretly knew all along that she was unfit to be a wife for
me, and that she never would say yes. Although for a year we took
our meals at the same boarding-house, so that I saw her continually
and familiarly, our closer relations had to be largely on the sly, and
this fact, together with my jealousy of another one of her male
admirers, and my own conscience despising me for my uncontrollable
weakness, made me so nervous and sleepless that I really thought I
should become insane. I understand well those young men murdering
their sweethearts, which appear so often in the papers. Nevertheless I
did love her passionately, and in some ways she did deserve it.
  "The queer thing was the sudden and unexpected way in which it all
stopped. I was going to my work after breakfast one morning,
thinking as usual of her and of my misery, when, just as if some
outside power laid hold of me, I found myself turning round and almost
running to my room, where I immediately got out all the relics of
her which I possessed, including some hair, all her notes and letters,
and ambrotypes on glass. The former I made a fire of, the latter I
actually crushed beneath my heel, in a sort of fierce joy of revenge
and punishment. I now loathed and despised her altogether, and as
for myself I felt as if a load of disease had suddenly been removed
from me. That was the end. I never spoke to her or wrote to her
again in all the subsequent years, and I have never had a single
moment of loving thought towards one who for so many months entirely
filled my heart. In fact, I have always rather hated her memory,
though now I can see that I had gone unnecessarily far in that
direction. At any rate, from that happy morning onward I regained
possession of my own proper soul, and have never since fallen into any
similar trap.
  This seems to me an unusually clear example of two different
levels of personality, inconsistent in their dictates, yet so well
balanced against each other as for a long time to fill the life with
discord and dissatisfaction. At last, not gradually, but in a sudden
crisis, the unstable equilibrium is resolved, and this happens so
unexpectedly that it is as if, to use the writer's words, "some
outside power laid hold."
  Professor Starbuck gives an analogous case, and a converse case of
hatred suddenly turning into love, in his Psychology of Religion, p.
141. Compare the other highly curious instances which he gives on
pp. 137-144, of sudden non-religious alterations of habit or
character. He seems right in conceiving all such sudden changes as
results of special cerebral functions unconsciously developing until
they are ready to play a controlling part, when they make irruption
into the conscious life. When we treat of sudden 'conversion,' I shall
make as much use as I can of this hypothesis of subconscious
  Let me turn now to the kind of case, the religious case, namely,
that immediately concerns us. Here is one of the simplest possible
type, an account of the conversion to the systematic religion of
healthy-mindedness of a man who must already have been naturally of
the healthy-minded type. It shows how, when the fruit is ripe, a touch
will make it fall.
  Mr. Horace Fletcher, in his little book called Menticulture, relates
that a friend with whom he was talking of the self-control attained by
the Japanese through their practice of the Buddhist discipline said:-
  "'You must first get rid of anger and worry.' 'But,' said I, 'is
that possible?' 'Yes,' replied he; 'it is possible to the Japanese,
and ought to be possible to us.'
  "On my way back I could think of nothing else but the words 'get
rid, get rid'; and the idea must have continued to possess me during
my sleeping hours, for the first consciousness in the morning
brought back the same thought, with the revelation of a discovery,
which framed itself into the reasoning, 'If it is possible to get
rid of anger and worry, why is it necessary to have them at all?' I
felt the strength of the argument, and at once accepted the reasoning.
The baby had discovered that it could walk. It would scorn to creep
any longer.
  "From the instant I realized that these cancer spots of worry and
anger were removable, they left me. With the discovery of their
weakness they were exorcised. From that time life has had an
entirely different aspect.
  "Although from that moment the possibility and desirability of
freedom from the depressing passions has been a reality to me, it took
me some months to feel absolute security in my new position; but, as
the usual occasions for worry and anger have presented themselves over
and over again, and I have been unable to feel them in the slightest
degree, I no longer dread or guard against them, and I am amazed at my
increased energy and vigor of mind; at my strength to meet
situations of all kinds, and at my disposition to love and
appreciate everything.
  "I have had occasion to travel more than ten thousand miles by
rail since that morning. The same Pullman porter, conductor,
hotel-waiter, peddler, book-agent, cabman, and others who were
formerly a source of annoyance and irritation have been met, but I
am not conscious of a single incivility. All at once the whole world
has turned good to me. I have become, as it were, sensitive only to
the rays of good.
  "I could recount many experiences which prove a brand-new
condition of mind, but one will be sufficient. Without the slightest
feeling of annoyance or impatience, I have seen a train that I had
planned to take with a good deal of interested and pleasurable
anticipation move out of the station without me, because my baggage
did not arrive. The porter from the hotel came running and panting
into the station just as the train pulled out of sight. When he saw
me, he looked as if he feared a scolding, and began to tell of being
blocked in a crowded street and unable to get out. When he had
finished, I said to him: 'It does n't matter at all, you could n't
help it, so we will try again to-morrow. Here is your fee, I am
sorry you had all this trouble in earning it.' The look of surprise
that came over his face was so filled with pleasure that I was
repaid on the spot for the delay in my departure. Next day he would
not accept a cent for the service, and he and I are friends for life.
  "During the first weeks of my experience I was on guard only against
worry and anger; but, in the mean time, having noticed the absence
of the other depressing and dwarfing passions, I began to trace a
relationship, until I was convinced that they are all growths from the
two roots I have specified. I have felt the freedom now for so long
a time that I am sure of my relation toward it; and I could no more
harbor any of the thieving and depressing influences that once I
nursed as a heritage of humanity than a fop would voluntarily wallow
in a filthy gutter.
  "There is no doubt in my mind that pure Christianity and pure
Buddhism, and the Mental Sciences and all Religions, fundamentally
teach what has been a discovery to me; but none of them have presented
it in the light of a simple and easy process of elimination. At one
time I wondered if the elimination would not yield to indifference and
sloth. In my experience, the contrary is the result. I feel such an
increased desire to do something useful that it seems as if I were a
boy again and the energy for play had returned. I could fight as
readily as (and better than) ever, if there were occasion for it. It

does not make one a coward. It can't, since fear is one of the
things eliminated. I notice the absence of timidity in the presence of
any audience. When a boy, I was standing under a tree which was struck
by lightning, and received a shock from the effects of which I never
knew exemption until I had dissolved partnership with worry. Since
then, lightning and thunder have been encountered under conditions
which would formerly have caused great depression and discomfort,
without [my] experiencing a trace of either. Surprise is also
greatly modified, and one is less liable to become startled by
unexpected sights or noises.
  "As far as I am individually concerned, I am not bothering myself at
present as to what the results of this emancipated condition may be. I
have no doubt that the perfect health aimed at by Christian Science
may be one of the possibilities, for I note a marked improvement in
the way my stomach does its duty in assimilating the food I give it to
handle, and I am sure it works better to the sound of a song than
under the friction of a frown. Neither am I wasting any of this
precious time formulating an idea of a future existence or a future
Heaven. The Heaven that I have within myself is as attractive as any
that has been promised or that I can imagine; and I am willing to
let the growth lead where it will, as long as the anger and their
brood have no part in misguiding it." *
  * H. FLETCHER: Menticulture, or the A-B-C of True Living, New York
and Chicago, 1899, pp. 26-36, abridged.
  The older medicine used to speak of two ways, lysis and crisis,
one gradual, the other abrupt, in which one might recover from a
bodily disease. In the spiritual realm there are also two ways, one
gradual, the other sudden, in which inner unification may occur.
Tolstoy and Bunyan may again serve us as examples, as it happens, of
the gradual way, though it must be confessed at the outset that it
is hard to follow these windings of the hearts of others, and one
feels that their words do not reveal their total secret.
  Howe'er this be, Tolstoy, pursuing his unending questioning,
seemed to come to one insight after another. First he perceived that
his conviction that life was meaningless took only this finite life
into account. He was looking for the value of one finite term in
that of another, and the whole result could only be one of those
indeterminate equations in mathematics which end with 0=0. Yet this is
as far as the reasoning intellect by itself can go, unless
irrational sentiment or faith brings in the infinite. Believe in the
infinite as common people do, and life grows possible again.
  "Since mankind has existed, wherever life has been, there also has
been the faith that gave the possibility of living. Faith is the sense
of life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroy himself,
but continues to live on. It is the force whereby we live. If Man
did not believe that he must live for something, he would not live
at all. The idea of an infinite God, of the divinity of the soul, of
the union of men's actions with God- these are ideas elaborated in the
infinite secret depths of human thought. They are ideas without
which there would be no life, without which I myself," said Tolstoy,
"would not exist. I began to see that I had no right to rely on my
individual reasoning and neglect these answers given by faith, for
they are the only answers to the question."
  Yet how believe as the common people believe, steeped as they are in
grossest superstition? It is impossible,- but yet their life! their
life! It is normal. It is happy! It is an answer to the question!
  Little by little, Tolstoy came to the settled conviction- he says it
took him two years to arrive there- that his trouble had not been with
life in general, not with the common life of common men, but with
the life of the upper, intellectual, artistic classes, the life
which he had personally always led, the cerebral life, the life of
conventionality, artificiality, and personal ambition. He had been
living wrongly and must change. To work for animal needs, to abjure
lies and vanities, to relieve common wants, to be simple, to believe
in God, therein lay happiness again.
  "I remember," he says, "one day in early spring, I was alone in
the forest, lending my ear to its mysterious noises. I listened,.
and my thought went back to what for these three years it always was
busy with- the quest of God. But the idea of him, I said, how did I
ever come by the idea?
  "And again there arose in me, with this thought, glad aspirations
towards life. Everything in me awoke and received a meaning.... Why do
I look farther? a voice within me asked. He is there: he, without whom
one cannot live. To acknowledge God and to live are one and the same
thing. God is what life is. Well, then I live, seek God, and there
will be no life without him....
  "After this, things cleared up within me and about me better than
ever, and the light has never wholly died away. I was saved from
suicide. Just how or when the change took place I cannot tell. But
as insensibly and gradually as the force of life had been annulled
within me, and I had reached my moral death-bed, just as gradually and
imperceptibly did the energy of life come back. And what was strange
was that this energy that came back was nothing new. It was my ancient
juvenile force of faith, the belief that the sole purpose of my life
was to be better. I gave up the life of the conventional world,
recognizing it to be no life, but a parody on life, which its
superfluities simply keep us from comprehending,"- and Tolstoy
thereupon embraced the life of the peasants, and has felt right and
happy, or at least relatively so, ever since. *
  * I have considerably abridged Tolstoy's words in my translation.
  As I interpret his melancholy, then, it was not merely an accidental
vitiation of his humors, though it was doubtless also that. It was
logically called for by the clash between his inner character and
his outer activities and aims. Although a literary artist, Tolstoy was
one of those primitive oaks of men to whom the superfluities and
insincerities, the cupidities, complications, and cruelties of our
polite civilization are profoundly unsatisfying, and for whom the
eternal veracities lie with more natural and animal things. His crisis
was the getting of his soul in order, the discovery of its genuine
habitat and vocation, the escape from falsehoods into what for him
were ways of truth. It was a case of heterogeneous personality tardily
and slowly finding its unity and level. And though not many of us
can imitate Tolstoy, not having enough, perhaps, of the aboriginal
human marrow in our bones, most of us may at least feel as if it might
be better for us if we could.
  Bunyan's recovery seems to have been even slower. For years together
he was alternately haunted with texts of Scripture, now up and now
down, but at last with an ever growing relief in his salvation through
the blood of Christ.
  "My peace would be in and out twenty times a day; comfort now and
trouble presently; peace now and before I could go a furlong as full
of guilt and fear as ever heart could hold." When a good text comes
home to him, "This," he writes, "gave me good encouragement for the
space of two or three hours"; or "This was a good day to me, I hope
I shall not forget it"; or "The glory of these words was then so
weighty on me that I was ready to swoon as I sat; yet not with grief
and trouble, but with solid joy and peace"; or "This made a strange
seizure on my spirit; it brought light with it, and commanded a
silence in my heart of all those tumultuous thoughts that before did
use, like masterless hell-hounds, to roar and bellow and make a
hideous noise within me. It showed me that Jesus Christ had not
quite forsaken and cast off my Soul."
  Such periods accumulate until he can write: "And now remained only
the hinder part of the tempest, for the thunder was gone beyond me,
only some drops would still remain, that now and then would fall
upon me";- and at last: "Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed;
I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled
away; so that from that time, those dreadful Scriptures of God left
off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and
love of God.... Now could I see myself in Heaven and Earth at once; in
Heaven by my Christ, by my Head, by my Righteousness and Life,
though on Earth by my body or person.... Christ was a precious
Christ to my soul that night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy and
peace and triumph through Christ."
  Bunyan became a minister of the gospel, and in spite of his neurotic
constitution, and of the twelve years he lay in prison for his
non-conformity, his life was turned to active use. He was a peacemaker
and doer of good, and the immortal Allegory which he wrote has brought
the very spirit of religious patience home to English hearts.
  But neither Bunyan nor Tolstoy could become what we have called
healthy-minded. They had drunk too deeply of the cup of bitterness
ever to forget its taste, and their redemption is into a universe
two stories deep. Each of them realized a good which broke the
effective edge of his sadness; yet the sadness was preserved as a
minor ingredient in the heart of the faith by which it was overcome.
The fact of interest for us is that as a matter of fact they could and
did find something welling up in the inner reaches of their
consciousness, by which such extreme sadness could be overcome.
Tolstoy does well to talk of it as that by which men live; for that is
exactly what it is, a stimulus, an excitement, a faith, a force that
re-infuses the positive willingness to live, even in full presence
of the evil perceptions that erewhile made life seem unbearable. For
Tolstoy's perceptions of evil appear within their sphere to have
remained unmodified. His later works show him implacable to the
whole system of official values: the ignobility of fashionable life;
the infamies of empire; the spuriousness of the church, the vain
conceit of the professions; the meannesses and cruelties that go
with great success; and every other pompous crime and lying
institution of this world. To all patience with such things his
experience has been for him a permanent ministry of death.
  Bunyan also leaves this world to the enemy.
  "I must first pass a sentence of death," he says, "upon everything
that can properly be called a thing of this life, even to reckon
myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyments, and all, as
dead to me, and myself as dead to them; to trust in God through
Christ, as touching the world to come; and as touching this world,
to count the grave my house, to make my bed in darkness, and to say to
corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother
and sister.... The parting with my wife and my poor children hath
often been to me as the pulling of my flesh from my bones,
especially my poor blind child who lay nearer my heart than all I
had besides. Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to
have for thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten, must beg,
suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I
cannot now endure that the wind should blow upon thee. But yet I
must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave
you." *
  * In my quotations from Bunyan I have omitted certain intervening
portions of the text.
  The 'hue of resolution' is there, but the full flood of ecstatic
liberation seems never to have poured over poor John Bunyan's soul.
  These examples may suffice to acquaint us in a general way with
the phenomenon technically called 'Conversion.' In the next lecture
I shall invite you to study its peculiarities and concomitants in some

                              LECTURE IX
  TO be converted, to be regenerated, to receive grace, to
experience religion, to gain an assurance, are so many phrases which
denote the process, gradual or sudden, by which a self hitherto
divided, and consciously wrong inferior and unhappy, becomes unified
and consciously right superior and happy, in consequence of its firmer
hold upon religious realities. This at least is what conversion
signifies in general terms, whether or not we believe that a direct
divine operation is needed to bring such a moral change about.
  Before entering upon a minuter study of the process, let me
enliven our understanding of the definition by a concrete example. I
choose the quaint case of an unlettered man, Stephen H. Bradley, whose
experience is related in a scarce American pamphlet. *
  * A sketch of the life of Stephen H. Bradley, from the age of five
to twenty-four years, including his remarkable experience of the power
of the Holy Spirit on the second evening of November, 1829. Madison,
Connecticut, 1830.
  I select this case because it shows how in these inner alterations
one may find one unsuspected depth below another, as if the
possibilities of character lay disposed in a series of layers or
shells, of whose existence we have no premonitory knowledge.
  Bradley thought that he had been already fully converted at the
age of fourteen.
  "I thought I saw the Saviour, by faith, in human shape, for about
one second in the room, with arms extended, appearing to say to me,
Come. The next day I rejoiced with trembling; soon after, my happiness
was so great that I said that I wanted to die; this world had no place
in my affections, as I knew of, and every day appeared as solemn to me
as the Sabbath. I had an ardent desire that all mankind might feel
as I did; I wanted to have them all love God supremely. Previous to
this time I was very selfish and self-righteous; but now I desired the
welfare of all mankind, and could with a feeling heart forgive my
worst enemies, and I felt as if I should be willing to bear the scoffs
and sneers of any person, and suffer anything for His sake, if I could
be the means in the hands of God, of the conversion of one soul."
  Nine years later, in 1829, Mr. Bradley heard of a revival of
religion that had began in his neighborhood. "Many of the young
converts," he says, "would come to me when in meeting and ask me if
I had religion, and my reply generally was, I hope I have. This did
not appear to satisfy them; they said they knew they had it. I
requested them to pray for me, thinking with myself, that if I had not
got religion now, after so long a time professing to be a Christian,
that it was time I had, and hoped their prayers would be answered in
my behalf.
  "One Sabbath, I went to hear the Methodist at the Academy. He
spoke of the ushering in of the day of general judgment; and he set it
forth in such a solemn and terrible manner as I never heard before.
The scene of that day appeared to be taking place, and so awakened
were all the powers of my mind that, like Felix, I trembled
involuntarily on the bench where I was sitting, though I felt
nothing at heart. The next day evening I went to hear him again. He
took his text from Revelation: 'And I saw the dead, small and great,
stand before God.' And he represented the terrors of that day in
such a manner that it appeared as if it would melt the heart of stone.
When he finished his discourse, an old gentleman turned to me and
said, 'This is what I call preaching.' I thought the same; but my
feelings were still unmoved by what he said, and I did not enjoy
religion, but I believe he did.
  "I will now relate my experience of the power of the Holy Spirit
which took place on the same night. Had any person told me previous to
this that I could have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in the
manner which I did, I could not have believed it, and should have
thought the person deluded that told me so. I went directly home after
the meeting, and when I got home I wondered what made me feel so
stupid. I retired to rest soon after I got home, and felt
indifferent to the things of religion until I began to be exercised by
the Holy Spirit, which began in about five minutes after, in the
following manner:-
  "At first, I began to feel my heart beat very quick all on a sudden,
which made me at first think that perhaps something is going to ail
me, though I was not alarmed, for I felt no pain. My heart increased
in its beating, which soon convinced me that it was the Holy Spirit
from the effect it had on me. I began to feel exceedingly happy and
humble, and such a sense of unworthiness as I never felt before. I
could not very well help speaking out, which I did, and said, Lord,
I do not deserve this happiness, or words to that effect, while
there was a stream (resembling air in feeling) came into my mouth
and heart in a more sensible manner than that of drinking anything,
which continued, as near as I could judge, five minutes or more, which
appeared to be the cause of such a palpitation of my heart. It took
complete possession of my soul, and I am certain that I desired the
Lord, while in the midst of it, not to give me any more happiness, for
it seemed as if I could not contain what I had got. My heart seemed as
if it would burst but it did not stop until I felt as if I was
unutterably full of the love and grace of God. In the mean time
while thus exercised, a thought arose in my mind, what can it mean?
and all at once, as if to answer it, my memory became exceedingly
clear, and it appeared to me just as if the New Testament was placed
open before me, eighth chapter of Romans, and as light as if some
candle lighted was held for me to read the 26th and 27th verses of
that chapter, and I read these words: 'The Spirit helpeth our
infirmities with groanings which cannot be uttered.' And all the
time that my heart was a-beating, it made me groan like a person in
distress, which was not very easy to stop, though I was in no pain
at all, and my brother being in bed in another room came and opened
the door, and asked me if I had got the toothache. I told him no,
and that he might get to sleep. I tried to stop. I felt unwilling to
go to sleep myself, I was so happy, fearing I should loose it-
thinking within myself
                     'My willing soul would stay
                        In such a frame as this.'
  And while I lay reflecting, after my heart stopped beating,
feeling as if my soul was full of the Holy Spirit, I thought that
perhaps there might be angels hovering round my bed. I felt just as if
I wanted to converse with them, and finally I spoke, saying, 'O ye
affectionate angels! how is it that ye can take so much interest in
our welfare, and we take so little interest in our own.' After this,
with difficulty I got to sleep; and when I awoke in the morning my
first thoughts were: What has become of my happiness? and, feeling a
degree of it in my heart, I asked for more, which was given to me as
quick as thought. I then got up to dress myself, and found to my
surprise that I could but just stand. It appeared to me as if it was a
little heaven upon earth. My soul felt as completely raised above
the fears of death as of going to sleep; and like a bird in a cage,
I had a desire, if it was the will of God, to get released from my
body and to dwell with Christ, though willing to live to do good to
others, and to warn sinners to repent. I went downstairs feeling as
solemn as if I had lost all my friends, and thinking with myself, that
I would not let my parents know it until I had first looked into the
Testament. I went directly to the shelf and looked into it, at the
eighth chapter of Romans, and every verse seemed to almost speak and
to confirm it to be truly the Word of God, and as if my feelings
corresponded with the meaning of the word. I then told my parents of
it, and told them that I thought that they must see that when I spoke,
that it was not my own voice, for it appeared so to me. My speech
seemed entirely under the control of the Spirit within me; I do not
mean that the words which I spoke were not my own, for they were. I
thought that I was influenced similar to the Apostles on the day of
Pentecost (with the exception of having power to give it to others,
and doing what they did). After breakfast I went round to converse
with my neighbors on religion, which I could not have been hired to
have done before this, and at their request I prayed with them, though
I had never prayed in public before.
  "I now feel as if I had discharged my duty by telling the truth, and
hope by the blessing of God, it may do some good to all who shall read
it. He has fulfilled his promise in sending the Holy Spirit down
into our hearts, or mine at least, and I now defy all the Deists and
Atheists in the world to shake my faith in Christ."
  So much for Mr. Bradley and his conversion, of the effect of which
upon his later life we gain no information. Now for a minuter survey
of the constituent elements of the conversion process.
  If you open the chapter on Association, of any treatise on
Psychology, you will read that a man's ideas, aims, and objects form
diverse internal groups and systems, relatively independent of one
another. Each 'aim' which he follows awakens a certain specific kind
of interested excitement, and gathers a certain group of ideas
together in subordination to it as its associates; and if the aims and
excitements are distinct in kind, their groups of ideas may have
little in common. When one group is present and engrosses the
interest, all the ideas connected with other groups may be excluded
from the mental field. The President of the United States when with
paddle, gun, and fishing-rod, he goes camping in the wilderness for
a vacation, changes his system of ideas from top to bottom. The
presidential anxieties have lapsed into the background entirely; the
official habits are replaced by the habits of a son of nature, and
those who knew the man only as the strenuous magistrate would not
'know him for the same person' if they saw him as the camper.
  If now he should never go back, and never again suffer political
interests to gain dominion over him, he would be for practical intents
and purposes a permanently transformed being. Our ordinary alterations
of character, as we pass from one of our aims to another, are not
commonly called transformations, because each of them is so rapidly
succeeded by another in the reverse direction; but whenever one aim
grows so stable as to expel definitively its previous rivals from
the individual's life, we tend to speak of the phenomenon, and perhaps
to wonder at it, as a 'transformation.'
  These alternations are the completest of the ways in which a self
may be divided. A less complete way is the simultaneous coexistence of
two or more different groups of aims, of which one practically holds
the right of way and instigates activity, whilst the others are only
pious wishes, and never practically come to anything. Saint
Augustine's aspirations to a purer life, in our last lecture, were for
a while an example. Another would be the President in his full pride
of office, wondering whether it were not all vanity, and whether the
life of a wood-chopper were not the wholesomer destiny. Such
fleeting aspirations are mere velleitates, whimsies. They exist on the
remoter outskirts of the mind, and the real self of the man, the
centre of his energies, is occupied with an entirely different system.
As life goes on, there is a constant change of our interests, and a
consequent change of place in our systems of ideas, from more
central to more peripheral, and from more peripheral to more central
parts of consciousness. I remember, for instance, that one evening
when I was a youth, my father read aloud from a Boston newspaper
that part of Lord Gifford's will which founded these four
lectureships. At that time I did not think of being a teacher of
philosophy: and what I listened to was as remote from my own life as
if it related to the planet Mars. Yet here I am, with the Gifford
system part and parcel of my very self, and all my energies, for the
time being, devoted to successfully identifying myself with it. My
soul stands now planted in what once was for it a practically unreal
object, and speaks from it as from its proper habitat and centre.
  When I say 'Soul,' you need not take me in the ontological sense
unless you prefer to; for although ontological language is instinctive
in such matters, yet Buddhists or Humians can perfectly well
describe the facts in the phenomenal terms which are their
favorites. For them the soul is only a succession of fields of
consciousness: yet there is found in each field a part, or
sub-field, which figures as focal and contains the excitement, and
from which, as from a centre, the aim seems to be taken. Talking of
this part, we involuntarily apply words of perspective to
distinguish it from the rest, words like 'here,' 'this,' 'now,'
'mine,' or 'me'; and we ascribe to the other parts the positions
'there,' 'then,' 'that,' 'his' or 'thine,' 'it,' 'not me.' But a
'here' can change to a 'there,' and a 'there' become a 'here,' and
what was 'mine' and what was 'not mine' change their places.
  What brings such changes about is the way in which emotional
excitement alters. Things hot and vital to us to-day are cold
to-morrow. It is as if seen from the hot parts of the field that the
other parts appear to us, and from these hot parts personal desire and
volition make their sallies. They are in short the centres of our
dynamic energy, whereas the cold parts leave us indifferent and
passive in proportion to their coldness.
  Whether such language be rigorously exact is for the present of no
importance. It is exact enough, if you recognize from your own
experience the facts which I seek to designate by it.
  Now there may be great oscillation in the emotional interest, and
the hot places may shift before one almost as rapidly as the sparks
that run through burnt-up paper. Then we have the wavering and divided
self we heard so much of in the previous lecture. Or the focus of
excitement and heat, the point of view from which the aim is taken,
may come to lie permanently within a certain system; and then, if
the change be a religious one, we call it a conversion, especially
if it be by crisis, or sudden.
  Let us hereafter, in speaking of the hot place in a man's
consciousness, the group of ideas to which he devotes himself, and
from which he works, call it the habitual centre of his personal
energy. It makes a great difference to a man whether one set of his
ideas, or another, be the centre of his energy; and it makes a great
difference, as regards any set of ideas which he may possess,
whether they become central or remain peripheral in him. To say that a
man is 'converted' means, in these terms, that religious ideas,
previously peripheral in his consciousness, now take a central
place, and that religious aims form the habitual centre of his energy.
  Now if you ask of psychology just how the excitement shifts in a
man's mental system, and why aims that were peripheral become at a
certain moment central, psychology has to reply that although she
can give a general description of what happens, she is unable in a
given case to account accurately for all the single forces at work.
Neither an outside observer nor the Subject who undergoes the
process can explain fully how particular experiences are able to
change one's centre of energy so decisively, or why they so often have
to bide their hour to do so. We have a thought, or we perform an
act, repeatedly, but on a certain day the real meaning of the
thought peals through us for the first time, or the act has suddenly
turned into a moral impossibility. All we know is that there are
dead feelings, dead ideas, and cold beliefs, and there are hot and
live ones; and when one grows hot and alive within us, everything
has to re-crystallize about it. We may say that the heat and
liveliness mean only the 'motor efficacy,' long deferred but now
operative, of the idea; but such talk itself is only circumlocution,
for whence the sudden motor efficacy? And our explanations then get so
vague and general that one realizes all the more the intense
individuality of the whole phenomenon.
  In the end we fall back on the hackneyed symbolism of a mechanical
equilibrium. A mind is a system of ideas, each with the excitement
it arouses, and with tendencies impulsive and inhibitive, which
mutually check or reinforce one another. The collection of ideas
alters by subtraction or by addition in the course of experience,
and the tendencies alter as the organism gets more aged. A mental
system may be undermined or weakened by this interstitial alteration
just as a building is, and yet for a time keep upright by dead
habit. But a new perception, a sudden emotional shock, or an
occasion which lays bare the organic alteration, will make the whole
fabric fall together; and then the centre of gravity sinks into an
attitude more stable, for the new ideas that reach the centre in the
rearrangement seem now to be locked there, and the new structure
remains permanent.
  Formed associations of ideas and habits are usually factors of
retardation in such changes of equilibrium. New information, however
acquired, plays an accelerating part in the changes; and the slow
mutation of our instincts and propensities, under the 'unimaginable
touch of time' has an enormous influence. Moreover, all these
influences may work subconsciously or half unconsciously. * And when
you get a Subject in whom the subconscious life- of which I must speak
more fully soon- is largely developed, and in whom motives
habitually ripen in silence, you get a case of which you can never
give a full account, and in which, both to the Subject and the
onlookers, there may appear an element of marvel. Emotional occasions,
especially violent ones, are extremely potent in precipitating
mental rearrangements. The sudden and explosive ways in which love,
jealousy, guilt, fear, remorse, or anger can seize upon one are
known to everybody. *(2) Hope, happiness, security, resolve,
emotions characteristic of conversion, can be equally explosive. And
emotions that come in this explosive way seldom leave things as they
found them.
  * Jouffroy is an example: "Down this slope it was that my
intelligence had glided, and little by little it had got far from
its first faith. But this melancholy revolution had not taken place in
the broad daylight of my consciousness; too many scruples, too many
guides and sacred affections had made it dreadful to me, so that I was
far from avowing to myself the progress it had made. It had gone on in
silence, by an involuntary elaboration of which I was not the
accomplice; and although I had in reality long ceased to be a
Christian, yet, in the innocence of my intention, I should have
shuddered to suspect it, and thought it calumny had I been accused
of such a falling away." Then follows Jouffroy's account of his
counter-conversion, quoted above in Lecture VIII.
  *(2) One hardly needs examples; but for love, see Lecture VIII
note [Op. cit., Letter III...], for fear, see Lecture VI and VII,
for remorse, see Othello after the murder; for anger, see Lear after
Cordelia's first speech to him; for resolve, see Lecture VIII (J.
Foster case). Here is a pathological case in which guilt was the
feeling that suddenly exploded: "One night I was seized on entering
bed with a rigor, such as Swedenborg describes as coming over him with
a sense of holiness, but over me with a sense of guilt. During that
whole night I lay under the influence of the rigor, and from its
inception I felt that I was under the curse of God. I have never
done one act of duty in my life- sins against God and man, beginning
as far as my memory goes back- a wildcat in human shape."
  In his recent work on the Psychology of Religion, Professor Starbuck
of California has shown by a statistical inquiry how closely
parallel in its manifestations the ordinary 'conversion' which
occurs in young people brought up in evangelical circles is to that
growth into a larger spiritual life which is a normal phase of
adolescence in every class of human beings. The age is the same
falling usually between fourteen and seventeen. The symptoms are the
same,- sense of incompleteness and imperfection; brooding, depression,
morbid introspection, and sense of sin; anxiety about the hereafter;
distress over doubts, and the like. And the result is the same,- a
happy relief and objectivity, as the confidence in self gets greater
through the adjustment of the faculties to the wider outlook. In
spontaneous religious awakening, apart from revivalistic examples, and
in the ordinary storm and stress and moulting-time of adolescence,
we also may meet with mystical experiences, astonishing the subjects
by their suddenness, just as in revivalistic conversion. The
analogy, in fact, is complete; and Starbuck's conclusion as to these
ordinary youthful conversions would seem to be the only sound one:
Conversion is in its essence a normal adolescent phenomenon,
incidental to the passage from the child's small universe to the wider
intellectual and spiritual life of maturity.
  "Theology," says Dr. Starbuck, "takes the adolescent tendencies
and builds upon them; it sees that the essential thing in adolescent
growth is bringing the person out of childhood into the new life of
maturity and personal insight. It accordingly brings those means to
bear which will intensify the normal tendencies. It shortens up the
period of duration of storm and stress." The conversion phenomena of
'conviction of sin' last, by this investigator's statistics, about one
fifth as long as the periods of adolescent storm and stress
phenomena of which he also got statistics, but they are very much more
intense. Bodily accompaniments, loss of sleep and appetite, for
example, are much more frequent in them. "The essential distinction
appears to be that conversion intensifies but shortens the period by
bringing the person to a definite crisis." *
  * E.D. STARBUCK: The Psychology of Religion, pp. 224, 262.
  The conversions which Dr. Starbuck here has in mind are of course
mainly those of very commonplace persons, kept true to a pre-appointed
type by instruction, appeal, and example. The particular form which
they affect is the result of suggestion and imitation. * If they
went through their growth-crisis in other faiths and other
countries, although the essence of the change would be the same (since
it is one in the main so inevitable), its accidents would be
different. In Catholic lands, for example, and in our own Episcopalian
sects, no such anxiety and conviction of sin is usual as in sects that
encourage revivals. The sacraments being more relied on in these
more strictly ecclesiastical bodies, the individual's personal
acceptance of salvation needs less to be accentuated and led up to.
  * No one understands this better than Jonathan Edwards understood it
already. Conversion narratives of the more commonplace sort must
always be taken with the allowances which he suggests: "A rule
received and established by common consent has a very great, though to
many persons an insensible influence in forming their notions of the
process of their own experience. I know very well how they proceed
as to this matter, for I have had frequent opportunities of
observing their conduct. Very often their experience at first
appears like a confused chaos, but then those parts are selected which
bear the nearest resemblance to such particular steps as are
insisted on; and these are dwelt upon in their thoughts, and spoken of
from time to time, till they grow more and more conspicuous in their
view, and other parts which are neglected grow more and more
obscure. Thus what they have experienced is insensibly strained, so as
to bring it to an exact conformity to the scheme already established
in their minds. And it becomes natural also for ministers, who have to
deal with those who insist upon distinctness and clearness of
method, to do so too." Treatise on Religious Affections.
  But every imitative phenomenon must once have had its original,
and I propose that for the future we keep as close as may be to the
more first-hand and original forms of experience. These are more
likely to be found in sporadic adult cases.
  Professor Leuba, in a valuable article on the psychology of
conversion, * subordinates the theological aspect of the religious
life almost entirely to its moral aspect. The religious sense he
defines as "the feeling of unwholeness, of moral imperfection, of sin,
to use the technical word, accompanied by the yearning after the peace
of unity." "The word 'religion,'" he says, "is getting more and more
to signify the conglomerate of desires and emotions springing from the
sense of sin and its release"; and he gives a large number of
examples, in which the sin ranges from drunkenness to spiritual pride,
to show that the sense of it may beset one and crave relief as
urgently as does the anguish of the sickened flesh or any form of
physical misery.
  * Studies in the Psychology of Religious Phenomena, American Journal
of Psychology, vii. 309 (1896).
  Undoubtedly this conception covers an immense number of cases. A
good one to use as an example is that of Mr. S.H. Hadley, who after
his conversion became an active and useful rescuer of drunkards in New
York. His experience runs as follows:-
  "One Tuesday evening I sat in a saloon in Harlem, a homeless,
friendless, dying drunkard. I had pawned or sold everything that would
bring a drink. I could not sleep unless I was dead drunk. I had not
eaten for days, and for four nights preceding I had suffered with
delirium tremens, or the horrors, from midnight till morning. I had
often said, 'I will never be a tramp. I will never be cornered, for
when that time comes, if ever it comes, I will find a home in the
bottom of the river.' But the Lord so ordered it that when that time
did come I was not able to walk one quarter of the way to the river.
As I sat there thinking, I seemed to feel some great and mighty
presence. I did not know then what it was. I did learn afterwards that
it was Jesus, the sinner's friend. I walked up to the bar and
pounded it with my fist till I made the glasses rattle. Those who
stood by drinking looked on with scornful curiosity. I said I would
never take another drink, if I died on the street, and really I felt
as though that would happen before morning. Something said, 'If you
want to keep this promise, go and have yourself locked up.' I went
to the nearest station-house and had myself locked up.
  "I was placed in a narrow cell, and it seemed as though all the
demons that could find room came in that place with me. This was not
all the company I had, either. No, praise the Lord; that dear Spirit
that came to me in the saloon was present, and said, Pray. I did pray,
and though I did not feel any great help, I kept on praying. As soon
as I was able to leave my cell I was taken to the police court and
remanded back to the cell. I was finally released, and found my way to
my brother's house, where every care was given me. While lying in
bed the admonishing Spirit never left me, and when I arose the
following Sabbath morning I felt that day would decide my fate, and
toward evening it came into my head to go to Jerry M'Auley's
Mission. I went. The house was packed, and with great difficulty I
made my way to the space near the platform. There I saw the apostle to
the drunkard and the outcast- that man of God, Jerry M'Auley. He rose,
and amid deep silence told his experience. There was a sincerity about
this man that carried conviction with it, and I found myself saying,
'I wonder if God can save me?' I listened to the testimony of
twenty-five or thirty persons, every one of whom had been saved from
rum, and I made up my mind that I would be saved or die right there.
When the invitation was given, I knelt down with a crowd of drunkards.
Jerry made the first prayer. Then Mrs. M'Auley prayed fervently for
us. Oh, what a conflict was going on for my poor soul! A blessed
whisper said, 'Come'; the devil said, 'Be careful.' I halted but a
moment, and then, with a breaking heart, I said, 'Dear Jesus, can
you help me?' Never with mortal tongue can I describe that moment.
Although up to that moment my soul had been filled with
indescribable gloom, I felt the glorious brightness of the noonday sun
shine into my heart. I felt I was a free man. Oh, the precious feeling
of safety, of freedom, of resting on Jesus! I felt that Christ with
all his brightness and power had come into my life; that, indeed,
old things had passed away and all things had become new.
  "From that moment till now I have never wanted a drink of whiskey,
and I have never seen money enough to make me take one. I promised God
that night that if he would take away the appetite for strong drink, I
would work for him all my life. He has done his part, and I have
been trying to do mine." *
  * I have abridged Mr. Hadley's account. For other conversions of
drunkards, see his pamphlet, Rescue Mission Work, published at the Old
Jerry M'Auley Water Street Mission, New York city. A striking
collection of cases also appears in the appendix to Professor
Leuba's article.
  Dr. Leuba rightly remarks that there is little doctrinal theology in
such an experience, which starts with the absolute need of a higher
helper, and ends with the sense that he has helped us. He gives
other cases of drunkards conversions which are purely ethical,
containing, as recorded, no theological beliefs whatever. John B.
Gough's case, for instance, is practically, says Dr. Leuba, the
conversion of an atheist- neither God nor Jesus being mentioned. * But
in spite of the importance of this type of regeneration, with little
or no intellectual readjustment, this writer surely makes it too
exclusive. It corresponds to the subjectively centred form of morbid
melancholy, of which Bunyan and Alline were examples. But we saw in
our seventh lecture that there are objective forms of melancholy also,
in which the lack of rational meaning of the universe, and of life
anyhow, is the burden that weighs upon one- you remember Tolstoy's
case. *(2) So there are distinct elements in conversion, and their
relations to individual lives deserve to be discriminated. *(3)
  * A restaurant waiter served provisionally as Gough's 'Saviour.'
General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, considers that the
first vital step in saving outcasts consists in making them feel
that some decent human being cares enough for them to take an interest
in the question whether they are to rise or sink.
  *(2) The crisis of apathetic melancholy- no use in life- into
which J.S. Mill records that he fell, and from which he emerged by the
reading of Marmontel's Memoirs (Heaven save the mark!) and
Wordsworth's poetry, is another intellectual and general
metaphysical case. See Mill's Autobiography, New York, 1873, pp.
141, 148.
  *(3) Starbuck, in addition to 'escape from sin,' discriminates
'spiritual illumination' as a distinct type of conversion
experience. Psychology of Religion, p. 85.
  Some persons, for instance, never are, and possibly never under
any circumstances could be, converted. Religious ideas cannot become
the centre of their spiritual energy. They may be excellent persons,
servants of God in practical ways, but they are not children of his
kingdom. They are either incapable of imagining the invisible; or
else, in the language of devotion, they are life-long subjects of
'barrenness' and 'dryness.' Such inaptitude for religious faith may in
some cases be intellectual in its origin. Their religious faculties
may be checked in their natural tendency to expand, by beliefs about
the world that are inhibitive, the pessimistic and materialistic
beliefs, for example, within which so many good souls, who in former
times would have freely indulged their religious propensities, find
themselves nowadays, as it were, frozen; or the agnostic vetoes upon
faith as something weak and shameful, under which so many of us to-day
lie cowering, afraid to use our instincts. In many persons such
inhibitions are never overcome. To the end of their days they refuse
to believe, their personal energy never gets to its religious
centre, and the latter remains inactive in perpetuity.
  In other persons the trouble is profounder. There are men
anaesthetic on the religious side, deficient in that category of
sensibility. Just as a bloodless organism can never, in spite of all
its goodwill, attain to the reckless 'animal spirits' enjoyed by those
of sanguine temperament; so the nature which is spiritually barren may
admire and envy faith in others, but can never compass the
enthusiasm and peace which those who are temperamentally qualified for
faith enjoy. All this may, however, turn out eventually to have been a
matter of temporary inhibition. Even late in life some thaw, some
release may take place, some bolt be shot back in the barrenest
breast, and the man's hard heart may soften and break into religious
feeling. Such cases more than any others. suggest the idea that sudden
conversion is by miracle. So long as they exist, we must not imagine
ourselves to deal with irretrievably fixed classes.
  Now there are two forms of mental occurrence in human beings,
which lead to a striking difference in the conversion process, a
difference to which Professor Starbuck has called attention. You
know how it is when you try to recollect a forgotten name. Usually you
help the recall by working for it, by mentally running over the
places, persons, and things with which the word was connected. But
sometimes this effort fails: you feel then as if the harder you
tried the less hope there would be, as though the name were jammed,
and pressure in its direction only kept it all the more from rising.
And then the opposite expedient often succeeds. Give up the effort
entirely; think of something altogether different, and in half an hour
the lost name comes sauntering into your mind, as Emerson says, as
carelessly as if it had never been invited. Some hidden process was
started in you by the effort, which went on after the effort ceased,
and made the result come as if it came spontaneously. A certain
music teacher, says Dr. Starbuck, says to her pupils after the thing
to be done has been clearly pointed out, and unsuccessfully attempted:
"Stop trying and it will do itself!" *
  * Psychology of Religion, p. 117.
  There is thus a conscious and voluntary way and an involuntary and
unconscious way in which mental results may get accomplished; and we
find both ways exemplified in the history of conversion, giving us two
types, which Starbuck calls the volitional type and the type by
self-surrender respectively.
  In the volitional type the regenerative change is usually gradual,
and consists in the building up, piece by piece, of a new set of moral
and spiritual habits. But there are always critical points here at
which the movement forward seems much more rapid. This psychological
fact is abundantly illustrated by Dr. Starbuck. Our education in any
practical accomplishment proceeds apparently by jerks and starts, just
as the growth of our physical bodies does.
  "An athlete... sometimes awakens suddenly to an understanding of the
fine points of the game and to a real enjoyment of it, just as the
convert awakens to an appreciation of religion. If he keeps on
engaging in the sport, there may come a day when all at once the
game plays itself through him- when he loses himself in some great
contest. In the same way, a musician may suddenly reach a point at
which pleasure in the technique of the art entirely falls away, and in
some moment of inspiration he becomes the instrument through which
music flows. The writer has chanced to hear two different married
persons, both of whose wedded lives had been beautiful from the
beginning, relate that not until a year or more after marriage did
they awake to the full blessedness of married life. So it is with
the religious experience of these persons we are studying." *
  * Psychology of Religion, p. 385. Compare, also, pp. 137-144 and
  We shall erelong hear still more remarkable illustrations of
subconsciously maturing processes eventuating in results of which we
suddenly grow conscious. Sir William Hamilton and Professor Laycock of
Edinburgh were among the first to call attention to this class of
effects; but Dr. Carpenter first, unless I am mistaken, introduced the
term 'unconscious cerebration,' which has since then been a popular
phrase of explanation. The facts are now known to us far more
extensively than he could know them, and the adjective
'unconscious,' being for many of them almost certainly a misnomer,
is better replaced by the vaguer term 'subconscious' or 'subliminal.'
  Of the volitional type of conversion it would be easy to give
examples, * but they are as a rule less interesting than those of
the self-surrender type, in which the subconscious effects are more
abundant and often startling. I will therefore hurry to the latter,
the more so because the difference between the two types is after
all not radical. Even in the most voluntarily built-up sort of
regeneration there are passages of partial self-surrender
interposed; and in the great majority of all cases, when the will
has done its uttermost towards bringing one close to the complete
unification aspired after, it seems that the very last step must be
left to other forces and performed without the help of its activity.
In other words, self-surrender becomes then indispensable. "The
personal will," says Dr. Starbuck, "must be given up. In many cases
relief persistently refuses to come until the person ceases to resist,
or to make an effort in the direction he desires to go."
  * For instance, C.G. Finney italicizes the volitional element: "Just
at this point the whole question of Gospel salvation opened to my mind
in a manner most marvelous to me at the time. I think I then saw, as
clearly an I ever have in my life, the reality and fullness of the
atonement of Christ. Gospel salvation seemed to me to be an offer of
something to be accepted, and all that was necessary on my part was to
get my own consent to give up my sins and accept Christ. After this
distinct revelation had stood for some little time before my mind, the
question seemed to be put, 'Will you accept it now, to-day?' I
replied, 'Yes; I will accept it to-day, or I will die in the
attempt!'" He then went into the woods, where he describes his
struggles. He could not pray, his heart was hardened in its pride.
"I then reproached myself for having promised to give my heart to
God before I left the woods. When I came to try I found I could
not.... My inward soul hung back, and there was no going out of my
heart to God. The thought was pressing me, of the rashness of my
promise that I would give my heart to God that day, or die in the
attempt. It seemed to me as if that was binding on my soul; and yet
I was going to break my vow. A great sinking and discouragement came
over me, and I felt almost too weak to stand upon my knees. Just at
this moment I again thought I heard some one approach me, and I opened
my eyes to see whether it were so. But right there the revelation of
my pride of heart, as the great difficulty that stood in the way,
was distinctly shown to me. An overwhelming sense of my wickedness
in being ashamed to have a human being see me on my knees before God
took such powerful possession of me, that I cried at the top of my
voice, and exclaimed that I would not leave that place if all the
men on earth and all the devils in hell surrounded me. 'What!' I said,
'such a degraded sinner as I am, on my knees confessing my sins to the
great and holy God; and ashamed to have any human being, and a
sinner like myself, find me on my knees endeavoring to make my peace
with my offended God!' The sin appeared awful, infinite. It broke me
down before the Lord." Memoirs, pp. 14-16, abridged.
  "I had said I would not give up; but when my will was broken, it was
all over," writes one of Starbuck's correspondents.- Another says:
"I simply said: 'Lord, I have done all I can; I leave the whole matter
with Thee;' and immediately there came to me a great peace."- Another:
"All at once it occurred to me that I might be saved, too, if I
would stop trying to do it all myself, and follow Jesus: somehow I
lost my load."- Another: "I finally ceased to resist, and gave
myself up, though it was a hard struggle. Gradually the feeling came
over me that I had done my part, and God was willing to do his."- *
"Lord, Thy will be done; damn or save!" cries John Nelson, *(2)
exhausted with the anxious struggle to escape damnation; and at that
moment his soul was filled with peace.
  * STARBUCK: Op. cit., pp. 91, 114.
  *(2) Extracts from the Journal of Mr. John Nelson, London, no
date, p. 24.
  Dr. Starbuck gives an interesting, and it seems to me a true,
account- so far as conceptions so schematic can claim truth at all- of
the reasons why self-surrender at the last moment should be so
indispensable. To begin with, there are two things in the mind of
the candidate for conversion first, the present incompleteness or
wrongness, the 'sin' which he is eager to escape from; and, second,
the positive ideal which he longs to compass. Now with most of us
the sense of our present wrongness is a far more distinct piece of our
consciousness than is the imagination of any positive ideal we can aim
at. In a majority of cases, indeed, the 'sin' almost exclusively
engrosses the attention, so that conversion is "a process of
struggling away from sin rather than of striving towards
righteousness." * A man's conscious wit and will, so far as they
strain towards the ideal, are aiming at something only dimly and
inaccurately imagined. Yet all the while the forces of mere organic
ripening within him are going on towards their own prefigured
result, and his conscious strainings are letting loose subconscious
allies behind the scenes, which in their way work towards
rearrangement; and the rearrangement towards which all these deeper
forces tend is pretty surely definite, and definitely different from
what he consciously conceives and determines. It may consequently be
actually interfered with (jammed, as it were, like the lost word
when we seek too energetically to recall it), by his voluntary efforts
slanting from the true direction.
  * STARBUCK, p. 64.
  Starbuck seems to put his finger on the root of the matter when he
says that to exercise the personal will is still to live in the region
where tho imperfect self is the thing most emphasized. Where, on the
contrary, the subconscious forces take the lead, it is more probably
 the better self in posse which directs the operation. Instead of
being clumsily and vaguely aimed at from with. out, it is then
itself the organizing centre. What then must the person do? "He must
relax," says Dr. Starbuck,- "that is, he must fall back on the
larger Power that makes for righteousness, which has been welling up
in his own being, and let it finish in its own way the work it has
begun.... The act of yielding, in this point of view, is giving
one's self over to the new life, making it the centre of a new
personality, and living, from within, the truth of it which had before
been viewed objectively." *
  * STARBUCK, p. 115.
  "Man's extremity is God's opportunity" is the theological way of
putting this fact of the need of self-surrender; whilst the
physiological way of stating it would be, "Let one do all in one's
power, and one's nervous system will do the rest." Both statements
acknowledge the same fact. *
  * STARBUCK, p. 113.
  To state it in terms of our own symbolism: When the new centre of
personal energy has been subconsciously incubated so long as to be
just ready to open into flower, 'hands off' is the only word for us,
it must burst forth unaided!
  We have used the vague and abstract language of psychology. But
since, in any terms, the crisis described is the throwing of our
conscious selves upon the mercy of powers which, whatever they may be,
are more ideal than we are actually, and make for our redemption,
you see why self-surrender has been and always must be regarded as the
vital turning-point of the religious life, so far as the religious
life is spiritual and no affair of outer works and ritual and
sacraments. One may say that the whole development of Christianity
in inwardness has consisted in little more than the greater and
greater emphasis attached to this crisis of self-surrender. From
Catholicism to Lutheranism, and then to Calvinism; from that to
Wesleyanism; and from this, outside of technical Christianity
altogether, to pure 'liberalism' or transcendental idealism, whether
or not of the mind-cure type, taking in the medieval mystics, the
quietists, the pietists, and quakers by the way, we can trace the
stages of progress towards the idea of an immediate spiritual help,
experienced by the individual in his forlornness and standing in no
essential need of doctrinal apparatus or propitiatory machinery.
  Psychology and religion are thus in perfect harmony up to this
point, since both admit that there are forces seemingly outside of the
conscious individual that bring redemption to his life. Nevertheless
psychology, defining these forces as 'subconscious,' and speaking of
their effects as due to 'incubation,' or 'cerebration,' implies that
they do not transcend the individual's personality; and herein she
diverges from Christian theology, which insists that they are direct
supernatural operations of the Deity. I propose to you that we do
not yet consider this divergence final, but leave the question for a
while in abeyance- continued inquiry may enable us to get rid of
some of the apparent discord.
  Revert, then, for a moment more to the psychology of self-surrender.
  When you find a man living on the ragged edge of his
consciousness, pent in to his sin and want and incompleteness, and
consequently inconsolable, and then simply tell him that all is well
with him, that he must stop his worry, break with his discontent,
and give up his anxiety, you seem to him to come with pure
absurdities. The only positive consciousness he has tells him that all
is not well, and the better way you offer sounds simply as if you
proposed to him to assert cold-blooded falsehoods. 'The will to
believe' cannot be stretched as far as that. We can make ourselves
more faithful to a belief of which we have the rudiments, but we
cannot create a belief out of whole cloth when our perception actively
assures us of its opposite. The better mind proposed to us comes in
that case in the form of a pure negation of the only mind we have, and
we cannot actively will a pure negation.
  There are only two ways in which it is possible to get rid of anger,
worry, fear, despair, or other undesirable affections. One is that
an opposite affection should overpoweringly break over us, and the
other is by getting so exhausted with the struggle that we have to
stop,- so we drop down, give up, and don't care any longer. Our
emotional brain-centres strike work, and we lapse into a temporary
apathy. Now there is documentary proof that this state of temporary
exhaustion not infrequently forms part of the conversion crisis. So
long as the egoistic worry of the sick soul guards the door, the
expansive confidence of the soul of faith gains no presence. But let
the former faint away, even but for a moment, and the latter can
profit by the opportunity, and, having once acquired possession, may
retain it. Carlyle's Teufelsdrockh passes from the everlasting No to
the everlasting Yes through a 'Centre of Indifference.'
  Let me give you a good illustration of this feature in the
conversion process. That genuine saint, David Brainerd, describes
his own crisis in the following words:-
  "One morning, while I was walking in a solitary place as usual, I at
once saw that all my contrivances and projects to effect or procure
deliverance and salvation for myself were utterly in vain; I was
brought quite to a stand, as finding myself totally lost. I saw that
it was forever impossible for me to do anything towards helping or
delivering myself, that I had made all the pleas I ever could have
made to all eternity; and that all my pleas were vain, for I saw
that self-interest had led me to pray, and that I had never once
prayed from any respect to the glory of God. I saw that there was no
necessary connection between my prayers and the bestowment of divine
mercy; that they laid not the least obligation upon God to bestow
his grace upon me; and that there was no more virtue or goodness in
them than there would be in my paddling with my hand in the water. I
saw that I had been heaping up my devotions before God, fasting,
praying, etc., pretending, and indeed really thinking sometimes that I
was aiming at the glory of God; whereas I never once truly intended
it, but only my own happiness. I saw that as I had never done anything
for God, I had no claim on anything from him but perdition, on account
of my hypocrisy and mockery. When I saw evidently that I had regard to
nothing but self-interest, then my duties appeared a vile mockery
and a continual course of lies, for the whole was nothing but
self-worship, and an horrid abuse of God.
  "I continued, as I remember, in this state of mind, from Friday
morning till the Sabbath evening following (July 12, 1739), when I was
walking again in the same solitary place. Here, in a mournful
melancholy state [I was attempting to pray; but found no heart to
engage in that or any other duty; my former concern, exercise, and
religious affections were now gone. I thought that the Spirit of God
had quite left me; but still was not distressed; yet disconsolate,
as if there was nothing in heaven or earth could make me happy. Having
been thus endeavoring to pray- though, as I thought, very stupid and
senseless]- for near half an hour; then, as I was walking in a thick
grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the apprehension of my
soul. I do not mean any external brightness, nor any imagination of
a body of light, but it was a new inward apprehension or view that I
had of God, such as I never had before, nor anything which had the
least resemblance to it. I had no particular apprehension of any one
person in the Trinity, either the Father, the Son, or the Holy
Ghost; but it appeared to be Divine glory. My soul rejoiced with joy
unspeakable. to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I
was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he should be God over all
for ever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the
excellency of God that I was even swallowed up in him; at least to
that degree that I had no thought about my own salvation, and scarce
reflected that there was such a creature as myself. I continued in
this state of inward joy, peace, and astonishing, till near dark
without any sensible abatement; and then began to think and examine
what I had seen; and felt sweetly composed in my mind all the
evening following. I felt myself in a new world, and everything
about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do.
At this time, the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite
wisdom, suitableness, and excellency, that I wondered I should ever
think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had not dropped
my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely, blessed, and
excellent way before. If I could have been saved by my own duties or
any other way that I had formerly contrived, my whole soul would now
have refused it. I wondered that all the world did not see and
comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the righteousness of
Christ." *
  * EDWARD's and DWIGHT'S Life of Brainerd, New Haven, 1822, pp.
45-47, abridged.
  I have italicized [bracketed] the passage which records the
exhaustion of the anxious emotion hitherto habitual. In a large
proportion, perhaps the majority, of reports, the writers speak as
if the exhaustion of the lower and the entrance of the higher
emotion were simultaneous, * yet often again they speak as if the
higher actively drove the lower out. This is undoubtedly true in a
great many instances, as we shall presently see. But often there seems
little doubt that both conditions- subconscious ripening of the one
affection and exhaustion of the other- must simultaneously have
conspired, in order to produce the result.
  * Describing the whole phenomenon as a change of equilibrium, we
might say that the movement of new psychic energies towards the
personal centre and the recession of old ones towards the margin (or
the rising of some objects above, and the sinking of others below
the conscious threshold) were only two ways of describing an
indivisible event. Doubtless this is often absolutely true, and
Starbuck is right when he says that 'self-surrender' and 'new
determination,' though seeming at first sight to be such different
experiences, are "really the same thing. Self-surrender sees the
change in terms of the old self; determination sees it in terms of the
new." Op. cit., p. 160.
  T.W.B., a convert of Nettleton's, being brought to an acute paroxysm
of conviction of sin, ate nothing all day, locked himself in his
room in the evening in complete despair, crying aloud, "How long, O
Lord, how long?" "After repeating this and similar language," he says,
"several times, I seemed to sink away into a state of insensibility.
When I came to myself again I was on my knees, praying not for
myself but for others. I felt submission to the will of God, willing
that he should do with me as should seem good in his sight. My concern
seemed all lost in concern for others." *
  * A.A. BONAR: Nettleton and his Labors, Edinburgh, 1854, p. 261.
  Our great American revivalist Finney writes: "I said to myself:
'What is this? I must have grieved the Holy Ghost entirely away. I
have lost all my conviction. I have not a particle of concern about my
soul; and it must be that the Spirit has left me.' 'Why!' thought I,
'I never was so far from being concerned about my own salvation in
my life.'... I tried to recall my convictions, to get back again the
load of sin under which I had been laboring. I tried in vain to make
myself anxious. I was so quiet and peaceful that I tried to feel
concerned about that, lest it should be the result of my having
grieved the Spirit away." *
  * CHARLES G. FINNEY: Memoirs written by Himself, 1876, pp. 17, 18.
  But beyond all question there are persons in whom, quite
independently of any exhaustion in the Subject's capacity for feeling,
or even in the absence of any acute previous feeling, the higher
condition, having reached the due degree of energy, bursts through all
barriers and sweeps in like a sudden flood. These are the most
striking and memorable cases, the cases of instantaneous conversion to
which the conception of divine grace has been most peculiarly
attached. I have given one of them at length- the case of Mr. Bradley.
But I had better reserve the other cases and my comments on the rest
of the subject for the following lecture.

                              LECTURE X
                        CONVERSION- Concluded
  IN this lecture we have to finish the subject of Conversion,
considering at first those striking instantaneous instances of which
Saint Paul's is the most eminent, and in which, often amid
tremendous emotional excitement or perturbation of the senses, a
complete division is established in the twinkling of an eye between
the old life and the new. Conversion of this type is an important
phase of religious experience, owing to the part which it has played
in Protestant theology, and it behooves us to study it conscientiously
on that account.
  I think I had better cite two or three of these cases before
proceeding to a more generalized account. One must know concrete
instances first; for, as Professor Agassiz used to say, one can see no
farther into a generalization than just so far as one's previous
acquaintance with particulars enables one to take it in. I will go
back, then, to the case of our friend Henry Alline, and quote his
report of the 26th of March, 1775, on which his poor divided mind
became unified for good
  "As I was about sunset wandering in the fields lamenting my
miserable lost and undone condition, and almost ready to sink under my
burden, I thought I was in such a miserable case as never any man
was before. I returned to the house, and when I got to the door,
just as I was stepping off the threshold, the following impressions
came into my mind like a powerful but small still voice. You have been
seeking, praying, reforming, laboring, reading, hearing, and
meditating, and what have you done by it towards your salvation? Are
you any nearer to conversion now than when you first began? Are you
any more prepared for heaven, or fitter to appear before the impartial
bar of God, than when you first began to seek?
  "It brought such conviction on me that I was obliged to say that I
did not think I was one step nearer than at first, but as much
condemned, as much exposed, and as miserable as before. I cried out
within myself, O Lord God, I am lost, and if thou, O Lord, dost not
find out some new way, I know nothing of, I shall never be saved,
for the ways and methods I have prescribed to myself have all failed
me, and I am willing they should fail. O Lord, have mercy! O Lord,

have mercy!"
  "These discoveries continued until I went into the house and sat
down. After I sat down, being all in confusion, like a drowning man
that was just giving up to sink, and almost in an agony, I turned very
suddenly round in my chair, and seeing part of an old Bible lying in
one of the chairs, I caught hold of it in great haste; and opening
it without any premeditation, cast my eyes on the 38th Psalm, which
was the first time I ever saw the word of God: it took hold of me with
such power that it seemed to go through my whole soul, so that it
seemed as if God was praying in, with, and for me. About this time
my father called the family to attend prayers; I attended, but paid no
regard to what he said in his prayer, but continued praying in those
words of the Psalm. Oh, help me, help me! cried I, thou Redeemer of
souls, and save me, or I am gone forever; thou canst this night, if
thou pleasest, with one drop of thy blood atone for my sins, and
appease the wrath of an angry God. At that instant of time when I gave
all up to him to do with me as he pleased, and was willing that God
should rule over me at his pleasure, redeeming love broke into my soul
with repeated scriptures, with such power that my whole soul seemed to
be melted down with love; the burden of guilt and condemnation was
gone, darkness was expelled, my heart humbled and filled with
gratitude, and my whole soul, that was a few minutes ago groaning
under mountains of death, and crying to an unknown God for help, was
now filled with immortal love, soaring on the wings of faith, freed
from the chains of death and darkness, and crying out, My Lord and
my God; thou art my rock and my fortress, my shield and my high tower,
my life, my joy, my present and my everlasting portion. Looking up,
I thought I saw that same light [he had on more than one previous
occasion seen subjectively a bright blaze of light], though it
appeared different; and as soon as I saw it, the design was opened
to me, according to his promise, and I was obliged to cry out: Enough,
enough, O blessed God! The work of conversion, the change, and the
manifestations of it are no more disputable than that light which I
see, or anything that ever I saw.
  "In the midst of all my joys, in less than half an hour after my
soul was set at liberty, the Lord discovered to me my labor in the
ministry and call to preach the gospel. I cried out, Amen, Lord,
I'll go; send me, send me. I spent the greatest part of the night in
ecstasies of joy, praising and adoring the Ancient of Days for his
free and unbounded grace. After I had been so long in this transport
and heavenly frame that my nature seemed to require sleep, I thought
to close my eyes for a few moments; then the devil stepped in, and
told me that if I went to sleep, I should lose it all, and when I
should awake in the morning I would find it to be nothing but a
fancy and delusion. I immediately cried out, O Lord God, if I am
deceived, undeceive me.
  "I then closed my eyes for a few minutes, and seemed to be refreshed
with sleep; and when I awoke, the first inquiry was, Where is my
God? And in an instant of time, my soul seemed awake in and with
God, and surrounded by the arms of everlasting love. About sunrise I
arose with joy to relate to my parents what God had done for my
soul, and declared to them the miracle of God's unbounded grace. I
took a Bible to show them the words that were impressed by God on my
soul the evening before; but when I came to open the Bible, it
appeared all new to me.
  "I so longed to be useful in the cause of Christ, in preaching the
gospel, that it seemed as if I could not rest any longer, but go I
must and tell the wonders of redeeming love. I lost all taste for
carnal pleasures, and carnal company, and was enabled to forsake
them." *
  * Life and Journals, Boston, 1806, pp. 31-40, abridged.
  Young Mr. Alline, after the briefest of delays, and with no
book-learning but his Bible, and no teaching save that of his own
experience, became a Christian minister, and thenceforward his life
was fit to rank, for its austerity and single-mindedness, with that of
the most devoted saints. But happy as he became in his strenuous
way, he never got his taste for even the most innocent carnal
pleasures back. We must class him, like Bunyan and Tolstoy, amongst
those upon whose soul the iron of melancholy left a permanent imprint.
His redemption was into another universe than this mere natural world,
and life remained for him a sad and patient trial. Years later we
can find him making such an entry as this in his diary: "On
Wednesday the 12th I preached at a wedding, and had the happiness
thereby to be the means of excluding carnal mirth."
  The next case I will give is that of a correspondent of Professor
Leuba, printed in the latter's article, already cited, in vol. vi.
of the American Journal of Psychology. This subject was an Oxford
graduate, the son of a clergyman, and the story resembles in many
points the classic case of Colonel Gardiner, which everybody may be
supposed to know. Here it is, somewhat abridged:-
  "Between the period of leaving Oxford and my conversion I never
darkened the door of my father's church, although I lived with him for
eight years, making what money I wanted by journalism, and spending it
in high carousal with any one who would sit with me and drink it away.
So I lived, sometimes drunk for a week together, and then a terrible
repentance, and would not touch a drop for a whole month.
  "In all this period, that is, up to thirty-three years of age, I
never had a desire to reform on religious grounds. But all my pangs
were due to some terrible remorse I used to feel after a heavy
carousal, the remorse taking the shape of regret after my folly in
wasting my life in such a way- a man of superior talents and
education. This terrible remorse turned me gray in one night, and
whenever it came upon me I was perceptibly grayer the next morning.
What I suffered in this way is beyond the expression of words. It

was hell-fire in all its most dreadful tortures. Often did I vow
that if I got over 'this time' I would reform. Alas, in about three
days I fully recovered, and was as happy as ever. So it went on for
years, but, with a physique like a rhinoceros, I always recovered, and
as long as I let drink alone, no man was as capable of enjoying life
as I was.
  "I was converted in my own bedroom in my father's rectory house at
precisely three o'clock in the afternoon of a hot July day (July 18,
1886). I was in perfect health, having been off from the drink for
nearly a month. I was in no way troubled about my soul. In fact, God
was not in my thoughts that day. A young lady friend sent me a copy of
Professor Drummond's Natural Law in the Spiritual World, asking me
my opinion of it as a literary work only. Being proud of my critical
talents and wishing to enhance myself in my new friend's esteem, I
took the book to my bedroom for quiet, intending to give it a thorough
study, and then write her what I thought of it. It was here that God
met me face to face, and I shall never forget the meeting. 'He that
hath the Son hath life eternal, he that hath not the Son hath not
life.' I had read this scores of times before, but this made all the
difference. I was now in God's presence and my attention was
absolutely 'soldered' on to this verse, and I was not allowed to
proceed with the book till I had fairly considered what these words
really involved. Only then was I allowed to proceed, feeling all the
while that there was another being in my bedroom, though not seen by
me. The stillness was very marvelous, and I felt supremely happy. It
was most unquestionably shown me, in one second of time, that I had
never touched the Eternal: and that if I died then, I must
inevitably be lost. I was undone. I knew it as well as I now know I am
saved. The Spirit of God showed it me in ineffable love; there was
no terror in it; I felt God's love so powerfully upon me that only a
mighty sorrow crept over me that I had lost all through my own folly
and what was I to do? What could I do? I did not repent even; God
never asked me to repent. All I felt was 'I am undone,' and God cannot
help it, although he loves me. No fault on the part of the Almighty.
All the time I was supremely happy: I felt like a little child
before his father. I had done wrong, but my Father did not scold me,
but loved me most wondrously. Still my doom was sealed. I was lost
to a certainty, and being naturally of a brave disposition I did not
quail under it, but deep sorrow for the past, mixed with regret for
what I had lost, took hold upon me, and my soul thrilled within me
to think it was all over. Then there crept in upon me so gently, so
lovingly, so unmistakably, a way of escape, and what was it after all?
The old, old story over again, told in the simplest way: 'There is
no name under heaven whereby ye can be saved except that of the Lord
Jesus Christ.' No words were spoken to me; my soul seemed to see my
Saviour in the spirit, and from that hour to this, nearly nine years
now, there has never been in my life one doubt that the Lord Jesus
Christ and God the Father both worked upon me that afternoon in
July, both differently, and both in the most perfect love conceivable,
and I rejoiced there and then in a conversion so astounding that the
whole village heard of it in less than twenty-four hours.
  "But a time of trouble was yet to come. The day after my
conversion I went into the hay-field to lend a hand with the
harvest, and not having made any promise to God to abstain or drink in
moderation only, I took too much and came home drunk. My poor sister
was heart-broken; and I felt ashamed of myself and got to my bedroom
at once, where she followed me, weeping copiously. She said I had been
converted and fallen away instantly. But although I was quite full
of drink (not muddled, however), I knew that God's work begun in me
was not going to be wasted. About midday I made on my knees the
first prayer before God for twenty years. I did not ask to be
forgiven; I felt that was no good, for I would be sure to fall
again. Well what did I do? I committed myself to him in the
profoundest belief that my individuality was going to be destroyed,
that he would take all from me, and I was willing. In such a surrender
lies the secret of a holy life. From that hour drink has had no
terrors for me: I never touch it, never want it. The same thing
occurred with my pipe: after being a regular smoker from my twelfth
year the desire for it went at once, and has never returned. So with
every known sin, the deliverance in each case being permanent and
complete. I have had no temptation since conversion, God seemingly
having shut out Satan from that course with me. He gets a free hand in
other ways, but never on sins of the flesh. Since I gave up to God all
ownership in my own life, he has guided me in a thousand ways, and has
opened my path in a way almost incredible to those who do not enjoy
the blessing of a truly surrendered life."
  So much for our graduate of Oxford, in whom you notice the
complete abolition of an ancient appetite as one of the conversion's
  The most curious record of sudden conversion with which I am
acquainted is that of M. Alphonse Ratisbonne, a freethinking French
Jew, to Catholicism, at Rome in 1842. In a letter to a clerical
friend, written a few months later, the convert gives a palpitating
account of the circumstances. * The predisposing conditions appear
to have been slight. He had an elder brother who had been converted
and was a Catholic priest. He was himself irreligious, and nourished
an antipathy to the apostate brother and generally to his 'cloth.'
Finding himself at Rome in his twenty-ninth year, he fell in with a
French gentleman who tried to make a proselyte of him, but who
succeeded no farther after two or three conversations than to get
him to hang (half jocosely) a religious medal round his neck, and to
accept and read a copy of a short prayer to the Virgin. M.
Ratisbonne represents his own part in the conversations as having been
of a light and chaffing order; but he notes the fact that for some
days he was unable to banish the words of the prayer from his mind,
and that the night before the crisis he had a sort of nightmare, in
the imagery of which a black cross with no Christ upon it figured.
Nevertheless, until noon of the next day he was free in mind and spent
the time in trivial conversations. I now give his own words.
  * My quotations are made from an Italian translation of this
letter in the Biografia del Sig. M.A. Ratisbonne, Ferrara, 1843, which
I have to thank Monsignore D. O'Connell of Rome for bringing to my
notice. I abridge the original.
  "If at this time any one had accosted me, saying: 'Alphonse, in a
quarter of an hour you shall be adoring Jesus Christ as your God and
Saviour; you shall lie prostrate with your face upon the ground in a
humble church; you shall be smiting your breast at the foot of a
priest; you shall pass the carnival in a college of Jesuits to prepare
yourself to receive baptism, ready to give your life for the
Catholic faith; you shall renounce the world and its pomps and
pleasures; renounce your fortune, your hopes, and if need be, your
betrothed; the affections of your family, the esteem of your
friends, and your attachment to the Jewish people; you shall have no
other aspiration than to follow Christ and bear his cross till
death;'- if, I say a prophet had come to me with such a prediction,
I should have judged that only one person could be more mad than
he,- whosoever, namely, might believe in the possibility of such
senseless folly becoming true. And yet that folly is at present my
only wisdom, my sole happiness.
  "Coming out of the cafe I met the carriage of Monsieur B. [the
proselyting friend]. He stopped and invited me in for a drive, but
first asked me to wait for a few minutes whilst he attended to some
duty at the church of San Andrea delle Fratte. Instead of waiting in
the carriage, I entered the church myself to look at it. The church of
San Andres was poor, small and empty; I believe that I found myself
there almost alone. No work of art attracted my attention; and I
passed my eyes mechanically over its interior without being arrested
by any particular thought. I can only remember an entirely black dog
which went trotting and turning before me as I mused. In an instant
the dog had disappeared, the whole church had vanished, I no longer
saw anything,... or more truly I saw, O my God, one thing alone.
  "Heavens, how can I speak of it? Oh no!  human words cannot attain
to expressing the inexpressible. Any description, however sublime it
might be, could be but a profanation of the unspeakable truth.
  "I was there prostrate on the ground, bathed in my tears, with my
heart beside itself, when M.B. called me back to life. I could not
reply to the questions which followed from him one upon the other. But
finally I took the medal which I had on my breast, and with all the
effusion of my soul I kissed the image of the Virgin, radiant with
grace, which it bore. Oh, indeed, it was She! It was indeed She! [What
he had seen had been a vision of the Virgin.]
  "I did not know where I was: I did not know whether I was Alphonse
or another. I only felt myself changed and believed myself another me;
I looked for myself in myself and did not find myself. In the bottom
of my soul I felt an explosion of the most ardent joy; I could not
speak; I had no wish to reveal what had happened. But I felt something
solemn and sacred within me which made me ask for a priest. I was
led to one; and there, alone, after he had given me the positive
order, I spoke as best I could, kneeling, and with my heart still
trembling. I could give no account to myself of the truth of which I
had acquired a knowledge and a faith. All that I can say is that in an
instant the bandage had fallen from my eyes; and not one bandage only,
but the whole manifold of bandages in which I had been brought up. One
after another they rapidly disappeared, even as the mud and ice
disappear under the rays of the burning sun.
  "I came out as from a sepulchre, from an abyss of darkness; and I
was living, perfectly living. But I wept, for at the bottom of that
gulf I saw the extreme of misery from which I had been saved by an
infinite mercy; and I shuddered at the sight of my iniquities,
stupefied, melted, overwhelmed with wonder and with gratitude. You may
ask me how I came to this new insight, for truly I had never opened
a book of religion nor even read a single page of the Bible, and the
dogma of original sin is either entirely denied or forgotten by the
Hebrews of to-day, so that I had thought so little about it that I
doubt whether I ever knew its name. But how came I, then, to this
perception of it? I can answer nothing save this, that on entering
that church I was in darkness altogether, and on coming out of it I
saw the fullness of the light. I can explain the change no better than
by the simile of a profound sleep or the analogy of one born blind who
should suddenly open his eyes to the day. He sees, but cannot define
the light which bathes him and by means of which he sees the objects
which excite his wonder. If we cannot explain physical light, how
can we explain the light which is the truth itself? And I think I
remain within the limits of veracity when I say that without having
any knowledge of the letter of religious doctrine, I now intuitively
perceived its sense and spirit. Better than if I saw them, I felt
those hidden things; I felt them by the inexplicable effects they
produced in me. It all happened in my interior mind and those
impressions, more rapid than thought, shook my soul, revolved and
turned it, as it were, in another direction, towards other aims, by
other paths. I express myself badly. But do you wish, Lord, that I
should inclose in poor and barren words sentiments which the heart
alone can understand?"
  I might multiply cases almost indefinitely, but these will suffice
to show you how real, definite, and memorable an event a sudden
conversion may be to him who has the experience. Throughout the height
of it he undoubtedly seems to himself a passive spectator or undergoer
of an astounding process performed upon him from above. There is too
much evidence of this for any doubt of it to be possible. Theology,
combining this fact with the doctrines of election and grace, has
concluded that the spirit of God is with us at these dramatic
moments in a peculiarly miraculous way, unlike what happens at any
other juncture of our lives. At that moment, it believes, an
absolutely new nature is breathed into us, and we become partakers
of the very substance of the Deity.
  That the conversion should be instantaneous seems called for on this
view, and the Moravian Protestants appear to have been the first to
see this logical consequence. The Methodists soon followed suit,
practically if not dogmatically, and a short time ere his death,
John Wesley wrote:-
  "In London alone I found 652 members of our Society who were
exceeding clear in their experience, and whose testimony I could see
no reason to doubt. And every one of these (without a single
exception) has declared that his deliverance from sin was
instantaneous; that the change was wrought in a moment. Had half of
these, or one third, or one in twenty, declared it was gradually
wrought in them, I should have believed this, with regard to them, and
thought that some were gradually sanctified and some
instantaneously. But as I have not found, in so long a space of
time, a single person speaking thus, I cannot but believe that
sanctification is commonly, if not always, an instantaneous work."
Tyerman's Life of Wesley, i. 463.
  All this while the more usual sects of Protestantism have set no
such store by instantaneous conversion. For them as for the Catholic
Church, Christ's blood, the sacraments, and the individual's
ordinary religious duties are practically supposed to suffice to his
salvation, even though no acute crisis of self-despair and surrender
followed by relief should be experienced. For Methodism, on the
contrary, unless there have been a crisis of this sort, salvation is
only offered, not effectively received, and Christ's sacrifice in so
far forth is incomplete. Methodism surely here follows, if not the
healthier-minded, yet on the whole the profounder spiritual
instinct. The individual models which it has set up as typical and
worthy of imitation are not only the more interesting dramatically,
but psychologically they have been the more complete.
  In the fully evolved Revivalism of Great Britain and America we
have, so to speak, the codified and stereotyped procedure to which
this way of thinking has led. In spite of the unquestionable fact that
saints of the once-born type exist, that there may be a gradual growth
in holiness without a cataclysm; in spite of the obvious leakage (as
one may say) of much mere natural goodness into the scheme of
salvation; revivalism has always assumed that only its own type of
religious experience can be perfect; you must first be nailed on the
cross of natural despair and agony, and then in the twinkling of an
eye be miraculously released.
  It is natural that those who personally have traversed such an
experience should carry away a feeling of its being a miracle rather
than a natural process. Voices are often heard, lights seen, or
visions witnessed; automatic motor phenomena occur; and it always
seems, after the surrender of the personal will, as if an extraneous
higher power had flooded in and taken possession. Moreover the sense
of renovation, safety, cleanness, rightness, can be so marvelous and
jubilant as well to warrant one's belief in a radically new
substantial nature.
  "Conversion," writes the New England Puritan, Joseph Alleine," is
not the putting in a patch of holiness; but with the true convert
holiness is woven into all his powers, principles, and practice. The
sincere Christian is quite a new fabric, from the foundation to the
top-stone. He is a new man, a new creature."
  And Jonathan Edwards says in the same strain: "Those gracious
influences which are the effects of the Spirit of God are altogether
supernatural- are quite different from anything that unregenerate
men experience. They are what no improvement, or composition of
natural qualifications or principles will ever produce; because they
not only differ from what is natural, and from everything that natural
men experience in degree and circumstances, but also in kind, and
are of a nature far more excellent. From hence it follows that in
gracious affections there are [also] new perceptions and sensations
entirely different in their nature and kind from anything
experienced by the [same] saints before they were sanctified.... The
conceptions which the saints have of the loveliness of God, and that
kind of delight which they experience in it, are quite peculiar, and
entirely different from anything which a natural man can possess, or
of which he can form any proper notion."
  And that such a glorious transformation as this ought of necessity
to be preceded by despair is shown by Edwards in another passage.
  "Surely it cannot be unreasonable," he says, "that before God
delivers us from a state of sin and liability to everlasting woe, he
should give us some considerable sense of the evil from which he
delivers us, in order that we may know and feel the importance of
salvation, and be enabled to appreciate the value of what God is
pleased to do for us. As those who are saved are successively in two
extremely different states first in a state of condemnation and then
in a state of justification and blessedness- and as God, in the
salvation of men, deals with them as rational and intelligent
creatures, it appears agreeable to this wisdom, that those who are
saved should be made sensible of their Being, in those two different
states. In the first place, that they should be made sensible of their
state of condemnation; and afterwards, of their state of deliverance
and happiness."
  Such quotations express sufficiently well for our purpose the
doctrinal interpretation of these changes. Whatever part suggestion
and imitation may have played in producing them in men and women in
excited assemblies, they have at any rate been in countless individual
instances an original and unborrowed experience. Were we writing the
story of the mind from the purely natural-history point of view,
with no religious interest whatever, we should still have to write
down man's liability to sudden and complete conversion as one of his
most curious peculiarities.
  What, now, must we ourselves think of this question? Is an
instantaneous conversion a miracle in which God is present as he is
present in no change of heart less strikingly abrupt? Are there two
classes of human beings, even among the apparently regenerate, of
which the one class really partakes of Christ's nature while the other
merely seems to do so? Or, on the contrary, may the whole phenomenon
of regeneration; even in these startling instantaneous examples,
possibly be a strictly natural process, divine in its fruits, of
course, but in one case more and in another less so, and neither
more nor less divine in its mere causation and mechanism than any
other process, high or low, of man's interior life?
  Before proceeding to answer this question, I must ask you to
listen to some more psychological remarks. At our last lecture, I
explained the shifting of men's centres of personal energy within them
and the lighting up of new crises of emotion. I explained the
phenomena as partly due to explicitly conscious processes of thought
and will, but as due largely also to the subconscious incubation and
maturing of motives deposited by the experiences of life. When ripe,
the results hatch out, or burst into flower. I have now to speak of
the subconscious region, in which such processes of flowering may
occur, in a somewhat less vague way. I only regret that my limits of
time here force me to be so short.
  The expression 'field of consciousness' has but recently come into
vogue in the psychology books. Until quite lately the unit of mental
life which figured most was the single 'idea,' supposed to be a
definitely outlined thing. But at present psychologists are tending,
first, to admit that the actual unit is more probably the total mental
state, the entire wave of consciousness or field of objects present to
the thought at any time; and, second, to see that it is impossible
to outline this wave, this field, with any definiteness.
  As our mental fields succeed one another, each has its centre of
interest, around which the objects of which we are less and less
attentively conscious fade to a margin so faint that its limits are
unassignable. Some fields are narrow fields and some are wide
fields. Usually when we have a wide field we rejoice, for we then
see masses of truth together, and often get glimpses of relations
which we divine rather than see, for they shoot beyond the field
into still remoter regions of objectivity, regions which we seem
rather to be about to perceive than to perceive actually. At other
times, of drowsiness, illness, or fatigue, our fields may narrow
almost to a point, and we find ourselves correspondingly oppressed and
  Different individuals present constitutional differences in this
matter of width of field. Your great organizing geniuses are men
with habitually vast fields of mental vision, in which a whole
programme of future operations will appear dotted out at once, the
rays shooting far ahead into definite directions of advance. In common
people there is never this magnificent inclusive view of a topic. They
stumble along, feeling their way, as it were, from point to point, and
often stop entirely. In certain diseased conditions consciousness is a
mere spark, without memory of the past or thought of the future, and
with the present narrowed down to some one simple emotion or sensation
of the body.
  The important fact which this 'field' formula commemorates is the
indetermination of the margin. Inattentively realized as is the matter
which the margin contains, it is nevertheless there, and helps both to
guide our behavior and to determine the next movement of our
attention. It lies around us like a 'magnetic field,' inside of
which our centre of energy turns like a compass-needle, as the present
phase of consciousness alters into its successor. Our whole past store
of memories floats beyond this margin, ready at a touch to come in;
and the entire mass of residual powers, impulses, and knowledges
that constitute our empirical self stretches continuously beyond it.
So vaguely drawn are the outlines between what is actual and what is
only potential at any moment of our conscious life, that it is
always hard to say of certain mental elements whether we are conscious
of them or not.
  The ordinary psychology, admitting fully the difficulty of tracing
the marginal outline, has nevertheless taken for granted, first,
that all the consciousness the person now has, be the same focal or
marginal, inattentive or attentive, is there in the 'field' of the
moment, all dim and impossible to assign as the latter's outline may
be; and, second, that what is absolutely extra-marginal is
absolutely non-existent, and cannot be a fact of consciousness at all.
  And having reached this point, I must now ask you to recall what I
said in my last lecture about the subconscious life. I said, as you
may recollect, that those who first laid stress upon these phenomena
could not know the facts as we now know them. My first duty now is
to tell you what I meant by such a statement.
  I cannot but think that the most important step forward that has
occurred in psychology since I have been a student of that science
is the discovery, first made in 1886, that, in certain subjects at
least, there is not only the consciousness of the ordinary field, with
its usual centre and margin, but an addition thereto in the shape of a
set of memories, thoughts, and feelings which are extra-marginal and
outside of the primary consciousness altogether, but yet must be
classed as conscious facts of some sort, able to reveal their presence
by unmistakable signs. I call this the most important step forward
because, unlike the other advances which psychology has made, this
discovery has revealed to us an entirely unsuspected peculiarity in
the constitution of human nature. No other step forward which
psychology has made can proffer any such claim as this.
  In particular this discovery of a consciousness existing beyond
the field, or subliminally as Mr. Myers terms it, casts light on
many phenomena of religious biography. That is why I have to advert to
it now, although it is naturally impossible for me in this place to
give you any account of the evidence on which the admission of such
a consciousness is based. You will find it set forth in many recent
books, Binet's Alterations of Personality * being perhaps as good a
one as any to recommend.
  * Published in the International Scientific Series.
  The human material on which the demonstration has been made has so
far been rather limited and, in part at least, eccentric, consisting
of unusually suggestible hypnotic subjects, and of hysteric
patients. Yet the elementary mechanisms of our life are presumably
so uniform that what is shown to be true in a marked degree of some
persons is probably true in some degree of all, and may in a few be
true in an extraordinarily high degree.
  The most important consequence of having a strongly developed
ultra-marginal life of this sort is that one's ordinary fields of
consciousness are liable to incursions from it of which the subject
does not guess the source, and which, therefore, take for him the form
of unaccountable impulses to act, or inhibitions of action, of
obsessive ideas, or even of hallucinations of sight or hearing. The
impulses may take the direction of automatic speech or writing, the
meaning of which the subject himself may not understand even while
he utters it; and generalizing this phenomenon, Mr. Myers has given
the name of automatism, sensory or motor, emotional or intellectual,
to this whole sphere of effects due to 'uprushes' into the ordinary
consciousness of energies originating in the subliminal parts of the
  The simplest instance of an automatism is the phenomenon of
post-hypnotic suggestion, so-called. You give to a hypnotized subject,
adequately susceptible, an order to perform some designated act- usual
or eccentric, it makes no difference- after he wakes from his hypnotic
sleep. Punctually, when the signal comes or the time elapses upon
which you have told him that the act must ensue, he performs it; - but
in so doing he has no recollection of your suggestion, and he always
trumps up an improvised pretext for his behavior if the act be of an
eccentric kind. It may even be suggested to a subject to have a vision
or to hear a voice at a certain interval after waking, and when the
time comes the vision is seen or the voice heard, with no inkling on
the subject's part of its source. In the wonderful explorations by
Binet, Janet, Breuer, Freud, Mason, Prince, and others, of the
subliminal consciousness of patients with hysteria, we have revealed
to us whole systems of underground life, in the shape of memories of a
painful sort which lead a parasitic existence, buried outside of the
primary field of consciousness, and making irruptions thereinto with
hallucinations, pains, convulsions, paralyses of feeling and of
motion, and the whole procession of symptoms of hysteric disease of
body and of mind. Alter or abolish by suggestion these subconscious
memories, and the patient immediately gets well. His symptoms were
automatisms, in Mr. Myers's sense of the word. These clinical
records sound like fairy-tales when one first reads them, yet it is
impossible to doubt their accuracy; and, the path having been once
opened by these first observers, similar observations have been made
elsewhere. They throw, as I said, a wholly new light upon our
natural constitution.
  And it seems to me that they make a farther step inevitable.
Interpreting the unknown after the analogy of the known, it seems to
me that hereafter, wherever we meet with a phenomenon of automatism,
be it motor impulses, or obsessive idea, or unaccountable caprice,
or delusion, or hallucination, we are bound first of all to make
search whether it be not an explosion, into the fields of ordinary
consciousness, of ideas elaborated outside of those fields in
subliminal regions of the mind. We should look, therefore, for its
source in the Subject's subconscious life. In the hypnotic cases, we
ourselves create the source by our suggestion, so we know it directly.
In the hysteric cases, the lost memories which are the source have
to be extracted from the patient's Subliminal by a number of ingenious
methods, for an account of which you must consult the books. In
other pathological cases, insane delusions, for example, or
psychopathic obsessions, the source is yet to seek, but by analogy
it also should be in subliminal regions which improvements in our
methods may yet conceivably put on tap. There lies the mechanism
logically to be assumed,- but the assumption involves a vast program
of work to be done in the way of verification, in which the
religious experiences of man must play their part. *
  * The reader will here please notice that in my exclusive reliance
in the last lecture on the subconscious 'incubation' of motives
deposited by a growing experience, I followed the method of
employing accepted principles of explanation as far as one can. The
subliminal region, whatever else it may be, is at any rate a place now
admitted by psychologists to exist for the accumulation of vestiges of
sensible experience (whether inattentively or attentively registered),
and for their elaboration according to ordinary psychological or
logical laws into results that end by attaining such a 'tension'
that they may at times enter consciousness with something like a
burst. It thus is 'scientific' to interpret all otherwise
unaccountable invasive alterations of consciousness as results of
the tension of subliminal memories reaching the bursting-point. But
candor obliges me to confess that there are occasional bursts into
consciousness of results of which it is not easy to demonstrate any
prolonged subconscious incubation. Some of the cages I used to
illustrate the sense of presence of the unseen in Lecture III were
of this order; and we shall see other experiences of the kind when
we come to the subject of mysticism. The case of Mr. Bradley, that
of M. Ratisbonne, possibly that of Colonel Gardiner, possibly that
of Saint Paul, might not be so easily explained in this simple way.
The result, then, would have to be ascribed either to a merely
physiological nerve storm, a 'discharging lesion' like that of
epilepsy; or, in case it were useful and rational, as in the two
latter cases named, to some more mystical or theological hypothesis. I
make this remark in order that the reader may realize that the subject
is really complex. But I shall keep myself as far as possible at
present to the more 'scientific' view; and only as the plot thickens
in subsequent lectures shall I consider the question of its absolute
sufficiency as an explanation of all the facts. That subconscious
incubation explains a great number of them, there can be no doubt.
  And thus I return to our own specific subject of instantaneous
conversions. You remember the cases of Alline, Bradley, Brainerd,
and the graduate of Oxford converted at three in the afternoon.
Similar occurrences abound, some with and some without luminous
visions, all with a sense of astonished happiness, and of being
wrought on by a higher control. If, abstracting altogether from the
question of their value for the future spiritual life of the
individual, we take them on their psychological side exclusively, so
many peculiarities in them remind us of what we find outside of
conversion that we are tempted to class them along with other
automatisms, and to suspect that what makes the difference between a
sudden and a gradual convert is not necessarily the presence of divine
miracle in the care of one and of something less divine in that of the
other, but rather a simple psychological peculiarity, the fact,
namely, that in the recipient of the more instantaneous grace we
have one of those Subjects who are in possession of a large region
in which mental work can go on subliminally, and from which invasive
experiences, abruptly upsetting the equilibrium of the primary
consciousness, may come.
  I do not see why Methodists need object to such a view. Pray go back
and recollect one of the conclusions to which I sought to lead you
in my very first lecture. You may remember how I there argued
against the notion that the worth of a thing can be decided by its
origin. Our spiritual judgment, I said, our opinion of the
significance and value of a human event or condition, must be
decided on empirical grounds exclusively. If the fruits for life of
the state of conversion are good, we ought to idealize and venerate
it, even though it be a piece of natural psychology; if not, we
ought to make short work with it, no matter what supernatural being
may have infused it.
  Well, how is it with these fruits? If we except the class of
preeminent saints of whom the names illumine history, and consider
only the usual run of 'saints,' the shopkeeping church-members and
ordinary youthful or middle-aged recipients of instantaneous
conversion, whether at revivals or in the spontaneous course of
methodistic, growth, you will probably agree that no splendor worthy
of a wholly supernatural creature fulgurates from them, or sets them
apart from the mortals who have never experienced that favor. Were
it true that a suddenly converted man as such is, as Edwards says, *
of an entirely different kind from a natural man, partaking as he does
directly of Christ's substance, there surely ought to be some
exquisite class-mark, some distinctive radiance attaching even to
the lowliest specimen of this genus, to which no one of us could
remain insensible, and which, so far as it went, would prove him
more excellent than ever the most highly gifted among mere natural
men. But notoriously there is no such radiance. Converted men as a
class are indistinguishable from natural men; some natural men even
excel some converted men in their fruits; and no one ignorant of
doctrinal theology could guess by mere every-day inspection of the
'accidents' of the two groups of persons before him, that their
substance differed as much as divine differs from human substance.
  * Edwards says elsewhere: "I am bold to say that the work of God
in the conversion of one soul, considered together with the source,
foundation, and purchase of it, and also the benefit, end, and eternal
issue of it, is a more glorious work of God than the creation of the
whole material universe."
  The believers in the non-natural character of sudden conversion have
had practically to admit that there is no unmistakable class-mark
distinctive of all true converts. The super-normal incidents, such
as voices and visions and overpowering impressions of the meaning of
suddenly presented scripture texts, the melting emotions and
tumultuous affections connected with the crisis of change, may all
come by way of nature, or worse still, be counterfeited by Satan.
The real witness of the spirit to the second birth is to be found only
in the disposition of the genuine child of God, the permanently
patient heart, the love of self eradicated. And this, it has to be
admitted, is also found in those who pass no crisis, and may even be
found outside of Christianity altogether.
  Throughout Jonathan Edwards's admirably rich and delicate
description of the supernaturally infused condition, in his Treatise
on Religious Affections, there is not one decisive trait, not one
mark, that unmistakably parts it off from what may possibly be only an
exceptionally high degree of natural goodness. In fact, one could
hardly read a clearer argument than this book unwittingly offers in
favor of the thesis that no chasm exists between the orders of human
excellence, but that here as elsewhere, nature shows continuous
differences, and generation and regeneration are matters of degree.
  All which denial of two objective classes of human beings
separated by a chasm must not leave us blind to the extraordinary
momentousness of the fact of his conversion to the individual
himself who gets converted. There are higher and lower limits of
possibility set to each personal life. If a flood but goes above one's
head, its absolute elevation becomes a matter of small importance; and
when we touch our own upper limit and live in our own highest centre
of energy, we may call ourselves saved, no matter how much higher some
one else's centre may be. A small man's salvation will always be a
great salvation and the greatest of all facts for him, and we should
remember this when the fruits of our ordinary evangelicism look
discouraging. Who knows how much less ideal still the lives of these
spiritual grubs and earthworms, these Crumps and Stigginses, might
have been, if such poor grace as they have received had never
touched them at all? *
  * Emerson writes: "When we see a soul whose acts are regal,
graceful, and pleasant as roses, we must thank God that such things
can be and are, and not turn sourly on the angel and say: Crump is a
better man, with his grunting resistance to all his native devils."
True enough. Yet Crump may really be the better Crump, for his inner
discords and second birth; and your once-born 'regal' character,
though indeed always better than poor Crump, may fall far short of
what he individually might be had he only some Crump-like capacity for
compunction over his own peculiar diabolisms, graceful and pleasant
and invariably gentlemanly as these may be.
  If we roughly arrange human beings in classes, each class standing
for a grade of spiritual excellence, I believe we shall find natural
men and converts both sudden and gradual in all the classes. The forms
which regenerative change effects have, then, no general spiritual
significance, but only a psychological significance. We have seen
how Starbuck's laborious statistical studies tend to assimilate
conversion to ordinary spiritual growth. Another American
psychologist, Prof. George A. Coe, * has analyzed the cases of
seventy-seven converts or ex-candidates for conversion, known to
him, and the results strikingly confirm the view that sudden
conversion is connected with the possession of an active subliminal
self. Examining his subjects with reference to their hypnotic
sensibility and to such automatisms as hypnagogic hallucinations,
odd impulses, religious dreams about the time of their conversion,
etc., he found these relatively much more frequent in the group of
converts whose transformation had been 'striking,' 'striking'
transformation being defined as a change which, though not necessarily
instantaneous, seems to the subject of it to be distinctly different
from a process of growth, however rapid." *(2) Candidates for
conversion at revivals are, as you know, often disappointed: they
experience nothing striking. Professor Coe had a number of persons
of this class among his seventy-seven subjects, and they almost all,
when tested by hypnotism, proved to belong to a subclass which he
calls 'spontaneous,' that is, fertile in self-suggestions, as
distinguished from a 'passive' subclass, to which most of the subjects
of striking transformation belonged. His inference is that
self-suggestion of impossibility had prevented the influence upon
these persons of an environment which, on the more 'passive' subjects,
had easily brought forth the effects they looked for. Sharp
distinctions are difficult in these regions, and Professor Coe's
numbers are small. But his methods were careful and the results
tally with what one might expect; and they seem, on the whole, to
justify his practical conclusion, which is that if you should expose
to a converting influence a subject in whom three factors unite:
first, pronounced emotional sensibility; second, tendency to
automatisms; and third, suggestibility of the passive type; you
might then safely predict the result: there would be a sudden
conversion, a transformation of the striking kind.
  * In his book, The Spiritual Life, New York, 1900.
  *(2) Op. cit., p. 112.
  Does this temperamental origin diminish the significance of the
sudden conversion when it has occurred? Not in the least, as Professor
Coe well says; for "the ultimate test of religious values is nothing
psychological, nothing definable in terms of how it happens, but
something ethical, definable only in terms of what is attained." *
  * Op. cit., p. 144.
  As we proceed farther in our inquiry we shall see that what is
attained is often an altogether new level of spiritual vitality, a
relatively heroic level, in which impossible things have become
possible, and new energies and endurances are shown. The personality
is changed, the man is born anew, whether or not his psychological
idiosyncrasies are what give the particular shape to his
metamorphosis. 'Sanctification' is the technical name of this
result; and erelong examples of it shall be brought before you. In
this lecture I have still only to add a few remarks on the assurance
and peace which fill the hour of change itself.
  One word more, though, before proceeding to that point, lest the
final purpose of my explanation of suddenness by subliminal activity
be misunderstood. I do indeed believe that if the Subject have no
liability to such subconscious activity, or if his conscious fields
have a hard rind of a margin that resists incursions from beyond it,
his conversion must be gradual if it occur, and must resemble any
simple growth into new habits. His possession of a developed
subliminal self, and of a leaky or pervious margin, is thus a conditio
sine qua non of the Subject's becoming converted in the

instantaneous way. But if you, being orthodox Christians, ask me as
a psychologist whether the reference of a phenomenon to a subliminal
self does not exclude the notion of the direct presence of the Deity
altogether, I have to say frankly that as a psychologist I do not
see why it necessarily should. The lower manifestations of the
Subliminal, indeed, fall within the resources of the personal subject:
his ordinary sense-material, inattentively taken in and subconsciously
remembered and combined, will account for all his usual automatisms.
But just as our primary wide-awake consciousness throws open our
senses to the touch of things material, so it is logically conceivable
that if there be higher spiritual agencies that can directly touch us,
the psychological condition of their doing so might be our
possession of a subconscious region which alone should yield access to
them. The hubbub of the waking life might close a door which in the
dreamy Subliminal might remain ajar or open.
  Thus that perception of external control which is so essential a
feature in conversion might, in some cases at any rate, be interpreted
as the orthodox interpret it: forces transcending the finite
individual might impress him, on condition of his being what we may
call a subliminal human specimen. But in any case the value of these
forces would have to be determined by their effects, and the mere fact
of their transcendency would of itself establish no presumption that
they were more divine than diabolical.
  I confess that this is the way in which I should rather see the
topic left lying in your minds until I come to a much later lecture,
when I hope once more to gather these dropped threads together into
more definitive conclusions. The notion of a subconscious self
certainly ought not at this point of our inquiry to be held to exclude
all notion of a higher penetration. If there be higher powers able
to impress us, they may get access to us only through the subliminal
  Let us turn now to the feelings which immediately fill the hour of
the conversion experience. The first one to be noted is just this
sense of higher control. It is not always, but it is very often
present. We saw examples of it in Alline, Bradley, Brainerd, and
elsewhere. The need of such a higher controlling agency is well
expressed in the short reference which the eminent French Protestant
Adolphe Monod makes to the crisis of his own conversion. It was at
Naples in his early manhood, in the summer of 1827.
  "My sadness," he says, "was without limit, and having got entire
possession of me, it filled my life from the most indifferent external
acts to the most secret thoughts, and corrupted at their source my
feelings, my judgment, and my happiness. It was then that I saw that
to expect to put a stop to this disorder by my reason and my will,
which were themselves diseased, would be to act like a blind man who
should pretend to correct one of his eyes by the aid of the other
equally blind one. I had then no resource save in some influence
from without. I remembered the  promise of the Holy Ghost; and what
the positive declarations of the Gospel had never succeeded in
bringing home to me, I learned at last from necessity, and believed,
for the first time in my life, in this promise, in the only sense in
which it answered the needs of my soul, in that, namely, of a real
external supernatural action, capable of giving me thoughts, and
taking them away from me, and exerted on me by a God as truly master
of my heart as he is of the rest of nature. Renouncing then all merit,
all strength, abandoning all my personal resources, and
acknowledging no other title to his mercy than my own utter misery,
I went home and threw myself on my knees, and prayed as I never yet
prayed in my life. From this day onwards a new interior life began for
me: not that my melancholy had disappeared, but it had lost its sting.
Hope had entered into my heart, and once entered on the path. the
God of Jesus Christ, to whom I then had learned to give myself up,
little by little did the rest." *
  * I piece together a quotation made by W. Monod, in his book la Vie,
and a letter printed in the work: Adolphe Monod: I., Souvenirs de sa
Vie, 1885, p. 433.
  It is needless to remind you once more of the admirable congruity of
Protestant theology with the structure of the mind as shown in such
experiences. In the extreme of melancholy the self that consciously is
can do absolutely nothing. It is completely bankrupt and without
resource, and no works it can accomplish will avail. Redemption from
such subjective conditions must be a free gift or nothing, and grace
through Christ's accomplished sacrifice is such a gift.
  "God," says Luther, "is the God of the humble, the miserable, the
oppressed, and the desperate, and of those that are brought even to
nothing; and his nature is to give sight to the blind, to comfort
the broken-hearted, to justify sinners, to save the very desperate and
damned. Now that pernicious and pestilent opinion of man's own
righteousness, which will not be a sinner, unclean, miserable, and
damnable, but righteous and holy, suffereth not God to come to his own
natural and proper work. Therefore God must take this maul in hand
(the law, I mean) to beat in pieces and bring to nothing this beast
with her vain confidence, that she may so learn at length by her own
misery that she is utterly forlorn and damned. But here lieth the
difficulty, that when a man is terrified and cast down, he is so
little able to raise himself up again and say, 'Now I am bruised and
afflicted enough; now is the time of grace; now is the time to hear
Christ.' The foolishness of man's heart is so great that then he
rather seeketh to himself more laws to satisfy his conscience. 'If I
live,' saith he, 'I will amend my life: I will do this, I will do
that.' But here, except thou do the quite contrary, except thou send
Moses away with his law, and in these terrors and this anguish lay
hold upon Christ who died for thy sins, look for no salvation. Thy
cowl, thy shaven crown, thy chastity, thy obedience, thy poverty,
thy works, thy merits? what shall all these do? what shall the law
of Moses avail? If I, wretched and damnable sinner, through works or
merits could have loved the Son of God, and so come to him, what
needed be to deliver himself for me? If I, being a wretch and damned
sinner, could be redeemed by any other price, what needed the Son of
God to be given? But because there was no other price, therefore he
delivered neither sheep, ox, gold, nor silver, but even God himself,
entirely and wholly 'for me,' even 'for me,' I say, a miserable,
wretched sinner. Now, therefore, I take comfort and apply this to
myself. And this manner of applying is the very true force and power
of faith. For he died not to justify the righteous, but the
un-righteous, and to make them the children of God." *
  * Commentary on Galatians, ch. iii. verse 19, and ch. ii. verse
20, abridged.
  That is, the more literally lost you are, the more literally you are
the very being whom Christ's sacrifice has already saved. Nothing in
Catholic theology, I imagine, has ever spoken to sick souls as
straight as this message from Luther's personal experience. As
Protestants are not all sick souls, of course reliance on what
Luther exults in calling the dung of one's merits, the filthy puddle
of one's own righteousness, has come to the front again in their
religion; but the adequacy of his view of Christianity to the deeper
parts of our human mental structure is shown by its wildfire
contagiousness when it was a new and quickening thing.
  Faith that Christ has genuinely done his work was part of what
Luther meant by faith, which so far is faith in a fact
intellectually conceived of. But this is only one part of Luther's
faith, the other part being far more vital. This other part is
something not intellectual but immediate and intuitive, the assurance,
namely, that I, this individual I, just as I stand, without one
plea, etc., am saved now and forever. *
  * In some conversions, both steps are distinct; in this one, for
  "Whilst I was reading the evangelical treaties, I was soon struck by
an expression: 'the finished work of Christ.' 'Why,' I asked of
myself, 'does the author use these terms? Why does he not say "the
atoning work"? Then these words, 'It is finished,' presented
themselves to my mind. 'What is it that is finished?' I asked, and
in an instant my mind replied: 'A perfect expiation for sin; entire
satisfaction has been given; the debt has been paid by the Substitute.
Christ has died for our sins; not for ours only, but for those of
all men. If, then, the entire work is finished, all the debt paid,
what remains for me to do?' In another instant the light was shed
through my mind by the Holy Ghost, and the joyous conviction was given
me that nothing more was to be done, save to fall on my knees, to
accept this Saviour and his love, to praise God forever."
Autobiography of Hudson Taylor. I translate back into English from the
French translation of Challand (Geneva, no date), the original not
being accessible.
  Professor Leuba is undoubtedly right in contending that the
conceptual belief about Christ's work, although so often efficacious
and antecedent, is really accessory and nonessential, and that the
'joyous conviction' can also come by far other channels than this
conception. It is to the joyous conviction itself, the assurance
that all is well with one, that he would give the name of faith par
  "When the sense of estrangement," he writes, "fencing man about in a
narrowly limited ego, breaks down, the individual finds himself 'at
one with all creation.' He lives in the universal life; he and man, he
and nature, he and God, are one. That state of confidence, trust,
union with all things, following upon the achievement of moral
unity, is the Faith-state. Various dogmatic beliefs suddenly, on the
advent of the faith-state, acquire a character of certainty, assume
a new reality, become an object of faith. As the ground of assurance
here is not rational, argumentation is irrelevant. But such conviction
being a mere casual offshoot of the faith-state, it is a gross error
to imagine that the chief practical value of the faith-state is its
power to stamp with the seal of reality certain particular theological
conceptions. * On the contrary, its value lies solely in the fact that
it is the psychic correlate of a biological growth reducing contending
desires to one direction; a growth which expresses itself in new
affective states and new reactions; in larger, nobler, more
Christ-like activities. The ground of the specific assurance in
religious dogmas is then an affective experience. The objects of faith
may even be preposterous; the affective stream will float them
along, and invest them with unshakable certitude. The more startling
the affective experience, the less explicable it seems, the easier
it is to make it the carrier of unsubstantiated notions." *(2)
  * Tolstoy's case was a good comment on those words. There was almost
no theology in his conversion. His faith-state was the sense come back
that life was infinite in its moral significance.
  *(2) American Journal of Psychology, vii. 345-347, abridged.
  The characteristics of the affective experience which, to avoid
ambiguity, should, I think, be called the state of assurance rather
than the faith-state, can be easily enumerated, though it is
probably difficult to realize their intensity, unless one have been
through the experience one's self.
  The central one is the loss of all the worry, the sense that all
is ultimately well with one, the peace, the harmony, the willingness
to be, even though the outer conditions should remain the same. The
certainty of God's 'grace,' of 'justification,' 'salvation,' is an
objective belief that usually accompanies the change in Christians;
but this may be entirely lacking and yet the affective peace remain
the same- you will recollect the case of the Oxford graduate: and many
might be given where the assurance of personal salvation was only a
later result. A passion of willingness, of acquiescence, of
admiration, is the glowing centre of this state of mind.
  The second feature is the sense of perceiving truths not known
before. The mysteries of life become lucid, as Professor Leuba says;
and often, nay usually, the solution is more or less unutterable in
words. But these more intellectual phenomena may be postponed until we
treat of mysticism.
  A third peculiarity of the assurance state is the objective change
which the world often appears to undergo. 'An appearance of newness
beautifies every object,' the precise opposite of that other sort of
newness, that dreadful unreality and strangeness in the appearance
of the world, which is experienced by melancholy patients, and of
which you may recall my relating some examples. * This sense of
clean and beautiful newness within and without is one of the commonest
entries in conversion records. Jonathan Edwards thus describes it in
  * Above, Lecture VI and VII.
  "After this my sense of divine things gradually increased and became
more and more lively, and had more of that inward sweetness. The
appearance of everything was altered; there seemed to be, as it
were, a calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost
everything. God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love,
seemed to appear in everything; in the sun, moon, and stars; in the
clouds and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, and trees; in the water
and all nature; which used greatly to fix my mind. And scarce
anything, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder
and lightning; formerly nothing had been so terrible to me. Before,
I used to be uncommonly terrified with thunder, and to be struck
with terror when I saw a thunderstorm rising; but now, on the
contrary, it rejoices me." *
  * DWIGHT: Life of Edwards, New York, 1830, p. 61, abridged.
  Billy Bray, an excellent little illiterate English evangelist,
records his sense of newness thus:-
  "I said to the Lord: 'Thou hast said, they that ask shall receive,
they that seek shall find, and to them that knock the door shall be
opened, and I have faith to believe it.' In an instant the Lord made
me so happy that I cannot express what I felt. I shouted for joy. I
praised God with my whole heart.... I think this was in November,
1823, but what day of the month I do not know. I remember this, that
everything looked new to me, the people, the fields, the cattle, the
trees. I was like a new man in a new world. I spent the greater part
of my time in praising the Lord." *
  * W.F. BOURNE: The King's Son, a Memoir of Billy Bray, London
Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1887, p. 9.
  Starbuck and Leuba both illustrate this sense of newness by
quotations. I take the two following from Starbuck's manuscript
collection. One, a woman, says:-
  "I was taken to a camp-meeting, mother and religious friends seeking
and praying for my conversion. My emotional nature was stirred to
its depths; confessions of depravity and pleading with God for
salvation from sin made me oblivious of all surroundings. I plead
for mercy, and had a vivid realization of forgiveness and renewal of
my nature. When rising from my knees I exclaimed, 'Old things have
passed away, all things have become new.' It was like entering another
world, a new state of existence. Natural objects were glorified, my
spiritual vision was so clarified that I saw beauty in every
material object in the universe, the woods were vocal with heavenly
music; my soul exulted in the love of God, and I wanted everybody to
share in my joy."
  The next case is that of a man:-
  "I know not how I got back into the encampment, but found myself
staggering up to Rev. __'s Holiness tent- and as it was full of
seekers and a terrible noise inside, some groaning, some laughing, and
some shouting, and by a large oak, ten feet from the tent, I fell on
my face by a bench, and tried to pray, and every time I would call
on God, something like a man's hand would strangle me by choking. I
don't know whether there were any one around or near me or not. I
thought I should surely die if I did not get help, but just as often
as I would pray, that unseen hand was felt on my throat and my
breath squeezed off. Finally something said: 'Venture on the
atonement, for you will die anyway if you don't.' So I made one
final struggle to call on God for mercy, with the same choking and
strangling, determined to finish the sentence of prayer for Mercy,
if I did strangle and die, and the last I remember that time was
falling back on the ground with the same unseen hand on my throat. I
don't know how long I lay there or what was going on. None of my folks
were present. When I came to myself, there were a crowd around me
praising God. The very heavens seemed to open and pour down rays of
light and glory. Not for a moment only, but all day and night,
floods of light and glory seemed to pour through my soul, and oh,
how I was changed, and everything became new. My horses and hogs and
even everybody seemed changed."
  This man's case introduces the feature of automatisms, which in
suggestible subjects have been so startling a feature at revivals
since, in Edwards's, Wesley's, and Whitfield's time, these became a
regular means of gospel-propagation. They were at first supposed to be
semi-miraculous proofs of 'power' on the part of the Holy Ghost; but
great divergence of opinion quickly arose concerning them. Edwards, in
his Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, has to
defend them against their critics; and their value has long been
matter of debate even within the revivalistic denominations. * They
undoubtedly have no essential spiritual significance, and although
their presence makes his conversion more memorable to the convert,
it has never been proved that converts who show them are more
persevering or fertile in good fruits than those whose change of heart
has had less violent accompaniments. On the whole, unconsciousness,
convulsions, visions, involuntary vocal utterances, and suffocation,
must be simply ascribed to the subject's having a large subliminal
region, involving nervous instability. This is often the subject's own
view of the matter afterwards. One of Starbuck's correspondents
writes, for instance:-
  * Consult WILLIAM B. SPRAGUE: Lectures on Revivals of Religion,
New York, 1832, in the long Appendix to which the opinions of a
large number of ministers are given.
  "I have been through the experience which is known as conversion. My
explanation of it is this: the subject works his emotions up to the
breaking point, at the same time resisting their physical
manifestations, such as quickened pulse, etc., and then suddenly
lets them have their full sway over his body. The relief is
something wonderful, and the pleasurable effects of the emotions are
experienced to the highest degree."
  There is one form of sensory automatism which possibly deserves
special notice on account of its frequency. I refer to hallucinatory
or pseudo-hallucinatory luminous phenomena, photisms, to use the
term of the psychologists. Saint Paul's blinding heavenly vision seems
to have been a phenomen of this sort; so does Constantine's cross in
the sky. The last case but one which I quoted mentions floods of light
and glory. Henry Alline mentions a light, about whose externality he
seems uncertain. Colonel Gardiner sees a blazing light. President
Finney writes:-
  "All at once the glory of God shone upon and round about me in a
manner almost marvelous.... A light perfectly ineffable shone in my
soul, that almost prostrated me on the ground. This light seemed
like the brightness of the sun in every direction. It was too
intense for the eyes.... I think I knew something then, by actual
experience, of that light that prostrated Paul on the way to Damascus.
It was surely a light such as I could not have endured long." *
  * Memoirs, p. 34.
  Such reports of photisms are indeed far from uncommon. Here is
another from Starbuck's collection, where the light appeared evidently
  "I had attended a series of revival services for about two weeks off
and on. Had been invited to the altar several times, all the time
becoming more deeply impressed, when finally I decided I must do this,
or I should be lost. Realization of conversion was very vivid, like
a ton's weight being lifted from my heart; a strange light which
seemed to light up the whole room (for it was dark); a conscious
supreme bliss which caused me to repeat 'Glory to God' for a long
time. Decided to be God's child for life, and to give up my pet
ambition, wealth and social position. My former habits of life
hindered my growth somewhat, but I set about overcoming these
systematically, and in one year my whole nature was changed, i. e., my
ambitions were of a different order."
  Here is another one of Starbuck's cases, involving a luminous
  "I had been clearly converted twenty-three years before, or rather
reclaimed. My experience in regeneration was then clear and spiritual,
and I had not backslidden. But I experienced entire sanctification
on the 15th day of March, 1893, about eleven o'clock in the morning.
The particular accompaniments of the experience were entirely
unexpected. I was quietly sitting at home singing selections out of
Pentecostal Hymns. Suddenly there seemed to be a something sweeping
into me and inflating my entire being- such a sensation as I had never
experienced before. When this experience came, I seemed to be
conducted around a large, capacious, well-lighted room. As I walked
with my invisible conductor and looked around, a clear thought was
coined in my mind, 'They are not here, they are gone.' As soon as
the thought was definitely formed in my mind, though no word was
spoken, the Holy Spirit impressed me that I was surveying my own soul.
Then, for the first time in all my life, did I know that I was
cleansed from all sin, and filled with the fullness of God."
  Leuba quotes the case of a Mr. Peck, where the luminous affection
reminds one of the chromatic hallucinations produced by the intoxicant
cactus buds called mescal by the Mexicans:-
  "When I went in the morning into the fields to work, the glory of
God appeared in all his visible creation. I well remember we reaped
oats, and how every straw and head of the oats seemed, as it were,
arrayed in a kind of rainbow glory, or to glow, if I may so express
it, in the glory of God." *
  * These reports of sensorial photism shade off into what are
evidently only metaphorical accounts of the sense of new spiritual
illumination, as, for instance, in Brainerd's statement: "As I was
walking in a thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the
apprehension of my soul. I do not mean any external brightness, for
I saw no such thing, nor any imagination of a body of light in the
third heavens, or anything of that nature, but it was a new inward
apprehension or view that I had of God."
  In a case like this next one from Starbuck's manuscript
collection, the lighting up of the darkness is probably also
  "One Sunday night, I resolved that when I got home to the ranch
where I was working, I would offer myself with my faculties and all to
God to be used only by and for him. It was raining and the roads
were muddy; but this desire grew so strong that I kneeled down by
the side of the road and told God all about it, intending then to
get up and go on. Such a thing as any special answer to my prayer
never entered my mind, having been converted by faith, but still being
most undoubtedly saved. Well, while I was praying, I remember
holding out my hands to God and telling him they should work for
him, my feet walk for him, my tongue speak for him, etc., etc., if
he would only use me as his instrument and give me a satisfying
experience- when suddenly the darkness of the night seemed lit up- I
felt, realized, knew, that God heard and answered my prayer. Deep
happiness came over me; I felt I was accepted into the inner circle of
God's loved ones."
  In the following case also the flash of light is metaphorical:-
  "A prayer meeting had been called for at close of evening service.
The minister supposed me impressed by his discourse (a mistake- he was
dull). He came and, placing his hand upon my shoulder, said: 'Do you
not want to give your heart to God?' I replied in the affirmative.
Then said he, 'Come to the front seat.' They sang and prayed and
talked with me. I experienced nothing but unaccountable
wretchedness. They declared that the reason why I did not 'obtain
peace' was because I was not willing to give up all to God. After
about two hours the minister said we would go home. As usual, on
retiring, I prayed. In great distress, I at this time simply said, I
Lord, I have done all I can, I leave the whole matter with thee.'
Immediately, like a flash of light, there came to me a great peace,
and I arose and went into my parents' bedroom and said, 'I do feel
so wonderfully happy.' This I regard as the hour of conversion. It was
the hour in which I became assured of divine acceptance and favor.
So far as my life was concerned, it made little immediate change."
  The most characteristic of all the elements of the conversion
crisis, and the last one of which I shall speak, is the ecstasy of
happiness produced. We have already heard several accounts of it,
but I will add a couple more. President Finney's is so vivid that I
give it at length:-
  "All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out; and the utterance of
my heart was, 'I want to pour my whole soul out to God.' The rising of
my soul was so great that I rushed into the back room of the front
office, to pray. There was no fire and no light in the room;
nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I
went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord
Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for
some time afterwards, that it was wholly a mental state. On the
contrary, it seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man.
He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me
right down at his feet. I have always since regarded this as a most
remarkable state of mind; for it seemed to me a reality that he
stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to
him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could
with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet
with my tears; and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched
him, that I recollect. I must have continued in this state for a
good while; but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to
recollect anything that I said. But I know, as soon as my mind
became calm enough to break off from the interview, I returned to
the front office, and found that the fire that I had made of large
wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a
seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my
mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection
that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the
world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go
through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of
electricity, going through and through me. Indeed, it seemed to come
in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any
other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect
distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
  "No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in
my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I
should say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my
heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after
the other, until I recollect I cried out, 'I shall die if these
waves continue to pass over me.' I said, 'Lord, I cannot bear any
more;' yet I had no fear of death.
  "How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to
roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was
late in the evening when a member of my choir- for I was the leader of
the choir- came into the office to see me. He was a member of the
church. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me,
'Mr. Finney, what ails you?' I could make him no answer for some time.
He then said, 'Are you in pain?' I gathered myself up as best I could,
and replied, 'No, but so happy that I cannot live.'"
  I just now quoted Billy Bray; I cannot do better than give his own
brief account of his post-conversion feelings:-
  "I can't help praising the Lord. As I go along the street, I lift up
one foot, and it seems to say 'Glory'; and I lift up the other, and it
seems to say 'Amen'; and so they keep up like that all the time I am
walking." *
  * I add in a note a few more records:-
  "One morning, being in deep distress, fearing every moment I
should drop into hell, I was constrained to cry in earnest for
mercy, and the Lord came to my relief, and delivered my soul from
the burden and guilt of sin. My whole frame was in a tremor from
head to foot, and my soul enjoyed sweet peace. The pleasure I then
felt was indescribable, The happiness lasted about three days,
during which time I never spoke to any person about my feelings."
Autobiography of DAN YOUNG, edited by W.P. STRICKLAND, New York, 1860.
  "In an instant there rose up in me such a sense of God's taking care
of those who put their trust in him that for an hour all the world was
crystalline, the heavens were lucid, and I sprang to my feet and began
to cry and laugh." H.W. BEECHER, quoted by LEUBA.
  "My tears of sorrow changed to joy, and I lay there praising God
in such ecstasy of joy as only the soul who experiences it can
realize."- "I cannot express how I felt. It was as if I had been in
a dark dungeon and lifted into the light of the sun. I shouted and I
sang praise unto him who loved me and washed me from my sins. I was
forced to retire into a secret place, for the tears did flow, and I
did not wish my shopmates to see me, and yet I could not keep it a
secret."- "I experienced joy almost to weeping."- "I felt my face must
have shone like that of Moses. I had a general feeling of buoyancy. It
was the greatest joy it was ever my lot to experience."- "I wept and
laughed alternately. I was as light as if walking on air. I felt as if
I had gained greater peace and happiness than I had ever expected to
experience." STARBUCK'S correspondents.
  One word, before I close this lecture, on the question of the
transiency or permanence of these abrupt conversions. Some of you, I
feel sure, knowing that numerous backslidings and relapses take place,
make of these their apperceiving mass for interpreting the whole
subject, and dismiss it with a pitying smile at so much 'hysterics.'
Psychologically, as well as religiously, however, this is shallow.
It misses the point of serious interest, which is not so much the
duration as the nature and quality of these shiftings of character
to higher levels. Men lapse from every level- we need no statistics to
tell us that. Love is, for instance, well known not to be irrevocable,
yet, constant or inconstant, it reveals new flights and reaches of
ideality while it lasts. These revelations form its significance to
men and women, whatever be its duration. So with the conversion
experience: that it should for even a short time show a human being
what the highwater mark of his spiritual capacity is, this is what
constitutes its importance,- an importance which backsliding cannot
diminish, although persistence might increase it. As a matter of fact,
all the more striking instances of conversion, all those, for
instance, which I have quoted, have been permanent. The case of
which there might be most doubt, on account of its suggesting so
strongly an epileptoid seizure, was the case of M. Ratisbonne. Yet I
am informed that Ratisbonne's whole future was shaped by those few
minutes. He gave up his project of marriage, became a priest,
founded at Jerusalem, where he went to dwell, a mission of nuns for
the conversion of the Jews, showed no tendency to use for egotistic
purposes the notoriety given him by the peculiar circumstances of
his conversion,- which, for the rest, he could seldom refer to without
tears,- and in short remained an exemplary son of the Church until
he died, late in the 80's, if I remember rightly.
  The only statistics I know of, on the subject of the duration of
conversions, are those collected for Professor Starbuck by Miss
Johnston. They embrace only a hundred persons, evangelical
church-members, more than half being Methodists. According to the
statement of the subjects themselves, there had been backsliding of
some sort in nearly all the cases, 93 per cent. of the women, 77 per
cent. of the men. Discussing the returns more minutely, Starbuck finds
that only 6 per cent. are relapses from the religious faith which
the conversion confirmed, and that the backsliding complained of is in
most only a fluctuation in the ardor of sentiment. Only six of the
hundred cases report a change of faith. Starbuck's conclusion is
that the effect of conversion is to bring with it "a changed
attitude towards life, which is fairly constant and permanent,
although the feelings fluctuate.... In other words, the persons who
have passed through conversion, having once taken a stand for the
religious life, tend to feel themselves identified with it, no
matter how much their religious enthusiasm declines." *
  * Psychology of Religion, pp. 360, 357.

                      LECTURES XI, XII, AND XIII
  THE last lecture left us in a state of expectancy. What may the
practical fruits for life have been, of such movingly happy
conversions as those we heard of? With this question the really
important part of our task opens, for you remember that we began all
this empirical inquiry not merely to open a curious chapter in the
natural history of human consciousness, but rather to attain a
spiritual judgment as to the total value and positive meaning of all
the religious trouble and happiness which we have seen. We must,
therefore, first describe the fruits of the religious life, and then
we must judge them. This divides our inquiry into two distinct
parts. Let us without further preamble proceed to the descriptive
  It ought to be the pleasantest portion of our business in these
lectures. Some small pieces of it, it is true, may be painful, or
may show human nature in a pathetic light, but it will be mainly
pleasant, because the best fruits of religious experience are the best
things that history has to show. They have always been esteemed so;
here if anywhere is the genuinely strenuous life; and to call to
mind a succession of such examples as I have lately had to wander
through, though it has been only in the reading of them, is to feel
encouraged and uplifted and washed in better moral air.
  The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery
to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves have been
flown for religious ideals. I can do no better than quote, as to this,
some remarks which Sainte-Beuve in his History of Port-Royal makes
on the results of conversion or the state of grace.
  "Even from the purely human point of view," Sainte-Beuve says,
"the phenomenon of grace must still appear sufficiently extraordinary,
eminent, and rare, both in its nature and in its effects, to deserve a
closer study. For the soul arrives thereby at a certain fixed and
invincible state, a state which is genuinely heroic, and from out of
which the greatest deeds which it ever performs are executed.
Through all the different forms of communion, and all the diversity of
the means which help to produce this state, whether it be reached by a
jubilee, by a general confession, by a solitary prayer and effusion,
whatever in short be the place and the occasion, it is easy to
recognize that it is fundamentally one state in spirit and in
fruits. Penetrate a little beneath the diversity of circumstances, and
it becomes evident that in Christians of different epochs it is always
one and the same modification by which they are affected: there is
veritably a single fundamental and identical spirit of piety and
charity, common to those who have received grace; an inner state which
before all things is one of love and humility, of infinite
confidence in God, and of severity for one's self, accompanied with
tenderness for others. The fruits peculiar to this condition of the
soul have the same savor in all, under distant suns and in different
surroundings, in Saint Teresa of Avila just as in any Moravian brother
of Herrnhut." *
  * SAINTE BEUVE: Port-Royal, vol. i. pp. 95 and 106, abridged.
  Sainte-Beuve has here only the more eminent instances of
regeneration in mind, and these are of course the instructive ones for
us also to consider. These devotees have often laid their course so
differently from other men that, judging them by worldly law, we might
be tempted to call them monstrous aberrations from the path of nature.
I begin, therefore, by asking a general psychological question as to
what the inner conditions are which may make one human character
differ so extremely from another.
  I reply at once that where the character, as something distinguished
from the intellect, is concerned, the causes of human diversity lie
chiefly in our differing susceptibilities of emotional excitement, and
in the different impulses and inhibitions which these bring in their
train. Let me make this more clear.
  Speaking generally, our moral and practical attitude, at any given
time, is always a resultant of two sets of forces within us,
impulses pushing us one way and obstructions and inhibitions holding
us back. "Yes! yes!" say the impulses; "No! no!" say the
inhibitions. Few people who have not expressly reflected on the matter
realize how constantly this factor of inhibition is upon us, how it
contains and moulds us by its restrictive pressure almost as if we
were fluids pent within the cavity of a jar. The influence is so
incessant that it becomes subconscious. All of you, for example, sit
here with a certain constraint at this moment, and entirely without
express consciousness of the fact, because of the influence of the
occasion. If left alone in the room, each of you would probably
involuntarily rearrange himself, and make his attitude more 'free
and easy.' But proprieties and their inhibitions snap like cobwebs
if any great emotional excitement supervenes. I have seen a dandy
appear in the street with his face covered with shaving-lather because
a house across the way was on fire; and a woman will run among
strangers in her nightgown if it be a question of saving her baby's
life or her own. Take a self-indulgent woman's life in general. She
will yield to every inhibition set by her disagreeable sensations, lie
late in bed, live upon tea or bromides, keep indoors from the cold.
Every difficulty finds her obedient to its 'no.' But make a mother
of her, and what have you? Possessed by maternal excitement, she now
confronts wakefulness, weariness, and toil without an instant of
hesitation or a word of complaint. The inhibitive power of pain over
her is extinguished wherever the baby's interests are at stake. The
inconveniences which this creature occasions have become, as James
Hinton says, the glowing heart of a great joy, and indeed are now
the very conditions whereby the joy becomes most deep.
  This is an example of what you have already heard of as the
'expulsive power of a higher affection.' But be the affection high
or low, it makes no difference, so long as the excitement it brings be
strong enough. In one of Henry Drummond's discourses he tells of an
inundation in India where an eminence with a bungalow upon it remained
unsubmerged, and became the refuge of a number of wild animals and
reptiles in addition to the human beings who were there. At a
certain moment a royal Bengal tiger appeared swimming towards it,
reached it, and lay panting like a dog upon the ground in the midst of
the people, still possessed by such an agony of terror that one of the
Englishmen could calmly step up with a rifle and blow out its
brains. The tiger's habitual ferocity was temporarily quelled by the
emotion of fear, which became sovereign, and formed a new centre for
his character.
  Sometimes no emotional state is sovereign, but many contrary ones
are mixed together. In that case one hears both 'yeses' and 'noes,'
and the 'will' is called on then to solve the conflict. Take a
soldier, for example, with his dread of cowardice impelling him to
advance, his fears impelling him to run, and his Propensities to
imitation pushing him towards various courses if his comrades offer
various examples. His person becomes the seat of a mass of
interferences; and he may for a time simply waver, because no one
emotion prevails. There is a pitch of intensity, though, which, if any
emotion reach it, enthrones that one as alone effective and sweeps its
antagonists and all their inhibitions away. The fury of his
comrades' charge, once entered on, will give this pitch of courage
to the soldier; the panic of their rout will give this pitch of
fear. In these sovereign excitements, things ordinarily impossible
grow natural because the inhibitions are annulled. Their 'no! no!' not
only is not heard, it does not exist. Obstacles are then like
tissue-paper hoops to the circus rider- no impediment; the flood is
higher than the dam they make. "Lass sie betteln gehn wenn sie hungrig
sind!" cries the grenadier, frantic over his Emperor's capture, when
his wife and babes are suggested; and men pent into a burning
theatre have been known to cut their way through the crowd with
knives. *
  * "'Love would not be love,' says Bourget, 'unless it could carry
one to crime.' And so one may say that no passion would be a veritable
passion unless it could carry one to crime." (SIGHELE: Psychologie des
Sectes, p. 136.) In other words, great passions annul the ordinary
inhibitions set by 'conscience.' And conversely, of all the criminal
human beings, the false, cowardly, sensual, or cruel persons who
actually live, there is perhaps not one whose criminal impulse may not
be at some moment overpowered by the presence of some other emotion to
which his character is also potentially liable, provided that other
emotion be only made intense enough. Fear is usually the most
available emotion for this result in this particular class of persons.
It stands for conscience, and may here be classed appropriately as a
'higher affection.' If we are soon to die, or if we believe a day of
judgment to be near at hand, how quickly do we put our moral house
in order- we do not see how sin can evermore exert temptation over us!
Old-fashioned hell-fire Christianity well knew how to extract from
fear its full equivalent in the way of fruits for repentance, and
its full conversion value.
  One mode of emotional excitability is exceedingly important in the
composition of the energetic character, from its peculiarly
destructive power over inhibitions. I mean what in its lower form is
mere irascibility, susceptibility to wrath, the fighting temper; and
what in subtler ways manifests itself as impatience, grimness,
earnestness, severity of character. Earnestness means willingness to
live with energy, though energy bring pain. The pain may be pain to
other people or pain to one's self- it makes little difference; for
when the strenuous mood is on one, the aim is to break something, no
matter whose or what. Nothing annihilates an inhibition as
irresistibly as anger does it; for, as Moltke says of war, destruction
pure and simple is its essence. This is what makes it so invaluable an
ally of every other passion. The sweetest delights are trampled on
with a ferocious pleasure the moment they offer themselves as checks
to a cause by which our higher indignations are elicited. It costs
then nothing to drop friendships, to renounce long-rooted privileges
and possessions, to break with social ties. Rather do we take a
stern joy in the astringency and desolation; and what is called
weakness of character seems in most cases to consist in the inaptitude
for these sacrificial moods, of which one's own inferior self and
its pet softnesses must often be the targets and the victims. *
  * Example: Benjamin Constant was often marveled at as an
extraordinary instance of superior intelligence with inferior
character, He writes (Journal, Paris, 1895, p. 56), "I am tossed and
dragged about by my miserable weakness. Never was anything so
ridiculous as my indecision. Now marriage, now solitude; now
Germany, now France, hesitation upon hesitation, and all because at
bottom I am unable to give up anything." He can't 'get mad' at any
of his alternatives; and the career of a man beset by such an
all-round amiability is hopeless.
  So far I have spoken of temporary alterations produced by shifting
excitements in the same person. But the relatively fixed differences
of character of different persons are explained in a precisely similar
way. In a man with a liability to a special sort of emotion, whole
ranges of inhibition habitually vanish, which in other men remain
effective, and other sorts of inhibition take their place. When a
person has an inborn genius for certain emotions, his life differs
strangely from that of ordinary people, for none of their usual
deterrents check him. Your mere aspirant to a type of character, on
the contrary, only shows, when your natural lover, fighter, or
reformer, with whom the passion is a gift of nature, comes along,
the hopeless inferiority of voluntary to instinctive action. He has
deliberately to overcome his inhibitions; the genius with the inborn
passion seems not to feel them at all; he is free of all that inner
friction and nervous waste. To a Fox, a Garibaldi, a General Booth,
a John Brown, a Louise Michel, a Bradlaugh, the obstacles omnipotent
over those around them are as if non-existent. Could the rest of us so
disregard them, there might be many such heroes, for many have the
wish to live for similar ideals, and only the adequate degree of
inhibition-quenching fury is lacking. *
  * The great thing which the higher excitabilities give is courage;
and the addition or subtraction of a certain amount of this quality
makes a different man, a different life. Various excitements let the
courage loose. Trustful hope will do it; inspiring example will do it;
love will do it; wrath will do it. In some people it is natively so
high that the mere touch of danger does it, though danger is for
most men the great inhibitor of action. 'Love of adventure' becomes in
such persons a ruling passion. "I believe," says General Skobeleff,
"that my bravery is simply the passion and at the same time the
contempt of danger. The risk of life fills me with an exaggerated
rapture. The fewer there are to share it, the more I like it. The
participation of my body in the event is required to furnish me an
adequate excitement. Everything intellectual appears to me to be
reflex; but a meeting of man to man, a duel, a danger into which I can
throw myself headforemost, attracts me, moves me, intoxicates me. I am
crazy for it, I love it, I adore it. I run after danger as one runs
after women; I wish it never to stop. Were it always the same, it
would always bring me a new pleasure. When I throw myself into an
adventure in which I hope to find it, my heart palpitates with the
uncertainty; I could wish at once to have it appear and yet to
delay. A sort of painful and delicious shiver shakes me; my entire
nature runs to meet the peril with an impetus that my will would in
vain try to resist." (JULIETTE ADAM: Le General Skobeleff, Nouvelle
Revue, 1886, abridged.) Skobeleff seems to have been a cruel egoist;
but the disinterested Garibaldi, if one may judge by his 'Memorie,'
lived in an unflagging emotion of similar danger-seeking excitement.
  The difference between willing and merely wishing, between having
ideals that are creative and ideals that are but pinings and
regrets, thus depends solely either on the amount of steam-pressure
chronically driving the character in the ideal direction, or on the
amount of ideal excitement transiently acquired. Given a certain
amount of love, indignation, generosity, magnanimity, admiration,
loyalty, or enthusiasm of self-surrender, the result is always the
same. That whole raft of cowardly obstructions, which in tame
persons and dull moods are sovereign impediments to action, sinks away
at once. Our conventionality, * our shyness, laziness, and stinginess,
our demands for precedent and permission, for guarantee and surety,
our small suspicions, timidities, despairs, where are they now?
Severed like cobwebs, broken like bubbles in the sun-
              "Wo sind die Sorge nun und Noth
               Die mich noch gestern wollt' erschlaffen?
               Ich scham' mich dess' im Morgenroth."
  The flood we are borne on rolls them so lightly under that their
very contact is unfelt. Set free of them, we float and soar and
sing. This auroral openness and uplift gives to all creative ideal
levels a bright and caroling quality, which is nowhere more marked
than where the controlling emotion is religious. "The true monk,"
writes an Italian mystic, "takes nothing with him but his lyre."
  * See the case in Lecture III, above, where the writer describes his
experiences of communion with the Divine as consisting "merely in
the temporary obliteration of the conventionalities which usually
cover my life."
  We may now turn from these psychological generalities to those
fruits of the religious state which form the special subject of our
present lecture. The man who lives in his religious centre of personal
energy, and is actuated by spiritual enthusiasms, differs from his
previous carnal self in perfectly definite ways. The new ardor which
burns in his breast consumes in its glow the lower 'noes' which
formerly beset him, and keeps him immune against infection from the
entire groveling portion of his nature. Magnanimities once
impossible are now easy; paltry conventionalities and mean
incentives once tyrannical hold no sway. The stone wall inside of
him has fallen, the hardness in his heart has broken down. The rest of
us can, I think, imagine this by recalling our state of feeling in
those temporary 'melting moods' into which either the trials of real
life, or the theatre, or a novel sometimes throw us. Especially if
we weep! For it is then as if our tears broke through an inveterate
inner dam, and let all sorts of ancient peccancies and moral
stagnancies drain away, leaving us now washed and soft of heart and
open to every nobler leading. With most of us the customary hardness
quickly returns, but not so with saintly persons. Many saints, even as
energetic ones as Teresa and Loyola, have possessed what the church
traditionally reveres as a special grace, the so-called gift of tears.
In these persons the melting mood seems to have held almost
uninterrupted control. And as it is with tears and melting moods, so
it is with other exalted affections. Their reign may come by gradual
growth or by a crisis; but in either case it may have 'come to stay.'
  At the end of the last lecture we saw this permanence to be true
of the general paramountcy of the higher insight, even though in the
ebbs of emotional excitement meaner motives might temporarily
prevail and backsliding might occur. But that lower temptations may
remain completely annulled, apart from transient emotion and as if
by alteration of the man's habitual nature, is also proved by
documentary evidence in certain cases. Before embarking on the general
natural history of the regenerate character, let me convince you of
this curious fact by one or two examples. The most numerous are
those of reformed drunkards. You recollect the case of Mr. Hadley in
the last lecture; the Jerry McAuley Water Street Mission abounds in
similar instances. * You also remember the graduate of Oxford,
converted at three in the afternoon, and getting drunk in the
hay-field the next day, but after that permanently cured of his
appetite. "From that hour drink has had no terrors for me: I never
touch it, never want it. The same thing occurred with my pipe,...
the desire for it went at once and has never returned. So with every
known sin, the deliverance in each case being permanent and
complete. I have had no temptations since conversion."
  * Above, Lecture IX. "The only radical remedy I know for
dipsomania is religiomania," is a saying I have heard quoted from some
medical man.
  Here is an analogous case from Starbuck's manuscript collection:-
  "I went into the old Adelphi Theatre, where there was a Holiness
meeting,... and I began saying, 'Lord, Lord, I must have this
blessing.' Then what was to me an audible voice said: 'Are you willing
to give up everything to the Lord?' and question after question kept
coming up, to all of which I said: 'Yes, Lord; yes, Lord!' until
this came: 'Why do you not accept it now?' and I said: 'I do,
Lord.'- I felt no particular joy, only a trust. Just then the
meeting closed, and, as I went out on the street, I met a gentleman
smoking a fine cigar, and a cloud of smoke came into my face, and I
took a long, deep breath of it, and praise the Lord, all my appetite
for it was gone. Then as I walked along the street, passing saloons
where the fumes of liquor came out, I found that all my taste and
longing for that accursed stuff was gone. Glory to God!... [But] for
ten or eleven long years [after that] I was in the wilderness with its
ups and downs. My appetite for liquor never came back."
  The classic case of Colonel Gardiner is that of a man cured of
sexual temptation in a single hour. To Mr. Spears the colonel said, "I
was effectually cured of all inclination to that sin I was so strongly
addicted to that I thought nothing but shooting me through the head
could have cured me of it; and all desire and inclination to it was
removed, as entirely as if I had been a sucking child; nor did the
temptation return to this day." Mr. Webster's words on the same
subject are these: "One thing I have heard the colonel frequently say,
that he was much addicted to impurity before his acquaintance with
religion; but that, so soon as he was enlightened from above, he
felt the power of the Holy Ghost changing his nature so wonderfully
that his sanctification in this respect seemed more remarkable than in
any other." *
  * Doddridge's Life of Colonel James Gardiner, London Religious Tract
Society, pp. 23-32.
  Such rapid abolition of ancient impulses and propensities reminds us
so strongly of what has been observed as the result of hypnotic
suggestion that it is difficult not to believe that subliminal
influences play the decisive part in these abrupt changes of heart,
just as they do in hypnotism. * Suggestive therapeutics abound in
records of cure, after a few sittings, of inveterate bad habits with
which the patient, left to ordinary moral and physical influences, had
struggled in vain. Both drunkenness and sexual vice have been cured in
this way, action through the subliminal seeming thus in many
individuals to have the prerogative of inducing relatively stable
change. If the grace of God miraculously operates, it probably
operates through the subliminal door, then. But just how anything
operates in this region is still unexplained, and we shall do well now
to say good-by to the process of transformation altogether,- leaving
it, if you like, a good deal of a psychological or theological
mystery,- and to turn our attention to the fruits of the religious
condition, no matter in what way they may have been produced. *(2)
  * Here, for example, is a case, from Starbuck's book, in which a
'sensory automatism' brought about quickly what prayers and resolves
had been unable to effect. The subject is a woman. She writes:-
  "When I was about forty I tried to quit smoking, but the desire
was on me, and had me in its power. I cried and prayed and promised
God to quit, but could not. I had smoked for fifteen years. When I was
fifty. three, as I sat by the fire one day smoking, a voice came to
me. I did not hear it with my ears, but more as a dream or sort of
double think. It said, 'Louisa, lay down smoking.' At once I
replied, 'Will you take the desire away?' But it only kept saying:
'Louisa, lay down smoking.' Then I got up, laid my pipe on the
mantel-shelf, and never smoked again or had any desire to. The
desire was gone as though I had never known it or touched tobacco. The
sight of others smoking and the smell of smoke never gave me the least
wish to touch it again." The Psychology of Religion, p. 142.
  *(2) Professor Starbuck expresses the radical destruction of old
influences physiologically, as a cutting off of the connection between
higher and lower cerebral centres. "This condition," he says, "in
which the association-centres connected with the spiritual life are
cut off from the lower, is often reflected in the way correspondents
describe their experiences.... For example: 'Temptations from
without still assail me, but there is nothing within to respond to
them.' The ego [here] is wholly identified with the higher centres,
whose quality of feeling is that of withinness. Another of the
respondents says: 'Since then, although Satan tempts me, there is as
it were a wall of brass around me, so that his darts cannot touch
me.'"- Unquestionably, functional exclusions of this sort must occur
in the cerebral organ. But on the side accessible to introspection,
their causal condition is nothing but the degree of spiritual
excitement, getting at last so high and strong as to be sovereign; and
it must be frankly confessed that we do not know just why or how
such sovereignty comes about in one person and not in another. We
can only give our imagination a certain delusive help by mechanical
  If we should conceive, for example, that the human mind, with its
different possibilities of equilibrium, might be like a many-sided
solid with different surfaces on which it could lie flat, we might
liken mental revolutions to the spatial revolutions of such a body. As
it is pried up, say by a lever, from a position in which it lies on
surface A, for instance, it will linger for a time unstably halfway
up, and if the lever cease to urge it, it will tumble back or
'relapse' under the continued poll of gravity. But if at last it
rotate far enough for its centre of gravity to pass beyond surface A
altogether, the body will fall over, on surface B, say, and abide
there permanently. The pulls of gravity towards A have vanished, and
may now be disregarded. The polyhedron has become immune against
farther attraction from their direction.
  In this figure of speech the lever may correspond to the emotional
influence making for a new life, and the initial pull of gravity to
the ancient drawbacks and inhibitions. So long as the emotional
influence fails to reach a certain pitch of efficacy, the changes it
produces are unstable, and the man relapses into his original
attitude. But when a certain intensity is attained by the new emotion,
a critical point is passed, and there then ensues an irreversible
revolution, equivalent to the production of a new nature.
  The collective name for the ripe fruits of religion in a character
is Saintliness. * The saintly character is the character for which
spiritual emotions are the habitual centre of the personal energy; and
there is a certain composite photograph of universal saintliness,
the same in all religions, of which the features can easily be
traced. *(2)
  * I use this word in spite of a certain flavor of
'sanctimoniousness' which sometimes clings to it, because no other
word suggests as well the exact combination of affections which the
text goes on to describe.
  *(2) "It will be found," says Dr. W.R. INGE (in his lectures on
Christian Mysticism, London, 1899, p. 326), "that men of preeminent
saintliness agree very closely in what they tell us. They tell us that
they have arrived at an unshakable conviction, not based on
inference but on immediate experience, that God is a spirit with
whom the human spirit can hold intercourse; that in him meet all
that they can imagine of goodness, truth, and beauty that they can see
his footprints everywhere in nature, and feel his presence within them
as the very life of their life, so that in proportion as they come
to themselves they come to him. They tell us what separates us from
him and from happiness is, first, self-seeking in all its forms;
and, secondly, sensuality in all its forms; that these are the ways of
darkness and death, which hide from us the face of God; while the path
of the just is like a shining light, which shineth more and more
unto the perfect day."
  They are these:-
  1. A feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world's
selfish little interests; and a conviction, not merely intellectual,
but as it were sensible, of the existence of an Ideal Power. In
Christian saintliness this power is always personified as God; but
abstract moral ideals, civic or patriotic utopias, or inner visions of
holiness or right may also be felt as the true lords and enlargers
of our life, in ways which I described in the lecture on the Reality
of the Unseen. *
  * The 'enthusiasm of humanity' may lead to a life which coalesces in
many respects with that of Christian saintliness. Take the following
rules proposed to members of the Union pour l'Action morale, in the
Bulletin de l'Union, April 1-15, 1894. See, also, Revue Bleue,
August 13, 1892.
  "We would make known in our own persons the usefulness, of rule,
of discipline, of resignation and renunciation; we would teach the
necessary perpetuity of suffering, and explain the creative part which
it plays. We would wage war upon false optimism; on the base hope of
happiness coming to us ready made; on the notion of a salvation by
knowledge alone, or by material civilization alone, vain symbol as
this is of civilization, precarious external arrangement, ill-fitted
to replace the intimate union and consent of souls. We would wage
war also on bad morals, whether in public or in private life; on
luxury, fastidiousness, and over-refinement; on all that tends to
increase the painful, immoral, and anti-social multiplication of our
wants; on all that excites envy and dislike in the soul of the
common people, and confirms the notion that the chief end of life is
freedom to enjoy. We would preach by our example the respect of
superiors and equals, the respect of all men; affectionate
simplicity in our relations with inferiors and insignificant
persons; indulgence where our own claims only are concerned, but
firmness in our demands where they relate to duties towards others
or towards the public.
  "For the common people are what we help them to become; their
vices are our vices, gazed upon, envied, and imitated; and if they
come back with all their weight upon us, it is but just.
  "We forbid ourselves all seeking after popularity, all ambition to
appear important. We pledge ourselves to abstain from falsehood, in
all its degrees. We promise not to create or encourage illusions as to
what is possible, by what we say or write. We promise to one another
active sincerity, which strives to see truth clearly, and which
never fears to declare what it sees.
  "We promise deliberate resistance to the tidal waves of fashion,
to the 'booms' and panics of the public mind, to all the forms of
weakness and of fear.
  "We forbid ourselves the use of sarcasm. Of serious things we will
speak seriously and unsmilingly, without banter and without the
appearance of banter;- and even so of all things, for there are
serious ways of being light of heart.
  "We will put ourselves forward always for what we are, simply and
without false humility, as well as without pedantry, affectation, or
  2. A sense of the friendly continuity of the ideal power with our
own life, and a willing self-surrender to its control.
  3. An immense elation and freedom, as the outlines of the
confining selfhood melt down.
  4. A shifting of the emotional centre towards loving and
harmonious affections, towards 'yes, yes,' and away from 'no,' where
the claims of the non-ego are concerned.
  These fundamental inner conditions have characteristic practical
consequences, as follows:-
  a. Asceticism.- The self-surrender may become so passionate as to
turn into self-immolation. It may then so overrule the ordinary
inhibitions of the flesh that the saint finds positive pleasure in
sacrifice and asceticism, measuring and expressing as they do the
degree of his loyalty to the higher power.
  b. Strength of Soul.- The sense of enlargement of life may be so
uplifting that personal motives and inhibitions, commonly
omnipotent, become too insignificant for notice, and new reaches of
patience and fortitude open out. Fears and anxieties go, and
blissful equanimity takes their place. Come heaven, come hell, it
makes no difference now!
  c. Purity.- The shifting of the emotional centre brings with it,
first, increase of purity. The sensitiveness to spiritual discords
is enhanced, and the cleansing of existence from brutal and sensual
elements becomes imperative. Occasions of contact with such elements
are avoided: the saintly life must deepen its spiritual consistency
and keep unspotted from the world. In some temperaments this need of
purity of spirit takes an ascetic turn, and weaknesses of the flesh
are treated with relentless severity.
  d. Charity.- The shifting of the emotional centre brings,
secondly, increase of charity, tenderness for fellow-creatures. The
ordinary motives to antipathy, which usually set such close bounds
to tenderness among human beings, are inhibited. The saint loves his
enemies, and treats loathsome beggars as his brothers.
  I now have to give some concrete illustrations of these fruits of
the spiritual tree. The only difficulty is to choose, for they are
so abundant.
  Since the sense of Presence of a higher and friendly Power seems
to be the fundamental feature in the spiritual life, I will begin with
  In our narratives of conversion we saw how the world might look
shining and transfigured to the convert, * and, apart from anything

acutely religious, we all have moments when the universal life seems
to wrap us round with friendliness. In youth and health, in summer, in
the woods or on the mountains, there come days when the weather
seems all whispering with peace, hours when the goodness and beauty of
existence enfold us like a dry warm climate, or chime through us as if
our inner ears were subtly ringing with the world's security.
Thoreau writes:-
  * Above, Lecture X.
  "Once, a few weeks after I came to the woods, for an hour I
doubted whether the near neighborhood of man was not essential to a
serene and healthy life. To be alone was somewhat unpleasant. But,
in the midst of a gentle rain, while these thoughts prevailed, I was
suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in
the very pattering of the drops, and in every sight and sound around
my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once, like
an atmosphere, sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of
human neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them
since. Every little pine-needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and
befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of
something kindred to me, that I thought no place could ever be strange
to me again." *
  * H. THOREAU: Walden, Riverside edition, p. 206, abridged.
  In the Christian consciousness this sense of the enveloping
friendliness becomes most personal and definite. "The compensation,"
writes a German author, "for the loss of that sense of personal
independence which man so unwillingly gives up, is the disappearance
of all fear from one's life, the quite indescribable and
inexplicable feeling of an inner security, which one can only
experience, but which, once it has been experienced, one can never
forget." *
  * C.H. HILTY: Gluck, vol. i. p. 85.
  I find an excellent description of this state of mind in a sermon by
Mr. Voysey:-
  "It is the experience of myriads of trustful souls, that this
sense of God's unfailing presence with them in their going out and
in their coming in, and by night and day, is a source of absolute
repose and confident calmness. It drives away all fear of what may
befall them. That nearness of God is a constant security against
terror and anxiety. It is not that they are at all assured of physical
safety, or deem themselves protected by a love which is denied to
others, but that they are in a state of mind equally ready to be
safe or to meet with injury. If injury befall them, they will be
content to bear it because the Lord is their keeper, and nothing can
befall them without his will. If it be his will, then injury is for
them a blessing and no calamity at all. Thus and thus only is the
trustful man protected and shielded from harm. And I for one- by no
means a thick-skinned or hard-nerved man- am absolutely satisfied with
this arrangement, and do not wish for any other kind of immunity
from danger and catastrophe. Quite as sensitive to pain as the most
highly strung organism, I yet feel that the worst of it is
conquered, and the sting taken out of it altogether, by the thought
that God is our loving and sleepless keeper, and that nothing can hurt
us without his will." *
  * The Mystery of Pain and Death, London, 1892, p. 258.
  More excited expressions of this condition are abundant in religious
literature. I could easily weary you with their monotony. Here is an
account from Mrs. Jonathan Edwards:-
  "Last night," Mrs. Edwards writes, "was the sweetest night I ever
had in my life. I never before, for so long a time together, enjoyed
so much of the light and rest and sweetness of heaven in my soul,
but without the least agitation of body during the whole time. Part of
the night I lay awake, sometimes asleep, and sometimes between
sleeping and waking. But all night I continued in a constant, clear,
and lively sense of the heavenly sweetness of Christ's excellent love,
of his nearness to me, and of my dearness to him; with an
inexpressibly sweet calmness of soul in an entire rest in him. I
seemed to myself to perceive a glow of divine love come down from
the heart of Christ in heaven into my heart in a constant stream, like
a stream or pencil of sweet light. At the same time my heart and
soul all flowed out in love to Christ, so that there seemed to be a
constant flowing and reflowing of heavenly love, and I appeared to
myself to float or swim, in these bright, sweet beams, like the
motes swimming in the beams of the sun, or the streams of his light
which come in at the window. I think that what I felt each minute
was worth more than all the outward comfort and pleasure which I had
enjoyed in my whole life put together. It was pleasure, without the
least sting, or any interruption. It was a sweetness, which my soul
was lost in; it seemed to be all that my feeble frame could sustain.
There was but little difference, whether I was asleep or awake, but if
there was any difference, the sweetness was greatest while I was
asleep. * As I awoke early the next morning, it seemed to me that I
had entirely done with myself. I felt that the opinions of the world
concerning me were nothing, and that I had no more to do with any
outward interest of my own than with that of a person whom I never
saw. The glory of God seemed to swallow up every wish and desire of my
heart.... After retiring to rest and sleeping a little while, I awoke,
and was led to reflect on God's mercy to me, in giving me, for many
years, a willingness to die; and after that, in making me willing to
live, that I might do and suffer whatever he called me to here. I also
thought how God had graciously given me an entire resignation to his
will, with respect to the kind and manner of death that I should
die; having been made willing to die on the rack, or at the stake, and
if it were God's will, to die in darkness. But now it occurred to
me, I used to think of living no longer than to the ordinary age of
man. Upon this I was led to ask myself, whether I was not willing to
be kept out of heaven even longer; and my whole heart seemed
immediately to reply: Yes, a thousand years, and a thousand in horror,
if it be most for the honor of God, the torment of my body being so
great, awful, and overwhelming that none could bear to live in the
country where the spectacle was seen, and the torment of my mind being
vastly greater. And it seemed to me that I found a perfect
willingness, quietness, and alacrity of soul in consenting that it
should be so, if it were most for the glory of God, so that there
was no hesitation, doubt, or darkness in my mind. The glory of God
seemed to overcome me and swallow me up, and every conceivable
suffering, and everything that was terrible to my nature, seemed to
shrink to nothing before it. This resignation continued in its
clearness and brightness the rest of the night, and all the next
day, and the night following, and on Monday in the forenoon, without
interruption or abatement." *(2)
  * Compare Madame Guyon: "It was my practice to arise at midnight for
purposes of devotion.... It seemed to me that God came at the
precise time and woke me from sleep in order that I might enjoy him.
When I was out of health or greatly fatigued, he did not awake me, but
at such times I felt, even in my sleep, a singular possession of
God. He loved me so much that he seemed to pervade my being, at a time
when I could be only imperfectly conscious of his presence. My sleep
is sometimes broken,- a sort of half sleep; but my soul seems to be
awake enough to know God, when it is hardly capable of knowing
anything else." T.C. UPHAM: The Life and Religious Experiences of
Madame de la Mothe Guyon, New York, 1877, vol. i. p. 260.
  *(2) I have considerably abridged the words of the original, which
is given in EDWARDS's Narrative of the Revival in New England.
  The annals of Catholic saintship abound in records as ecstatic or
more ecstatic than this. "Often the assaults of the divine love," it
is said of the Sister Seraphique de la Martiniere, "reduced her almost
to the point of death. She used tenderly to complain of this to God.
'I cannot support it,' she used to say. 'Bear gently with my weakness,
or I shall expire under the violence of your love.'" *
  * BOUGAUD: Hist. de la Bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, 1894, p. 125.
  Let me pass next to the Charity and Brotherly Love which are a usual
fruit of saintliness, and have always been reckoned essential
theological virtues, however limited may have been the kinds of

service which the particular theology enjoined. Brotherly love would
follow logically from the assurance of God's friendly presence, the
notion of our brotherhood as men being an immediate inference from
that of God's fatherhood of us all. When Christ utters the precepts:
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that
hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you," he gives for a reason: "That ye may be the children of
your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the
evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
One might therefore be tempted to explain both the humility as to
one's self and the charity towards others which characterize spiritual
excitement, as results of the all-leveling character of theistic
belief. But these affections are certainly not mere derivatives of
theism. We find them in Stoicism, in Hinduism, and in Buddhism in
the highest possible degree. They harmonize with paternal theism
beautifully; but they harmonize with all reflection whatever upon
the dependence of mankind on general causes; and we must, I think,
consider them not subordinate but coordinate parts of that great
complex excitement in the study of which we are engaged. Religious
rapture, moral enthusiasm, ontological wonder, cosmic emotion, are all
unifying states of mind, in which the sand and grit of the selfhood
incline to disappear, and tenderness to rule. The best thing is to
describe the condition integrally as a characteristic affection to
which our nature is liable, a region in which we find ourselves at
home, a sea in which we swim; but not to pretend to explain its
parts by deriving them too cleverly from one another. Like love or
fear, the faith-state is a natural psychic complex, and carries
charity with it by organic consequence. Jubilation is an expansive
affection, and all expansive affections are self-forgetful and
kindly so long as they endure.
  We find this the case even when they are pathological in origin.
In his instructive work, la Tristesse et la Joie, * M. Georges Dumas
compares together the melancholy and the joyous phase of circular
insanity, and shows that, while selfishness characterizes the one, the
other is marked by altruistic impulses. No human being so stingy and
useless as was Marie in her melancholy period! But the moment the
happy period begins, "sympathy and kindness become her
characteristic sentiments. She displays a universal goodwill, not only
of intention, but in act.... She becomes solicitous of the health of
other patients, interested in getting them out, desirous to procure
wool to knit socks for some of them. Never since she has been under my
observation have I heard her in her joyous period utter any but
charitable opinions." *(2) And later, Dr. Dumas says of all such
joyous conditions that "unselfish sentiments and tender emotions are
the only affective states to be found in them. The subject's mind is
closed against envy, hatred, and vindictiveness, and wholly
transformed into benevolence, indulgence, and mercy." *(3)
  * Paris, 1900.
  *(2) Page 130.
  *(3) Page 167.
  There is thus an organic affinity between joyousness and tenderness,
and their companionship in the saintly life need in no way occasion
surprise. Along with the happiness, this increase of tenderness is
often noted in narratives of conversion. "I began to work for
others";- "I had more tender feeling for my family and friends";- "I
spoke at once to a person with whom I had been angry";- "I felt for
every one, and loved my friends better";- "I felt every one to be my
friend"; - these are so many expressions from the records collected by
Professor Starbuck. *
  * Op. cit., p. 127.
  "When," says Mrs. Edwards, continuing the narrative from which I
made quotation a moment ago, "I arose on the morning of the Sabbath, I
felt a love to all mankind, wholly peculiar in its strength and
sweetness, far beyond all that I had ever felt before. The power of
that love seemed inexpressible. I thought, if I were surrounded by
enemies, who were venting their malice and cruelty upon me, in
tormenting me, it would still be impossible that I should cherish
any feelings towards them but those of love, and pity, and ardent
desires for their happiness. I never before felt so far from a
disposition to judge and censure others, as I did that morning. I
realized also, in an unusual and very lively manner, how great a
part of Christianity lies in the performance of our social and
relative duties to one another. The same joyful sense continued
throughout the day- a sweet love to God and all mankind."
  Whatever be the explanation of the charity, it may efface all
usual human barriers. *
  * The barrier between men and animals also. We read of Towianski, an
eminent Polish patriot and mystic, that "one day one of his friends
met him in the rain, caressing a big dog which was jumping upon him
and covering him horribly with mud. On being asked why he permitted
the animal thus to dirty his clothes, Towianski replied: 'This dog,
whom I am now meeting for the first time, has shown a great
fellow-feeling for me, and a great joy in my recognition and
acceptance of his greetings. Were I to drive him off, I should wound
his feelings and do him a moral injury. It would be an offense not
only to him, but to all the spirits of the other world who are on
the same level with him. The damage which he does to my coat is as
nothing in comparison with the wrong which I should inflict upon
him, in case I were to remain indifferent to the manifestations of his
friendship. We ought,' he added, 'both to lighten the condition of
animals, whenever we can, and at the same time to facilitate in
ourselves that union of the world of all spirits, which the
sacrifice of Christ has made possible.'" Andre Towianski, Traduction
de l'Italien, Turin, 1897 (privately printed). I owe my knowledge of
this book and of Towianski to my friend Professor W. Lutoslawski,
author of 'Plato's Logic.'

  Here, for instance, is an example of Christian non-resistance from
Richard Weaver's autobiography. Weaver was a collier, a
semi-professional pugilist in his younger days, who became a much
beloved evangelist. Fighting, after drinking, seems to have been the
sin to which he originally felt his flesh most perversely inclined.
After his first conversion he had a backsliding, which consisted in
pounding a man who had insulted a girl. Feeling that, having once
fallen, he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, he got
drunk and went and broke the jaw of another man who had lately
challenged him to fight and taunted him with cowardice for refusing as
a Christian man;- I mention these incidents to show how genuine a
change of heart is implied in the later conduct which he describes
as follows:-
  "I went down the drift and found the boy crying because a
fellow-workman was trying to take the wagon from him by force. I
said to him:-
  "'Tom, you must n't take that wagon.'
  "He swore at me, and called me a Methodist devil. I told him that
God did not tell me to let him rob me. He cursed again, and said he
would push the wagon over me.
  "'Well,' I said, 'let us see whether the devil and thee are stronger
than the Lord and me.'
  "And the Lord and I proving stronger than the devil and he, he had
to get out of the way, or the wagon would have gone over him. So I
gave the wagon to the boy. Then said Tom:-
  "'I've a good mind to smack thee on the face.'
  "'Well,' I said, 'if that will do thee any good, thou canst do
it.' So he struck me on the face.
  "I turned the other cheek to him, and said, 'Strike again.'
  "He struck again and again, till he had struck me five times. I
turned my cheek for the sixth stroke; but he turned away cursing. I
shouted after him: 'The Lord forgive thee, for I do, and the Lord save
  "This was on a Saturday; and when I went home from the coal-pit my
wife saw my face was swollen, and asked what was the matter with it. I
said: 'I've been fighting, and I've given a man a good thrashing.'
  "She burst out weeping, and said, 'O Richard, what made you
fight?' Then I told her all about it; and she thanked the Lord I had
not struck back.
  "But the Lord had struck, and his blows have more effect than man's.
Monday came. The devil began to tempt me, saying: 'The other men
will laugh at thee for allowing Tom to treat thee as he did on
Saturday.' I cried, 'Get thee behind me, Satan;'- and went on my way
to the coal-pit.

  "Tom was the first man I saw. I said 'Good-morning,' but got no
  "He went down first. When I got down, I was surprised to see him
sitting on the wagon-road waiting for me. When I came to him he
burst into tears and said: 'Richard, will you forgive me for
striking you?'
  'I have forgiven thee,' said I; 'ask God to forgive thee. The Lord
bless thee.' I gave him my hand, and we went each to his work." *
  * J. PATTERSON'S Life of Richard Weaver, pp. 66-68, abridged.
  'Love your enemies!' Mark you, not simply those who happen not to be
your friends, but your enemies, your positive and active enemies.
Either this is a mere Oriental hyperbole, a bit of verbal
extravagance, meaning only that we should, as far as we can, abate our
animosities, or else it is sincere and literal. Outside of certain
cases of intimate individual relation, it seldom has been taken
literally. Yet it makes one ask the question: Can there in general
be a level of emotion so unifying, so obliterative of differences
between man and man, that even enmity may come to be an irrelevant
circumstance and fail to inhibit the friendlier interests aroused?
If positive well-wishing could attain so supreme a degree of
excitement, those who were swayed by it might well seem superhuman
beings. Their life would be morally discrete from the life of other
men, and there is no saying, in the absence of positive experience
of an authentic kind,- for there are few active examples in our
scriptures, and the Buddhistic examples are legendary,- * what the
effects might be: they might conceivably transform the world.
  * As where the future Buddha, incarnated as a hare, jumps into the
fire to cook himself for a meal for a beggar- having previously shaken
himself three times, so that none of the insects in his fur should
perish with him.
  Psychologically and in principle, the precept 'Love your enemies' is
not self-contradictory. It is merely the extreme limit of a kind of
magnanimity with which, in the shape of pitying tolerance of our
oppressors, we are fairly familiar. Yet if radically followed, it
would involve such a breach with our instinctive springs of action
as a whole, and with the present world's arrangements, that a critical
point would practically be passed, and we should be born into
another kingdom of being. Religious emotion makes us feel that other
kingdom to be close at hand, within our reach.
  The inhibition of instinctive repugnance is proved not only by the
showing of love to enemies, but by the showing of it to any one who is
personally loathsome. In the annals of saintliness we find a curious
mixture of motives impelling in this direction. Asceticism plays its
part; and along with charity pure and simple, we find humility or
the desire to disclaim distinction and to grovel on the common level
before God. Certainly all three principles were at work when Francis
of Assisi and Ignatius Loyola exchanged their garments with those of
filthy beggars. All three are at work when religious persons
consecrate their lives to the care of leprosy or other peculiarly
unpleasant diseases. The nursing of the sick is a function to which
the religious seem strongly drawn, even apart from the fact that
church traditions set that way. But in the annals of this sort of
charity we find fantastic excesses of devotion recorded which are only
explicable by the frenzy of self-immolation simultaneously aroused.
Francis of Assisi kisses his lepers; Margaret Mary Alacoque, Francis
Xavier, St. John of God, and others are said to have cleansed the
sores and ulcers of their patients with their respective tongues;
and the lives of such saints as Elizabeth of Hungary and Madame de
Chantal are full of a sort of reveling in hospital purulence,
disagreeable to read of, and which makes us admire and shudder at
the same time.
  So much for the human love aroused by the faith-state. Let me next
speak of the Equanimity, Resignation, Fortitude, and Patience which it
  'A paradise of inward tranquillity' seems to be faith's usual
result; and it is easy, even without being religious one's self, to
understand this. A moment back, in treating of the sense of God's
presence, I spoke of the unaccountable feeling of safety which one may
then have. And, indeed, how can it possibly fail to steady the nerves,
to cool the fever, and appease the fret, if one be sensibly
conscious that, no matter what one's difficulties for the moment may
appear to be, one's life as a whole is in the keeping of a power
whom one can absolutely trust? In deeply religious men the abandonment
of self to this power is passionate. Whoever not only says, but feels,
'God's will be done,' is mailed against every weakness; and the
whole historic array of martyrs, missionaries, and religious reformers
is there to prove the tranquil-mindedness, under naturally agitating
or distressing circumstances, which self-surrender brings.
  The temper of the tranquil-mindedness differs, of course,
according as the person is of a constitutionally sombre or of a
constitutionally cheerful cast of mind. In the sombre it partakes more
of resignation and submission; in the cheerful it is a joyous consent.
As an example of the former temper, I quote part of a letter from
Professor Lagneau, a venerated teacher of philosophy who lately
died, a great invalid, at Paris:-
  "My life, for the success of which you send good wishes, will be
what it is able to be. I ask nothing from it, I expect nothing from
it. For long years now I exist, think, and act, and am worth what I am
worth, only through the despair which is my sole strength and my
sole foundation. May it preserve for me, even in these last trials
to which I am coming, the courage to do without the desire of
deliverance. I ask nothing more from the Source whence all strength
cometh, and if that is granted, your wishes will have been
accomplished." *
  * Bulletin l'Union pour l'Action Morale, September, 1894.
  There is something pathetic and fatalistic about this, but the power
of such a tone as a protection against outward shocks is manifest.
Pascal is another Frenchman of pessimistic natural temperament. He
expresses still more amply the temper of self-surrendering
  "Deliver me, Lord," he writes in his prayers, "from the sadness at
my proper suffering which self-love might give, but put into me a
sadness like your own. Let my sufferings appease your choler. Make
them an occasion for my conversion and salvation. I ask you neither
for health nor for sickness, for life nor for death; but that you
may dispose of my health and my sickness, my life and my death, for
your glory, for my salvation, and for the use of the Church and of
your saints, of whom I would by your grace be one. You alone know what
is expedient for me; you are the sovereign master; do with me
according to your will. Give to me, or take away from me, only conform
my will to yours. I know but one thing, Lord, that it is good to
follow you, and bad to offend you. Apart from that, I know not what is
good or bad in anything. I know not which is most profitable to me,
health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world.
That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden
among the secrets of your Providence, which I adore, but do not seek
to fathom." *
  * B. PASCAL: Prieres pour les Maladies, SS SS xiii., xiv., abridged.
  When we reach more optimistic temperaments, the resignation grows
less passive. Examples are sown so broadcast throughout history that I
might well pass on without citation. As it is, I snatch at the first
that occurs to my mind. Madame Guyon, a frail creature physically, was
yet of a happy native disposition. She went through many perils with
admirable serenity of soul. After being sent to prison for heresy,-
  "Some of my friends," she writes, "wept bitterly at the hearing of
it, but such was my state of acquiescence and resignation that it
failed to draw any tears from me.... There appeared to be in me
then, as I find it to be in me now, such an entire loss of what
regards myself, that any of my own interests gave me little pain or
pleasure; ever wanting to will or wish for myself only the very
thing which God does." In another place she writes: "We all of us came
near perishing in a river which we found it necessary to pass. The
carriage sank in the quicksand. Others who were with us threw
themselves out in excessive fright. But I found my thoughts so much
taken up with God that I had no distinct sense of danger. It is true
that the thought of being drowned passed across my mind, but it cost
no other sensation or reflection in me than this- that I felt quite
contented and willing it were so, if it were my heavenly Father's
choice." Sailing from Nice to Genoa, a storm keeps her eleven days
at sea. "As the irritated waves dashed round us," she writes, "I could
not help experiencing a certain degree of satisfaction in my mind. I
pleased myself with thinking that those mutinous billows, under the
command of Him who does all things rightly, might probably furnish
me with a watery grave. Perhaps I carried the point too far, in the
pleasure which I took in thus seeing myself beaten and bandied by
the swelling waters. Those who were with me took notice of my
intrepidity." *
  * From THOMAS C. UPHAM's Life and Religious Opinions and Experiences
of Madame de la Mothe Guyon, New York, 1877, ii. 48, i. 141, 413,
  The contempt of danger which religious enthusiasm produces may be
even more buoyant still. I take an example from that charming recent
autobiography, "With Christ at Sea," by Frank Bullen. A couple of days
after he went through the conversion on shipboard of which he there
gives an account,-
  "It was blowing stiffly," he writes, "and we were carrying a press
of canvas to get north out of the bad weather. Shortly after four
bells we hauled down the flying-jib, and I sprang out astride the boom
to furl it. I was sitting astride the boom when suddenly it gave way
with me. The sail slipped through my fingers, and I fell backwards,
hanging head downwards over the seething tumult of shining foam
under the ship's bows, suspended by one foot. But I felt only high
exultation in my certainty of eternal life. Although death was divided
from me by a hair's breadth, and I was acutely conscious of the
fact, it gave me no sensation but joy. I suppose I could have hung
there no longer than five seconds, but in that time I lived a whole
age of delight. But my body asserted itself, and with a desperate
gymnastic effort I regained the boom. How I furled the sail I don't
know, but I sang at the utmost pitch of my voice praises to God that
went pealing out over the dark waste of waters." *
  * Op. cit., London, 1901, p. 130.
  The annals of martyrdom are of course the signal field of triumph
for religious imperturbability. Let me cite as an example the
statement of a humble sufferer, persecuted as a Huguenot under Louis
  "They shut all the doors," Blanche Gamond writes, "and I saw six
women, each with a bunch of willow rods as thick as the hand could
hold, and a yard long. He gave me the order, 'Undress yourself,' which
I did. He said, 'You are leaving on your shift; you must take it off.'
They had so little patience that they took it off themselves, and I
was naked from the waist up. They brought a cord with which they
tied me to a beam in the kitchen. They drew the cord tight with all
their strength and asked me, 'Does it hurt you?' and then they
discharged their fury upon me, exclaiming as they struck me, 'Pray now
to your God.' It was the Roulette woman who held this language. But at
this moment I received the greatest consolation that I can ever
receive in my life, since I had the honor of being whipped for the
name of Christ, and in addition of being crowned with his mercy and
his consolations. Why can I not write down the inconceivable
influences, consolations, and peace which I felt interiorly? To
understand them one must have passed by the same trial; they were so
great that I was ravished, for there where afflictions abound grace is
given superabundantly. In vain the women cried, 'We must double our
blows; she does not feel them, for she neither speaks nor cries.'
And how should I have cried, since I was swooning with happiness
within?" *
  * CLAPAREDE et GOTY: Deux Heroines de la Foi, Paris, 1880, 112.
  The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to
equanimity, receptivity, and peace, is the most wonderful of all those
shiftings of inner equilibrium, those changes of the personal centre
of energy, which I have analyzed so often; and the chief wonder of
it is that it so often comes about, not by doing, but by simply
relaxing and throwing the burden down. This abandonment of
self-responsibility seems to be the fundamental act in specifically
religious, as distinguished from moral practice. It antedates
theologies and is independent of philosophies. Mind-cure, theosophy,
stoicism, ordinary neurological hygiene, insist on it as
emphatically as Christianity does, and it is capable of entering
into closest marriage with every speculative creed. * Christians who
have it strongly live in what is called 'recollection,' and are
never anxious about the future, nor worry over the outcome of the day.
Of Saint Catharine of Genoa it is said that "she took cognizance of
things, only as they were presented to her in succession, moment by
moment." To her holy soul, "the divine moment was the present
moment,... and when the present moment was estimated in itself and
in its relations, and when the duty that was involved in it was
accomplished, it was permitted to pass away as if it had never been,
and to give way to the facts and duties of the moment which came
after." *(2) Hinduism, mind-cure, and theosophy all lay great emphasis
upon this concentration of the consciousness upon the moment at hand.
  * Compare these three different statements of it: A.P. CALL: As a
Matter of Course, Boston, 1894; H.W. DRESSER: Living by the Spirit,
New York and London, 1900; H.W. SMITH: The Christian's Secret of a
Happy Life, published by the Willard Tract Repository, and now in
thousands of hands.
  *(2) T.C. UPHAM: Life of Madame Catharine Adorna, 3d ed., New
York, 1864, pp. 158, 172-174.
  The next religious symptom which I will note is what I have called
Purity of Life. The saintly person becomes exceedingly sensitive to
inner inconsistency or discord, and mixture and confusion grow
intolerable. All the mind's objects and occupations must be ordered
with reference to the special spiritual excitement which is now its
keynote. Whatever is unspiritual taints the pure water of the soul and
is repugnant. Mixed with this exaltation of the moral sensibilities
there is also an ardor of sacrifice, for the beloved deity's sake,
of everything unworthy of him. Sometimes the spiritual ardor is so
sovereign that purity is achieved at a stroke- we have seen
examples. Usually it is a more gradual conquest. Billy Bray's
account of his abandonment of tobacco is a good example of the
latter form of achievement.
  "I had been a smoker as well as a drunkard, and I used to love my
tobacco as much as I loved my meat, and I would rather go down into
the mine without my dinner than without my pipe. In the days of old,
the Lord spoke by the mouths of his servants, the prophets; now he
speaks to us by the spirit of his Son. I had not only the feeling part
of religion, but I could hear the small, still voice within speaking
to me. When I took the pipe to smoke, it would be applied within,
'It is an idol, a lust; worship the Lord with clean lips.' So, I
felt it was not right to smoke. The Lord also sent a woman to convince
me. I was one day in a house, and I took out my pipe to light it at
the fire, and Mary Hawke- for that was the woman's name- said, 'Do you
not feel it is wrong to smoke?' I said that I felt something inside
telling me that it was an idol, a lust, and she said that was the
Lord. Then I said, 'Now, I must give it up, for the Lord is telling me
of it inside, and the woman outside, so the tobacco must go, love it
as I may.' There and then I took the tobacco out of my pocket, and
threw it into the fire, and put the pipe under my foot, 'ashes to
ashes, dust to dust.' And I have not smoked since. I found it hard
to break off old habits, but I cried to the Lord for help, and he gave
me strength, for he has said, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble, and
I will deliver thee.' The day after I gave up smoking I had the
toothache so bad that I did not know what to do. I thought this was
owing to giving up the pipe, but I said I would never smoke again,
if I lost every tooth in my head. I said, 'Lord, thou hast told us
My yoke is easy and my burden is light,' and when I said that, all the
pain left me. Sometimes the thought of the pipe would come back to
me very strong; but the Lord strengthened me against the habit, and,
bless his name, I have not smoked since."
  Bray's biographer writes that after he had given up smoking, he
thought that he would chew a little, but he conquered this dirty
habit, too. "On one occasion," Bray said, "when at a prayer-meeting at
Hicks Mill, I heard the Lord say to me, 'Worship me with clean
lips.' So, when we got up from our knees, I took the quid out of my
mouth and I whipped 'en' [threw it] under the form. But, when we got
on our knees again, I put another quid into my mouth. Then the Lord
said to me again, 'Worship me with clean lips.' So I took the quid out
of my mouth, and whipped 'en under the form again, and said, 'Yes,
Lord, I will.' From that time I gave up chewing as well as smoking,
and have been a free man."
  The ascetic forms which the impulse for veracity and purity of
life may take are often pathetic enough. The early Quakers, for
example, had hard battles to wage against the worldliness and
insincerity of the ecclesiastical Christianity of their time. Yet
the battle that cost them most wounds was probably that which they
fought in defense of their own right to social veracity and
sincerity in their thee-ing and thou-ing, in not doffing the hat or
giving titles of respect. It was laid on George Fox that these
conventional customs were a lie and a sham, and the whole body of
his followers thereupon renounced them, as a sacrifice to truth, and
so that their acts and the spirit they professed might be more in
  "When the Lord sent me into the world," says Fox in his Journal, "he
forbade me to put off my hat to any, high or low: and I was required
to 'thee' and 'thou' all men and women, without any respect to rich or
poor, great or small. And as I traveled up and down, I was not to
bid people Good-morning, or Good-evening, neither might I bow or
scrape with my leg to any one. This made the sects and professions
rage. Oh! the rage that was in the priests, magistrates, professors,
and people of all sorts: and especially in priests and professors: for
though 'thou' to a single person was according to their accidence
and grammar rules, and according to the Bible, yet they could not bear
to hear it: and because I could not put off my hat to them, it set
them all into a rage.... Oh! the scorn, heat, and fury that arose! Oh!
the blows, punchings, beatings, and imprisonments that we underwent
for not putting off our hats to men! Some had their hats violently
plucked off and thrown away, so that they quite lost them. The bad
language and evil usage we received on this account is hard to be
expressed, besides the danger we were sometimes in of losing our lives
for this matter, and that by the great professors of Christianity, who
thereby discovered they were not true believers. And though it was but
a small thing in the eye of man, yet a wonderful confusion it
brought among all professors and priests: but, blessed be the Lord,
many came to see the vanity of that custom of putting off hats to men,
and felt the weight of Truth's testimony against it."
  In the autobiography of Thomas Elwood, an early Quaker, who at one
time was secretary to John Milton, we find an exquisitely quaint and
candid account of the trials he underwent both at home and abroad,
in following Fox's canons of sincerity. The anecdotes are too
lengthy for citation; but Elwood sets down his manner of feeling about
these things in a shorter passage, which I will quote as a
characteristic utterance of spiritual sensibility:-
  "By this divine light, then," says Elwood, "I saw that though I
had not the evil of the common uncleanliness, debauchery, profaneness,
and pollutions of the world to put away, because I had, through the
great goodness of God and a civil education, been preserved out of
those grosser evils, yet I had many other evils to put away and to
cease from; some of which were not by the world, which lies in
wickedness (1 John v. 19), accounted evils, but by the light of Christ
were made manifest to me to be evils, and as such condemned in me.
  "As particularly those fruits and effects of pride that discover
themselves in the vanity and superfluity of apparel; which I took
too much delight in. This evil of my doings I was required to put away
and cease from; and judgment lay upon me till I did so.
  "I took off from my apparel those unnecessary trimmings of lace,
ribbons, and useless buttons, which had no real service, but were
set on only for that which was by mistake called ornament; and I
ceased to wear rings.
  "Again, the giving of flattering titles to men between whom and me
there was not any relation to which such titles could be pretended
to belong. This was an evil I had been much addicted to, and was
accounted a ready artist in; therefore this evil also was I required
to put away and cease from. So that thenceforward I durst not say,
Sir, Master, My Lord, Madam (or My Dame); or say Your Servant to any
one to whom I did not stand in the real relation of a servant, which I
had never done to any.
  "Again, respect of persons, in uncovering the head and bowing the
knee or body in salutation, was a practice I had been much in the
use of; and this, being one of the vain customs of the world,
introduced by the spirit of the world, instead of the true honor which
this is a false representation of, and used in deceit as a token of
respect by persons one to another, who bear no real respect one to
another; and besides this, being a type and a proper emblem of that
divine honor which all ought to pay to Almighty God, and which all
of all sorts, who take upon them the Christian name, appear in when
they offer their prayers to him, and therefore should not be given
to men;- I found this to be one of those evils which I had been too
long doing; therefore I was now required to put it away and cease from
  "Again, the corrupt and unsound form of speaking in the plural
number to a single person, you to one, instead of thou, contrary to
the pure, plain, and single language of truth, thou to one, and you to
more than one, which had always been used by God to men, and men to
God, as well as one to another, from the oldest record of time till
corrupt men, for corrupt ends, in later and corrupt times, to flatter,
fawn, and work upon the corrupt nature in men, brought in that false
and senseless way of speaking you to one, which has since corrupted
the modern languages, and hath greatly debased the spirits and
depraved the manners of men;- this evil custom I had been as forward
in as others, and this I was now called out of and required to cease
  "These and many more evil customs which had sprung up in the night
of darkness and general apostasy from the truth and true religion were
now, by the inshining of this pure my of divine light in my
conscience, gradually discovered to me to be what I ought to cease
from, shun, and stand a witness against." *
  * The History of THOMAS ELWOOD, written by Himself, London, 1885,
pp. 32-34.
  These early Quakers were Puritans indeed. The slightest
inconsistency between profession and deed jarred some of them to
active protest. John Woolman writes in his diary:-
  "In these journeys I have been where much cloth hath been dyed;
and have at sundry times walked over ground where much of their
dyestuffs has drained away. This hath produced a longing in my mind
that people might come into cleanness of spirit, cleanness of
person, and cleanness about their houses and garments. Dyes being
invented partly to please the eye, and partly to hide dirt, I have
felt in this weak state, when traveling in dirtiness, and affected
with unwholesome scents, a strong desire that the nature of dyeing
cloth to hide dirt may be more fully considered.
  "Washing our garments to keep them sweet is cleanly, but it is the
opposite to real cleanliness to hide dirt in them. Through giving
way to hiding dirt in our garments a spirit which would conceal that
which is disagreeable is strengthened. Real cleanliness becometh a
holy people; but hiding that which is not clean by coloring our
garments seems contrary to the sweetness of sincerity. Through some
sorts of dyes cloth is rendered less useful. And if the value of
dyestuffs, and expense of dyeing, and the damage done to cloth, were
all added together, and that cost applied to keeping all sweet and
clean, how much more would real cleanliness prevail.
  "Thinking often on these things, the use of bats and garments dyed
with a dye hurtful to them, and wearing more clothes in summer than
are useful, grew more uneasy to me; believing them to be customs which
have not their foundation in pure wisdom. The apprehension of being
singular from my beloved friends was a strait upon me; and thus I
continued in the use of some things, contrary to my judgment, about
nine months. Then I thought of getting a hat the natural color of
the fur, but the apprehension of being looked upon as one affecting
singularity felt uneasy to me. On this account I was under close
exercise of mind in the time of our general spring meeting in 1762,
greatly desiring to be rightly directed; when, being deeply bowed in
spirit before the Lord, I was made willing to submit to what I
apprehended was required of me; and when I returned home, got a hat of
the natural color of the fur.
  "In attending meetings, this singularity was a trial to me, and more
especially at this time, as white hats were used by some who were fond
of following the changeable modes of dress, and as some friends, who
knew not from what motives I wore it, grew shy of me, I felt my way
for a time shut up in the exercise of the ministry. Some friends
were apprehensive that my wearing such a hat savored of an affected
singularity: those who spoke with me in a friendly way, I generally
informed in a few words, that I believed my wearing it was not in my
own will."
  When the craving for moral consistency and purity is developed to
this degree, the subject may well find the outer world too full of
shocks to dwell in, and can unify his life and keep his soul unspotted
only by withdrawing from it. That law which impels the artist to
achieve harmony in his composition by simply dropping out whatever
jars, or suggests a discord, rules also in the spiritual life. To
omit, says Stevenson, is the one art in literature: "If I knew how
to omit, I should ask no other knowledge." And life, when full of
disorder and slackness and vague superfluity, can no more have what we
call character than literature can have it under similar conditions.
So monasteries and communities of sympathetic devotees open their
doors, and in their changeless order, characterized by omissions quite
as much as constituted of actions, the holy-minded person finds that
inner smoothness and cleanness which it is torture to him to feel
violated at every turn by the discordancy and brutality of secular
  That the scrupulosity of purity may be carried to a fantastic
extreme must be admitted. In this it resembles Asceticism, to which
further symptom of saintliness we had better turn next. The
adjective 'ascetic' is applied to conduct originating on diverse
psychological levels, which I might as well begin by distinguishing
from one another.
  1. Asceticism may be a mere expression of organic hardihood,
disgusted with too much ease.
  2. Temperance in meat and drink, simplicity of apparel, chastity,
and non-pampering of the body generally, may be fruits of the love
of purity, shocked by whatever savors of the sensual.
  3. They may also be fruits of love, that is, they may appeal to
the subject in the light of sacrifices which he is happy in making
to the Deity whom he acknowledges.
  4. Again, ascetic mortifications and torments may be due to
pessimistic feelings about the self, combined with theological beliefs
concerning expiation. The devotee may feel that he is buying himself
free, or escaping worse sufferings hereafter, by doing penance now.
  5. In Psychopathic persons, mortifications may be entered on
irrationally, by a sort of obsession or fixed idea which comes as a
challenge and must be worked off, because only thus does the subject
get his interior consciousness feeling right again.
  6. Finally, ascetic exercises may in rarer instances be prompted
by genuine perversions of the bodily sensibility, in consequence of
which normally pain-giving stimuli are actually felt as pleasures.
  I will try to give an instance under each of these heads in turn;
but it is not easy to get them pure, for in cases pronounced enough to
be immediately classed as ascetic, several of the assigned motives
usually work together. Moreover, before citing any examples at all,
I must invite you to some general psychological considerations which
apply to all of them alike.
  A strange moral transformation has within the past century swept
over our Western world. We no longer think that we are called on to
face physical pain with equanimity. It is not expected of a man that
he should either endure it or inflict much of it, and to listen to the
recital of cases of it makes our flesh creep morally as well as
physically. The way in which our ancestors looked upon pain as an
eternal ingredient of the world's order, and both caused and
suffered it as a matter-of-course portion of their day's work, fills
us with amazement. We wonder that any human beings could have been
so callous. The result of this historic alteration is that even in the
Mother Church herself, where ascetic discipline has such a fixed
traditional prestige as a factor of merit, it has largely come into
desuetude, if not discredit. A believer who flagellates or 'macerates'
himself to-day arouses more wonder and fear than emulation. Many
Catholic writers who admit that the times have changed in this respect
do so resignedly; and even add that perhaps it is as well not to waste
feelings in regretting the matter, for to return to the heroic
corporeal discipline of ancient days might be an extravagance.
  Where to seek the easy and the pleasant seems instinctive- and
distinctive it appears to be in man; any deliberate tendency to pursue
the hard and painful as such and for their own sakes might well strike
one as purely abnormal. Nevertheless, in moderate degrees it is
natural and even usual to human nature to court the arduous. It is
only the extreme manifestations of the tendency that can be regarded
as a paradox.
  The psychological reasons for this lie near the surface. When we
drop abstractions and take what we call our will in the act, we see
that it is a very complex function. It involves both stimulations
and inhibitions; it follows generalized habits; it is escorted by
reflective criticisms; and it leaves a good or a bad taste of itself
behind, according to the manner of the performance. The result is
that, quite apart from the immediate pleasure which any sensible
experience may give us, our own general moral attitude in procuring or
undergoing the experience brings with it a secondary satisfaction or
distaste. Some men and women, indeed, there are who can live on smiles
and the word 'yes' forever. But for others (indeed for most), this
is too tepid and relaxed a moral climate. Passive happiness is slack
and insipid, and soon grows mawkish and intolerable. Some austerity
and wintry negativity, some roughness, danger, stringency, and effort,
some 'no! no!' be mixed in, to produce the sense of an existence
with character and texture and power. The range of individual
differences in this respect is enormous; but whatever the mixture of
yeses and noes may be, the person is infallibly aware when he has
struck it in the right proportion for him. This, he feels, is my
proper vocation, this is the optimum, the law, the life for me to
live. Here I find the degree of equilibrium, safety calm, and
leisure which I need, or here I find the challenge, passion, fight,
and hardship without which my soul's energy expires.
  Every individual soul, in short, like every individual machine or
organism, has its own best conditions of efficiency. A given machine
will run best under a certain steam-pressure, a certain amperage; an
organism under a certain diet, weight, or exercise. You seem to do
best, I heard a doctor say to a patient, at about 140 millimeters of
arterial tension. And it is just so with our sundry souls: some are
happiest in calm weather; some need the sense of tension, of strong
volition, to make them feel alive and well. For these latter souls,
whatever is gained from day to day must be paid for by sacrifice and
inhibition, or else it comes too cheap and has no zest.
  Now when characters of this latter sort become religious, they are
apt to turn the edge of their need of effort and negativity against
their natural self; and the ascetic life gets evolved as a
  When Professor Tyndall in one of his lectures tells us that Thomas
Carlyle put him into his bath-tub every morning of a freezing Berlin
winter, proclaimed one of the lowest grades of asceticism. Even
without Carlyle, most of us find it necessary to our soul's health
to start the day with a rather cool immersion. A little farther

along the scale we get such statements as this, from one of my
correspondents, an agnostic:-
  "Often at night in my warm bed I would feel ashamed to depend so
on the warmth, and whenever the thought would come over me I would
have to get up, no matter what time of night it was, and stand for a
minute in the cold, just so as to prove my manhood."
  Such cases as these belong simply to our head 1. In the next case we
probably have a mixture of heads 2 and 3- the asceticism becomes far
more systematic and pronounced. The writer is a Protestant, whose
sense of moral energy could doubtless be gratified on no lower
terms, and I take his case from Starbuck's manuscript collection.
  "I practiced fasting and mortification of the flesh. I secretly made
burlap shirts, and put the burrs next the skin, and wore pebbles in my
shoes. I would spend nights flat on my back on the floor without any
  The Roman Church has organized and codified all this sort of
thing, and given it a market-value in the shape of 'merit.' But we see
the cultivation of hardship cropping out under every sky and in
every faith, as a spontaneous need of character. Thus we read of
Channing, when first settled as a Unitarian minister, that-
  "He was now more simple than ever, and seemed to have become
incapable of any form of self-indulgence. He took the smallest room in
the house for his study, though he might easily have commanded one
more light, airy, and in every way more suitable; and chose for his
sleeping chamber an attic which he shared with a younger brother.
The furniture of the latter might have answered for the cell of an
anchorite, and consisted of a hard mattress on a cot-bedstead, plain
wooden chairs and table, with matting on the floor. It was without
fire, and to cold he was throughout life extremely sensitive; but he
never complained or appeared in any way to be conscious of
inconvenience. 'I recollect,' says his brother, 'after one most severe
night, that in the morning he sportively thus alluded to his
suffering: "If my bed were my country, I should be somewhat like
Bonaparte: I have no control except over the part which I occupy;
the instant I move, frost takes possession."' In sickness only would
he change for the time his apartment and accept a few comforts. The
dress too that he habitually adopted was of most inferior quality; and
garments were constantly worn which the world would call mean,
though an almost feminine neatness preserved him from the least
appearance of neglect." *
  * Memoirs of W.E. Channing, Boston, 1840, i. 196.
  Channing's asceticism, such as it was, was evidently a compound of
hardihood and love of purity. The democracy which is an offshoot of
the enthusiasm of humanity, and of which I will speak later under
the head of the cult of poverty, doubtless bore also a share.
Certainly there was no pessimistic element in his case. In the next
case we have a strongly pessimistic element, so that it belongs
under head 4. John Cennick was Methodism's first lay preacher. In 1735
he was convicted of sin, while walking in Cheapside,-
  "And at once left off song-singing, card-playing, and attending
theatres. Sometimes he wished to go to a popish monastery, to spend
his life in devout retirement. At other times he longed to live in a
cave, sleeping on fallen leaves, and feeding on forest fruits. He
fasted long and often, and prayed nine times a day.... Fancying dry
bread too great an indulgence for so great a sinner as himself, he
began to feed on potatoes, acorns, crabs, and grass; and often
wished that he could live on roots and herbs. At length, in 1737, he
found peace with God, and went on his way rejoicing." *
  * L. TYERMAN: The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, i. 274.
  In this poor man we have morbid melancholy and fear, and the
sacrifices made are to purge out sin, and to buy safety. The
hopelessness of Christian theology in respect of the flesh and the
natural man generally has, in systematizing fear, made of it one
tremendous incentive to self-mortification. It would be quite
unfair, however, in spite of the fact that this incentive has often
been worked in a mercenary way for hortatory purposes, to call it a
mercenary incentive. The impulse to expiate and do penance is, in
its first intention, far too immediate and spontaneous an expression
of self-despair and anxiety to be obnoxious to any such reproach. In
the form of loving sacrifice, of spending all we have to show our
devotion, ascetic discipline of the severest sort may be the fruit
of highly optimistic religious feeling.
  M. Vianney, the cure of Ars, was a French country priest, whose
holiness was exemplary. We read in his life the following account of
his inner need of sacrifice:-
  "'On this path,' M. Vianney said, 'it is only the first step that
costs. There is in mortification a balm and a savor without which
one cannot live when once one has made their acquaintance. There is
but one way in which to give one's self to God,- that is, to give
one's self entirely, and to keep nothing for one's self. The little
that one keeps is only good to trouble one and make one suffer.'
Accordingly he imposed it on himself that he should never smell a
flower, never drink when parched with thirst, never drive away a
fly, never show disgust before a repugnant object, never complain of
anything that had to do with his personal comfort, never sit down,
never lean upon his elbows when he was kneeling. The Cure of Ars was
very sensitive to cold, but he would never take means to protect
himself against it. During a very severe winter, one of his
missionaries contrived a false floor to his confessional and placed
a metal case of hot water beneath. The trick succeeded, and the
Saint was deceived: 'God is very good,' he said with emotion. 'This
year, through all the cold, my feet have always been warm.'" *
  * A. MOUNIN: Le Cure d'Ars, Vie de M.J.B.M. Vianney, 1864, p. 545,
  In this case the spontaneous impulse to make sacrifices for the pure
love of God was probably the uppermost conscious motive. We may
class it, then, under our head 3. Some authors think that the
impulse to sacrifice is the main religious phenomenon. It is a
prominent, a universal phenomenon certainly, and lies deeper than
any special creed. Here, for instance, is what seems to be a
spontaneous example of it, simply expressing what seemed right at
the time between the individual and his Maker. Cotton Mather, the
New England Puritan divine, is generally reputed a rather grotesque
pedant; yet what is more touchingly simple than his relation of what
happened when his wife came to die?
  "When I saw to what a point of resignation I was now called of the
Lord." he says, "I resolved, with his help, therein to glorify him.
So, two hours before my lovely consort expired, I kneeled by her
bedside, and I took into my two hands a dear hand, the dearest in
the world. With her thus in my hands, I solemnly and sincerely gave
her up unto the Lord: and in token of my real Resignation, I gently
put her out of my hands, and laid away a most lovely hand, resolving
that I would never touch it more. This was the hardest, and perhaps
the bravest action that ever I did. She... told me that she signed and
sealed my act of resignation. And though before that she called for me
continually, she after this never asked for me any more." *
  * B. WENDELL: Cotton Mather, New York, no date, p. 198.
  Father Vianney's asceticism taken in its totality was simply the
result of a permanent flood of high spiritual enthusiasm, longing to
make proof of itself. The Roman Church has, in its incomparable
fashion, collected all the motives towards asceticism together, and so
codified them that any one wishing to pursue Christian perfection
may find a practical system mapped out for him in any one of a
number of ready-made manuals. * The dominant Church notion of
perfection is of course the negative one of avoidance of sin. Sin
proceeds from concupiscence, and concupiscence from our carnal
passions and temptations, chief of which are pride, sensuality in
all its forms, and the loves of worldly excitement and possession. All
these sources of sin must be resisted; and discipline and
austerities are a most efficacious mode of meeting them. Hence there
are always in these books chapters on self-mortification. But whenever
a procedure is codified, the more delicate spirit of it evaporates,
and if we wish the undiluted ascetic spirit,- the passion of
self-contempt wreaking itself on the poor flesh, the divine
irrationality of devotion making a sacrificial gift of all it has (its
sensibilities, namely) to the object of its adoration,- we must go
to autobiographies, or other individual documents.
  * That of the earlier Jesuit, RODRIGUEZ, which has been translated
into all languages, is one of the best known. A convenient modern
manual, very well put together, is L'Ascetique Chretienne, by M.J.
RIBET, Paris, Poussielgue, nouvelle edition, 1898.
  Saint John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic who flourished- or
rather who existed, for there was little that suggested flourishing
about him- in the sixteenth century, will supply a passage suitable
for our purpose.
  "First of all, carefully excite in yourself an habitual affectionate
will in all things to imitate Jesus Christ. If anything agreeable
offers itself to your senses, yet does not at the same time tend
purely to the honor and glory of God, renounce it and separate
yourself from it for the love of Christ, who all his life long had
no other taste or wish than to do the will of his Father whom he
called his meat and nourishment. For example, you take satisfaction in
hearing of things in which the glory of God bears no part. Deny
yourself this satisfaction, mortify your wish to listen. You take
pleasure in seeing objects which do not raise your mind to God: refuse
yourself this pleasure, and turn away your eyes. The same with
conversations and all other things. Act similarly, so far as you are
able, with all the operations of the senses, striving to make yourself
free from their yokes.
  "The radical remedy lies in the mortification of the four great
natural passions, joy, hope, fear, and grief. You must seek to deprive
these of every satisfaction and leave them as it were in darkness
and the void. Let your soul therefore turn always:
  "Not to what is most easy, but to what is hardest;
  "Not to what tastes best, but to what is most distasteful;
  "Not to what most pleases, but to what disgusts;
  "Not to matter of consolation, but to matter for desolation rather;
  "Not to rest, but to labor;
  "Not to desire the more, but the less;
  "Not to aspire to what is highest and most precious, but to what
is lowest and most contemptible;
  "Not to will anything, but to will nothing;
  "Not to seek the best in everything, but to seek the worst, so
that you may enter for the love of Christ into a complete destitution,
a perfect poverty of spirit, and an absolute renunciation of
everything in this world.
  "Embrace these practices with all the energy of your soul and you
will find in a short time great delights and unspeakable consolations.
  "Despise yourself, and wish that others should despise you.
  "Speak to your own disadvantage, and desire others to do the same;
  "Conceive a low opinion of yourself, and find it good when others
hold the same;
  "To enjoy the taste of all things, have no taste for anything.
  "To know all things, learn to know nothing.
  "To possess all things, resolve to possess nothing.
  "To be all things, be willing to be nothing.
  "To get to where you have no taste for anything, go through whatever
experiences you have no taste for.
  "To learn to know nothing, go whither you are ignorant.
  "To reach what you possess not, go whithersoever you own nothing.
  "To be what you are not, experience what you are not."
  These later verses play with that vertigo of self-contradiction
which is so dear to mysticism. Those that come next are completely
mystical, for in them Saint John passes from God to the more
metaphysical notion of the All.
  "When you stop at one thing, you cease to open yourself to the All.
  "For to come to the All you must give up the All.
  "And if you should attain to owning the All, you must own it,
desiring Nothing.
  "In this spoliation, the soul finds its tranquillity and rest.
Profoundly established in the centre of its own nothingness, it can be
assailed by naught that comes from below; and since it no longer
desires anything, what comes from above cannot depress it; for its
desires alone are the causes of its woes." *
  * SAINT JEAN DE LA CROIX, Vis et Oeuvres, Paris, 1893, ii. 94, 99,
  And now, as a more concrete example of heads 4 and 5, in fact of all
our heads together, and of the irrational extreme to which a
psychopathic individual may go in the line of bodily austerity, I will
quote the sincere Suso's account of his own self-tortures. Suso, you
will remember, was one of the fourteenth century German mystics; his
autobiography, written in the third person, is a classic religious
  "He was in his youth of a temperament full of fire and life; and
when this began to make itself felt, it was very grievous to him;
and he sought by many devices how he might bring his body into
subjection. He wore for a long time a hair shirt and an iron chain,
until the blood ran from him, so that he was obliged to leave them
off. He secretly caused an undergarment to be made for him; and in the
undergarment he had strips of leather fixed, into which a hundred
and fifty brass nails, pointed and filed sharp, were driven, and the
points of the nails were always turned towards the flesh. He had
this garment made very tight, and so arranged as to go round him and
fasten in front, in order that it might fit the closer to his body,
and the pointed nails might be driven into his flesh; and it was
high enough to reach upwards to his navel. In this he used to sleep at
night. Now in summer, when it was hot, and he was very tired and ill
from his journeyings, or when he held the office of lecturer, he would
sometimes, as he lay thus in bonds, and oppressed with toil, and
tormented also by noxious insects, cry aloud and give way to
fretfulness, and twist round and round in agony, as a worm does when
run through with a pointed needle. It often seemed to him as if he
were lying upon an ant-hill, from the torture caused by the insects;
for if he wished to sleep, or when he had fallen asleep, they vied
with one another. * Sometimes he cried to Almighty God in the fullness
of his heart: Alas! Gentle God, what a dying is this! When a man is
killed by murderers or strong beasts of prey it is soon over; but I
lie dying here under the cruel insects, and yet cannot die. The nights
in winter were never so long, nor was the summer so hot, as to make
him leave off this exercise. On the contrary, he devised something
farther- two leathern loops into which he put his hands, and
fastened one on each side his throat, and made the fastenings so
secure that even if his cell had been on fire about him, he could
not have helped himself. This he continued until his hands and arms
had become almost tremulous with the strain, and then he devised
something else: two leather gloves; and he caused a brazier to fit
them all over with sharp-pointed brass tacks, and he used to put
them on at night, in order that if he should try while asleep to throw
off the hair undergarment, or relieve himself from the gnawings of the
vile insects, the tacks might then stick into his body. And so it came
to pass. If ever he sought to help himself with his hands in his
sleep, he drove the sharp tacks into his breast, and tore himself,
so that his flesh festered. When after many weeks the wounds had
healed, he tore himself again and made fresh wounds.
  * 'Insects,' i. e. lice, were an unfailing token of mediaeval
sainthood. We read of Francis of Assisi's sheepskin that "often a
companion of the saint would take it to the fire to clean and
dispediculate it, doing so, as he said, because the seraphic father
himself was no enemy of pedocchi, but on the contrary kept them on him
(le portava adosso), and held it for an honor and a glory to wear
these celestial pearls in his habit." Quoted by P. SABATIER:
Speculum Perfectionis, etc., Paris, 1898, p. 231, note.
  "He continued this tormenting exercise for about sixteen years. At
the end of this time, when his blood was now chilled, and the fire
of his temperament destroyed, there appeared to him in a vision on
Whitsunday, a messenger from heaven, who told him that God required
this of him no longer. Whereupon he discontinued it, and threw all
these things away into a running stream."
  Suso then tells how, to emulate the sorrows of his crucified Lord,
he made himself a cross with thirty protruding iron needles and nails.
This he bore on his bare back between his shoulders day and night. The
first time that he stretched out this cross upon his back his tender
frame was struck with terror at it, and blunted the sharp nails
slightly against a stone. But soon, repenting of this womanly
cowardice, he pointed them all again with a file, and placed once more
the cross upon him. It made his back, where the bones are, bloody
and seared. Whenever he sat down or stood up, it was as if a
hedgehog-skin were on him. If any one touched him unawares, or
pushed against his clothes, it tore him."
  Suso next tells of his penitences by means of striking this cross
and forcing the nails deeper into the flesh, and likewise of his
self-scourgings,- a dreadful story,- and then goes on as follows:
"At this same period the Servitor procured an old castaway door, and
he used to lie upon it at night without any bedclothes to make him
comfortable, except that he took of his shoes and wrapped a thick
cloak round him. He thus secured for himself a most miserable bed; for
hard pea-stalks lay in humps under his head, the cross with the
sharp nails stuck into his back, his arms were locked fast in bonds,
the horsehair undergarment was round his loins, and the cloak too
was heavy and the door hard. Thus he lay in wretchedness, afraid to
stir, just like a log, and he would send up many a sigh to God.
  "In winter he suffered very much from the frost. If he stretched out
his feet they lay bare on the floor and froze, if he gathered them
up the blood became all on fire in his legs, and this was great
pain. His feet were full of sores, his legs dropsical, his knees
bloody and seared, his loins covered with sears from the horsehair,
his body wasted, his mouth parched with intense thirst, and his
hands tremulous from weakness. Amid these torments he spent his nights
and days; and he endured them all out of the greatness of the love
which he bore in his heart to the Divine and Eternal Wisdom, our
Lord Jesus Christ, whose agonizing sufferings he sought to imitate.
After a time he gave up this penitential exercise of the door, and
instead of it he took up his abode in a very small cell, and used
the bench, which was so narrow and short that he could not stretch
himself upon it, as his bed. In this hole, or upon the door, he lay at
night in his usual bonds, for about eight years. It was also his
custom, during the space of twenty-five years, provided he was staying
in the convent, never to go after compline in winter into any warm
room, or to the convent stove to warm himself, no matter how cold it
might be, unless he was obliged to do so for other reasons. Throughout
all these years he never took a bath, either a water or a sweating
bath; and this he did in order to mortify his comfort-seeking body. He
practiced during a long time such rigid poverty that he would
neither receive nor touch a penny, either with leave or without it.
For a considerable time he strove to attain such a high degree of
purity that he would neither scratch nor touch any part of his body,
save only his hands and feet." *
  * The Life of the Blessed HENRY SUSO, by Himself, translated by T.F.
KNOX, London, 1865, pp. 56-80, abridged.
  I spare you the recital of poor Suso's self-inflicted tortures
from thirst. It is pleasant to know that after his fortieth year,
God showed him by a series of visions that he had sufficiently
broken down the natural man, and that he might leave these exercises
off. His case is distinctly pathological, but he does not seem to have
had the alleviation, which some ascetics have enjoyed, of an
alteration of sensibility capable of actually turning torment into a
perverse kind of pleasure. Of the founder of the Sacred Heart order,
for example, we read that
  "Her love of pain and suffering was insatiable.... She said that she
could cheerfully live till the day of judgment, provided she might
always have matter for suffering for God; but that to live a single
day without suffering would be intolerable. She said again that she
was devoured with two unassuageable fevers, one for the holy
communion, the other for suffering, humiliation, and annihilation.
'Nothing but pain,' she continually said in her letters, 'makes my
life supportable.'" *
  * BOUGAUD: Hist. de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, Paris, 1894,
pp. 265, 171. Compare, also, pp. 386, 387.
  So much for the phenomena to which the ascetic impulse will in
certain persons give rise. In the ecclesiastically consecrated
character three minor branches of self-mortification have been
recognized as indispensable pathways to perfection. I refer to the
chastity, obedience, and poverty which the monk vows to observe; and
upon the heads of obedience and poverty I will make a few remarks.
  First, of Obedience. The secular life of our twentieth century opens
with this virtue held in no high esteem. The duty of the individual to
determine his own conduct and profit or suffer by the consequences
seems, on the contrary, to be one of our best rooted contemporary
Protestant social ideals. So much so that it is difficult even
imaginatively to comprehend how men possessed of an inner life of
their own could ever have come to think the subjection of its will
to that of other finite creatures recommendable. I confess that to
myself it seems something of a mystery. Yet it evidently corresponds
to a profound interior need of many persons, and we must do our best
to understand it.
  On the lowest possible plane, one sees how the expediency of
obedience in a firm ecclesiastical organization must have led to its
being viewed as meritorious. Next, experience shows that there are
times in every one's life when one can be better counseled by others
than by one's self. Inability to decide is one of the commonest
symptoms of fatigued nerves; friends who see our troubles more
broadly, often see them more wisely than we do; so it is frequently an
act of excellent virtue to consult and obey a doctor, a partner, or
a wife. But, leaving these lower prudential regions, we find, in the
nature of some of the spiritual excitements which we have been
studying, good reasons for idealizing obedience. Obedience may
spring from the general religious phenomenon of inner softening and
self-surrender and throwing one's self on higher powers. So saving are
these attitudes felt to be that in themselves, apart from utility,
they become ideally consecrated; and in obeying a man whose
fallibility we see through thoroughly, we, nevertheless, may feel much
as we do when we resign our will to that of infinite wisdom. Add
self-despair and the passion of self-crucifixion to this, and
obedience becomes an ascetic sacrifice, agreeable quite irrespective
of whatever prudential uses it might have.
  It is as a sacrifice, a mode of 'mortification,' that obedience is
primarily conceived by Catholic writers, a "sacrifice which man offers
to God, and of which he is himself both the priest and the victim.
By poverty he immolates his exterior possessions; by chastity he
immolates his body; by obedience he completes the sacrifice, and gives
to God all that he yet holds as his own, his two most precious
goods, his intellect and his will. The sacrifice is then complete
and unreserved, a genuine holocaust, for the entire victim is now
consumed for the honor of God." * Accordingly, in Catholic discipline,
we obey our superior not as mere man, but as the representative of
Christ. Obeying God in him by our intention, obedience is easy. But
when the text-book theologians marshal collectively all their
reasons for recommending it, the mixture sounds to our ears rather
  * LEJEUNE: Introduction a la Vie Mystique, 1899, p. 277. The
holocaust simile goes back at least as far as Ignatius Loyola.
  "One of the great consolations of the monastic life," says a
Jesuit authority, "is the assurance we have that in obeying we can
commit no fault. The Superior may commit a fault in commanding you
to do this thing or that, but you are certain that you commit no fault
so long as you obey, because God will only ask you if you have duly
performed what orders you received, and if you can furnish a clear
account in that respect, you are absolved entirely. Whether the things
you did were opportune, or whether there were not something better
that might have been done, these are questions not asked of you, but
rather of your Superior. The moment what you did was done
obediently, God wipes it out of your account, and charges it to the
Superior. So that Saint Jerome well exclaimed, in celebrating the
advantages of obedience, 'Oh, sovereign liberty! Oh, holy and
blessed security by which one becomes almost impeccable!'
  "Saint John Climachus is of the same sentiment when he calls
obedience an excuse before God. In fact, when God asks why you have
done this or that, and you reply, it is because I was so ordered by my
Superiors, God will ask for no other excuse. As a passenger in a
good vessel with a good pilot need give himself no farther concern,
but may go to sleep in peace, because the pilot has charge over all,
and 'watches for him'; so a religious person who lives under the
yoke of obedience goes to heaven as if while sleeping, that is,
while leaning entirely on the conduct of his Superiors, who are the
pilots of his vessel, and keep watch for him continually. It is no
small thing, of a truth, to be able to cross the stormy sea of life on
the shoulders and in the arms of another, yet that is just the grace
which God accords to those who live under the yoke of obedience. Their
Superior bears all their burdens.... A certain grave doctor said
that he would rather spend his life in picking up straws by obedience,
than by his own responsible choice busy himself with the loftiest
works of charity, because one is certain of following the will of
God in whatever one may do from obedience, but never certain in the
same degree of anything which we may do of our own proper movement." *
  * ALFONSO RODRIGUEZ. S.J.: Pratique de Perfection Chretienne, Part
iii., Treatise v., ch. x.
  One should read the letters in which Ignatius Loyola recommends
obedience as the backbone of his order, if one would gain insight into
the full spirit of its cult. * They are too long to quote; but
Ignatius's belief is so vividly expressed in a couple of sayings
reported by companions that, though they have been so often cited, I
will ask your permission to copy them once more:-
  * Letters li. and cxx. of the collection translated into French by
BOUIX, Paris, 1870.
  "I ought," an early biographer reports him as saying, "on entering
religion, and thereafter, to place myself entirely in the hands of
God, and of him who takes His place by His authority. I ought to
desire that my Superior should oblige me to give up my own judgment,
and conquer my own mind. I ought to set up no difference between one
Superior and another,... but recognize them all as equal before God,
whose place they fill. For if I distinguish persons, I weaken the
spirit of obedience. In the hands of my Superior, I must be a soft
wax, a thing, from which he is to require whatever pleases him, be
it to write or receive letters, to speak or not to speak to such a
person, or the like; and I must put all my fervor in executing
zealously and exactly what I am ordered. I must consider myself as a
corpse which has neither intelligence nor will; be like a mass of
matter which without resistance lets itself be placed wherever it
may please any one; like a stick in the hand of an old man, who uses
it according to his needs and places it where it suits him. So must
I be under the hands of the Order, to serve it in the way it judges
most useful.
  "I must never ask of the Superior to be sent to a particular
place, to be employed in a particular duty.... I must consider nothing
as belonging to me personally, and as regards the things I use, be
like a statue which lets itself be stripped and never opposes
resistance." *
  * BARTOLI-MICHEL, ii. 13.
  The other saying is reported by Rodriguez in the chapter from
which I a moment ago made quotations. When speaking of the Pope's
authority, Rodriguez writes:-
  "Saint Ignatius said, when general of his company, that if the
Holy Father were to order him to set sail in the first bark which he
might find in the port of Ostia, near Rome, and to abandon himself
to the sea, without a mast, without sails, without oars or rudder or
any of the things that are needful for navigation or subsistence, he
would obey not only with alacrity, but without anxiety or
repugnance, and even with a great internal satisfaction." *
  * RODRIGUEZ: Op. cit., Part iii., Treatise v., ch. vi.
  With a solitary concrete example of the extravagance to which the
virtue we are considering has been carried, I will pass to the topic
next in order.
  "Sister Marie Claire [of Port Royal] had been greatly imbued with
the holiness and excellence of M. de Langres. This prelate, soon after
he came to Port Royal, said to her one day, seeing her so tenderly
attached to Mother Angelique, that it would perhaps be better not to
speak to her again. Marie Claire, greedy of obedience, took this
inconsiderate word for an oracle of God, and from that day forward
remained for several years without once speaking to her sister." *
  * SAINTE-BEUVE: Histoire de Port Royal, i. 346.
  Our next topic shall be Poverty, felt at all times and under all
creeds as one adornment of a saintly life. Since the instinct of
ownership is fundamental in man's nature, this is one more example
of the ascetic paradox. Yet it appears no paradox at all, but
perfectly reasonable, the moment one recollects how easily higher
excitements hold lower cupidities in check. Having just quoted the
Jesuit Rodriguez on the subject of obedience, I will, to give
immediately a concrete turn to our discussion of poverty, also read
you a page from his chapter on this latter virtue. You must remember
that he is writing instructions for monks of his own order, and
bases them all on the text, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
  "If any one of you," he says, "will know whether or not he is really
poor in spirit, let him consider whether he loves the ordinary
consequences and effects of poverty, which are hunger, thirst, cold,
fatigue, and the denudation of all conveniences. See if you are glad
to wear a worn-out habit full of patches. See if you are glad when
something is lacking to your meal, when you are passed by in serving
it, when what you receive is distasteful to you, when your cell is out
of repair. If you are not glad of these things, if instead of loving
them you avoid them, then there is proof that you have not attained
the perfection of poverty of spirit." Rodriguez then goes on to
describe the practice of poverty in more detail. "The first point is
that which Saint Ignatius proposes in his constitutions, when he says,
'Let no one use anything as if it were his private possession.' 'A
religious person,' he says, 'ought in respect to all the things that
he uses, to be like a statue which one may drape with clothing, but
which feels no grief and makes no resistance when one strips it again.
It is in this way that you should feel towards your clothes, your
books, your cell, and everything else that you make use of; if ordered
to quit them, or to exchange them for others, have no more sorrow than
if you were a statue being uncovered. In this way you will avoid using
them as if they were your private possession. But if, when you give up
your cell, or yield possession of this or that object or exchange it
for another, you feel repugnance and are not like a statue, that shows
that you view these things as if they were your private property.'
  "And this is why our holy founder wished the superiors to test their
monks somewhat as God tested Abraham, and to put their poverty and
their obedience to trial, that by this means they may become
acquainted with the degree of their virtue, and gain a chance to
make ever farther progress in perfection,... making the one move out
of his room when he finds it comfortable and is attached to it; taking
away from another a book of which he is fond; or obliging a third to
exchange his garment for a worse one. Otherwise we should end by
acquiring a species of property in all these several objects, and
little by little the wall of poverty that surrounds us and constitutes
our principal defense would be thrown down. The ancient fathers of the
desert used often thus to treat their companions.... Saint
Dositheus, being sick-nurse, desired a certain knife, and asked
Saint Dorotheus for it, not for his private use, but for employment in
the infirmary of which he had charge. Whereupon Saint Dorotheus
answered him: 'Ha! Dositheus, so that knife pleases you so much!
Will you be the slave of a knife or the slave of Jesus Christ? Do
you not blush with shame at wishing that a knife should be your
master? I will not let you touch it.' Which reproach and refusal had
such an effect upon the holy disciple that since that time he never
touched the knife again."...
  "Therefore, in our rooms," Father Rodriguez continues, "there must

be no other furniture than a bed, a table, a bench, and a candlestick,
things purely necessary, and nothing more. It is not allowed among
us that our cells should be ornamented with pictures or aught else,
neither armchairs, carpets, curtains, nor any sort of cabinet or
bureau of any elegance. Neither is it allowed us to keep anything to
eat, either for ourselves or for those who may come to visit us. We
must ask permission to go to the refectory even for a glass of
water; and finally we may not keep a book in which we can write a
line, or which we may take away with us. One cannot deny that thus
we are in great poverty. But this poverty is at the same time a
great repose and a great perfection. For it would be inevitable, in
case a religious person were allowed to own superfluous possessions,
that these things would greatly occupy his mind, be it to acquire
them, to preserve them, or to increase them; so that in not permitting
us at all to own them, all these inconveniences are remedied. Among
the various good reasons why the company forbids secular persons to
enter our cells, the principal one is that thus we may the easier be
kept in poverty. After all, we are all men, and if we were to
receive people of the world into our rooms, we should not have the
strength to remain within the bounds prescribed, but should at least
wish to adorn them with some books to give the visitors a better
opinion of our scholarship." *
  * RODRIGUEZ: Op. Cit., Part iii., Treatise iii., chaps. vi., vii.
  Since Hindu fakirs, Buddhist monks, and Mohammedan dervishes unite
with Jesuits and Franciscans in idealizing poverty as the loftiest
individual state, it is worth while to examine into the spiritual
grounds for such a seemingly unnatural opinion. And first, of those
which lie closest to common human nature.
  The opposition between the men who have and the men who are is
immemorial. Though the gentleman, in the old-fashioned sense of the
man who is well born, has usually in point of fact been predaceous and
reveled in lands and goods, yet he has never identified his essence
with these possessions, but rather with the personal superiorities,
the courage, generosity, and pride supposed to be his birthright. To
certain huckstering kinds of consideration he thanked God he was
forever inaccessible, and if in life's vicissitudes he should become
destitute through their lack, he was glad to think that with his sheer
valor he was all the freer to work out his salvation. "Wer nur
selbst was hatte," says Lessing's Tempelherr, in Nathan the Wise,
"mein Gott, mein Gott, ich habe nichts!" This ideal of the well-born
man without possessions was embodied in knight-errantry and
templardom; and, hideously corrupted as it has always been, it still
dominates sentimentally, if not practically, the military and
aristocratic view of life. We glorify the soldier as the man
absolutely unincumbered. Owning nothing but his bare life, and willing
to toss that up at any moment when the cause commands him, he is the
representative of unhampered freedom in ideal directions. The
laborer who pays with his person day by day, and has no rights
invested in the future, offers also much of this ideal detachment.
Like the savage, he may make his bed wherever his right arm can
support him, and from his simple and athletic attitude of observation,
the property-owner seems buried and smothered in ignoble externalities
and trammels, "wading in straw and rubbish to his knees." The claims
which things make are corrupters of manhood, mortgages on the soul,
and a drag anchor on our progress towards the empyrean.
  "Everything I meet with," writes Whitefield, "seems to carry this
voice with it,- 'Go thou and preach the Gospel; be a pilgrim on earth;
have no party or certain dwelling place.' My heart echoes back,
'Lord Jesus, help me to do or suffer thy will. When thou seest me in
danger of nesting,- in pity- in tender pity,- put a thorn in my nest
to prevent me from it.'" *
  * R. PHILIP: The Life and Times of George Whitefield, London,
1842, p. 366.
  The loathing of 'capital' with which our laboring classes to-day are
growing more and more infected seems largely composed of this sound
sentiment of antipathy for lives based on mere having. As an anarchist
poet writes:-
  "Not by accumulating riches, but by giving away that which you have,
  "Shall you become beautiful;
  "You must undo the wrappings, not case yourself in fresh ones;
  "Not by multiplying clothes shall you make your body sound and
healthy, but rather by discarding them...
  "For a soldier who is going on a campaign does not seek what fresh
furniture he can carry on his back, but rather what he can leave
  "Knowing well that every additional thing which he cannot freely use
and handle is an impediment." *
  * EDWARD CARPENTER: Towards Democracy, p. 362, abridged.
  In short, lives based on having are less free than lives based
either on doing or on being, and in the interest of action people
subject to spiritual excitement throw away possessions as so many
clogs. Only those who have no private interests can follow an ideal
straight away. Sloth and cowardice creep in with every dollar or
guinea we have to guard. When a brother novice came to Saint
Francis, saying: "Father, it would be a great consolation to me to own
a psalter, but even supposing that our general should concede to me
this indulgence, still I should like also to have your consent,"
Francis put him off with the examples of Charlemagne, Roland, and
Oliver, pursuing the infidels in sweat and labor, and finally dying on
the field of battle. "So care not," he said, "for owning books and
knowledge, but care rather for works of goodness." And when some weeks
later the novice came again to talk of his craving for the psalter,
Francis said: "After you have got your psalter you will crave a
breviary; and after you have got your breviary you will sit in your
stall like a grand prelate, and will say to your brother: 'Hand me
my breviary.'... And thenceforward he denied all such requests,
saying: A man possesses of learning only so much as comes out of him
in action, and a monk is a good preacher only so far as his deeds
proclaim him such, for every tree is known by its fruits." *
  * Speculum Perfectionis, ed. P. SABATIER, Paris, 1898, pp. 10, 13.
  But beyond this more worthily athletic attitude involved in doing
and being, there is, in the desire of not having, something profounder
still, something related to that fundamental mystery of religious
experience, the satisfaction found in absolute surrender to the larger
power. So long as any secular safeguard is retained, so long as any
residual prudential guarantee is clung to, so long the surrender is
incomplete, the vital crisis is not passed, fear still stands
sentinel, and mistrust of the divine obtains: we hold by two
anchors, looking to God, it is true, after a fashion, but also holding
by our proper machinations. In certain medical experiences we have the
same critical point to overcome. A drunkard, or a morphine or
cocaine maniac, offers himself to be cured. He appeals to the doctor
to wean him from his enemy, but he dares not face blank abstinence.
The tyrannical drug is still an anchor to windward: he hides
supplies of it among his clothing; arranges secretly to have it
smuggled in in case of need. Even so an incompletely regenerate man
still trusts in his own expedients. His money is like the sleeping
potion which the chronically wakeful patient keeps beside his bed;
he throws himself on God, but if he should need the other help,
there it will be also. Every one knows cases of this incomplete and
ineffective desire for reform,- drunkards whom, with all their
self-reproaches and resolves, one perceives to be quite unwilling
seriously to contemplate never being drunk again! Really to give up
anything on which we have relied, to give it up definitively, 'for
good and all' and forever, signifies one of those radical
alterations of character which came under our notice in the lectures
on conversion. In it the inner man rolls over into an entirely
different position of equilibrium, lives in a new centre of energy
from this time on, and the turning-point and hinge of all such
operations seems usually to involve the sincere acceptance of
certain nakednesses and destitutions.
  Accordingly, throughout the annals of the saintly life, we find this
ever-recurring note: Fling yourself upon God's providence without
making any reserve whatever,- take no thought for the morrow,- sell
all you have and give it to the poor, only when the sacrifice is
ruthless and reckless will the higher safety really arrive. As a
concrete example let me read a page from the biography of Antoinette
Bourignon, a good woman, much persecuted in her day by both
Protestants and Catholics, because she would not take her religion
at second hand. When a young girl, in her father's house,-
  "She spent whole nights in prayer, oft repeating: Lord, what wilt
thou have me to do? And being one night in a most profound
penitence, she said from the bottom of her heart: 'O my Lord! What
must I do to please thee? For I have nobody to teach me. Speak to my
soul and it will hear thee.' At that instant she heard, as if
another had spoke within her: Forsake all earthly things. Separate
thyself from the love of the creatures. Deny thyself. She was quite
astonished, not understanding this language, and mused long on these
three points, thinking how she could fulfill them. She thought she
could not live without earthly things, nor without loving the
creatures, nor without loving herself. Yet she said, 'By thy Grace I
will do it, Lord!' But when she would perform her promise, she knew
not where to begin. Having thought on the religious in monasteries,
that they forsook all earthly things by being shut up in a cloister,
and the love of themselves by subjecting of their wills, she asked
leave of her father to enter into a cloister of the barefoot
Carmelites, but he would not permit it, saying he would rather see her
laid in her grave. This seemed to her a great cruelty, for she thought
to find in the cloister the true Christians she had been seeking,
but she found afterwards that he knew the cloisters better than she;
for after he had forbidden her, and told her he would never permit her
to be a religious, nor give her any money to enter there, yet she went
to Father Laurens, the Director, and offered to serve in the monastery
and work hard for her bread, and be content with little, if he would
receive her. At which he smiled and said: That cannot be. We must have
money to build; we take no maids without money; you must find the
way to get it, else there is no entry here.
  "This astonished her greatly, and she was thereby undeceived as to
the cloisters, resolving to forsake all company and live alone till it
should please God to show her what she ought to do and whither to
go. She asked always earnestly, 'When shall I be perfectly thine, O my
God?' And she thought he still answered her, 'When thou shalt no
longer possess anything, and shalt die to thyself. 'And where shall
I do that, Lord?' He answered her, In the desert. This made so
strong an impression on her soul that she aspired after this; but
being a maid of eighteen years only, she was afraid of unlucky
chances, and was never used to travel, and knew no way. She laid aside
all these doubts and said, 'Lord, thou wilt guide me how and where
it shall please thee. It is for thee that I do it. I will lay aside my
habit of a maid, and will take that of a hermit that I may pass
unknown.' Having then secretly made ready this habit, while her
parents thought to have married her, her father having promised her to
a rich French merchant, she prevented the time, and on Easter evening,
having cut her hair, put on the habit, and slept a little, she went
out of her chamber about four in the morning, taking nothing but one
penny to buy bread for that day. And it being said to her in the going
out, Where is thy faith? in a penny? she threw it away, begging pardon
of God for her fault, and saying, 'No, Lord, my faith is not in a
penny, but in thee alone.' Thus she went away wholly delivered from
the heavy burthen of the cares and good things of this world, and
found her soul so satisfied that she no longer wished for anything
upon earth, resting entirely upon God, with this only fear lest she
should be discovered and be obliged to return home; for she felt
already more content in this poverty than she had done for all her
life in all the delights of the world." *
  * An Apology for M. Antonia Bourignon, London, 1699, pp. 269, 270,
  Another example from Starbuck's MS. collection:-
  "At a meeting held at six the next morning, I heard a man relate his
experience. He said: The Lord asked him if he would confess Christ
among the quarrymen with whom he worked, and he said he would. Then he
asked him if he would give up to be used of the Lord the four
hundred dollars he had laid up, and he said he would, and thus the
Lord saved him. The thought came to me at once that I had never made a
real consecration either of myself or of my property to the Lord,
but had always tried to serve the Lord in my way. Now the Lord asked
me if I would serve him in his way, and go out alone and penniless
if he so ordered. The question was pressed home, and I must decide: To
forsake all and have him, or have all and lose him! I soon decided
to take him; and the blessed assurance came, that he had taken me
for his own, and my joy was full. I returned home from the meeting
with feelings as simple as a child. I thought all would be glad to
hear of the joy of the Lord that possessed me, and so I began to
tell the simple story. But to my great surprise, the pastors (for I
attended meetings in three churches) opposed the experience and said
it was fanaticism, and one told the members of his church to shun
those that professed it, and I soon found that my foes were those of
my own household."
  The penny was a small financial safeguard, but an effective
spiritual obstacle. Not till it was thrown away could the character
settle into the new equilibrium completely.

  Over and above the mystery of self-surrender, there are in the
cult of poverty other religious mysteries. There is the mystery of
veracity: "Naked came I into the world," etc.,- whoever first said
that, possessed this mystery. My own bare entity must fight the
battle- shams cannot save me. There is also the mystery of
democracy, or sentiment of the equality before God of all his
creatures. This sentiment (which seems in general to have been more
widespread in Mohammedan than in Christian lands) tends to nullify
man's usual acquisitiveness. Those who have it spurn dignities and
honors, privileges and advantages, preferring, as I said in a former
lecture, to grovel on the common level before the face of God. It is
not exactly the sentiment of humility, though it comes so close to
it in practice. It is humanity, rather, refusing to enjoy anything
that others do not share. A profound moralist, writing of Christ's
saying, 'Sell all thou hast and follow me,' proceeds as follows:-
  "Christ may have meant: If you love mankind absolutely you will as a
result not care for any possessions whatever, and this seems a very
likely proposition. But it is one thing to believe that a
proposition is probably true; it is another thing to see it as a fact.
If you loved mankind as Christ loved them, you would see his
conclusion as a fact. It would be obvious. You would sell your
goods, and they would be no loss to you, These truths, while literal
to Christ, and to any mind that has Christ's love for mankind,
become parables to lesser natures. There are in every generation
people who, beginning innocently, with no predetermined intention of
becoming saints, find themselves drawn into the vortex by their
interest in helping mankind, and by the understanding that comes
from actually doing it. The abandonment of their old mode of life is
like dust in the balance. It is done gradually, incidentally,
imperceptibly. Thus the whole question of the abandonment of luxury is
no question at all, but a mere incident to another question, namely,
the degree to which we abandon ourselves to the remorseless logic of
our love for others." *
  * J.J. CHAPMAN, in the Political Nursery, vol. iv. p. 4, April,
1900, abridged.
  But in all these matters of sentiment one must have 'been there'
one's self in order to understand them. No American can ever attain to
understanding the loyalty of a Briton towards his king, of a German
towards his emperor; nor can a Briton or German ever understand the
peace of heart of an American in having no king, no Kaiser, no
spurious nonsense, between him and the common God of all. If
sentiments as simple as these are mysteries which one must receive
as gifts of birth, how much more is this the case with those subtler
religious sentiments which we have been considering! One can never
fathom an emotion or divine its dictates by standing outside of it. In
the glowing hour of excitement, however, all incomprehensibilities are
solved, and what was so enigmatical from without becomes transparently
obvious. Each emotion obeys a logic of its own, and makes deductions
which no other logic can draw. Piety and charity live in a different
universe from worldly lusts and fears, and form another centre of
energy altogether. As in a supreme sorrow lesser vexations may
become a consolation; as a supreme love may turn minor sacrifices into
gain; so a supreme trust may render common safeguards odious, and in
certain glows of generous excitement it may appear unspeakably mean to
retain one's hold of personal possessions. The only sound plan, if
we are ourselves outside the pale of such emotions, is to observe as
well as we are able those who feel them, and to record faithfully what
we observe; and this, I need hardly say, is what I have striven to
do in these last two descriptive lectures, which I now hope will
have covered the ground sufficiently for our present needs.

                         LECTURES XIV AND XV
                       THE VALUE OF SAINTLINESS
  WE have now passed in review the more important of the phenomena
which are regarded as fruits of genuine religion and characteristics
of men who are devout. To-day we have to change our attitude from that
of description to that of appreciation; we have to ask whether the
fruits in question can help us to judge the absolute value of what
religion adds to human life. Were I to parody Kant, I should say
that a 'Critique of pure Saintliness' must be our theme.
  If, in turning to this theme, we could descend upon our subject from
above like Catholic theologians, with our fixed definitions of man and
man's perfection and our positive dogmas about God, we should have
an easy time of it. Man's perfection would be the fulfillment of his
end; and his end would be union with his Maker. That union could be
pursued by him along three paths, active, purgative, and
contemplative, respectively; and progress along either path would be a
simple matter to measure by the application of a limited number of
theological and moral conceptions and definitions. The absolute
significance and value of any bit of religious experience we might
hear of would thus be given almost mathematically into our hands.
  If convenience were everything, we ought now to grieve at finding
ourselves cut off from so admirably convenient a method as this. But
we did cut ourselves off from it deliberately in those remarks which
you remember we made, in our first lecture, about the empirical
method; and it must be confessed that after that act of renunciation
we can never hope for clean-cut and scholastic results. We cannot
divide man sharply into an animal and a rational part. We cannot
distinguish natural from supernatural effects; nor among the latter
know which are favors of God, and which are counterfeit operations
of the demon. We have merely to collect things together without any
special a priori theological system, and out of an aggregate of
piecemeal judgments as to the value of this and that experience-
judgments in which our general philosophic prejudices, our
instincts, and our common sense are our only guides- decide that on
the whole one type of religion is approved by its fruits, and
another type condemned. 'On the whole,'- I fear we shall never
escape complicity with that qualification, so dear to your practical
man, so repugnant to your systematizer!
  I also fear that as I make this frank confession, I may seem to some
of you to throw our compass overboard, and to adopt caprice as our
pilot. Skepticism or wayward choice, you may think, can be the only
results of such a formless method as I have taken up. A few remarks in
deprecation of such an opinion, and in farther explanation of the
empiricist principles which I profess, may therefore appear at this
point to be in place.
  Abstractly, it would seem illogical to try to measure the worth of a
religion's fruits in merely human terms of value. How can you
measure their worth without considering whether the God really
exists who is supposed to inspire them? If he really exists, then
all the conduct instituted by men to meet his wants must necessarily
be a reasonable fruit of his religion,- it would be unreasonable
only in case he did not exist. If, for instance, you were to condemn a
religion of human or animal sacrifices by virtue of your subjective
sentiments, and if all the while a deity were really there demanding
such sacrifices, you would be making a theoretical mistake by
tacitly assuming that the deity must be non-existent; you would be
setting up a theology of your own as much as if you were a
scholastic philosopher.
  To this extent, to the extent of disbelieving peremptorily in
certain types of deity, I frankly confess that we must be theologians.
If disbeliefs can be said to constitute a theology, then the
prejudices, instincts, and common sense which I chose as our guides
make theological partisans of us whenever they make certain beliefs
  But such common-sense prejudices and instincts are themselves the
fruit of an empirical evolution. Nothing is more striking than the
secular alteration that goes on in the moral and religious tone of
men, as their insight into nature and their social arrangements
progressively develop. After an interval of a few generations the
mental climate proves unfavorable to notions of the deity which at
an earlier date were perfectly satisfactory: the older gods have
fallen below the common secular level, and can no longer be believed
in. To-day a deity who should require bleeding sacrifices to placate
him would be too sanguinary to be taken seriously. Even if powerful
historical credentials were put forward in his favor, we would not
look at them. Once, on the contrary, his cruel appetites were of
themselves credentials. They positively recommended him to men's
imaginations in ages when such coarse signs of power were respected
and no others could be understood. Such deities then were worshiped
because such fruits were relished.
  Doubtless historic accidents always played some later part, but
the original factor in fixing the figure of the gods must always
have been psychological. The deity to whom the prophets, seers, and
devotees who founded the particular cult bore witness was worth
something to them personally. They could use him. He guided their
imagination, warranted their hopes, and controlled their will,- or
else they required him as a safeguard against the demon and a curber
of other people's crimes. In any case, they chose him for the value of
the fruits he seemed to them to yield. So soon as the fruits began
to seem quite worthless; so soon as they conflicted with indispensable
human ideals, or thwarted too extensively other values; so soon as
they appeared childish, contemptible, or immoral when reflected on,
the deity grew discredited, and was erelong neglected and forgotten.
It was in this way that the Greek and Roman gods ceased to be believed
in by educated pagans; it is thus that we ourselves judge of the
Hindu, Buddhist, and Mohammedan theologies; Protestants have so
dealt with the Catholic notions of deity, and liberal Protestants with
older Protestant notions; it is thus that Chinamen judge of us, and
that all of us now living will be judged by our descendants. When we
cease to admire or approve what the definition of a deity implies,
we end by deeming that deity incredible.
  Few historic changes are more curious than these mutations of
theological opinion. The monarchical type of sovereignty was, for
example, so ineradicably planted in the mind of our own forefathers
that a dose of cruelty and arbitrariness in their deity seems
positively to have been required by their imagination. They called the
cruelty 'retributive justice,' and a God without it would certainly
have struck them as not 'sovereign' enough. But to-day we abhor the
very notion of eternal suffering inflicted; and that arbitrary
dealing-out of salvation and damnation to selected individuals, of
which Jonathan Edwards could persuade himself that he had not only a
conviction, but a 'delightful conviction,' as of a doctrine 'exceeding
pleasant, bright, and sweet,' appears to us, if sovereignly
anything, sovereignly irrational and mean. Not only the cruelty, but
the paltriness of character of the gods believed in by earlier
centuries also strikes later centuries with surprise. We shall see
examples of it from the annals of Catholic saintship which make us rub
our Protestant eyes. Ritual worship in general appears to the modern
transcendentalist, as well as to the ultra-puritanic type of mind,
as if addressed to a deity of an almost absurdly childish character,
taking delight in toy-shop furniture, tapers and tinsel, costume and
mumbling and mummery, and finding his 'glory' incomprehensibly
enhanced thereby;- just as on the other hand the formless spaciousness
of pantheism appears quite empty to ritualistic natures, and the gaunt
theism of evangelical sects seems intolerably bald and chalky and
bleak. Luther, says Emerson, would have would have cut off his right
hand rather than nail his theses to the door at Wittenberg, if he
had supposed that they were destined to lead to the pale negations
of Boston Unitarianism.
  So far, then, although we are compelled, whatever may be our
pretensions to empiricism, to employ some sort of a standard of
theological probability of our own whenever we assume to estimate
the fruits of other men's religion, yet this very standard has been
begotten out of the drift of common life. It is the voice of human
experience within us, judging and condemning all gods that stand
athwart the pathway along which it feels itself to be advancing.
Experience, if we take it in the largest sense, is thus the parent
of those disbeliefs which, it was charged, were inconsistent with
the experiential method. The inconsistency, you see, is immaterial,
and the charge may be neglected.
  If we pass from disbeliefs to positive beliefs, it seems to me
that there is not even a formal inconsistency to be laid against our
method. The gods we stand by are the gods we need and can use, the
gods whose demands on us are reinforcements of our demands on
ourselves and on one another. What I then propose to do is, briefly
stated, to test saintliness by common sense, to use human standards to
help us decide how far the religious life commends itself as an
ideal kind of human activity. If it commends itself, then any
theological beliefs that may inspire it, in so far forth will stand
accredited. If not, then they will be discredited, and all without
reference to anything but human working principles. It is but the
elimination of the humanly unfit, and the survival of the humanly
fittest, applied to religious beliefs; and if we look at history
candidly and without prejudice, we have to admit that no religion
has ever in the long run established or proved itself in any other
way. Religions have approved themselves; they have ministered to
sundry vital needs which they found reigning. When they violated other
needs too strongly, or when other faiths came which served the same
needs better, the first religions were supplanted.
  The needs were always many, and the tests were never sharp. So the
reproach of vagueness and subjectivity and 'on the whole'-ness,
which can with perfect legitimacy be addressed to the empirical method
as we are forced to use it, is after all a reproach to which the
entire life of man in dealing with these matters is obnoxious. No
religion has ever yet owed its prevalence to 'apodictic certainty.' In
a later lecture I will ask whether objective certainty can ever be
added by theological reasoning to a religion that already
empirically prevails.
  One word, also, about the reproach that in following this sort of an
empirical method we are handing ourselves over to systematic
  Since it is impossible to deny secular alterations in our sentiments
and needs, it would be absurd to affirm that one's own age of the
world can be beyond correction by the next age. Skepticism cannot,
therefore, be ruled out by any set of thinkers as a possibility
against which their conclusions are secure; and no empiricist ought to
claim exemption from this universal liability. But to admit one's
liability to correction is one thing, and to embark upon a sea of
wanton doubt is another. Of willfully playing into the hands of
skepticism we cannot be accused. He who acknowledges the imperfectness
of his instrument, and makes allowance for it in discussing his
observations, is in a much better position for gaining truth than if
he claimed his instrument to be infallible. Or is dogmatic or
scholastic theology less doubted in point of fact for claiming, as
it does, to be in point of right undoubtable? And if not, what command
over truth would this kind of theology really lose if, instead of
absolute certainty, she only claimed reasonable probability for her
conclusions? If we claim only reasonable probability, it will be as
much as men who love the truth can ever at any given moment hope to
have within their grasp. Pretty surely it will be more than we could
have had, if we were unconscious of our liability to err.
  Nevertheless, dogmatism will doubtless continue to condemn us for
this confession. The mere outward form of inalterable certainty is
so precious to some minds that to renounce it explicitly is for them
out of the question. They will claim it even where the facts most
patently pronounce its folly. But the safe thing is surely to
recognize that all the insights of creatures of a day like ourselves
must be provisional. The wisest of critics is an altering being,
subject to the better insight of the morrow, and right at any
moment, only 'up to date' and 'on the whole.' When larger ranges of
truth open, it is surely best to be able to open ourselves to their
reception, unfettered by our previous pretensions. "Heartily know,
when half-gods go, the gods arrive."
  The fact of diverse judgments about religious phenomena is therefore
entirely unescapable, whatever may be one's own desire to attain the
irreversible. But apart from that fact, a more fundamental question
awaits us, the question whether men's opinions ought to be expected to
be absolutely uniform in this field. Ought all men to have the same
religion? Ought they to approve the same fruits and follow the same
leadings? Are they so like in their inner needs that, for hard and
soft, for proud and humble, for strenuous and lazy, for healthy-minded
and despairing, exactly the same religious incentives are required? Or
are different functions in the organism of humanity allotted to
different types of man, so that some may really be the better for a
religion of consolation and reassurance, whilst others are better
for one of terror and reproof? It might conceivably be so; and we
shall, I think, more and more suspect it to be so as we go on. And
if it be so, how can any possible judge or critic help being biased in
favor of the religion by which his own needs are best met? He
aspires to impartiality; but he is too close to the struggle not to be
to some degree a participant, and he is sure to approve most warmly
those fruits of piety in others which taste most good and prove most
nourishing to him.
  I am well aware of how anarchic much of what I say may sound.
Expressing myself thus abstractly and briefly, I may seem to despair
of the very notion of truth. But I beseech you to reserve your
judgment until we see it applied to the details which lie before us. I
do indeed disbelieve that we or any other mortal men can attain on a
given day to absolutely incorrigible and unimprovable truth about such
matters of fact as those with which religions deal. But I reject
this dogmatic ideal not out of a perverse delight in intellectual
instability. I am no lover of disorder and doubt as such. Rather do
I fear to lose truth by this pretension to possess it already
wholly. That we can gain more and more of it by moving always in the
right direction, I believe as much as any one, and I hope to bring you
all to my way of thinking before the termination of these lectures.
Till then, do not, I pray you, harden your minds irrevocably against
the empiricism which I profess.
  I will waste no more words, then, in abstract justification of my
method, but seek immediately to use it upon the facts.
  In critically judging of the value of religious phenomena, it is
very important to insist on the distinction between religion as an
individual personal function, and religion as an institutional,
corporate, or tribal product. I drew this distinction, you may
remember, in my second lecture. The word 'religion,' as ordinarily
used, is equivocal. A survey of history shows us that, as a rule,
religious geniuses attract disciples, and produce groups of
sympathizers. When these groups get strong enough to 'organize'
themselves, they become ecclesiastical institutions with corporate
ambitions of their own. The Spirit of politics and the lust of
dogmatic rule are then apt to enter and to contaminate the
originally innocent thing; so that when we hear the word 'religion'
nowadays, we think inevitably of some 'church' or other; and to some
persons the word 'church' suggests so much hypocrisy and tyranny and
meanness and tenacity of superstition that in a wholesale undiscerning
way they glory in saying that they are 'down' on religion
altogether. Even we who belong to churches do not exempt other
churches than our own from the general condemnation.
  But in this course of lectures ecclesiastical institutions hardly
concern us at all. The religious experience which we are studying is
that which lives itself out within the private breast. First-hand
individual experience of this kind has always appeared as a
heretical sort of innovation to those who witnessed its birth. Naked
comes it into the world and lonely; and it has always, for a time at
least, driven him who had it into the wilderness, often into the
literal wilderness out of doors, where the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed,
St. Francis, George Fox, and so many others had to go. George Fox
expresses well this isolation; and I can do no better at this point
than read to you a page from his Journal, referring to the period of
his youth when religion began to ferment within him seriously.
  "I fasted much," Fox says, "walked abroad in solitary places many
days, and often took my Bible, and sat in hollow trees and lonesome
places until night came on; and frequently in the night walked
mournfully about by myself; for I was a man of sorrows in the time
of the first workings of the Lord in me.
  "During all this time I was never joined in profession of religion
with any, but gave up myself to the Lord, having forsaken all evil
company, taking leave of father and mother, and all other relations,
and traveled up and down as a stranger on the earth, which way the
Lord inclined my heart; taking a chamber to myself in the town where I
came, and tarrying sometimes more, sometimes less in a place: for I
durst not stay long in a place, being afraid both of professor and
profane, lest, being a tender young man, I should be hurt by
conversing much with either. For which reason I kept much as a
stranger, seeking heavenly wisdom and getting knowledge from the Lord;
and was brought off from outward things, to rely on the Lord alone. As
I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and
those called the most experienced people; for I saw there was none
among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes
in them and in all men were gone so that I had nothing outwardly to
help me, nor could tell what to do; then, oh then, I heard a voice
which said, 'There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy
condition.' When I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the
Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak
to my condition. I had not fellowship with any people, priests, nor
professors, nor any sort of separated people. I was afraid of all
carnal talk and talkers, for I could see nothing but corruptions. When
I was in the deep, under all shut up, I could not believe that I
should ever overcome; my troubles, my sorrows, and my temptations were
so great that I often thought I should have despaired, I was so
tempted. But when Christ opened to me how he was tempted by the same
devil, and had overcome him, and had brushed his head; and that
through him and his power, life, grace, and spirit, I should
overcome also, I had confidence in him. If I had had a king's diet,
palace, and attendance, all would have been as nothing; for nothing
gave me comfort but the Lord by his power. I saw professors,
priests, and people were whole and at ease in that condition which was
my misery, and they loved that which I would have been rid of. But the
Lord did stay my desires upon himself, and my care was cast upon him
alone." *
  * GEORGE FOX: Journal, Philadelphia, 1800, pp. 59-61, abridged.
  A genuine first-hand religious experience like this is bound to be a
heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely
madman. If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any
others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then still
prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself
an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day
of inwardness is over: the spring is dry; the faithful live at
second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn. The
new church, in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can
be henceforth counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to
stifle the spontaneous religious spirit, and to stop all later
bubblings of the fountain from which in purer days it drew its own
supply of inspiration. Unless, indeed, by adopting new movements of
the spirit it can make capital out of them and use them for its
selfish corporate designs! Of protective action of this politic
sort, promptly or tardily decided on, the dealings of the Roman
ecclesiasticism with many individual saints and prophets yield
examples enough for our instruction.
  The plain fact is that men's minds are built, as has been often
said, in water-tight compartments. Religious after a fashion, they yet
have many other things in them beside their religion, and unholy
entanglements and associations inevitably obtain. The basenesses so
commonly charged to religion's account are thus, almost all of them,
not chargeable at all to religion proper, but rather to religion's
wicked practical partner, the spirit of corporate dominion. And the
bigotries are most of them in their turn chargeable to religion's
wicked intellectual partner, the spirit of dogmatic dominion, the
passion for laying down the law in the form of an absolutely closed-in
theoretic system. The ecclesiastical spirit in general is the sum of
these two spirits of dominion; and I beseech you never to confound the
phenomena of mere tribal or corporate psychology which it presents
with those manifestations of the purely interior life which are the
exclusive object of our study. The baiting of Jews, the hunting of
Albigenses and Waldenses, the stoning of Quakers and ducking of
Methodists, the murdering of Mormons and the massacring of
Armenians, express much rather that aboriginal human neophobia, that
pugnacity of which we all share the vestiges, and that unborn hatred
of the alien and of eccentric and non-conforming men as aliens, than
they express the positive piety of the various perpetrators. Piety
is the mask, the inner force is tribal instinct. You believe as little
as I do, in spite of the Christian unction with which the German
emperor addressed his troops upon their way to China, that the conduct
which he suggested, and in which other Christian armies went beyond
them, had anything whatever to do with the interior religious life
of those concerned in the performance.
  Well, no more for past atrocities than for this atrocity should we
make piety responsible. At most we may blame piety for not availing to
check our natural passions, and sometimes for supplying them with
hypocritical pretexts. But hypocrisy also imposes obligations, and
with the pretext usually couples some restriction; and when the
passion gust is over, the piety may bring a reaction of repentance
which the irreligious natural man would not have shown.
  For many of the historic aberrations which have been laid to her
charge, religion as such, then, is not to blame. Yet of the charge
that over-zealousness or fanaticism is one of her liabilities we
cannot wholly acquit her, so I will next make a remark upon that
point. But I will preface it by a preliminary remark which connects
itself with much that follows.
  Our survey of the phenomena of saintliness has unquestionably
produced in your minds an impression of extravagance. Is it necessary,
some of you have asked, as one example after another came before us,
to be quite so fantastically good as that? We who have no vocation for
the extremer ranges of sanctity will surely be let off at the last day
if our humility, asceticism, and devoutness prove of a less convulsive
sort. This practically amounts to saying that much that it is
legitimate to admire in this field need nevertheless not be
imitated, and that religious phenomena, like all other human
phenomena, are subject to the law of the golden mean. Political
reformers accomplish their successive tasks in the history of
nations by being blind for the time to other causes. Great schools
of art work out the effects which it is their mission to reveal, at
the cost of a one-sidedness for which other schools must make
amends. We accept a John Howard, a Mazzini, a Botticelli, a Michael
Angelo, with a kind of indulgence. We are glad they existed to show us
that way, but we are glad there are also other ways of seeing and
taking life. So of many of the saints whom we have looked at. We are
proud of a human nature that could be so passionately extreme, but
we shrink from advising others to follow the example. The conduct we
blame ourselves for not following lies nearer to the middle line of
human effort. It is less dependent on particular beliefs and
doctrines. It is such as wears well in different ages, such as under
different skies all judges are able to commend.
  The fruits of religion, in other words, are, like all human
products, liable to corruption by excess. Common sense must judge
them. It need not blame the votary; but it may be able to praise him
only conditionally, as one who acts faithfully according to his
lights. He shows us heroism in one way, but the unconditionally good
way is that for which no indulgence need be asked.
  We find that error by excess is exemplified by every saintly virtue.
Excess, in human faculties, means usually one-sidedness or want of
balance; for it is hard to imagine an essential faculty too strong, if
only other faculties equally strong be there to cooperate with it in
action. Strong affections need a strong will; strong active powers
need a strong intellect; strong intellect needs strong sympathies,
to keep life steady. If the balance exist, no one faculty can possibly
be too strong- we only get the stronger all-round character. In the
life of saints, technically so called, the spiritual faculties are
strong, but what gives the impression of extravagance proves usually
on examination to be a relative deficiency of intellect. Spiritual
excitement takes pathological forms whenever other interests are too
few and the intellect too narrow. We find this exemplified by all
the saintly attributes in turn- devout love of God, purity, charity,
asceticism, all may lead astray. I will run over these virtues in
  First of all let us take Devoutness. When unbalanced, one of its
vices is called Fanaticism. Fanaticism (when not a mere expression
of ecclesiastical ambition) is only loyalty carried to a convulsive
extreme. When an intensely loyal and narrow mind is once grasped by
the feeling that a certain superhuman person is worthy of its
exclusive devotion, one of the first things that happens is that it
idealizes the devotion itself. To adequately realize the merits of the
idol gets to be considered the one great merit of the worshiper; and
the sacrifices and servilities by which savage tribesmen have from
time immemorial exhibited their faithfulness to chieftains are now
outbid in favor of the deity. Vocabularies are exhausted and languages
altered in the attempt to praise him enough; death is looked on as
gain if it attract his grateful notice; and the personal attitude of
being his devotee becomes what one might almost call a new and exalted
kind of professional specialty within the tribe. * The legends that
gather round the lives of holy persons are fruits of this impulse to
celebrate and glorify, The Buddha *(2) and Mohammed *(3) and their
companions and many Christian saints are incrusted with a heavy
jewelry of anecdotes which are meant to be honorific, but are simply
abgeschmackt and silly, and form a touching expression of man's
misguided propensity to praise.
  * Christian saints have had their specialties of devotion, Saint
Francis to Christ's wounds; Saint Anthony of Padua to Christ's
childhood; Saint Bernard to his humanity; Saint Teresa to Saint
Joseph, etc. The Shi-ite Mohammedans venerate Ali, the Prophet's
son-in-law, instead of Abu-bekr, his brother-in-law. Vambery describes
a dervish whom he met in Persia, "who had solemnly vowed, thirty years
before, that he would never employ his organs of speech otherwise
but in uttering, everlastingly, the name of his favorite, Ali, Ali. He
thus wished to signify to the world that he was the most devoted
partisan of that Ali who had been dead a thousand years. In his own
home, speaking with his wife, children, and friends, no other word but
'Ali!' ever passed his lips. If he wanted food or drink or anything
else, he expressed his wants still by repeating 'Ali!' Begging or
buying at the bazaar, it was always 'Ali!' Treated ill or
generously, he would still harp on his monotonous 'Ali!' Latterly
his zeal assumed such tremendous proportions that, like a madman, he
would race, the whole day, up and down the streets of the town,
throwing his stick high up into the air, and shriek out, all the
while, at the top of his voice, 'Ali!' This dervish was venerated by
everybody as a saint, and received everywhere with the greatest
distinction." ARMINIUS VAMBERY, his Life and Adventures, written by
Himself, London, 1889, p. 69. On the anniversary of the death of
Hussein, Ali's son, the Shi-ite Moslems still make the air resound
with cries of his name and Ali's.
  *(2) Compare H.C. WARREN: Buddhism in Translation, Cambridge,
U.S., 1898, passim.
  *(3) Compare J.L. MERRICK: The Life and Religion of Mohammed, as
contained in the Sheeah traditions of the Hyat-ul-Kuloob, Boston,
1850, passim.
  An immediate consequence of this condition of mind is jealousy for
the deity's honor. How can the devotee show his loyalty better than by
sensitiveness in this regard? The slightest affront or neglect must be
resented, the deity's enemies must be put to shame. In exceedingly
narrow minds and active wills, such a care may become an engrossing
preoccupation; and crusades have been preached and massacres
instigated for no other reason than to remove a fancied slight upon
the God. Theologies representing the gods as mindful of their glory,
and churches with imperialistic policies, have conspired to fan this
temper to a glow, so that intolerance and persecution have come to
be vices associated by some of us inseparably with the saintly mind.
They are unquestionably its besetting sins. The Saintly temper is a
moral temper, and a moral temper has often to be cruel. It is a
partisan temper, and that is cruel. Between his own and Jehovah's
enemies a David knows no difference; a Catherine of Siena, panting
to stop the warfare among Christians which was the scandal of her
epoch, can think of no better method of union among them than a
crusade to massacre the Turks; Luther finds no word of protest or
regret over the atrocious tortures with which the Anabaptist leaders
were put to death; and a Cromwell praises the Lord for delivering
his enemies into his hands for 'execution.' Politics come in in all
such cases; but piety finds the partnership not quite unnatural. So,
when 'freethinkers' tell us that religion and fanaticism are twins, we
cannot make an unqualified denial of the charge.
  Fanaticism must then be inscribed on the wrong side of religion's
account, so long as the religious person's intellect is on the stage
which the despotic kind of God satisfies. But as soon as the God is
represented as less intent on his own honor and glory, it ceases to be
a danger.
  Fanaticism is found only where the character is masterful and
aggressive. In gentle characters, where devoutness is intense and
the intellect feeble, we have an imaginative absorption in the love of
God to the exclusion of all practical human interests, which, though
innocent enough, is too one-sided to be admirable. A mind too narrow
has room but for one kind of affection. When the love of God takes
possession of such a mind, it expels all human loves and human uses.
There is no English name for such a sweet excess of devotion, so I
will refer to it as a theopathic condition.
  The blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque may serve as an example.
  "To be loved here upon the earth," her recent biographer exclaims:
"to be loved by a noble, elevated, distinguished being; to be loved
with fidelity, with devotion,- what enchantment! But to be loved by
God! and loved by him to distraction [aime jusqu'a la folie]!-
Margaret melted away with love at the thought of such a thing. Like
Saint Philip of Neri in former times, or like Saint Francis Xavier,
she said to God: 'Hold back, O my God, these torrents which
overwhelm me, or else enlarge my capacity for their reception.'" *
  * BOUGAUD: Hist. de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, Paris, 1894,
p. 145.
  The most signal proofs of God's love which Margaret Mary received
were her hallucinations of sight, touch, and hearing, and the most
signal in turn of these were the revelations of Christ's sacred heart,
"surrounded with rays more brilliant than the Sun, and transparent
like a crystal. The wound which he received on the cross visibly
appeared upon it. There was a crown of thorns round about this
divine Heart, and a cross above it." At the same time Christ's voice
told her that, unable longer to contain the flames of his love for
mankind, he had chosen her by a miracle to spread the knowledge of
them. He thereupon took out her mortal heart, placed it inside of
his own and inflamed it, and then replaced it in her breast, adding:
"Hitherto thou hast taken the name of my slave, hereafter thou shalt
be called the well-beloved disciple of my Sacred Heart."
  In a later vision the Saviour revealed to her in detail the 'great
design' which he wished to establish through her instrumentality. "I
ask of thee to bring it about that every first Friday after the week
of holy Sacrament shall be made into a special holy day for honoring
my Heart by a general communion and by services intended to make
honorable amends for the indignities which it has received. And I
promise thee that my Heart will dilate to shed with abundance the
influences of its love upon all those who pay to it these honors, or
who bring it about that others do the same."

  "This revelation," says Mgr. Bougaud, "is unquestionably the most
important of all the revelations which have illumined the Church since
that of the Incarnation and of the Lord's Supper.... After the
Eucharist, the supreme effort of the Sacred Heart." * Well, what
were its good fruits for Margaret Mary's life? Apparently little
else but sufferings and prayers and absences of mind and swoons and
ecstasies. She became increasingly useless about the convent, her
absorption in Christ's love,-
  * BOUGAUD: Hist. de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, Paris, 1894,
pp. 365, 241.
  "which grew upon her daily, rendering her more and more incapable of
attending to external duties. They tried her in the infirmary, but
without much success, although her kindness, zeal, and devotion were
without bounds, and her charity rose to acts of such a heroism that
our readers would not bear the recital of them. They tried her in
the kitchen, but were forced to give it up as hopeless- everything
dropped out of her hands. The admirable humility with which she made
amends for her clumsiness could not prevent this from being
prejudicial to the order and regularity which must always reign in a
community. They put her in the school, where the little girls
cherished her, and cut pieces out of her clothes [for relics] as if
she were already a saint, but where she was too absorbed inwardly to
pay the necessary attention. Poor dear sister, even less after her
visions than before them was she a denizen of earth, and they had to
leave her in her heaven." *
  * BOUGAUD: Op. cit., p. 267.
  Poor dear sister, indeed! Amiable and good, but so feeble of
intellectual outlook that it would be too much to ask of us, with
our Protestant and modern education, to feel anything but indulgent
pity for the kind of saintship which she embodies. A lower example
still of theopathic saintliness is that of Saint Gertrude, a
Benedictine nun of the thirteenth century, whose 'Revelations,' a
well-known mystical authority, consist mainly of proofs of Christ's
partiality for her undeserving person. Assurances of his love,
intimacies and caresses and compliments of the most absurd and puerile
sort, addressed by Christ to Gertrude as an individual, form the
tissue of this paltry-minded recital. * In reading such a narrative,
we realize the gap between the thirteenth and the twentieth century,
and we feel that saintliness of character may yield almost
absolutely worthless fruits if it be associated with such inferior
intellectual sympathies. What with science, idealism, and democracy,
our own imagination has grown to need a God of an entirely different
temperament from that Being interested exclusively in dealing out
personal favors, with whom our ancestors were so contented. Smitten as
we are with the vision of social righteousness, a God indifferent to
everything but adulation, and full of partiality for his individual
favorites, lacks an essential element of largeness; and even the
best professional sainthood of former centuries, pent in as it is to
such a conception, seems to us curiously shallow and unedifying.
  * Examples: "Suffering from a headache, she sought, for the glory of
God, to relieve herself by holding certain odoriferous substances in
her mouth, when the Lord appeared to her to lean over towards her
lovingly, and to find comfort Himself in these odors. After having
gently breathed them in, He arose, and said with a gratified air to
the Saints, as if contented with what He had done: 'See the new
present which my betrothed has given Me!'
  "One day, at chapel, she heard supernaturally sung the words,
'Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.' The Son of God leaning towards her like a
sweet lover, and giving to her soul the softest kiss, said to her at
the second Sanctus: 'In this Sanctus addressed to my person, receive
with this kiss all the sanctity of my divinity and of my humanity, and
let it be to thee a sufficient preparation for approaching the
communion table.' And the next following Sunday, while she was
thanking God for this favor, behold the Son of God, more beauteous
than thousands of angels, takes her in His arms as if He were proud of
her, and presents her to God the Father, in that perfection of
sanctity with which He had dowered her. And the Father took such
delight in this soul thus presented by His only Son, that, as if
unable longer to restrain Himself, He gave her, and the Holy Ghost
gave her also, the Sanctity attributed to each by His own Sanctus- and
thus she remained endowed with the plenary fullness of the blessing of
Sanctity, bestowed on her by Omnipotence, by Wisdom, and by Love."
Revelations de Sainte Gertrude, Paris, 1898, i. 44, 186.
  Take Saint Teresa, for example, one of the ablest women, in many
respects, of whose life we have the record. She had a powerful
intellect of the practical order. She wrote admirable descriptive
psychology, possessed a will equal to any emergency, great talent
for politics and business, a buoyant disposition, and a first-rate
literary style. She was tenaciously aspiring, and put her whole life
at the service of her religious ideals. Yet so paltry were these,
according to our present way of thinking, that (although I know that
others have been moved differently) I confess that my only feeling
in reading her has been pity that so much vitality of soul should have
found such poor employment.
  In spite of the sufferings which she endured, there is a curious
flavor of superficiality about her genius. A Birmingham
anthropologist, Dr. Jordan, has divided the human race into two types,
whom he calls 'shrews' and 'non-shrews' respectively. * The shrew-type
is defined as possessing an 'active unimpassioned temperament.' In
other words, shrews are the 'motors,' rather than the
'sensories,' *(2) and their expressions are as a rule more energetic
than the feelings which appear to prompt them. Saint Teresa,
paradoxical as such a judgment may sound, was a typical shrew, in this
sense of the term. The bustle of her style, as well as of her life,
proves it. Not only must she receive unheard-of personal favors and
spiritual graces from her Saviour, but she must immediately write
about them and exploiter them professionally, and use her expertness
to give instruction to those less privileged. Her voluble egotism; her
sense, not of radical bad being, as the really contrite have it, but
of her 'faults' and 'imperfections' in the plural; her stereo-typed
humility and return upon herself, as covered with 'confusion' at
each new manifestation of God's singular partiality for a person so
unworthy, are typical of shrewdom: a paramountly feeling nature
would be objectively lost in gratitude, and silent. She had some
public instincts, it is true; she hated the Lutherans, and longed
for the church's triumph over them; but in the main her idea of
religion seems to have been that of an endless amatory flirtation-
if one may say so without irreverence-between the devotee and the
deity; and apart from helping younger nuns to go in this direction
by the inspiration of her example and instruction, there is absolutely
no human use in her, or sign of any general human interest. Yet the
spirit of her age, far from rebuking her, exalted her as superhuman.
  * FURNEAUX JORDAN: Character in Birth and Parentage, first
edition. Later editions change the nomenclature.
  *(2) As to this distinction, see the admirably practical account
in J.M. BALDWIN'S little book, The Story of the Mind, 1898.
  We have to pass a similar judgment on the whole notion of
saintship based on merits. Any God who, on the one hand, can care to
keep a pedantically minute account of individual shortcomings, and
on the other can feel such partialities, and load particular creatures
with such insipid marks of favor, is too small-minded a God for our
credence. When Luther, in his immense manly way, swept off by a stroke
of his hand the very notion of a debit and credit account kept with
individuals by the Almighty, he stretched the soul's imagination and
saved theology from puerility.
  So much for mere devotion, divorced from the intellectual
conceptions which might guide it towards bearing useful human fruit.
  The next saintly virtue in which we find excess is Purity. In
theopathic characters, like those whom we have just considered, the
love of God must not be mixed with any other love. Father and
mother, sisters, brothers, and friends are felt as interfering
distractions; for sensitiveness and narrowness, when they occur
together, as they often do, require above all things a simplified
world to dwell in. Variety and confusion are too much for their powers
of comfortable adaptation. But whereas your aggressive pietist reaches
his unity objectively, by forcibly stamping disorder and divergence
out, your retiring pietist reaches his subjectively, leaving
disorder in the world at large, but making a smaller world in which he
dwells himself and from which he eliminates it altogether. Thus,
alongside of the church militant with its prisons, dragonnades, and
inquisition methods, we have the church fugient, as one might call it,
with its hermitages, monasteries, and sectarian organizations, both
churches pursuing the same object- to unify the life, * and simplify
the spectacle presented to the soul. A mind extremely sensitive to
inner discords will drop one external relation after another, as
interfering with the absorption of consciousness in spiritual
things. Amusements must go first, then conventional 'society,' then
business, then family duties, until at last seclusion, with a
subdivision of the day into hours for stated religious acts, is the
only thing that can be borne. The lives of saints are a history of
successive renunciations of complication, one form of contact with the
outer life being dropped after another, to save the purity of inner
tone. *(2) "Is it not better," a young sister asks her Superior, "that
I should not speak at all during the hour of recreation, so as not
to run the risk, by speaking, of falling into some sin of which I
might not be conscious?" *(3) If the life remains a social one at all,
those who take part in it must follow one identical rule. Embosomed in
this monotony, the zealot for purity feels clean and free once more.
The minuteness of uniformity maintained in certain sectarian
communities, whether monastic or not, is something almost
inconceivable to a man of the world. Costume, phraseology, hours,
and habits are absolutely stereotyped, and there is no doubt that some
persons are so made as to find in this stability an incomparable
kind of mental rest.
  * On this subject I refer to the work of M. MURISIER (Les Maladies
du Sentiment Religieux, Paris, 1901), who makes inner unification
the mainspring of the whole religious life. But all strongly ideal
interests, religious or irreligious, unify the mind and tend to
subordinate everything to themselves. One would infer from M.
Murisier's pages that this formal condition was peculiarly
characteristic of religion, and that one might in comparison almost
neglect material content, in studying the latter. I trust that the
present work will convince the reader that religion has plenty of
material content which is characteristic, and which is more
important by far than any general psychological form. In spite of this
criticism, I find M. Murisier's book highly instructive.
  *(2) Example: "At the first beginning of the Servitor's [Suso's]
interior life, after he had purified his soul properly by
confession, he marked out for himself, in thought, three circles,
within which he shut himself up, as in a spiritual intrenchment. The
first circle was his cell, his chapel, and the choir. When he was
within this circle, he seemed to himself in complete security. The
second circle was the whole monastery as far as the outer gate. The
third and outermost circle was the gate itself, and here it was
necessary for him to stand well upon his guard. When he went outside
these circles, it seemed to him that he was in the plight of some wild
animal which is outside its hole, and surrounded by the hunt, and
therefore in need of all its cunning and watchfulness." The Life of
the Blessed Henry Suso, by Himself, translated by KNOX, London,
1865, p. 168.
  *(3) Vie des premieres Religieuses Dominicaines de la Congregation
de St Dominique, a Nancy; Nancy, 1896, p. 129.
  We have no time to multiply examples, so I will let the case of
Saint Louis of Gonzaga serve as a type of excess in purification. I
think you will agree that this youth carried the elimination of the
external and discordant to a point which we cannot unreservedly
admire. At the age of ten, his biographer says:-
  "The inspiration came to him to consecrate to the Mother of God
his own virginity- that being to her the most agreeable of possible
presents. Without delay, then, and with all the fervor there was in
him, joyous of heart, and burning with love, he made his vow of
perpetual chastity. Mary accepted the offering of his innocent
heart, and obtained for him from God, as a recompense, the
extraordinary grace of never feeling during his entire life the
slightest touch of temptation against the virtue of purity. This was
an altogether exceptional favor, rarely accorded even to Saints
themselves, and all the more marvelous in that Louis dwelt always in
courts and among great folks, where danger and opportunity are so
unusually frequent. It is true that Louis from his earliest
childhood had shown a natural repugnance for whatever might be
impure or unvirginal, and even for relations of any sort whatever
between persons of opposite sex. But this made it all the more
surprising that he should, especially since this vow, feel it
necessary to have recourse to such a number of expedients for
protecting against even the shadow of danger the virginity which he
had thus consecrated. One might suppose that if any one could have
contented himself with the ordinary precautions, prescribed for all
Christians, it would assuredly have been he. But no! In the use of
preservatives and means of defense, in flight from the most
insignificant occasions, from every possibility of peril, just as in
the mortification of his flesh, he went farther than the majority of
saints. He, who by an extraordinary protection of God's grace was
never tempted, measured all his steps as if he were threatened on
every side by particular dangers. Thence forward he never raised his
eyes, either when walking in the streets, or when in society. Not only
did he avoid all business with females even more scrupulously than
before, but he renounced all conversation and every kind of social
recreation with them, although his father tried to make him take part;
and he commenced only too early to deliver his innocent body to
austerities of every kind." *
  * MESCHLER'S Life of Saint Louis of Gonzaga, French translation by
LEBREQUIER, 1891, p. 40.
  At the age of twelve, we read of this young man that "if by chance
his mother sent one of her maids of honor to him with a message, he
never allowed her to come in, but listened to her through the barely
opened door, and dismissed her immediately. He did not like to be
alone with his own mother, whether at table or in conversation; and
when the rest of the company withdrew, he sought also a pretext for
retiring.... Several great ladies, relatives of his, he avoided
learning to know even by sight; and he made a sort of treaty with
his father, engaging promptly and readily to accede to all his wishes,
if he might only be excused from all visits to ladies." (Ibid., p.
  When he was seventeen years old Louis joined the Jesuit order, *
against his father's passionate entreaties, for he was heir of a
princely house; and when a year later the father died, he took the
loss as a 'particular attention' to himself on God's part, and wrote
letters of stilted good advice, as from a spiritual superior, to his
grieving mother. He soon became so good a monk that if any one asked
him the number of his brothers and sisters, he had to reflect and
count them over before replying. A Father asked him one day if he were
never troubled by the thought of his family, to which, "I never
think of them except when praying for them," was his only answer.
Never was he seen to hold in his hand a flower or anything perfumed,
that he might take pleasure in it. On the contrary, in the hospital,
he used to seek for whatever was most disgusting, and eagerly snatch
the bandages of ulcers, etc., from the hands of his companions. He
avoided worldly talk, and immediately tried to turn every conversation
on to pious subjects, or else he remained silent. He systematically
refused to notice his surroundings. Being ordered one day to bring a
book from the rector's seat in the refectory, he had to ask where
the rector sat, for in the three months he had eaten bread there, so
carefully did he guard his eyes that he had not noticed the place. One
day, during recess, having looked by chance on one of his
companions, he reproached himself as for a grave sin against
modesty. He cultivated silence, as preserving from sins of the tongue;
and his greatest penance was the limit which his superiors set to
his bodily penances. He sought after false accusations and unjust
reprimands as opportunities of humility; and such was his obedience
that, when a room-mate, having no more paper, asked him for a sheet,
he did not feel free to give it to him without first obtaining the
permission of the superior, who, as such, stood in the place of God,
and transmitted his orders.
  * In his boyish note-book he praises the monastic life for its
freedom from sin, and for the imperishable treasures, which it enables
us to store up, "of merit in God's eyes which makes of Him our
debtor for all Eternity." Loc. cit., p. 62.
  I can find no other sorts of fruit than these of Louis's
saintship. He died in 1591, in his twenty-ninth year, and is known
in the Church as the patron of all young people. On his festival,
the altar in the chapel devoted to him in a certain church in Rome "is
embosomed in flowers, arranged with exquisite taste; and a pile of
letters may be seen at its foot, written to the Saint by young men and
women, and directed to 'Paradiso.' They are supposed to be burnt
unread except by San Luigi, who must find singular petitions in
these pretty little missives, tied up now with a green ribbon,
expressive of hope, now with a red one, emblematic of love," etc. *
  * Mademoiselle Mori, a novel quoted in HARE'S Walks in Rome, 1900,
i. 55.
  I cannot resist the temptation to quote from Starbuck's book, p.
388, another case of purification by elimination. It runs as follows:-
  "The signs of abnormality which sanctified persons show are of
frequent occurrence. They get out of tune with other people; often
they will have nothing to do with churches, which they regard as
worldly; they become hypercritical towards others; they grow
careless of their social, political, and financial obligations. As
an instance of this type may be mentioned a woman of sixty-eight of
whom the writer made a special study. She had been a member of one
of the most active and progressive churches in a busy part of a
large city. Her pastor described her as having reached the
censorious stage. She had grown more and more out of sympathy with the
church; her connection with it finally consisted simply in
attendance at prayer-meeting, at which her only message was that of
reproof and condemnation of the others for living on a low plane. At
last she withdrew from fellowship with any church. The writer found
her living alone in a little room on the top story of a cheap
boarding-house, quite out of touch with all human relations, but
apparently happy in the enjoyment of her own spiritual blessings.
Her time was occupied in writing booklets on sanctification- page
after page of dreamy rhapsody. She proved to be one of a small group
of persons who claim that entire salvation involves three steps
instead of two; not only must there be conversion and
sanctification, but a third, which they call 'crucifixion' or 'perfect
redemption,' and which seems to bear the same relation to
sanctification that this bears to conversion. She related how the
Spirit had said to her, 'Stop going to church. Stop going to
holiness meetings. Go to your own room and I will teach you.' She
professes to care nothing for colleges, or preachers, or churches, but
only cares to listen to what God says to her. Her description of her
experience seemed entirely consistent; she is happy and contented, and
her life is entirely satisfactory to herself. While listening to her
own story, one was tempted to forget that it was from the life of a
person who could not live by it in conjunction with her fellows."
  Our final judgment of the worth of such a life as this will depend
largely on our conception of God, and of the sort of conduct he is
best pleased with in his creatures. The Catholicism of the sixteenth
century paid little heed to social righteousness; and to leave the
world to the devil whilst saving one's own soul was then accounted
no discreditable scheme. To-day, rightly or wrongly, helpfulness in
general human affairs is, in consequence of one of those secular
mutations in moral sentiment of which I spoke, deemed an essential
element of worth in character; and to be of some public or private use
is also reckoned as a species of divine service. Other early
Jesuits, especially the missionaries among them, the Xaviers,
Brebeufs, Jogues, were objective minds, and fought in their way for
the world's welfare; so their lives to-day inspire us. But when the
intellect, as in this Louis, is originally no larger than a pin's
head, and cherishes ideas of God of corresponding smallness, the
result, notwithstanding the heroism put forth, is on the whole
repulsive. Purity, we see in the object-lesson, is not the one thing
needful; and it is better that a life should contract many a
dirt-mark, than forfeit usefulness in its efforts to remain unspotted.
  Proceeding onwards in our search of religious extravagance, we
next come upon excesses of Tenderness and Charity. Here saintliness
has to face the charge of preserving the unfit, and breeding parasites
and beggars. 'Resist not evil,' 'Love your enemies,' these are saintly
maxims of which men of this world find it hard to speak without
impatience. Are the men of this world right, or are the saints in
possession of the deeper range of truth?
  No simple answer is possible. Here, if anywhere, one feels the
complexity of the moral life, and the mysteriousness of the way in
which facts and ideals are interwoven.
  Perfect conduct is a relation between three terms: the actor, the
objects for which he acts, and the recipients of the action. In
order that conduct should be abstractly perfect, all three terms,
intention, execution, and reception, should be suited to one
another. The best intention will fail if it either work by false means
or address itself to the wrong recipient. Thus no critic or
estimator of the value of conduct can confine himself to the actor's
animus alone, apart from the other elements of the performance. As
there is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it,
so reasonable arguments, challenges to magnanimity, and appeals to
sympathy or justice, are folly when we are dealing with human
crocodiles and boa-constrictors. The saint may simply give the
universe into the hands of the enemy by his trustfulness. He may by
non-resistance cut off his own survival.
  Herbert Spencer tells us that the perfect man's conduct will
appear perfect only when the environment is perfect: to no inferior
environment is it suitably adapted. We may paraphrase this by
cordially admitting that saintly conduct would be the most perfect
conduct conceivable in an environment where all were saints already;
but by adding that in an environment where few are saints, and many
the exact reverse of saints, it must be ill adapted. We must frankly
confess, then, using our empirical common sense and ordinary practical
prejudices, that in the world that actually is, the virtues of
sympathy, charity, and non-resistance may be, and often have been,
manifested in excess. The powers of darkness have systematically taken
advantage of them. The whole modern scientific organization of charity
is a consequence of the failure of simply giving alms. The whole
history of constitutional government is a commentary on the excellence
of resisting evil, and when one cheek is smitten, of smiting back
and not turning the other cheek also.
  You will agree to this in general, for in spite of the Gospel, in
spite of Quakerism, in spite of Tolstoy, you believe in fighting
fire with fire, in shooting down usurpers, locking up thieves, and
freezing out vagabonds and swindlers.
  And yet you are sure, as I am sure, that were the world confined
to these hard-headed, hard-hearted, and hard-fisted methods
exclusively, were there no one prompt to help a brother first, and
find out afterwards whether he were worthy; no one willing to drown
his private wrongs in pity for the wronger's person; no one ready to
be duped many a time rather than live always on suspicion; no one glad
to treat individuals passionately and impulsively rather than by
general rules of prudence; the world would be an infinitely worse
place than it is now to live in. The tender grace, not of a day that
is dead, but of a day yet to be born somehow, with the golden rule
grown natural, would be cut out from the perspective of our
  The saints, existing in this way, may, with their extravagances of
human tenderness, be prophetic. Nay, innumerable times they have
proved themselves prophetic. Treating those whom they met, in spite of
the past, in spite of all appearances, as worthy, they have stimulated
them to be worthy, miraculously transformed them by their radiant
example and by the challenge of their expectation.
  From this point of view we may admit the human charity which we find
in all saints, and the great excess of it which we find in some
saints, to be a genuinely creative social force, tending to make
real a degree of virtue which it alone is ready to assume as possible.
The saints are authors, auctores, increasers, of goodness. The
potentialities of development in human souls are unfathomable. So many
who seemed irretrievably hardened have in point of fact been softened,
converted, regenerated, in ways that amazed the subjects even more
than they surprised the spectators, that we never can be sure in
advance of any man that his salvation by the way of love is
hopeless. We have no right to speak of human crocodiles and
boa-constrictors as of fixedly incurable beings. We know not the
complexities of personality, the smouldering emotional fires, the
other facets of the character-polyhedron, the resources of the
subliminal region. St. Paul long ago made our ancestors familiar
with the idea that every soul is virtually sacred. Since Christ died
for us all without exception, St. Paul said, we must despair of no
one. This belief in the essential sacredness of every one expresses
itself to-day in all sorts of humane customs and reformatory
institutions, and in a growing aversion to the death penalty and to
brutality in punishment. The saints, with their extravagance of
human tenderness, are the great torch-bearers of this belief, the
tip of the wedge, the clearers of the darkness. Like the single
drops which sparkle in the sun as they are flung far ahead of the
advancing edge of a wave-crest or of a flood, they show the way and
are forerunners. The world is not yet with them, so they often seem in
the midst of the world's affairs to be preposterous. Yet they are
impregnators of the world, vivifiers and animaters of potentialities
of goodness which but for them would lie forever dormant. It is not
possible to be quite as mean as we naturally are, when they have
passed before us. One fire kindles another; and without that
over-trust in human worth which they show, the rest of us would lie in
spiritual stagnancy.
  Momentarily considered, then, the saint may waste his tenderness and
be the dupe and victim of his charitable fever, but the general
function of his charity in social evolution is vital and essential. If
things are ever to move upward, some one must be ready to take the
first step, and assume the risk of it. No one who is not willing to
try charity, to try non-resistance as the saint is always willing, can
tell whether these methods will or will not succeed. When they do
succeed, they are far more powerfully successful than force or worldly
prudence. Force destroys enemies; and the best that can be said of
prudence is that it keeps what we already have in safety. But
non-resistance, when successful, turns enemies into friends; and
charity regenerates its objects. These saintly methods are, as I said,
creative energies; and genuine saints find in the elevated
excitement with which their faith endows them an authority and
impressiveness which makes them irresistible in situations where men
of shallower nature cannot get on at all without the use of worldly
prudence. This practical proof that worldly wisdom may be safely
transcended is the saint's magic gift to mankind. * Not only does
his vision of a better world console us for the generally prevailing
prose and barrenness; but even when on the whole we have to confess
him ill adapted, he makes some converts, and the environment gets
better for his ministry. He is an effective ferment of goodness, a
slow transmuter of the earthly into a more heavenly order.
  In this respect the Utopian dreams of social justice in which many
contemporary socialists and anarchists indulge are, in spite of
their impracticability and non-adaptation to present environmental
conditions, analogous to the saint's belief in an existent kingdom
of heaven. They help to break the edge of the general reign of
hardness, and are slow leavens of a better order.
  * The best missionary lives abound in the victorious combination
of non-resistance with personal authority. John G. Paton, for example,
in the New Hebrides, among brutish Melanesian cannibals, preserves a
charmed life by dint of it. When it comes to the point, no one ever
dares actually to strike him. Native converts, inspired by him, showed
analogous virtue. "One of our chiefs, full of the Christ-kindled
desire to seek and to save, sent a message to an inland chief, that he
and four attendants would come on Sabbath and tell them the gospel
of Jehovah God. The reply came back sternly forbidding their visit,
and threatening with death any Christian that approached their
village. Our chief sent in response a loving message, telling them
that Jehovah had taught the Christians to return good for evil, and
that they would come unarmed to tell them the story of how the Son
of God came into the world and died in order to bless and save his
enemies. The heathen chief sent back a stern and prompt reply once
more: 'If you come, you will be killed.' On Sabbath morn the Christian
chief and his four companions were met outside the village by the
heathen chief, who implored and threatened them once more. But the
former said:-
  "'We come to you without weapons of war! We come only to tell you
about Jesus. We believe that He will protect us to-day.'
  "As they pressed steadily forward towards the village, spears
began to be thrown at them. Some they evaded, being all except one
dexterous warriors; and others they literally received with their bare
hands, and turned them aside in an incredible manner. The heathen,
apparently thunderstruck at these men thus approaching them without
weapons of war, and not even flinging back their own spears which they
had caught, after having thrown what the old chief called 'a shower of
spears,' desisted from mere surprise. Our Christian chief called
out, as he and his companions drew up in the midst of them on the
village public ground:-
  "'Jehovah thus protects us. He has given us all your spears! Once we
would have thrown them back at you and killed you. But now we come,
not to fight but to tell you about Jesus. He has changed our dark
hearts. He asks you now to lay down all these your other weapons of
war, and to hear what we can tell you about the love of God, our great
Father, the only living God.'
  "The heathen were perfectly overawed. They manifestly looked on
these Christians as protected by some Invisible One. They listened for
the first time to the story of the Gospel and of the Cross. We lived
to see that chief and all his tribe sitting in the school of Christ.
And there is perhaps not an island in these southern seas, amongst all
those won for Christ, where similar acts of heroism on the part of
converts cannot be recited." JOHN G. PATON, Missionary to the New
Hebrides, An Autobiography, second part, London, 1890, p. 243.
  The next topic in order is Asceticism, which I fancy you are all
ready to consider without argument a virtue liable to extravagance and
excess. The optimism and refinement of the modern imagination has,
as I have already said elsewhere, changed the attitude of the church
towards corporeal mortification, and a Suso or a Saint Peter of
Alcantara * appear to us to-day rather in the light of tragic
mountebanks than of sane men inspiring us with respect. If the inner
dispositions are right, we ask, what need of all this torment, this
violation of the outer nature? It keeps the outer nature too
important. Any one who is genuinely emancipated from the flesh will
look on pleasures and pains, abundance and privation, as alike
irrelevant and indifferent. He can engage in actions and experience
enjoyments without fear of corruption or enslavement. As the
Bhagavad-Gita says, only those need renounce worldly actions who are
still inwardly attached thereto. If one be really unattached to the
fruits of action, one may mix in the world with equanimity. I quoted
in a former lecture Saint Augustine's antinomian saying: If you only
love God enough, you may safely follow all your inclinations. "He
needs no devotional practices," is one of Ramakrishna's maxims, "whose
heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari." *(2)
And the Buddha, in pointing out what he called 'the middle way' to his
disciples, told them to abstain from both extremes, excessive
mortification being as unreal and unworthy as mere desire and
pleasure. The only perfect life, he said, is that of inner wisdom,
which makes one thing as indifferent to us as another, and thus
leads to rest, to peace, and to Nirvana. *(3)
  * Saint Peter, Saint Teresa tells us in her autobiography (French
translation, p. 333), "had passed forty years without ever sleeping
more than an hour and a half a day. Of all his mortifications, this
was the one that had cost him the most. To compass it, he kept
always on his knees or on his feet. The little sleep he allowed nature
to take was snatched in a sitting posture, his head leaning against
a piece of wood fixed in the wall. Even had he wished to lie down,
it would have been impossible, because his cell was only four feet and
a half long. In the course of all these years he never raised his
hood, no matter what the ardor of the sun or the rain's strength. He
never put on a shoe. He wore a garment of coarse sackcloth, with
nothing else upon his skin. This garment was as scant as possible, and
over it a little cloak of the same stuff. When the cold was great he
took off the cloak and opened for a while the door and little window
of his cell. Then he closed them and resumed the mantle,- his way,
as he told us, of warming himself, and making his body feel a better
temperature. It was a frequent thing with him to eat once only in
three days; and when I expressed my surprise, he said that it was very
easy if one once had acquired the habit. One of his companions has
assured me that he has gone sometimes eight days without food....
His poverty was extreme; and his mortification, even in his youth, was
such that he told me he had passed three years in a house of his order
without knowing any of the monks otherwise than by the sound of
their voice, for he never raised his eyes, and only found his way
about by following the others. He showed this same modesty on public
highways. He spent many years without ever laying eyes upon a woman;
but he confessed to me that at the age he had reached it was
indifferent to him whether he laid eyes on them or not. He was very
old when I first came to know him, and his body so attenuated that
it seemed formed of nothing so much as of so many roots of trees. With
all this sanctity he was very affable. He never spoke unless he was
questioned, but his intellectual right-mindedness and grace gave to
all his words an irresistible charm."
  *(2) F. MAX MULLER: Ramakrishna, his Life and Sayings, 1899, p. 180.
  *(3) OLDENBERG: Buddha; translated by W. HOEY, London, 1882, p. 127
  We find accordingly that as ascetic saints have grown older, and
directors of conscience more experienced, they usually have shown a
tendency to lay less stress on special bodily mortifications. Catholic
teachers have always professed the rule that, since health is needed
for efficiency in God's service, health must not be sacrificed to
mortification. The general optimism and healthy-mindedness of
liberal Protestant circles to-day makes mortification for
mortification's sake repugnant to us. We can no longer sympathize with
cruel deities, and the notion that God can take delight in the
spectacle of sufferings self-inflicted in his honor is abhorrent. In
consequence of all these motives you probably are disposed, unless
some special utility can be shown in some individual's discipline,
to treat the general tendency to asceticism as pathological.
  Yet I believe that a more careful consideration of the whole matter,
distinguishing between the general good intention of asceticism and
the uselessness of some of the particular acts of which it may be
guilty, ought to rehabilitate it in our esteem. For in its spiritual
meaning asceticism stands for nothing less than for the essence of the
twice-born philosophy. It symbolizes, lamely enough no doubt, but
sincerely, the belief that there is an element of real wrongness in
this world, which is neither to be ignored nor evaded, but which
must be squarely met and overcome by an appeal to the soul's heroic
resources, and neutralized and cleansed away by suffering. As
against this view, the ultra-optimistic form of the once-born
philosophy thinks we may treat evil by the method of ignoring. Let a
man who, by fortunate health and circumstances, escapes the
suffering of any great amount of evil in his own person, also close
his eyes to it as it exists in the wider universe outside his
private experience, and he will be quit of it altogether, and can sail
through life happily on a healthy-minded basis. But we saw in our
lectures on melancholy how precarious this attempt necessarily is.
Moreover it is but for the individual; and leaves the evil outside
of him, unredeemed and unprovided for in his philosophy.
  No such attempt can be a general solution of the problem; and to
minds of sombre tinge, who naturally feel life as a tragic mystery,
such optimism is a shallow dodge or mean evasion. It accepts, in
lieu of a real deliverance, what is a lucky personal accident
merely, a cranny to escape by. It leaves the general world unhelped
and still in the clutch of Satan. The real deliverance, the twice-born
folk insist, must be of universal application. Pain and wrong and
death must be fairly met and overcome in higher excitement, or else
their sting remains essentially unbroken. If one has ever taken the
fact of the prevalence of tragic death in this world's history
fairly into his mind,- freezing, drowning, entombment alive, wild
beasts, worse men, and hideous diseases,- he can with difficulty, it
seems to me, continue his own career of worldly prosperity without
suspecting that he may all the while not be really inside the game,
that he may lack the great initiation.
  Well, this is exactly what asceticism thinks; and it voluntarily
takes the initiation. Life is neither farce nor genteel comedy, it
says, but something we must sit at in mourning garments, hoping its
bitter taste will purge us of our folly. The wild and the heroic are
indeed such rooted parts of it that healthy-mindedness pure and
simple, with its sentimental optimism, can hardly be regarded by any
thinking man as a serious solution. Phrases of neatness, cosiness, and
comfort can never be an answer to the sphinx's riddle.
  In these remarks I am leaning only upon mankind's common instinct
for reality, which in point of fact has always held the world to be
essentially a theatre for heroism. In heroism, we feel, life's supreme
mystery is hidden. We tolerate no one who has no capacity whatever for
it in any direction. On the other hand, no matter what a man's
frailties otherwise may be, if he be willing to risk death, and
still more if be suffer it heroically, in the service he has chosen,
the fact consecrates him forever. Inferior to ourselves in this or
that way, if yet we cling to life, and he is able 'to fling it away
like a flower' as caring nothing for it, we account him in the deepest
way our born superior. Each of us in his own person feels that a
high-hearted indifference to life would expiate all his shortcomings.
  The metaphysical mystery, thus recognized by common sense, that he
who feeds on death that feeds on men possesses life supereminently and
excellently, and meets best the secret demands of the universe, is the
truth of which asceticism has been the faithful champion. The folly of
the cross, so inexplicable by the intellect, has yet its
indestructible vital meaning.
  Representatively, then, and symbolically, and apart from the
vagaries into which the unenlightened intellect of former times may
have let it wander, asceticism must, I believe, be acknowledged to
go with the profounder way of handling the gift of existence.
Naturalistic optimism is mere syllabub and flattery and sponge-cake in
comparison. The practical course of action for us, as religious men,
would therefore, it seems to me, not be simply to turn our backs
upon the ascetic impulse, as most of us to-day turn them, but rather
to discover some outlet for it of which the fruits in the way of
privation and hardship might be objectively useful. The older monastic
asceticism occupied itself with pathetic futilities, or terminated
in the mere egotism of the individual, increasing his own
perfection. * But is it not possible for us to discard most of these
older forms of mortification, and yet find saner channels for the
heroism which inspired them?
  * "The vanities of all others may die out, but the vanity of a saint
as regards his sainthood is hard indeed to wear away." Ramakrishna,
his Life and Sayings, 1899, p. 172.
  Does not, for example, the worship of material luxury and wealth,
which constitutes so large a portion of the 'spirit' of our age,
make somewhat for effeminacy and unmanliness? Is not the exclusively
sympathetic and facetious way in which most children are brought up
today so different from the education of a hundred years ago,
especially in evangelical circles- in danger, in spite of its many
advantages, of developing a certain trashiness of fibre? Are there not
hereabouts some points of application for a renovated and revised
ascetic discipline?
  Many of you would recognize such dangers, but would point to
athletics, militarism, and individual and national enterprise and
adventure as the remedies. These contemporary ideals are quite as
remarkable for the energy with which they make for heroic standards of
life, as contemporary religion is remarkable for the way in which it
neglects them. * War and adventure assuredly keep all who engage in
them from treating themselves too tenderly. They demand such
incredible efforts, depth beyond depth of exertion, both in degree and
in duration, that the whole scale of motivation alters. Discomfort and
annoyance, hunger and wet, pain and cold, squalor and filth, cease
to have any deterrent operation whatever. Death turns into a
commonplace matter, and its usual power to check our action
vanishes. With the annulling of these customary inhibitions, ranges of
new energy are set free, and life seems cast upon a higher plane of
  * "When a church has to be run by oysters, ice-cream, and fun," I
read in an American religious paper, "you may be sure that it is
running away from Christ." Such, if one may judge by appearances, is
the present plight of many of our churches.
  The beauty of war in this respect is that it is so congruous with
ordinary human nature. Ancestral evolution has made us all potential
warriors; so the most insignificant individual, when thrown into an
army in the field, is weaned from whatever excess of tenderness
towards his precious person he may bring with him, and may easily
develop into a monster of insensibility.
  But when we compare the military type of self-severity with that
of the ascetic saint, we find a world-wide difference in all their
spiritual concomitants.
  "'Live and let live,'" writes a clear-headed Austrian officer, "is
no device for an army. Contempt for one's own comrades, for the troops
of the enemy, and, above all, fierce contempt for one's own person,
are what war demands of every one. Far better is it for an army to
be too savage, too cruel, too barbarous, than to possess too much
sentimentality and human reasonableness. If the soldier is to be
good for anything as a soldier, he must be exactly the opposite of a
reasoning and thinking man. The measure of goodness in him is his
possible use in war. War, and even peace, require of the soldier
absolutely peculiar standards of morality. The recruit brings with him
common moral notions, of which he must seek immediately to get rid.
For him victory, success, must be everything. The most barbaric
tendencies in men come to life again in war, and for war's uses they
are incommensurably good." *
  * C.V.B.K.: Friedens- und Kriegs-moral der Heere. Quoted by HAMON:
Psychologie du Militaire professional, 1895, p. xli.
  These words are of course literally true. The immediate aim of the
soldier's life is, as Moltke said, destruction, and nothing but
destruction; and whatever constructions wars result in are remote
and non-military. Consequently the soldier cannot train himself to
be too feelingless to all those usual sympathies and respects, whether
for persons or for things, that make for conservation. Yet the fact
remains that war is a school of strenuous life and heroism; and, being
in the line of aboriginal instinct, is the only school that as yet
is universally available. But when we gravely ask ourselves whether
this wholesale organization of irrationality and crime be our only
bulwark against effeminacy, we stand aghast at the thought, and
think more kindly of ascetic religion. One hears of the mechanical
equivalent of heat. What we now need to discover in the social realm
is the moral equivalent of war: something heroic that will speak to
men as universally as war does, and yet will be as compatible with
their spiritual selves as war has proved itself to be incompatible.
I have often thought that in the old monkish poverty-worship, in spite
of the pedantry which infested it, there might be something like
that moral equivalent of war which we are seeking. May not voluntarily
accepted poverty be 'the strenuous life,' without the need of crushing
weaker peoples?
  Poverty indeed is the strenuous life,- without brass bands or
uniforms or hysteric popular applause or lies or circumlocutions;
and when one sees the way in which wealth-getting enters as an ideal
into the very bone and marrow of our generation, one wonders whether a
revival of the belief that poverty is a worthy religious vocation
may not be 'the transformation of military courage,' and the spiritual
reform which our time stands most in need of.
  Among us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of
poverty need once more to be boldly sung. We have grown literally
afraid to be poor. We despise any one who elects to be poor in order
to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general
scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless
and lacking in ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what
the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant; the liberation
from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier
indifference, the paying our way by what we are or do and not by
what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment
irresponsibly,- the more athletic trim, in short, the moral fighting
shape. When we of the so-called better classes are scared as men
were never scared in history at material ugliness and hardship; when
we put off marriage until our house can be artistic, and quake at
the thought of having a child without a bank-account and doomed to
manual labor, it is time for thinking men to protest against so
unmanly and irreligious a state of opinion.
  It is true that so far as wealth gives time for ideal ends and
exercise to ideal energies, wealth is better than poverty and ought to
be chosen. But wealth does this in only a portion of the actual cases.
Elsewhere the desire to gain wealth and the fear to lose it are our
chief breeders of cowardice and propagators of corruption. There are
thousands of conjunctures in which a wealth-bound man must be a slave,
whilst a man for whom poverty has no terrors becomes a freeman.
Think of the strength which personal indifference to poverty would
give us if we were devoted to unpopular causes. We need no longer hold
our tongues or fear to vote the revolutionary or reformatory ticket.
Our stocks might fall, our hopes of promotion vanish; our salaries
stop, our club doors close in our faces; yet, while we lived, we would
imperturbably bear witness to the spirit, and our example would help
to set free our generation. The cause would need its funds, but we its
servants would be potent in proportion as we personally were contented
with our poverty.
  I recommend this matter to your serious pondering, for it is certain
that the prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the
worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.
  I have now said all that I can usefully say about the several fruits
of religion as they are manifested in saintly lives, so I will make
a brief review and pass to my more general conclusions.
  Our question, you will remember, is as to whether religion stands
approved by its fruits, as these are exhibited in the saintly type
of character. Single attributes of saintliness may, it is true, be
temperamental endowments, found in non-religious individuals. But
the whole group of them forms a combination which, as such, is
religious, for it seems to flow from the sense of the divine as from
its psychological centre. Whoever possesses strongly this sense
comes naturally to think that the smallest details of this world
derive infinite significance from their relation to an unseen divine
order. The thought of this order yields him a superior denomination of
happiness, and a steadfastness of soul with which no other can
compare. In social relations his serviceability is exemplary; he
abounds in impulses to help. His help is inward as well as outward,
for his sympathy reaches souls as well as bodies, and kindles
unsuspected faculties therein. Instead of placing happiness where
common men place it, in comfort, he places it in a higher kind of
inner excitement, which converts discomforts into sources of cheer and
annuls unhappiness. So he turns his back upon no duty, however
thankless; and when we are in need of assistance, we can count upon
the saint lending his hand with more certainty than we can count
upon any other person. Finally, his humble-mindedness and his
ascetic tendencies save him from the petty personal pretensions
which so obstruct our ordinary social intercourse, and his purity
gives us in him a clean man for a companion. Felicity, purity,
charity, patience, self-severity,- these are splendid excellencies,
and the saint of all men shows them in the completest possible
  But, as we saw, all these things together do not make saints
infallible. When their intellectual outlook is narrow, they fall
into all sorts of holy excesses, fanaticism or theopathic
absorption, self-torment, prudery, scrupulosity, gullibility, and
morbid inability to meet the world. By the very intensity of his
fidelity to the paltry ideals with which an inferior intellect may
inspire him, a saint can be even more objectionable and damnable
than a superficial carnal man would be in the same situation. We
must judge him not sentimentally only, and not in isolation, but using
our own intellectual standards, placing him in his environment, and
estimating his total function.
  Now in the matter of intellectual standards, we must bear in mind
that it is unfair, where we find narrowness of mind, always to
impute it as a vice to the individual, for in religious and
theological matters he probably absorbs his narrowness from his
generation. Moreover, we must not confound the essentials of
saintliness, which are those general passions of which I have
spoken, with its accidents, which are the special determinations of
these passions at any historical moment. In these determinations the
saints will usually be loyal to the temporary idols of their tribe.
Taking refuge in monasteries was as much an idol of the tribe in the
middle ages, as bearing a hand in the world's work is to-day. Saint
Francis or Saint Bernard, were they living to-day, would undoubtedly
be leading consecrated lives of some sort, but quite as undoubtedly
they would not lead them in retirement. Our animosity to special
historic, manifestations must not lead us to give away the saintly
impulses in their essential nature to the tender mercies of inimical
  The most inimical critic of the saintly impulses whom I know is
Nietzsche. He contrasts them with the worldly passions as we find
these embodied in the predaceous military character, altogether to the
advantage of the latter. Your born saint, it must be confessed, has
something about him which often makes the gorge of a carnal man
rise, so it will be worth while to consider the contrast in question
more fully.
  Dislike of the saintly nature seems to be a negative result of the
biologically useful instinct of welcoming leadership, and glorifying
the chief of the tribe. The chief is the potential, if not the
actual tyrant, the masterful, overpowering man of prey. We confess our
inferiority and grovel before him. We quail under his glance, and
are at the same time proud of owning so dangerous a lord. Such
instinctive and submissive hero-worship must have been indispensable
in primeval tribal life. In the endless wars of those times, leaders
were absolutely needed for the tribe's survival. If there were any
tribes who owned no leaders, they can have left no issue to narrate
their doom. The leaders always had good consciences, for conscience in
them coalesced with Will, and those who looked on their face were as
much smitten with wonder at their freedom from inner restraint as with
awe at the energy of their outward performances.
  Compared with these beaked and taloned graspers of the world, saints
are herbivorous animals, tame and harmless barn-yard poultry. There
are saints whose beard you may, if you ever care to, pull with
impunity. Such a man excites no thrills of wonder veiled in terror;
his conscience is full of scruples and returns; he stuns us neither by
his inward freedom nor his outward power; and unless he found within
us an altogether different faculty of admiration to appeal to, we
should pass him by with contempt.
  In point of fact, he does appeal to a different faculty. Reenacted
in human nature is the fable of the wind, the sun, and the traveler.
The sexes embody the discrepancy. The woman loves the man the more
admiringly the stormier he shows himself, and the world deifies its
rulers the more for being willful and unaccountable. But the woman
in turn subjugates the man by the mystery of gentleness in beauty, and
the saint has always charmed the world by something similar. Mankind
is susceptible and suggestible in opposite directions, and the rivalry
of influences is unsleeping. The saintly and the worldly ideal
pursue their feud in literature as much as in real life.
  For Nietzsche the saint represents little but sneakingness and
slavishness. He is the sophisticated invalid, the degenerate par
excellence, the man of insufficient vitality. His prevalence would put
the human type in danger.
  "The sick are the greatest danger for the well. The weaker, not
the stronger, are the strong's undoing. It is not fear of our
fellow-man, which we should wish to see diminished; for fear rouses
those who are strong to become terrible in turn themselves, and
preserves the hard-earned and successful type of humanity. What is
to be dreaded by us more than any other doom is not fear, but rather
the great disgust, not fear, but rather the great pity- disgust and
pity for our human fellows.... The morbid are our greatest peril-
not the 'bad' men, not the predatory beings. Those born wrong, the
miscarried, the broken- they it is, the weakest, who are undermining
the vitality of the race, poisoning our trust in life, and putting
humanity in question. Every look of them is a sigh,- 'Would I were
something other! I am sick and tired of what I am.' In this swamp-soil
of self-contempt, every poisonous weed flourishes, and all so small,
so secret, so dishonest, and so sweetly rotten. Here swarm the worms
of sensitiveness and resentment; here the air smells odious with
secrecy, with what is not to be acknowledged; here is woven
endlessly the net of the meanest of conspiracies, the conspiracy of
those who suffer against those who succeed and are victorious; here
the very aspect of the victorious is hated- as if health, success,
strength, pride, and the sense of power were in themselves things
vicious, for which one ought eventually to make bitter expiation.
Oh, how these people would themselves like to inflict the expiation,
how they thirst to be the hangmen! And all the while their duplicity
never confesses their hatred to be hatred." *
  * Zur Genealogie der Moral, Dritte Abhandlung, SS 14. I have
abridged, and in one place transposed, a sentence.
  Poor Nietzsche's antipathy is itself sickly enough, but we all
know what he means, and he expresses well the clash between the two
ideals. The carnivorous-minded 'strong man,' the adult male and
cannibal, can see nothing but mouldiness and morbidness in the saint's
gentleness and self-severity, and regards him with pure loathing.
The whole feud revolves essentially upon two pivots: Shall the seen
world or the unseen world be our chief sphere of adaptation? and
must our means of adaptation in this seen world be aggressiveness or
  The debate is serious. In some sense and to some degree both
worlds must be acknowledged and taken account of; and in the seen
world both aggressiveness and non-resistance are needful. It is a
question of emphasis, of more or less. Is the saint's type or the
strong-man's type the more ideal?
  It has often been supposed, and even now, I think, it is supposed by
most persons, that there can be one intrinsically ideal type of
human character. A certain kind of man, it is imagined, must be the
best man absolutely and apart from the utility of his function,
apart from economical considerations. The saint's type, and the
knight's or gentleman's type, have always been rival claimants of this
absolute ideality; and in the ideal of military religious orders
both types were in a manner blended. According to the empirical
philosophy, however, all ideals are matters of relation. It would be
absurd, for example, to ask for a definition of 'the ideal horse,'
so long as dragging drays and running races, bearing children, and
jogging about with tradesmen's packages all remain as indispensable
differentiations of equine function. You may take what you call a
general all-round animal as a compromise, but he will be inferior to
any horse of a more specialized type, in some one particular
direction. We must not forget this now when, in discussing
saintliness, we ask if it be an ideal type of manhood. We must test it
by its economical relations.
  I think that the method which Mr. Spencer uses in his Data of Ethics
will help to fix our opinion. Ideality in conduct is altogether a
matter of adaptation. A society where all were invariably aggressive
would destroy itself by inner friction, and in a society where some
are aggressive, others must be non-resistant, if there is to be any
kind of order. This is the present constitution of society, and to the
mixture we owe many of our blessings. But the aggressive members of
society are always tending to become bullies, robbers, and
swindlers; and no one believes that such a state of things as we now
live in is the millennium. It is meanwhile quite possible to
conceive an imaginary society in which there should be no
aggressiveness, but only sympathy and fairness,- any small community
of true friends now realizes such a society. Abstractly considered,
such a society on a large scale would be the millennium, for every
good thing might be realized there with no expense of friction. To
such a millennial society the saint would be entirely adapted. His
peaceful modes of appeal would be efficacious over his companions, and
there would be no one extant to take advantage of his
non-resistance. The saint is therefore abstractly a higher type of man
than the 'strong man,' because he is adapted to the highest society
conceivable, whether that society ever be concretely possible or
not. The strong man would immediately tend by his presence to make
that society deteriorate. It would become inferior in everything
save in a certain kind of bellicose excitement, dear to men as they
now are.
  But if we turn from the abstract question to the actual situation,
we find that the individual saint may be well or ill adapted,
according to particular circumstances. There is, in short, no
absoluteness in the excellence of sainthood. It must be confessed that
as far as this world goes, any one who makes an out-and-out saint of
himself does so at his peril. If he is not a large enough man, he
may appear more insignificant and contemptible, for all his saintship,
than if he had remained a worldling. * Accordingly religion has seldom
been so radically taken in our Western world that the devotee could
not mix it with some worldly temper. It has always found good men
who could follow most of its impulses, but who stopped short when it
came to non-resistance. Christ himself was fierce upon occasion.
Cromwells, Stonewall Jacksons, Gordons, show that Christians can be
strong men also.
  * We all know daft saints, and they inspire a queer kind of
aversion. But in comparing saints with strong men we must choose
individuals on the same intellectual level. The under-witted strong
man, homologous in his sphere with the under-witted saint, is the
bully of the slums, the hooligan or rowdy. Surely on this level also
the saint preserves a certain superiority.
  How is success to be absolutely measured when there are so many
environments and so many ways of looking at the adaptation? It
cannot be measured absolutely; the verdict will vary according to
the point of view adopted. From the biological point of view Saint
Paul was a failure, because he was beheaded. Yet he was
magnificently adapted to the larger environment of history; and so far
as any saint's example is a leaven of righteousness in the world,
and draws it in the direction of more prevalent habits of saintliness,
he is a success, no matter what his immediate bad fortune may be.
The greatest saints, the spiritual heroes whom every one acknowledges,
the Francises, Bernards, Luthers, Loyolas, Wesleys, Channings, Moodys,
Gratrys, the Phillips Brookses, the Agnes Joneses, Margaret Hallahans,
and Dora Pattisons, are successes from the outset. They show
themselves, and there is no question; every one perceives their
strength and stature. Their sense of mystery in things, their passion,
their goodness, irradiate about them and enlarge their outlines
while they soften them. They are like pictures with an atmosphere
and background; and, placed alongside of them, the strong men of
this world and no other seem as dry as sticks, as hard and crude as
blocks of stone or brickbats.
  In a general way, then, and 'on the whole,' our abandonment of
theological criteria, and our testing of religion by practical
common sense and the empirical method, leave it in possession of its
towering place in history. Economically, the saintly group of
qualities is indispensable to the world's welfare. The great saints
are immediate successes; the smaller ones are at least heralds and
harbingers, and they may be leavens also, of a better mundane order.
Let us be saints, then, if we can, whether or not we succeed visibly
and temporally. But in our Father's house are many mansions, and
each of us must discover for himself the kind of religion and the
amount of saintship which best comports with what he believes to be
his powers and feels to be his truest mission and vocation. There
are no successes to be guaranteed and no set orders to be given to
individuals, so long as we follow the methods of empirical philosophy.
  This is my conclusion so far. I know that on some of your minds it
leaves a feeling of wonder that such a method should have been applied
to such a subject, and this in spite of all those remarks about
empiricism which I made at the beginning of Lecture XIII. How, you
say, can religion, which believes in two worlds and an invisible
order, be estimated by the adaptation of its fruits to this world's
order alone? It is its truth, not its utility, you insist, upon
which our verdict ought to depend. If religion is true, its fruits are
good fruits, even though in this world they should prove uniformly ill
adapted and full of naught but pathos. It goes back, then, after
all, to the question of the truth of theology. The plot inevitably
thickens upon us; we cannot escape theoretical considerations. I
propose, then, that to some degree we face the responsibility.
Religious persons have often, though not uniformly, professed to see
truth in a special manner. That manner is known as mysticism. I will
consequently now proceed to treat at some length of mystical
phenomena, and after that, though more briefly, I will consider
religious philosophy.

                        LECTURES XVI AND XVII
  OVER and over again in these lectures I have raised points and
left them open and unfinished until we should have come to the subject
of Mysticism. Some of you, I fear, may have smiled as you noted my
reiterated postponements. But now the hour has come when mysticism
must be faced in good earnest, and those broken threads wound up
together. One may say truly, I think, that personal religious
experience has its root and centre in mystical states of
consciousness; so for us, who in these lectures are treating
personal experience as the exclusive subject of our study, such states
of consciousness ought to form the vital chapter from which the
other chapters get their light. Whether my treatment of mystical
states will shed more light or darkness, I do not know, for my own
constitution shuts me out from their enjoyment almost entirely, and
I can speak of them only at second hand. But though forced to look
upon the subject so externally, I will be as objective and receptive
as I can; and I think I shall at least succeed in convincing you of
the reality of the states in question, and of the paramount importance
of their function.
  First of all, then, I ask, What does the expression 'mystical states
of consciousness' mean? How do we part off mystical states from
other states?
  The words 'mysticism' and 'mystical' are often used as terms of mere
reproach, to throw at any opinion which we regard as vague and vast
and sentimental, and without a base in either facts or logic. For some
writers a 'mystic' is any person who believes in thought-transference,
or spirit-return. Employed in this way the word has little value:
there are too many less ambiguous synonyms. So, to keep it useful by
restricting it, I will do what I did in the case of the word
'religion,' and simply propose to you four marks which, when an
experience has them, may justify us in calling it mystical for the
purpose of the present lectures. In this way we shall save verbal
disputation, and the recriminations that generally go therewith.
  1. Ineffability.- The handiest of the marks by which I classify a
state of mind as mystical is negative. The subject of it immediately
says that it defies expression, that no adequate report of its
contents can be given in words. It follows from this that its
quality must be directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or
transferred to others. In this peculiarity mystical states are more
like states of feeling than like states of intellect. No one can
make clear to another who has never had a certain feeling, in what the
quality or worth of it consists. One must have musical ears to know
the value of a symphony; one must have been in love one's self to
understand a lover's state of mind. Lacking the heart or ear, we
cannot interpret the musician or the lover justly, and are even likely
to consider him weak-minded or absurd. The mystic finds that most of
us accord to his experiences an equally incompetent treatment.
  2. Noetic quality.- Although so similar to states of feeling,
mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of
knowledge. They are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed
by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full
of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain;
and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for
  These two characters will entitle any state to be called mystical,
in the sense in which I use the word. Two other qualities are less
sharply marked, but are usually found. These are:-
  3. Transiency.- Mystical states cannot be sustained for long. Except
in rare instances, half an hour, or at most an hour or two, seems to
be the limit beyond which they fade into the light of common day.
Often, when faded, their quality can but imperfectly be reproduced
in memory; but when they recur it is recognized; and from one
recurrence to another it is susceptible of continuous development in
what is felt as inner richness and importance.
  4. Passivity.- Although the oncoming of mystical states may be
facilitated by preliminary voluntary operations, as by fixing the
attention, or going through certain bodily performances, or in other
ways which manuals of mysticism prescribe; yet when the characteristic
sort of consciousness once has set in, the mystic feels as if his
own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were
grasped and held by a superior power. This latter peculiarity connects
mystical states with certain definite phenomena of secondary or
alternative personality, such as prophetic speech, automatic
writing, or the mediumistic trance. When these latter conditions are
well pronounced, however, there may be no recollection whatever of the
phenomenon and it may have no significance for the subject's usual
inner life, to which, as it were, it makes a mere interruption.
Mystical states, strictly so called, are never merely interruptive.
Some memory of their content always remains, and a profound sense of
their importance. They modify the inner life of the subject between
the times of their recurrence. Sharp divisions in this region are,
however, difficult to make, and we find all sorts of gradations and
  These four characteristics are sufficient to mark out a group of
states of consciousness peculiar enough to deserve a special name and
to call for careful study. Let it then be called the mystical group.
  Our next step should be to gain acquaintance with some typical
examples. Professional mystics at the height of their development have
often elaborately organized experiences and a philosophy based
thereupon. But you remember what I said in my first lecture: phenomena
are best understood when placed within their series, studied in
their germ and in their over-ripe decay, and compared with their
exaggerated and degenerated kindred. The range of mystical
experience is very wide, much too wide for us to cover in the time
at our disposal. Yet the method of serial study is so essential: for
interpretation that if we really wish to reach conclusions we must use
it. I will begin, therefore, with phenomena which claim no special
religious significance, and end with those of which the religious
pretensions are extreme.
  The simplest rudiment of mystical experience would seem to be that
deepened sense of the significance of a maxim or formula which
occasionally sweeps over one. "I've heard that said all my life," we
exclaim, "but I never realized its full meaning until now." "When a
fellow-monk," said Luther, "one day repeated the words of the Creed:
'I believe in the forgiveness of sins,' I saw the Scripture in an
entirely new light; and straightway I felt as if I were born anew.
It was as if I had found the door of paradise thrown wide open." *
This sense of deeper significance is not confined to rational
propositions. Single words, *(2) and conjunctions of words, effects of
light on land and sea, odors and musical sounds, all bring it when the
mind is tuned aright. Most of us can remember the strangely moving
power of passages in certain poems read when we were young, irrational
doorways as they were through which the mystery of fact, the
wildness and the pang of life, stole into our hearts and thrilled
them. The words have now perhaps become mere polished surfaces for us;
but lyric poetry and music are alive and significant only in
proportion as they fetch these vague vistas of a life continuous
with our own, beckoning and inviting, yet ever eluding our pursuit. We
are alive or dead to the eternal inner message of the arts according
as we have kept or lost this mystical susceptibility.
  * Newman's Securus judicat orbis terrarum is another instance.
  *(2) 'Mesopotamia' is the stock comic instance.- An excellent old
German lady, who had done some traveling in her day, used to
describe to me her Sehnsucht that she might yet visit
'Philadelphia,' whose wondrous name had always haunted her
imagination. Of John Foster it is said that "single words (as
chalcedony), or the names of ancient heroes, had a mighty
fascination over him. 'At any time the word hermit was enough to
transport him.' The words woods and forests would produce the most
powerful emotion." Foster's Life, by RYLAND, New York, 1846, p. 3.
  A more pronounced step forward on the mystical ladder is found in an
extremely frequent phenomenon, that sudden feeling, namely, which
sometimes sweeps over us, of having 'been here before,' as if at
some indefinite past time, in just this place, with just these people,
we were already saying just these things. As Tennyson writes:
               "Moreover, something is or seems,
                That touches me with mystic gleams,
                Like glimpses of forgotten dreams-
               "Of something felt, like something here;
                Of something done, I know not where;
                Such as no language may declare." *
  Sir James Crichton-Browne has given the technical name of 'dreamy
states' to these sudden invasions of vaguely reminiscent
consciousness. *(2) They bring a sense of mystery and of the
metaphysical duality of things, and the feeling of an enlargement of
perception which seems imminent but which never completes itself. In
Dr. Crichton-Browne's opinion they connect themselves with the
perplexed and scared disturbances of self-consciousness which
occasionally precede epileptic attacks. I think that this learned
alienist takes a rather absurdly alarmist view of an intrinsically
insignificant phenomenon. He follows it along the downward ladder,
to insanity; our path pursues the upward ladder chiefly. The
divergence shows how important it is to neglect no part of a
phenomenon's connections, for we make it appear admirable or
dreadful according to the context by which we set it off.
  * The Two Voices. In a letter to Mr. B.P. Blood, Tennyson reports of
himself as follows:-
  "I have never had any revelations through anaesthetics, but a kind
of waking trance- this for lack of a better word- I have frequently
had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has
come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till
all at once, as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of
individuality, individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away
into boundless being, and this not a confused state but the
clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words- where
death was an almost laughable impossibility- the loss of personality
(if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life. I am
ashamed of my feeble description. Have I not said the state is utterly
beyond words?"
  Professor Tyndall, in a letter, recalls Tennyson saying of this
condition: "By God Almighty! there is no delusion in the matter! It is
no nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated
with absolute clearness of mind." Memoirs of Alfred Tennyson, ii. 473.
  *(2) The Lancet, July 6 and 13, 1895, reprinted as the Cavendish
Lecture, on Dreamy Mental States, London, Bailliere, 1895. They have
been a good deal discussed of late by psychologists. See, for example,
BERNARD-LEROY: L'Illusion de Fausse Reconnaissance, Paris, 1898.
  Somewhat deeper plunges into mystical consciousness are met with
in yet other dreamy states. Such feelings as these which Charles
Kingsley describes are surely far from being uncommon, especially in
  "When I walk the fields, I am oppressed now and then with an
innate feeling that everything I see has a meaning, if I could but
understand it. And this feeling of being surrounded with truths
which I cannot grasp amounts to indescribable awe sometimes.... Have
you not felt that your real soul was imperceptible to your mental
vision, except in a few hallowed moments?" *
  * Charles Kingsley's Life, i. 55, quoted by INGE: Christian
Mysticism, London, 1899, p. 341.
  A much more extreme state of mystical consciousness is described
by J.A. Symonds; and probably more persons than we suspect could
give parallels to it from their own experience.
  "Suddenly," writes Symonds, "at church, or in company, or when I was
reading, and always, I think, when my muscles were at rest, I felt the
approach of the mood. Irresistibly it took possession of my mind and
will, lasted what seemed an eternity, and disappeared in a series of
rapid sensations which resembled the awakening from anaesthetic
influence. One reason why I disliked this kind of trance was that I
could not describe it to myself. I cannot even now find words to
render it intelligible. It consisted in a gradual but swiftly
progressive obliteration of space, time, sensation, and the
multitudinous factors of experience which seem to qualify what we
are pleased to call our Self. In proportion as these conditions of
ordinary consciousness were subtracted, the sense of an underlying
or essential consciousness acquired intensity. At last nothing
remained but a pure, absolute, abstract Self. The universe became
without form and void of content. But Self persisted, formidable in
its vivid keenness, feeling the most poignant doubt about reality,
ready, as it seemed, to find existence break as breaks a bubble
round about it. And what then? The apprehension of a coming
dissolution, the grim conviction that this state was the last state of
the conscious Self, the sense that I had followed the last thread of
being to the verge of the abyss, and had arrived at demonstration of
eternal Maya or illusion, stirred or seemed to stir me up again. The
return to ordinary conditions of sentient existence began by my
first recovering the power of touch, and then by the gradual though
rapid influx of familiar impressions and diurnal interests. At last
I felt myself once more a human being; and though the riddle of what
is meant by life remained unsolved, I was thankful for this return
from the abyss- this deliverance from so awful an initiation into
the mysteries of skepticism.
  "This trance recurred with diminishing frequency until I reached the
age of twenty-eight. It served to impress upon my growing nature the
phantasmal unreality of all the circumstances which contribute to a
merely phenomenal consciousness. Often have I asked myself with
anguish, on waking from that formless state of denuded, keenly
sentient being, Which is the unreality?- the trance of fiery,
vacant, apprehensive, skeptical Self from which I issue, or these
surrounding phenomena and habits which veil that inner Self and
build a self of flesh-and-blood conventionality? Again, are men the
factors of some dream, the dream-like unsubstantiality of which they
comprehend at such eventful moments? What would happen if the final
stage of the trance were reached?" *
  * H.F. BROWN: J.A. Symonds, a Biography, London, 1895, pp. 29-31,
  In a recital like this there is certainly something suggestive of
pathology. * The next step into mystical states carries us into a
realm that public opinion and ethical philosophy have long since
branded as pathological, though private practice and certain lyric
strains of poetry seem still to bear witness to its ideality. I
refer to the consciousness produced by intoxicants and anaesthetics,
especially by alcohol. The sway of alcohol over mankind is
unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of
human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry
criticisms of the sober hour. Sobriety diminishes, discriminates and
says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes. It is in fact
the great exciter of the Yes function in man. It brings its votary
from the chill periphery of things to the radiant core. It makes him
for the moment one with truth. Not through mere perversity do men
run after it. To the poor and the unlettered it stands in the place of
symphony concerts and of literature; and it is part of the deeper
mystery and tragedy of life that whiffs and gleams of something that
we immediately recognize as excellent should be vouchsafed to so
many of us only in the fleeting earlier phases of what in its totality
is so degrading a poisoning. The drunken consciousness is one bit of
the mystic consciousness, and our total opinion of it must find its
place in our opinion of that larger whole.
  * Crichton-Browne expressly says that Symonds's "highest nerve
centres were in some degree enfeebled or damaged by these dreamy
mental states which afflicted him so grievously." Symonds was,
however, a perfect monster of many-sided cerebral efficiency, and
his critic gives no objective grounds whatever for his strange
opinion, save that Symonds complained occasionally, as all susceptible
and ambitious men complain, of lassitude and uncertainty as to his
life's mission.
  Nitrous oxide and ether, especially nitrous oxide, when sufficiently
diluted with air, stimulate the mystical consciousness in an
extraordinary degree. Depth beyond depth of truth seems revealed to
the inhaler. This truth fades out, however, or escapes, at the
moment of coming to; and if any words remain over in which it seemed
to clothe itself, they prove to be the veriest nonsense. Nevertheless,
the sense of a profound meaning having been there persists; and I know
more than one person who is persuaded that in the nitrous oxide trance
we have a genuine metaphysical revelation.
  Some years ago I myself made some observations on this aspect of
nitrous oxide intoxication, and reported them in print. One conclusion
was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth
has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking
consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one
special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it
by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness
entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their
existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are
there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which
probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation.
No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves
these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard
them is the question,- for they are so discontinuous with ordinary
consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot
furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map. At
any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with
reality. Looking back on my own experiences, they all converge towards
a kind of insight to which I cannot help ascribing some metaphysical
significance. The keynote of it is invariably a reconciliation. It
is as if the opposites of the world, whose contradictoriness and
conflict make all our difficulties and troubles, were melted into
unity. Not only do they, as contrasted species, belong to one and
the same genus, but one of the species, the nobler and better one,
is itself the genus, and so soaks up and absorbs its opposite into
itself This is a dark saying, I know, when thus expressed in terms
of common logic, but I cannot wholly escape from its authority. I feel
as if it must mean something, something like what the hegelian
philosophy means, if one could only lay hold of it more clearly. Those
who have ears to hear, let them hear; to me the living sense of its
reality only comes in the artificial mystic state of mind. *
  * What reader of Hegel can doubt that that sense of a perfected
Being with all its otherness soaked up into itself, which dominates
his whole philosophy, must have come from the prominence in his
consciousness of mystical moods like this, in most persons kept
subliminal? The notion is thoroughly characteristic of the mystical
level, and the Aufgabe of making it articulate was surely set to
Hegel's intellect by mystical feeling.
  I just now spoke of friends who believe in the anaesthetic
revelation. For them too it is a monistic insight, in which the
other in its various forms appears absorbed into the One.
  "Into this pervading genius," writes one of them, "we pass,
forgetting and forgotten, and thenceforth each is all, in God. There
is no higher, no deeper, no other, than the life in which we are
founded. 'The One remains, the many change and pass;' and each and
every one of us is the One that remains.... This is the
ultimatum.... As sure as being- whence is all our care- so sure is
content, beyond duplexity, antithesis, or trouble, where I have
triumphed in a solitude that God is not above." *
  * BENJAMIN PAUL BLOOD: The Anaesthetic Revelation and the Gist of
Philosophy, Amsterdam, N. Y., 1874, pp. 35, 36. Mr. Blood has made
several attempts to adumbrate the anaesthetic revelation, in pamphlets
of rare literary distinction, privately printed and distributed by
himself at Amsterdam. Xenos Clark, a philosopher, who died young at
Amherst in the '80's, much lamented by those who knew him, was also
impressed by the revelation. "In the first place," he once wrote to
me, "Mr. Blood and I agree that the revelation. is, if anything,
non-emotional. It is utterly flat. It is, as Mr. Blood says, 'the
one sole and sufficient insight why, or not why, but how, the
present is pushed on by the past, and sucked forward by the vacuity of
the future. Its inevitableness defeats all attempts at stopping or
accounting for it. It is all precedence and presupposition, and
questioning is in regard to it forever too late. It is an initiation
of the past.' The real secret would be the formula by which the
'now' keeps exfoliating out of itself, yet never escapes. What is
it, indeed, that keeps existence exfoliating? The formal being of
anything, the logical definition of it, is static. For mere logic
every question contains its own answer- we simply fill the hole with
the dirt we dug out. Why are twice two four? Because, in fact, four is
twice two. Thus logic finds in life no propulsion, only a momentum. It
goes because it is a-going. But the revelation adds: it goes because
it is and was a-going. You walk, as it were, round yourself in the
revelation. Ordinary philosophy is like a hound hunting his own trail.
The more he hunts the farther he has to go, and his nose never catches
up with his heels, because it is forever ahead of them. So the present
is already a foregone conclusion, and I am ever too late to understand
it. But at the moment of recovery from anaesthesis, just then,
before starting on life, I catch, so to speak, a glimpse of my
heels, a glimpse of the eternal process just in the act of starting.
The truth is that we travel on a journey that was accomplished
before we set out; and the real end of philosophy is accomplished, not
when we arrive at, but when we remain in, our destination (being
already there),- which may occur vicariously in this life when we
cease our intellectual questioning. That is why there is a smile
upon the face of the revelation, as we view it. It tells us that we
are forever half a second too late- that's all. 'You could kiss your
own lips, and have all the fun to yourself,' it says, if you only knew
the trick. It would be perfectly easy if they would just stay there
till you got round to them. Why don't you manage it somehow?"
  Dialectically minded readers of this farrago will at least recognize
the region of thought of which Mr. Clark writes, as familiar. In his
latest pamphlet, 'Tennyson's Trances and the Anaesthetic
Revelation,' Mr. Blood describes its value for life as follows:-
  "The Anaesthetic Revelation is the Initiation of Man into the
Immemorial Mystery of the Open Secret of Being, revealed as the
Inevitable Vortex of Continuity. Inevitable is the word. Its motive is
inherent- it is what has to be. It is not for any love or hate, nor
for joy nor sorrow, nor good nor ill. End, beginning, or purpose, it
knows not of.
  "It affords no particular of the multiplicity and variety of things;
but it fills appreciation of the historical and the sacred with a
secular and intimately personal illumination of the nature and
motive of existence, which then seems reminiscent- as if it should
have appeared, or shall yet appear, to every participant thereof.
  "Although it is at first startling in its solemnity, it becomes
directly such a matter of course- so old-fashioned, and so akin to
proverbs, that it inspires exultation rather than fear, and a sense of
safety, as identified with the aboriginal and the universal. But no
words may express the imposing certainty of the patient that he is
realizing the primordial, Adamic surprise of Life.
  "Repetition of the experience finds it ever the same, and as if it
could not possibly be otherwise. The subject resumes his normal
consciousness only to partially and fitfully remember its
occurrence, and to try to formulate its baffling import,- with only
this consolatory afterthought: that he has known the oldest truth, and
that he has done with human theories as to the origin, meaning, or
destiny of the race. He is beyond instruction in 'spiritual things.'
  "The lesson is one of central safety: the Kingdom is within. All
days are judgment days: but there can be no climacteric purpose of
eternity, nor any scheme of the whole. The astronomer abridges the row
of bewildering figures by increasing his unit of measurement: so may
we reduce the distracting multiplicity of things to the unity for
which each of us stands.
  "This has been my moral sustenance since I have known of it. In my
first printed mention of it I declared: 'The world is no more the
alien terror that was taught me. Spurning the cloud-grimed and still
sultry battlements whence so lately Jehovan thunders boomed, my gray
gull lifts her wing against the nightfall, and takes the dim leagues
with a fearless eye.' And now, after twenty-seven years of this
experience, the wing is grayer, but the eye is fearless still, while I
renew and doubly emphasize that declaration. I know- as having
known- the meaning of Existence: the sane centre of the universe- at
once the wonder and the assurance of the soul- for which the speech of
reason has as yet no name but the Anaesthetic Revelation."- I have
considerably abridged the quotation.
  This has the genuine religious mystic ring! I just now quoted J.A.
Symonds. He also records a mystical experience with chloroform, as
  "After the choking and stifling had passed away, I seemed at first
in a state of utter blankness; then came flashes of intense light,
alternating with blackness, and with a keen vision of what was going
on in the room around me, but no sensation of touch. I thought that
I was near death; when, suddenly, my soul became aware of God, who was
manifestly dealing with me, handling me, so to speak, in an intense
personal present reality. I felt him streaming in like light upon
me.... I cannot describe the ecstasy I felt. Then, as I gradually
awoke from the influence of the anesthetics, the old sense of my
relation to the world began to return, the new sense of my relation to
God began to fade. I suddenly leapt to my feet on the chair where I
was sitting, and shrieked out, 'It is too horrible, it is too
horrible, it is too horrible,' meaning that I could not bear this
disillusionment. Then I flung myself on the ground, and at last
awoke covered with blood, calling to the two surgeons (who were
frightened), 'Why did you not kill me? Why would you not let me
die?' Only think of it. To have felt for that long dateless ecstasy of
vision the very God, in all purity and tenderness and truth and
absolute love, and then to find that I had after all had no
revelation, but that I had been tricked by the abnormal excitement
of my brain.
  "Yet, this question remains, Is it possible that the inner sense
of reality which succeeded, when my flesh was dead to impressions from
without, to the ordinary sense of physical relations, was not a
delusion but an actual experience? Is it possible that I, in that
moment, felt what some of the saints have said they always felt, the
undemonstrable but irrefragable certainty of God?" *
  * Op. cit., pp. 78-80, abridged. I subjoin, also abridging it,
another interesting anaesthetic revelation communicated to me in
manuscript by a friend in England. The subject, a gifted woman, was
taking ether for a surgical operation.
  "I wondered if I was in a prison being tortured, and why I
remembered having heard it said that people 'learn through suffering,'
and in view of what I was seeing, the inadequacy of this saying struck
me so much that I said, aloud, 'to suffer is to learn.'
  "With that I became unconscious again, and my last dream immediately
preceded my real coming to. It only lasted a few seconds, and was most
vivid and real to me, though it may not be clear in words.
  "A great Being or Power was traveling through the sky, his foot
was on a kind of lightning as a wheel is on a rail, it was his
pathway. The lightning was made entirely of the spirits of innumerable
people close to one another, and I was one of them. He moved in a
straight line, and each part of the streak or flash came into its
short conscious existence only that he might travel. I seemed to be
directly under the foot of God, and I thought he was grinding his
own life up out of my pain. Then I saw that what he had been trying
with all his might to do was to change his course, to bend the line of
lightning to which he was tied, in the direction in which he wanted to
go. I felt my flexibility and helplessness, and knew that he would
succeed. He bended me, turning his corner by means of my hurt, hurting
me more than I had ever been hurt in my life, and at the acutest point
of this, as he passed, I saw, I understood for a moment things that
I have now forgotten, things that no one could remember while
retaining sanity. The angle was an obtuse angle, and I remember
thinking as I woke that had he made it a right or acute angle, I
should have both suffered and 'seen' still more, and should probably
have died.
  "He went on and I came to. In that moment the whole of my life
passed before me, including each little meaningless piece of distress,
and I understood them. This was what it had all meant, this was the
piece of work it had all been contributing to do. I did not see
God's purpose, I only saw his intentness and his entire relentlessness
towards his means. He thought no more of me than a man thinks of
hurting a cork when he is opening wine, or hurting a cartridge when he
is firing. And yet, on waking, my first feeling was, and it came
with tears, 'Domine non sum digna,' for I had been lifted into a
position for which I was too small. I realized that in that half
hour under ether I had served God more distinctly and purely than I
had ever done in my life before, or than I am capable of desiring to
do. I was the means of his achieving and revealing something, I know
not what or to whom, and that, to the exact extent of my capacity
for suffering.
  "While regaining consciousness, I wondered why, since I had gone
so deep, I had seen nothing of what the saints call the love of God,
nothing but his relentlessness. And then I heard an answer, which I
could only just catch, saying, 'Knowledge and Love are One, and the
measure is suffering'- I give the words as they came to me. With
that I came finally to (into what seemed a dream world compared with
the reality of what I was leaving), and I saw that what would be
called the 'cause' of my experience was a slight operation under
insufficient ether, in a bed pushed up against a window, a common city
window in a common city street. If I had to formulate a few of the
things I then caught a glimpse of, they would run somewhat as
  "The eternal necessity of suffering and its eternal vicariousness.
The veiled and incommunicable nature of the worst sufferings; the
passivity of genius, how it is essentially instrumental and
defenseless, moved, not moving, it must do what it does;- the
impossibility of discovery without its price;- finally, the excess
of what the suffering 'seer' or genius pays over what his generation
gains. (He seems like one who sweats his life out to earn enough to
save a district from famine, and just as he staggers back, dying and
satisfied, bringing a lac of rupees to buy grain with, God lifts the
lac away, dropping one rupee, and says, 'That you may give them.
That you have earned for them. The rest is for ME.') I perceived
also in a way never to be forgotten, the excess of what we see over
what we can demonstrate.
  "And so on!- these things may seem to you delusions, or truisms; but
for me they are dark truths, and the power to put them into even
such words as these has been given me by an ether dream."
  With this we make connection with religious mysticism pure and
simple. Symonds's question takes us back to those examples which you
will remember my quoting in the lecture on the Reality of the
Unseen, of sudden realization of the immediate presence of God. The
phenomenon in one shape or another is not uncommon.
  "I know," writes Mr. Trine, "an officer on our police force who
has told me that many times when off duty, and on his way home in
the evening, there comes to him such a vivid and vital realization
of his oneness with this Infinite Power, and this Spirit of Infinite
Peace so takes hold of and so fills him, that it seems as if his
feet could hardly keep to the pavement, so buoyant and so
exhilarated does he become by reason of this inflowing tide." *
  * In Tune with the Infinite, p. 137.
  Certain aspects of nature seem to have a peculiar power of awakening
such mystical moods. * Most of the striking cases which I have
collected have occurred out of doors. Literature has commemorated this
fact in many passages of great beauty- this extract, for example, from
Amiel's Journal Intime:-
  "Shall I ever again have any of those prodigious reveries which
sometimes came to me in former days? One day, in youth, at sunrise,
sitting in the ruins of the castle of Faucigny; and again in the
mountains, under the noonday sun, above Lavey, lying at the foot of
a tree and visited by three butterflies; once more at night upon the
shingly shore of the Northern Ocean, my back upon the sand and my
vision ranging through the milky way;- such grand and spacious,
immortal, cosmogonic reveries, when one reaches to the stars, when one
owns the infinite! Moments divine, ecstatic hours; in which our
thought flies from world to world, pierces the great enigma,
breathes with a respiration broad, tranquil, and deep as the
respiration of the ocean, serene and limitless as the blue
firmament;... instants of irresistible intuition in which one feels
one's self great as the universe, and calm as a god.... What hours,
what memories! The vestiges they leave behind are enough to fill us
with belief and enthusiasm, as if they were visits of the Holy
Ghost." *(2)
  * The larger God may then swallow, up the smaller one. I take this
from Starbuck's manuscript collection:-
  "I never lost the consciousness of the presence of God until I stood
at the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, Niagara. Then I lost him in the
immensity of what I saw. I also lost myself, feeling that I was an
atom too small for the notice of Almighty God."
  I subjoin another similar case from Starbuck's collection:-
  "In that time the consciousness of God's nearness came to me
sometimes. I say God, to describe what is indescribable. A presence, I
might say, yet that is too suggestive of personality, and the
moments of which I speak did not hold the consciousness of a
personality, but something in myself made me feel myself a part of
something bigger than I, that was controlling. I felt myself one
with the grass, the trees, birds, insects, everything in Nature. I
exulted in the mere fact of existence, of being a part of it all-
the drizzling rain, the shadows of the clouds, the tree-trunks, and so
on. In the years following, such moments continued to come, but I
wanted them constantly. I knew so well the satisfaction of losing self
in a perception of supreme power and love, that I was unhappy
because that perception was not constant." The cases quoted in my
third lecture, are still better ones of this type. In her essay, The
Loss of Personality, in The Atlantic Monthly (vol. lxxxv. p. 195),
Miss Ethel D. Puffer explains that the vanishing of the sense of self,
and the feeling of immediate unity with the object, is due to the
disappearance, in these rapturous experiences, of the motor
adjustments which habitually intermediate between the constant
background of consciousness (which is the Self) and the object in
the foreground, whatever it may be. I must refer the reader to the
highly instructive article, which seems to me to throw light upon
the psychological conditions, though it fails to account for the
rapture or the revelation-value of the experience in the Subject's
  *(2) Op. cit., i. 43-44.
  Here is a similar record from the memoirs of that interesting German
idealist, Malwida von Meysenbug:-
  "I was alone upon the seashore as all these thoughts flowed over me,
liberating and reconciling; and now again, as once before in distant
days in the Alps of Dauphine, I was impelled to kneel down, this
time before the illimitable ocean, symbol of the Infinite. I felt that
I prayed as I had never prayed before, and knew now what prayer really
is: to return from the solitude of individuation into the
consciousness of unity with all that is, to kneel down as one that
passes away, and to rise up as one imperishable. Earth, heaven, and
sea resounded as in one vast world-encircling harmony. It was as if
the chorus of all the great who had ever lived were about me. I felt
myself one with them, and it appeared as if I heard their greeting:
Thou too belongest to the company of those who overcome.'" *
  * Memoiren einer Idealistin, 5te Auflage, 1900, iii. 166. For
years she had been unable to pray, owing to materialistic belief.
  The well-known passage from Walt Whitman is a classical expression
of this sporadic type of mystical experience.
  "I believe in you, my Soul...
   Loaf with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat;...
   Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
   I mind how once we lay, such a transparent summer morning.
   Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that
pass all the argument of the earth,
   And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
   And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
   And that all the men ever born are also my brothers and the women
my sisters and lovers,
   And that a kelson of the creation is love." *
  * Whitman in another place expresses in a quieter way what was
probably with him a chronic mystical perception: "There is," he
writes, "apart from mere intellect, in the make-up of every superior
human identity, a wondrous something that realizes without argument,
frequently without what is called education (though I think it the
goal and apex of all education deserving the name), an intuition of
the absolute balance, in time and space, of the whole of this
multifariousness, this revel of fools, and incredible make-believe and
general unsettledness, we call the world; a soul-sight of that
divine clue and unseen thread which holds the whole congeries of
things, all history and time, and all events, however trivial, however
momentous, like a leashed dog in the hand of the hunter. [Of] such
soul-sight and root-centre for the mind mere optimism explains only
the surface." Whitman charges it against Carlyle that he lacked this
perception. Specimen Days and Collect, Philadelphia, 1882, p. 174.
  I could easily give more instances, but one will suffice. I take
it from the Autobiography of J. Trevor. *
  * My Quest for God, London, 1897, pp. 268, 269, abridged.
  "One brilliant Sunday morning, my wife and boys went to the
Unitarian Chapel in Macclesfield. I felt it impossible to accompany
them- as though to leave the sunshine on the hills, and go down
there to the chapel, would be for the time an act of spiritual
suicide. And I felt such need for new inspiration and expansion in
my life. So, very reluctantly and sadly, I left my wife and boys to go
down into the town, while I went further up into the hills with my
stick and my dog. In the loveliness of the morning, and the beauty
of the hills and valleys, I soon lost my sense of sadness and
regret. For nearly an hour I walked along the road to the 'Cat and
Fiddle,' and then returned. On the way back, suddenly, without
warning, I felt that I was in Heaven- an inward state of peace and joy
and assurance indescribably intense, accompanied with a sense of being
bathed in a warm glow of light, as though the external condition had
brought about the internal effect- a feeling of having passed beyond
the body, though the scene around me stood out more clearly and as
if nearer to me than before, by reason of the illumination in the
midst of which I seemed to be placed. This deep emotion lasted, though
with decreasing strength, until I reached home, and for some time
after, only gradually passing away."
  The writer adds that having had further experiences of a similar
sort, he now knows them well.
  "The spiritual life," he writes, "justifies itself to those who live
it; but what can we say to those who do not understand? This, at
least, we can say, that it is a life whose experiences are proved real
to their possessor, because they remain with him when brought
closest into contact with the objective realities of life. Dreams
cannot stand this test. We wake from them to find that they are but
dreams. Wanderings of an overwrought brain do not stand this test.
These highest experiences that I have had of God's presence have
been rare and brief- flashes of consciousness which have compelled
me to exclaim with surprise- God is here!- or conditions of exaltation
and insight less intense, and only gradually passing away. I have
severely questioned the worth of these moments. To no soul have I
named them, lest I should be building my life and work on mere
phantasies of the brain. But I find that, after every questioning
and test, they stand out to-day as the most real experiences of my
life, and experiences which have explained and justified and unified
all past experiences and all past growth. Indeed, their reality and
their far-reaching significance are ever becoming more clear and
evident. When they came, I was living the fullest, strongest,
sanest, deepest life. I was not seeking them. What I was seeking, with
resolute determination, was to live more intensely my own life, as
against what I knew would be the adverse judgment of the world. It was
in the most real seasons that the Real Presence came, and I was
aware that I was immersed in the infinite ocean of God." *
  * Op. cit., pp. 256, 257, abridged.
  Even the least mystical of you must by this time be convinced of the
existence of mystical moments as states of consciousness of an
entirely specific quality, and of the deep impression which they
make on those who have them. A Canadian psychiatrist, Dr. R.M.
Bucke, gives to the more distinctly characterized of these phenomena
the name of cosmic consciousness. "Cosmic consciousness in its more
striking instances is not," Dr. Bucke says, "simply an expansion or
extension of the self-conscious mind with which we are all familiar,
but the superaddition of a function as distinct from any possessed
by the average man as self-consciousness is distinct from any function
possessed by one of the higher animals."
  "The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is a consciousness
of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe. Along
with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual
enlightenment which alone would place the individual on a new plane of
existence- would make him almost a member of a new species. To this is
added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of
elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral
sense, which is fully as striking, and more important than is the
enhanced intellectual power. With these come what may be called a
sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a
conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he
has it already." *
  * Cosmic Consciousness: a study in the evolution of the human
Mind, Philadelphia, 1901, p. 2.
  It was Dr. Bucke's own experience of a typical onset of cosmic
consciousness in his own person which led him to investigate it in
others. He has printed his conclusions in a highly interesting volume,
from which I take the following account of what occurred to him:-
  "I had spent the evening in a great city, with two friends,
reading and discussing poetry and philosophy. We parted at midnight. I
had a long drive in a hansom to my lodging. My mind, deeply under
the influence of the ideas, images, and emotions called up by the
reading and talk, was calm and peaceful. I was in a state of quiet,
almost passive enjoyment, not actually thinking, but letting ideas,
images, and emotions flow of themselves, as it were, through my
mind. All at once, without warning of any kind, I found myself wrapped
in a flame-colored cloud. For an instant I thought of fire, an immense
conflagration somewhere close by in that great city; the next, I
knew that the fire was within myself. Directly afterward there came
upon me a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or
immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to
describe. Among other things, I did not merely come to believe, but
I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the
contrary, a living Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal
life. It was not a conviction that I would have eternal life, but a
consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men
are immortal; that the cosmic order is such that without any
peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all;
that the foundation principle of the world, of all the worlds, is what
we call love, and that the happiness of each and all is in the long
run absolutely certain. The vision lasted a few seconds and was
gone; but the memory of it and the sense of the reality of what it
taught has remained during the quarter of a century which has since
elapsed. I knew that what the vision showed was true. I had attained
to a point of view from which I saw that it must be true. That view,
that conviction, I may say that consciousness, has never, even
during periods of the deepest depression, been lost." *
  * Loc. cit., pp. 7, 8. My quotation follows the privately printed
pamphlet which preceded Dr. Bucke's larger work, and differs
verbally a little from the text of the latter.
  We have now seen enough of this cosmic or mystic consciousness, as
it comes sporadically. We must next pass to its methodical cultivation
as an element of the religious life. Hindus, Buddhists, Mohammedans,
and Christians all have cultivated it methodically.
  In India, training in mystical insight has been known from time
immemorial under the name of yoga. Yoga means the experimental union
of the individual with the divine. It is based on persevering
exercise; and the diet, posture, breathing, intellectual
concentration, and moral discipline vary slightly in the different
systems which teach it. The yogi, or disciple, who has by these
means overcome the obscurations of his lower nature sufficiently,
enters into the condition termed samadhi, "and comes face to face with
facts which no instinct or reason can ever know." He learns-
  "That the mind itself has a higher state of existence, beyond
reason, a superconscious state, and that when the mind gets to that
higher state, then this knowledge beyond reasoning comes.... All the
different steps in yoga are intended to bring us scientifically to the
superconscious state or samadhi.... Just as unconscious work is
beneath consciousness, so there is another work which is above
consciousness, and which, also, is not accompanied with the feeling of
egoism.... There is no feeling of I, and yet the mind works,
desireless, free from restlessness, objectless, bodiless. Then the
Truth shines in its full effulgence, and we know ourselves- for
Samadhi lies potential in us all- for what we truly are, free,
immortal, omnipotent, loosed from the finite, and its contrasts of
good and evil altogether, and identical with the Atman or Universal
Soul." *
  * My quotations are from VIVEKANANDA, Raja Yoga, London, 1896. The
completest source of information on Yoga is the work translated by
VIHARI LALA MITRA: Yoga Vasishta Maha Ramayana, 4 vols., Calcutta.
  The Vedantists say that one may stumble into super-consciousness
sporadically, without the previous discipline, but it is then
impure. Their test of its purity, like our test of religion's value,
is empirical: its fruits must be good for life. When a man comes out
of Samadhi, they assure us that he remains "enlightened, a sage, a
prophet, a saint, his whole character changed, his life changed,
illumined." *
  * A European witness, after carefully comparing the results of
Yoga with those of the hypnotic or dreamy states artificially
producible by us, says: "It makes of its true disciples good, healthy,
and happy men.... Through the mastery which the yogi attains over
his thoughts and his body, he grows into a 'character.' By the
subjection of his impulses and propensities to his will, and the
fixing of the latter upon the ideal of goodness, be becomes a
'personality' hard to influence by others, and thus almost the
opposite of what we usually imagine a 'medium' so-called, or
'psychic subject' to be." KARL KELLNER: Yoga: Eine Skizze, Munchen,
1896, p. 21.
  The Buddhists use the word 'samadhi' as well as the Hindus; but
'dhyana' is their special word for higher states of contemplation.
There seem to be four stages recognized in dhyana. The first stage
comes through concentration of the mind upon one point. It excludes
desire, but not discernment or judgment: it is still intellectual.
In the second stage the intellectual functions drop off, and the
satisfied sense of unity remains. In the third stage the
satisfaction departs, and indifference begins, along with memory and
self-consciousness. In the fourth stage the indifference, memory,
and self-consciousness are perfected. [Just what 'memory' and
'self-consciousness' mean in this connection is doubtful. They
cannot be the faculties familiar to us in the lower life.] Higher
stages still of contemplation are mentioned- a region where there
exists nothing, and where the meditator says: "There exists absolutely
nothing," and stops. Then he reaches another region where he says:
"There are neither ideas nor absence of ideas," and stops again.
Then another region where, "having reached the end of both idea and
perception, he stops finally." This would seem to be, not yet Nirvana,
but as close an approach to it as this life affords. *
  * I follow the account in C.F. KOEPPEN: Die Religion des Buddha,
Berlin, 1857, i. 585 ff.
  In the Mohammedan world the Sufi sect and various dervish bodies are
the possessors of the mystical tradition. The Sufis have existed in
Persia from the earliest times, and as their pantheism is so at
variance with the hot and rigid monotheism of the Arab mind, it has
been suggested that Sufism must have been inoculated into Islam by
Hindu influences. We Christians know little of Sufism, for its secrets
are disclosed only to those initiated. To give its existence a certain
liveliness in your minds, I will quote a Moslem document, and pass
away from the subject.
  Al-Ghazzali, a Persian philosopher and theologian, who flourished in
the eleventh century, and ranks as one of the greatest doctors of
the Moslem church, has left us one of the few autobiographies to be
found outside of Christian literature. Strange that a species of
book so abundant among ourselves should be so little represented
elsewhere- the absence of strictly personal confessions is the chief
difficulty to the purely literary student who would like to become
acquainted with the inwardness of religions other than the Christian.
  M. Schmolders has translated a part of Al-Ghazzali's autobiography
into French:- *
  * For a full account of him, see D.B. MACDONALD: The Life of
Al-Ghazzali, in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1899,
vol. xx p. 71.
  "The Science of the Sufis," says the Moslem author, "aims at
detaching the heart from all that is not God, and at giving to it
for sole occupation the meditation of the divine being. Theory being
more easy for me than practice, I read [certain books] until I
understood all that can be learned by study and hearsay. Then I
recognized that what pertains most exclusively to their method is just
what no study can grasp, but only transport, ecstasy, and the
transformation of the soul. How great, for example, is the
difference between knowing the definitions of health, of satiety, with
their causes and conditions, and being really healthy or filled. How
different to know in what drunkenness consists,- as being a state
occasioned by a vapor that rises from the stomach,- and being drunk
effectively. Without doubt, the drunken man knows neither the
definition of drunkenness nor what makes it interesting for science.
Being drunk, he knows nothing; whilst the physician, although not
drunk, knows well in what drunkenness consists, and what are its
predisposing conditions. Similarly there is a difference between
knowing the nature of abstinence, and being abstinent or having
one's soul detached from the world.- Thus I had learned what words
could teach of Sufism, but what was left could be learned neither by
study nor through the ears, but solely by giving one's self up to
ecstasy and leading a pious life.
  "Reflecting on my situation, I found myself tied down by a multitude
of bonds- temptations on every side. Considering my teaching, I
found it was impure before God. I saw myself struggling with all my
might to achieve glory and to spread my name. [Here follows an account
of his six months' hesitation to break away from the conditions of his
life at Bagdad, at the end of which he fell ill with a paralysis of
the tongue.] Then, feeling my own weakness, and having entirely
given up my own will, I repaired to God like a man in distress who has
no more resources. He answered, as he answers the wretch who invokes
him. My heart no longer felt any difficulty in renouncing glory,
wealth, and my children. So I quitted Bagdad, and reserving from my
fortune only what was indispensable for my subsistence, I
distributed the rest. I went to Syria, where I remained about two
years, with no other occupation than living in retreat and solitude,
conquering my desires, combating my passions, training myself to
purify my soul, to make my character perfect, to prepare my heart
for meditating on God- all according to the methods of the Sufis, as I
had read of them.
  "This retreat only increased my desire to live in solitude, and to
complete the purification of my heart and fit it for meditation. But
the vicissitudes of the times, the affairs of the family, the need
of subsistence, changed in some respects my primitive resolve, and
interfered with my plans for a purely solitary life. I had never yet
found myself completely in ecstasy, save in a few single hours;
nevertheless, I kept the hope of attaining this state. Every time that
the accidents led me astray, I sought to return; and in this situation
I spent ten years. During this solitary state things were revealed
to me which it is impossible either to describe or to point out. I
recognized for certain that the Sufis are assuredly walking in the
path of God. Both in their acts and in their inaction, whether
internal or external, they are illumined by the light which proceeds
from the prophetic source. The first condition for a Sufi is to
purge his heart entirely of all that is not God. The next key of the
contemplative life consists in the humble prayers which escape from
the fervent soul, and in the meditations on God in which the heart
is swallowed up entirely. But in reality this is only the beginning of
the Sufi life, the end of Sufism being total absorption in God. The
intuitions and all that precede are, so to speak, only the threshold
for those who enter. From the beginning, revelations take place in
so flagrant a shape that the Sufis see before them, whilst wide awake,
the angels and the souls of the prophets. They hear their voices and
obtain their favors. Then the transport rises from the perception of
forms and figures to a degree which escapes all expression, and
which no man may seek to give an account of without his words
involving sin.
  "Whoever has had no experience of the transport knows of the true
nature of prophetism nothing but the name. He may meanwhile be sure of
its existence, both by experience and by what he hears the Sufis
say. As there are men endowed only with the sensitive faculty who
reject what is offered them in the way of objects of the pure
understanding, so there are intellectual men who reject and avoid
the things perceived by the prophetic faculty. A blind man can
understand nothing of colors save what he has learned by narration and
hearsay. Yet God has brought prophetism near to men in giving them all
a state analogous to it in its principal characters. This state is
sleep. If you were to tell a man who was himself without experience of
such a phenomenon that there are people who at times swoon away so
as to resemble dead men, and who [in dreams] yet perceive things
that are hidden, he would deny it [and give his reasons].
Nevertheless, his arguments would be refuted by actual experience.
Wherefore, just as the understanding is a stage of human life in which
an eye opens to discern various intellectual objects uncomprehended by
sensation; just so in the prophetic the sight is illumined by a
light which uncovers hidden things and objects which the intellect

fails to reach. The chief properties of prophetism are perceptible
only during the transport, by those who embrace the Sufi life. The
prophet is endowed with qualities to which you possess nothing
analogous, and which consequently you cannot possibly understand.
How should you know their true nature, since one knows only what one
can comprehend? But the transport which one attains by the method of
the Sufis is like an immediate perception, as if one touched the
objects with one's hand." *
  * A. SCHMOLDERS: Essai sur les ecoles philosophiques chez les
Arabes, Paris, 1842, pp. 54-68, abridged.
  This incommunicableness of the transport is the keynote of all
mysticism. Mystical truth exists for the individual who has the
transport, but for no one else. In this, as I have said, it
resembles the knowledge given to us in sensations more than that given
by conceptual thought. Thought, with its remoteness and
abstractness, has often enough in the history of philosophy been
contrasted unfavorably with sensation. It is a commonplace of
metaphysics that God's knowledge cannot be discursive but must be
intuitive, that is, must be constructed more after the pattern of what
in ourselves is called immediate feeling, than after that of
proposition and judgment. But our immediate feelings have no content
but what the five senses supply; and we have seen and shall see
again that mystics may emphatically deny that the senses play any part
in the very highest type of knowledge which their transports yield.
  In the Christian church there have always been mystics. Although
many of them have been viewed with suspicion, some have gained favor
in the eyes of the authorities. The experiences of these have been
treated as precedents, and a codified system of mystical theology
has been based upon them, in which everything legitimate finds its
place. * The basis of the system is 'orison' or meditation, the
methodical elevation of the soul towards God. Through the practice
of orison the higher levels of mystical experience may be attained. It
is odd that Protestantism, especially evangelical Protestantism,
should seemingly have abandoned everything methodical in this line.
Apart from what prayer may lead to, Protestant mystical experience
appears to have been almost exclusively sporadic. It has been left
to our mind-curers to reintroduce methodical meditation into our
religious life.
  * GORRES'S Christliche Mystik gives a full account of the facts.
So does RIBET's Mystique Divine, 2 vols., Paris, 1890. A still more
methodical modern work is the Mystica Theologia of VALLGORNERA, 2
vols., Turin, 1890.
  The first thing to be aimed at in orison is the mind's detachment
from outer sensations, for these interfere with its concentration upon
ideal things. Such manuals as Saint Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises
recommend the disciple to expel sensation by a graduated series of
efforts to imagine holy scenes. The acme of this kind of discipline
would be a semi-hallucinatory mono-ideism- an imaginary figure of
Christ, for example, coming fully to occupy the mind. Sensorial images
of this sort, whether literal or symbolic, play an enormous part in
mysticism. * But in certain cases imagery may fall away entirely,
and in the very highest raptures it tends to do so. The state of
consciousness becomes then insusceptible of any verbal description.
Mystical teachers are unanimous as to this. Saint John of the Cross,
for instance, one of the best of them, thus describes the condition
called the 'union of love,' which, he says, is reached by 'dark
contemplation.' In this the Deity compenetrates the soul, but in
such a hidden way that the soul-
  "finds no terms, no means, no comparison whereby to render the
sublimity of the wisdom and the delicacy of the spiritual feeling with
which she is filled.... We receive this mystical knowledge of God
clothed in none of the kinds of images, in none of the sensible
representations, which our mind makes use of in other circumstances.
Accordingly in this knowledge, since the senses and the imagination
are not employed, we get neither form nor impression, nor can we
give any account or furnish any likeness, although the mysterious
and sweet-tasting wisdom comes home so clearly to the inmost parts
of our soul. Fancy a man seeing a certain kind of thing for the
first time in his life. He can understand it, use and enjoy it, but he
cannot apply a name to it, nor communicate any idea of it, even though
all the while it be a mere thing of sense. How much greater will be
his powerlessness when it goes beyond the senses! This is the
peculiarity of the divine language. The more infused, intimate,
spiritual, and supersensible it is, the more does it exceed the
senses, both inner and outer, and impose silence upon them.... The
soul then feels as if placed in a vast and profound solitude, to which
no created thing has access, in an immense and boundless desert,
desert the more delicious the more solitary it is. There, in this
abyss of wisdom, the soul grows by what it drinks in from the
well-springs of the comprehension of love,... and recognizes,
however sublime and learned may be the terms we employ, how utterly
vile, insignificant, and improper they are, when we seek to
discourse of divine things by their means." *(2)
  * M. RECEJAC, in a recent volume, makes them essential. Mysticism he
defines as "the tendency to draw near to the Absolute morally, and
by the aid of Symbols." See his Fondements de la Connaissance
mystique, Paris, 1897, p. 66. But there are unquestionably mystical
conditions in which sensible symbols play no part.
  *(2) Saint John of the Cross: The Dark Night of the Soul, book ii.
ch. xvii., in Vie et Oeuvres, 3me edition, Paris, 1893, iii.
428-432. Chapter xi. of book ii. of Saint John's Ascent of Carmel is
devoted to showing the harmfulness for the mystical life of the use of
sensible imagery.
  I cannot pretend to detail to you the sundry stages of the Christian
mystical life. * Our time would not suffice, for one thing; and
moreover, I confess that the subdivisions and names which we find in
the Catholic books seem to me to represent nothing objectively
distinct. So many men, so many minds: I imagine that these experiences
can be as infinitely varied as are the idiosyncrasies of individuals.
  * In particular I omit mention of visual and auditory
hallucinations, verbal and graphic automatisms, and such marvels as
'levitation,' stigmatization, and the healing of disease. These
phenomena, which mystics have often presented (or are believed to have
presented), have no essential mystical significance, for they occur
with no consciousness of illumination whatever, when they occur, as
they often do, in persons of non-mystical mind. Consciousness of
illumination is for us the essential mark of 'mystical' states.
  The cognitive aspects of them, their value in the way of revelation,
is what we are directly concerned with, and it is easy to show by
citation how strong an impression they leave of being revelations of
new depths of truth. Saint Teresa is the expert of experts in
describing such conditions, so I will turn immediately to what she
says of one of the highest of them, the 'orison of union.'
  "In the orison of union," says Saint Teresa, "the soul is fully
awake as regards God, but wholly asleep as regards things of this
world and in respect of herself. During the short time the union
lasts, she is as it were deprived of every feeling, and even if she
would, she could not think of any single thing. Thus she needs to
employ no artifice in order to arrest the use of her understanding: it
remains so stricken with inactivity that she neither knows what she
loves, nor in what manner she loves, nor what she wills. In short, she
is utterly dead to the things of the world and lives solely in God....
I do not even know whether in this state she has enough life left to
breathe. It seems to me she has not; or at least that if she does
breathe, she is unaware of it. Her intellect would fain understand
something of what is going on within her, but it has so little force
now that it can act in no way whatsoever. So a person who falls into a
deep faint appears as if dead....
  "Thus does God, when he raises a soul to union with himself, suspend
the natural action of all her faculties. She neither sees, hears,
nor understands, so long as she is united with God. But this time is
always short, and it seems even shorter than it is. God establishes
himself in the interior of this soul in such a way, that when she
returns to herself, it is wholly impossible for her to doubt that
she has been in God, and God in her. This truth remains so strongly
impressed on her that, even though many years should pass without
the condition returning, she can neither forget the favor she
received, nor doubt of its reality. If you, nevertheless, ask how it
is possible that the soul can see and understand that she has been
in God, since during the union she has neither sight nor
understanding, I reply that she does not see it then, but that she
sees it clearly later, after she has returned to herself, not by any
vision, but by a certitude which abides with her and which God alone
can give her. I knew a person who was ignorant of the truth that God's
mode of being in everything must be either by presence, by power, or
by essence, but who, after having received the grace of which I am
speaking, believed this truth in the most unshakable manner. So much
so that, having consulted a half-learned man who was as ignorant on
this point as she had been before she was enlightened, when he replied
that God is in us only by 'grace,' she disbelieved his reply, so
sure she was of the true answer; and when she came to ask wiser
doctors, they confirmed her in her belief, which much consoled her....
  "But how, you will repeat, can one have such certainty in respect to
what one does not see? This question, I am powerless to answer.
These are secrets of God's omnipotence which it does not appertain
to me to penetrate. All that I know is that I tell the truth; and I
shall never believe that any soul who does not possess this
certainty has ever been really united to God." *
  * The Interior Castle, Fifth Abode, ch. i., in Oeuvres, translated
by BOUIX, iii. 421-424.
  The kinds of truth communicable in mystical ways, whether these be
sensible or supersensible, are various. Some of them relate to this
world,- visions of the future, the reading of hearts, the sudden
understanding of texts, the knowledge of distant events, for
example; but the most important revelations are theological or
  "Saint Ignatius confessed one day to Father Laynez that a single
hour of meditation at Manresa had taught him more truths about
heavenly things than all the teachings of all the doctors put together
could have taught him.... One day in orison, on the steps of the choir
of the Dominican church, he saw in a distinct manner the plan of
divine wisdom in the creation of the world. On another occasion,
during a procession, his spirit was ravished in God, and it was
given him to contemplate, in a form and images fitted to the weak
understanding of a dweller on the earth, the deep mystery of the
holy Trinity. This last vision flooded his heart with such
sweetness, that the mere memory of it in after times made him shed
abundant tears." *
  * BARTOLI-MICHEL: Vie de Saint Ignace de Loyola, i. 34-36. Others
have had illuminations about the created world, Jacob Boehme, for
instance. At the age of twenty-five he was surrounded by the divine
light, and replenished with the heavenly knowledge; insomuch as
going abroad into the fields to a green, at Gorlitz, he there sat
down, and viewing the herbs and grass of the field, in his inward
light he saw into their essences, use, and properties, which was
discovered to him by their lineaments, figures, and signatures." Of
a later period of experience he writes: "In one quarter of an hour I
saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at an
university. For I saw and knew the being of all things, the Byss and
the Abyss, and the eternal generation of the holy Trinity, the descent
and original of the world and of all creatures through the divine
wisdom. I knew and saw in myself all the three worlds, the external
and visible world being of a procreation or extern birth from both the
internal and spiritual worlds; and I saw and knew the whole working
essence, in the evil and in the good, and the mutual original and
existence; and likewise how the fruitful bearing womb of eternity
brought forth. So that I did not only greatly wonder at it, but did
also exceedingly rejoice, albeit I could very hardly apprehend the
same in my external man and set it down with the pen. For I had a
thorough view of the universe as in a chaos, wherein all things are
couched and wrapt up, but it was impossible for me to explicate the
same." Jacob Behmen's Theosophic Philosophy, etc., by EDWARD TAYLOR,
London, 1691, pp. 425, 427, abridged. So George Fox: "I was come up to
the state of Adam in which he was before he fell. The creation was
opened to me; and it was showed me, how all things had their names
given to them, according to their nature and virtue. I was at a
stand in my mind, whether I should practice physic for the good of
mankind, seeing the nature and virtues of the creatures were so opened
to me by the Lord." Journal, Philadelphia, no date, p. 69.
Contemporary 'Clairvoyance' abounds in similar revelations. Andrew
Jackson Davis's cosmogonies, for example, or certain experiences
related in the delectable 'Reminiscences and Memories of Henry
Thomas Butterworth,' Lebanon, Ohio, 1886.
  Similarly with Saint Teresa. "One day, being in orison," she writes,
"it was granted me to perceive in one instant how all things are
seen and contained in God. I did not perceive them in their proper
form, and nevertheless the view I had of them was of a sovereign
clearness, and has remained vividly impressed upon my soul. It is
one of the most signal of all the graces which the Lord has granted
me.... The view was so subtile and delicate that the understanding
cannot grasp it." *
  * Vie, pp. 581, 582.
  She goes on to tell how it was as if the Deity were an enormous
and sovereignly limpid diamond, in which all our actions were
contained in such a way that their full sinfulness appeared evident as
never before. On another day, she relates, while she was reciting
the Athanasian Creed,-
  "Our Lord made me comprehend in what way it is that one God can be
in three Persons. He made me see it so clearly that I remained as
extremely surprised as I was comforted, and now, when I think of the
holy Trinity, or hear It spoken of, I understand how the three
adorable Persons form only one God and I experience an unspeakable
  On still another occasion, it was given to Saint Teresa to see and
understand in what wise the Mother of God had been assumed into her
place in Heaven. *
  * Loc. cit., p. 574.
  The deliciousness of some of these states seems to be beyond
anything known in ordinary consciousness. It evidently involves
organic sensibilities, for it is spoken of as something too extreme to
be borne, and as verging on bodily pain. * But it is too subtle and
piercing a delight for ordinary words to denote. God's touches, the
wounds of his spear, references to ebriety and to nuptial union have
to figure in the phraseology by which it is shadowed forth.
Intellect and senses both swoon away in these highest states of
ecstasy. "If our understanding comprehends," says Saint Teresa, "it is
in a mode which remains unknown to it, and it can understand nothing
of what it comprehends. For my own part, I do not believe that it does
comprehend, because, as I said, it does not understand itself to do
so. I confess that it is all a mystery in which I am lost." *(2) In
the condition called raptus or ravishment by theologians, breathing
and circulation are so depressed that it is a question among the
doctors whether the soul be or be not temporarily dissevered from
the body. One must read Saint Teresa's descriptions and the very exact
distinctions which she makes, to persuade one's self that one is
dealing, not with imaginary experiences, but with phenomena which,
however rare, follow perfectly definite psychological types.
  * Saint Teresa discriminates between pain in which the body has a
part and pure spiritual pain (Interior Castle, 6th Abode, ch. xi.). As
for the bodily part in these celestial joys, she speaks of it as
"penetrating to the marrow of the bones, whilst earthly pleasures
affect only the surface of the senses. I think," she adds, "that
this is a just description, and I cannot make it better." Ibid., 5th
Abode, ch. i.
  *(2) Vie, p. 198.
  To the medical mind these ecstasies signify nothing but suggested
and imitated hypnoid states, on an intellectual basis of superstition,
and a corporeal one of degeneration and hysteria. Undoubtedly these
pathological conditions have existed in many and possibly in all the
cases, but that fact tells us nothing about the value for knowledge of
the consciousness which they induce. To pass a spiritual judgment upon
these states, we must not content ourselves with superficial medical
talk, but inquire into their fruits for life.
  Their fruits appear to have been various. Stupefaction, for one
thing, seems not to have been altogether absent as a result. You may
remember the helplessness in the kitchen and schoolroom of poor
Margaret Mary Alacoque. Many other ecstatics would have perished but
for the care taken of them by admiring followers. The 'other.
worldliness' encouraged by the mystical consciousness makes this
over-abstraction from practical life peculiarly liable to befall
mystics in whom the character is naturally passive and the intellect
feeble; but in natively strong minds and characters we find quite
opposite results. The great Spanish mystics, who carried the habit
of ecstasy as far as it has often been carried, appear for the most
part to have shown indomitable spirit and energy, and all the more
so for the trances in which they indulged.
  Saint Ignatius was a mystic, but his mysticism made him assuredly
one of the most powerfully practical human engines that ever lived.
Saint John of the Cross, writing of the intuitions and 'touches' by
which God reaches the substance of the soul, tells us that-
  "They enrich it marvelously. A single one of them may be
sufficient to abolish at a stroke certain imperfections of which the
soul during its whole life had vainly tried to rid itself, and to
leave it adorned with virtues and loaded with supernatural gifts. A
single one of these intoxicating consolations may reward it for all
the labors undergone in its life- even were they numberless.
Invested with an invincible courage, filled with an impassioned desire
to suffer for its God, the soul then is seized with a strange torment-
that of not being allowed to suffer enough." *
  * Oeuvres, ii. 320.
  Saint Teresa is as emphatic, and much more detailed. You may perhaps
remember a passage I quoted from her in my first lecture. There are
many similar pages in her autobiography. Where in literature is a more
evidently veracious account of the formation of a new centre of
spiritual energy, than is given in her description of the effects of
certain ecstasies which in departing leave the soul upon a higher
level of emotional excitement?
  "Often, infirm and wrought upon with dreadful pains before the
ecstasy, the soul emerges from it full of health and admirably
disposed for action... as if God had willed that the body itself,
already obedient to the soul's desires, should share in the soul's
happiness.... The soul after such a favor is animated with a degree of
courage so great that if at that moment its body should be torn to
pieces for the cause of God, it would feel nothing but the liveliest
comfort. Then it is that promises and heroic resolutions spring up
in profusion in us, soaring desires, horror of the world, and the
clear perception of our proper nothingness.... What empire is
comparable to that of a soul who, from this sublime summit to which
God has raised her, sees all the things of earth beneath her feet, and
is captivated by no one of them? How ashamed she is of her former
attachments! How amazed at her blindness! What lively pity she feels
for those whom she recognizes still shrouded in the darkness!... She
groans at having ever been sensitive to points of honor, at the
illusion that made her ever see as honor what the world calls by
that name. Now she sees in this name nothing more than an immense
lie of which the world remains a victim. She discovers, in the new
light from above, that in genuine honor there is nothing spurious,
that to be faithful to this honor is to give our respect to what
deserves to be respected really, and to consider as nothing, or as
less than nothing, whatsoever perishes and is not agreeable to God....
She laughs when she sees grave persons, persons of orison, caring
for points of honor for which she now feels profoundest contempt. It
is suitable to the dignity of their rank to act thus, they pretend,
and it makes them more useful to others. But she knows that in
despising the dignity of their rank for the pure love of God they
would do more good in a single day than they would effect in ten years
by preserving it.... She laughs at herself that there should ever have
been a time in her life when she made any case of money, when she ever
desired it.... Oh! if human beings might only agree together to regard
it as so much useless mud, what harmony would then reign in the world!
With what friendship we would all treat each other if our interest
in honor and in money could but disappear from earth! For my own part,
I feel as if it would be a remedy for all our ills." *
  * Vie, pp. 229, 200, 231-233, 243.
  Mystical conditions may, therefore, render the soul more energetic
in the lines which their inspiration favors. But this could be
reckoned an advantage only in case the inspiration were a true one. If
the inspiration were erroneous, the energy would be all the more
mistaken and misbegotten. So we stand once more before that problem of
truth which confronted us at the end of the lectures on saintliness.
You will remember that we turned to mysticism precisely to get some
light on truth. Do mystical states establish the truth of those
theological affections in which the saintly life has its root?
  In spite of their repudiation of articulate self-description,
mystical states in general assert a pretty distinct theoretic drift.
It is possible to give the outcome of the majority of them in terms
that point in definite philosophical directions. One of these
directions is optimism, and the other is monism. We pass into mystical
states from out of ordinary consciousness as from a less into a
more, as from a smallness into a vastness, and at the same time as
from an unrest to a rest. We feel them as reconciling, unifying
states. They appeal to the yes-function more than to the no-function
in us. In them the unlimited absorbs the limits and peacefully
closes the account. Their very denial of every adjective you may
propose as applicable to the ultimate truth,- He, the Self, the Atman,
is to be described by 'No! no!' only, say the Upanishads,- * though it
seems on the surface to be a no-function, is a denial made on behalf
of a deeper yes. Whoso calls the Absolute anything in particular, or
says that it is this, seems implicitly to shut it off from being that-
it is as if he lessened it. So we deny the 'this,' negating the
negation which it seems to us to imply, in the interests of the higher
affirmative attitude by which we are possessed. The fountain-head of
Christian mysticism is Dionysius the Areopagite. He describes the
absolute truth by negatives exclusively.
  * MULLER'S translation, part ii. p. 180.
  "The cause of all things is neither soul nor intellect; nor has it
imagination, opinion, or reason, or intelligence; nor is it reason
or intelligence; nor is it spoken or thought. It is neither number,
nor order, nor magnitude, nor littleness, nor equality, nor
inequality, nor similarity, nor dissimilarity. It neither stands,
nor moves, nor rests.... It is neither essence, nor eternity, nor
time. Even intellectual contact does not belong to it. It is neither
science nor truth. It is not even royalty or wisdom; not one; not
unity; not divinity or goodness; nor even spirit as we know it," etc.,
ad libitum. *
  * T. DAVIDSON'S translation, in Journal of Speculative Philosophy,
1893, vol. xxii. p. 399.
  But these qualifications are denied by Dionysius, not because the
truth falls short of them, but because it so infinitely excels them.
It is above them. It is super-lucent, super-splendent,
super-essential, super-sublime, super everything that can be named.
Like Hegel in his logic, mystics journey towards the positive pole
of truth only by the 'Methode der Absoluten Negativitat.' *
  * "Deus propter excellentiam non immerito Nihil vocatur." Scotus
Erigena, quoted by ANDREW SETH: Two Lectures on Theism, New York,
1897, p. 55.
  Thus come the paradoxical expressions that so abound in mystical
writings. As when Eckhart tells of the still desert of the Godhead,

"where never was seen difference, neither Father, Son, nor Holy Ghost,
where there is no one at home, yet where the spark of the soul is more
at peace than in itself." * As when Boehme writes of the Primal
Love, that "it may fitly be compared to Nothing, for it is deeper than
any Thing, and is as nothing with respect to all things, forasmuch
as it is not comprehensible by any of them. And because it is
nothing respectively, it is therefore free from all things, and is
that only good, which a man cannot express or utter what it is,
there being nothing to which it may be compared, to express it
by." *(2) Or as when Angelus Silesius sings:-
     "Gott ist ein lauter Nichts, ihn ruhrt kein Nun noch Hier;
      Je mehr du nach ihm greiffst, je mehr entwind er dir." *(3)
  * J. ROYCE: Studies in Good and Evil, p. 282.
  *(2) Jacob Behmen's Dialogues on the Supersensual Life, translated
by BERNARD HOLLAND, London, 1901, p. 48.
  *(3) Cherubinischer Wandersmann, Strophe 25.
  To this dialectical use, by the intellect, of negation as a mode
of passage towards a higher kind of affirmation, there is correlated
the subtlest of moral counterparts in the sphere of the personal will.
Since denial of the finite self and its wants, since asceticism of
some sort, is found in religious experience to be the only doorway
to the larger and more blessed life, this moral mystery intertwines
and combines with the intellectual mystery in all mystical writings.
  "Love," continues Behmen, is Nothing, for "when thou art gone
forth wholly from the Creature and from that which is visible, and art
become Nothing to all that is Nature and Creature, then thou art in
that eternal One, which is God himself, and then thou shalt feel
within thee the highest virtue of Love.... The treasure of treasures
for the soul is where she goeth out of the Somewhat into that
Nothing out of which all things may be made. The soul here saith, I
have nothing, for I am utterly stripped and naked; I can do nothing,
for I have no manner of power, but am as water poured out; I am
nothing, for all that I am is no more than an image of Being, and only
God is to me I AM; and so, sitting down in my own Nothingness, I
give glory to the eternal Being, and will nothing of myself, that so
God may will all in me, being unto me my God and all things." *
  * Op. cit., pp. 42, 74, abridged.
  In Paul's language, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. Only
when I become as nothing can God enter in and no difference between
his life and mine remain outstanding. *
  * From a French book I take this mystical expression of happiness in
God's indwelling presence:-
  "Jesus has come to take up his abode in my heart. It is not so
much a habitation, an association, as a sort of fusion. Oh, new and
blessed life! life which becomes each day more luminous.... The wall
before me, dark a few moments since, is splendid at this hour
because the sun shines on it. Wherever its rays fall they light up a
conflagration of glory; the smallest speck of glass sparkles, each
grain of sand emits fire; even so there is a royal song of triumph
in my heart because the Lord is there. My days succeed each other;
yesterday a blue sky; to-day a clouded sun; a night filled with
strange dreams; but as soon as the eyes open, and I regain
consciousness and seem to begin life again, it is always the same
figure before me, always the same presence filling my heart....
Formerly the day was dulled by the absence of the Lord. I used to wake
invaded by all sorts of sad impressions, and I did not find him on
my path. To-day he is with me; and the light cloudiness which covers
things is not an obstacle to my communion with him. I feel the
pressure of his hand, I feel something else which fills me with a
serene joy; shall I dare to speak it out? Yes, for it is the true
expression of what I experience. The Holy Spirit in not merely
making me a visit; it is no mere dazzling apparition which may from
one moment to another spread its wings and leave me in my night, it is
a permanent habitation. He can depart only if he takes me with him.
More than that; he is not other than myself: he is one with me. It
is not a juxtaposition, it is a penetration, a profound modification
of my nature, a new manner of my being." Quoted from the MS. 'of an
old man' by WILFRED MONOD: Il Vit: six meditations sur le mystere
chretien, pp. 280-283.
  This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and
the Absolute is the great mystic achievement. In mystic states we both
become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness.
This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition, hardly
altered by differences of clime or creed. In Hinduism, in
Neoplatonism, in Sufism, in Christian mysticism, in Whitmanism, we
find the same recurring note, so that there is about mystical
utterances an eternal unanimity which ought to make a critic stop
and think, and which brings it about that the mystical classics
have, as has been said, neither birthday nor native land.
Perpetually telling of the unity of man with God, their speech
antedates languages, and they do not grow old. *
  * Compare M. MAETERLINCK: L'Ornament des Noces spirituelles de
Ruysbroeck, Bruxelles, 1891, Introduction, p. xix.
  'That art Thou!' say the Upanishads, and the Vedantists add: 'Not
a part, not a mode of That, but identically That, that absolute Spirit
of the World.' "As pure water poured into pure water remains the same,
thus, O Gautama, is the Self of a thinker who knows. Water in water,
fire in fire, ether in ether, no one can distinguish them; likewise
a man whose mind has entered into the Self." * "'Every man,' says
the Sufi Gulshan-Raz, 'whose heart is no longer shaken by any doubt,
knows with certainty that there is no being save only One.... In his
divine majesty the me, the we, the thou, are not found, for in the One
there can be no distinction. Every being who is annulled and
entirely separated from himself, hears resound outside of him this
voice and this echo: I am God: he has an eternal way of existing,
and is no longer subject to death.'" *(2) In the vision of God, says
Plotinus, "what sees is not our reason, but something prior and
superior to our reason.... He who thus sees does not properly see,
does not distinguish or imagine two things. He changes, he ceases to
be himself, preserves nothing of himself. Absorbed in God, he makes
but one with him, like a centre of a circle coinciding with another
centre." *(3) "Here," writes Suso, "the spirit dies, and yet is all
alive in the marvels of the Godhead... and is lost in the stillness of
the glorious dazzling obscurity and of the naked simple unity. It is
in this modeless where that the highest bliss is to be found." *(4)
"Ich bin so gross als Gott," sings Angelus Silesius again, "Er ist als
ich so klein; Er kann nicht uber mich, ich unter ihm nicht sein." *(5)
  * Upanishads, M. MULLER'S translation, ii. 17, 334.
  *(2) SCHMOLDERS: Op. cit., p. 210.
  *(3) Enneads, BOUILLIER'S translation, Paris, 1861, iii. 561.
Compare pp. 473-477, and vol. i. p. 27.
  *(4) Autobiography, pp. 309, 310.
  *(5) Op. cit., Strophe 10.
  In mystical literature such self-contradictory phrases as
'dazzling obscurity,' 'whispering silence,' 'teeming desert,' are
continually met with. They prove that not conceptual speech, but music
rather, is the element through which we are best spoken to by mystical
truth. Many mystical scriptures are indeed little more than musical
  "He who would hear the voice of Nada, 'the Soundless Sound,' and
comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana.... When to
himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees
in dreams; when he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the
ONE- the inner sound which kills the outer.... For then the soul
will hear, and will remember. And then to the inner ear will speak THE
VOICE OF THE SILENCE.... And now thy Self is lost in SELF, thyself
unto THYSELF, merged in that SELF from which thou first didst
radiate.... Behold! thou hast become the Light, thou hast become the
Sound, thou art thy Master and thy God. Thou art THYSELF the object of
thy search: the VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout eternities,
exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one, the
  * H.P. BLAVATSKY: The Voice of the Silence.
  These words, if they do not awaken laughter as you receive them,
probably stir chords within you which music and language touch in
common. Music gives us ontological messages which non-musical
criticism is unable to contradict, though it may laugh at our
foolishness in minding them. There is a verge of the mind which
these things haunt; and whispers therefrom mingle with the
operations of our understanding, even as the waters of the infinite
ocean send their waves to break among the pebbles that lie upon our
  "Here begins the sea that ends not till the world's end. Where we
  Could we know the next high sea-mark set beyond these waves that
  We should know what never man hath known, nor eye of man hath
  Ah, but here man's heart leaps, yearning towards the gloom with
venturous glee,
  From the shore that hath no shore beyond it, set in all the sea." *
  * SWINBURNE: On the Verge, in 'A Midsummer Vacation.'
  That doctrine, for example, that eternity is timeless, that our
'immortality,' if we live in the eternal, is not so much future as
already now and here, which we find so often expressed to-day in
certain philosophic circles, finds its support in a 'hear, hear!' or
an 'amen,' which floats up from that mysteriously deeper level. * We
recognize the passwords to the mystical region as we hear them, but we
cannot use them ourselves; it alone has the keeping of 'the password
primeval.' *(2)
  * Compare the extracts from Dr. Bucke, quoted earlier in this
  *(2) As serious an attempt as I know to mediate between the mystical
region and the discursive life is contained in an article on
Aristotle's Unmoved Mover, by F.C.S. SCHILLER, in Mind, vol. ix.,
  I have now sketched with extreme brevity and insufficiency, but as
fairly as I am able in the time allowed, the general traits of the
mystic range of consciousness. It is on the whole pantheistic and
optimistic, or at least the opposite of pessimistic. It is
anti-naturalistic, and harmonizes best with twice-bornness and
so-called other-worldly states of mind.
  My next task is to inquire whether we can invoke it as
authoritative. Does it furnish any warrant for the truth of the
twice-bornness and supernaturality and pantheism which it favors? I
must give my answer to this question as concisely as I can.
  In brief my answer is this,- and I will divide it into three parts:-
  (1) Mystical states, when well developed, usually are, and have
the right to be, absolutely authoritative over the individuals to whom
they come.
  (2) No authority emanates from them which should make it a duty
for those who stand outside of them to accept their revelations
  (3) They break down the authority of the non-mystical or
rationalistic consciousness, based upon the understanding and the
senses alone. They show it to be only one kind of consciousness.
They open out the possibility of other orders of truth, in which, so
far as anything in us vitally responds to them, we may freely continue
to have faith.
  I will take up these points one by one.
  As a matter of psychological fact, mystical states of a
well-pronounced and emphatic sort are usually authoritative over those
who have them. * They have been 'there,' and know. It is vain for
rationalism to grumble about this. If the mystical truth that comes to
a man proves to be a force that he can live by, what mandate have we
of the majority to order him to live in another way? We can throw
him into a prison or a madhouse, but we cannot change his mind- we
commonly attach it only the more stubbornly to its beliefs. *(2) It
mocks our utmost efforts, as a matter of fact, and in point of logic
it absolutely escapes our jurisdiction. Our own more 'rational'
beliefs are based on evidence exactly similar in nature to that
which mystics quote for theirs. Our senses, namely, have assured us of
certain states of fact; but mystical experiences are as direct
perceptions of fact for those who have them as any sensations ever
were for us. The records show that even though the five senses be in
abeyance in them, they are absolutely sensational in their
epistemological quality, if I may be pardoned the barbarous
expression,- that is, they are face to face presentations of what
seems immediately to exist.
  * I abstract from weaker states, and from those cases of which the
books are full, where the director (but usually not the subject)
remains in doubt whether the experience may not have proceeded from
the demon.
  *(2) Example: Mr. John Nelson writes of his imprisonment for
preaching Methodism: "My soul was as a watered garden, and I could
sing praises to God all day long; for he turned my captivity into joy,
and gave me to rest as well on the boards, as if I had been on a bed
of down. Now could I say, 'God's service is perfect freedom,' and I
was carried out much in prayer that my enemies might drink of the same
river of peace which my God gave so largely to me." Journal, London,
no date, p. 172.
  The mystic is, in short, invulnerable, and must be left, whether
we relish it or not, in undisturbed enjoyment of his creed. Faith,
says Tolstoy, is that by which men live. And faith-state and mystic
state are practically convertible terms.
  But I now proceed to add that mystics have no right to claim that we
ought to accept the deliverance of their peculiar experiences, if we
are ourselves outsiders and feel no private call thereto. The utmost
they can ever ask of us in this life is to admit that they establish a
presumption. They form a consensus and have an unequivocal outcome;
and it would be odd, mystics might say, if such a unanimous type of
experience should prove to be altogether wrong. At bottom, however,
this would only be an appeal to numbers, like the appeal of
rationalism the other way; and the appeal to numbers has no logical
force. If we acknowledge it, it is for 'suggestive,' not for logical
reasons: we follow the majority because to do so suits our life.
  But even this presumption from the unanimity of mystics is far
from being strong. In characterizing mystic states as pantheistic,
optimistic, etc., I am afraid I over-simplified the truth. I did so
for expository reasons, and to keep the closer to the classic mystical
tradition. The classic religious mysticism, it now must be
confessed, is only a 'privileged case.' It is an extract, kept true to
type by the selection of the fittest specimens and their
preservation in 'schools.' It is carved out from a much larger mass;
and if we take the larger mass as seriously as religious mysticism has
historically taken itself, we find that the supposed unanimity largely
disappears. To begin with, even religious mysticism itself, the kind
that accumulates traditions and makes schools, is much less
unanimous than I have allowed. It has been both ascetic and
antinomianly self-indulgent within the Christian church. * It is
dualistic in Sankhya, and monistic in Vedanta philosophy, I called
it pantheistic; but the great Spanish mystics are anything but
pantheists. They are with few exceptions non-metaphysical minds, for
whom 'the category of personality' is absolute. The 'union' of man
with God is for them much more like an occasional miracle than like an
original identity. *(2) How different again, apart from the
happiness common to all, is the mysticism of Walt Whitman, Edward
Carpenter, Richard Jefferies, and other naturalistic pantheists,
from the more distinctively Christian sort. *(3) The fact is that
the mystical feeling of enlargement, union, and emancipation has no
specific intellectual content whatever of its own. It is capable of
forming matrimonial alliances with material furnished by the most
diverse philosophies and theologies, provided only they can find a
place in their framework for its peculiar emotional mood. We have no
right, therefore, to invoke its prestige as distinctively in favor
of any special belief, such as that in absolute idealism, or in the
absolute monistic identity, or in the absolute goodness, of the world.
It is only relatively in favor of all these things- it passes out of
common human consciousness in the direction in which they lie.
  * RUYSBROECK, in the work which Maeterlinck has translated, has a
chapter against the antinomianism of disciples. H. DELACROIX'S book
(Essai sur le mysticisme speculatif en Allemagne au XIVme Siecle,
Paris, 1900) is full of antinomian material. Compare also A. JUNDT:
Les Amis de Dieu au XIVme Siecle, These de Strasbourg, 1879.
  *(2) Compare PAUL ROUSSELOT: Les Mystiques Espagnols, Paris, 1869,
ch. xii.
  *(3) See CARPENTER'S Towards Democracy, especially the latter parts,
and JEFFERIES'S wonderful and splendid mystic rhapsody, The Story of
my Heart.
  So much for religious mysticism proper. But more remains to be told,
for religious mysticism is only one half of mysticism. The other
half has no accumulated traditions except those which the text-books
on insanity, supply. Open any one of these, and you will find abundant
cases in which 'mystical ideas' are cited as characteristic symptoms
of enfeebled or deluded states of mind. In delusional insanity,
paranoia, as they sometimes call it, we may have a diabolical
mysticism, a sort of religious mysticism turned upside down. The
same sense of ineffable importance in the smallest events, the same
texts and words coming with new meanings, the same voices and
visions and leadings and missions, the same controlling by
extraneous powers; only this time the emotion is pessimistic:
instead of consolations we have desolations; the meanings are
dreadful; and the powers are enemies to life. It is evident that
from the point of view of their psychological mechanism, the classic
mysticism and these lower mysticisms spring from the same mental
level, from that great subliminal or transmarginal region of which
science is beginning to admit the existence, but of which so little is
really known. That region contains every kind of matter: 'seraph and
snake' abide there side by side. To come from thence is no
infallible credential. What comes must be sifted and tested, and run
the gauntlet of confrontation with the total context of experience,
just like what comes from the outer world of sense. Its value must
be ascertained by empirical methods, so long as we are not mystics
  Once more, then, I repeat that non-mystics are under no obligation
to acknowledge in mystical states a superior authority conferred on
them by their intrinsic nature. *
  * In chapter i. of book ii. of his work Degeneration, 'MAX NORDAU'
seeks to undermine all mysticism by exposing the weakness of the lower
kinds. Mysticism for him means any sudden perception of hidden
significance in things. He explains such perception by the abundant
uncompleted associations which experiences may arouse in a
degenerate brain. These give to him who has the experience a vague and
vast sense of its leading further, yet they awaken no definite or
useful consequent in his thought. The explanation is a plausible one
for certain sorts of feeling of significance; and other alienists
(WERNICKE, for example, in his Grundriss der Psychiatrie, Theil ii.,
Leipzig, 1896) have explained 'paranoiac' conditions by a laming of
the association-organ. But the higher mystical flights, with their
positiveness and abruptness, are surely products of no such merely
negative condition. It seems far more reasonable to ascribe them to
inroads from the subconscious life, of the cerebral activity
correlative to which we as yet know nothing.
  Yet, I repeat once more, the existence of mystical states absolutely
overthrows the pretension of non-mystical states to be the sole and
ultimate dictators of what we may believe. As a rule, mystical
states merely add a supersensuous meaning to the ordinary outward data
of consciousness. They are excitements like the emotions of love or
ambition, gifts to our spirit by means of which facts already
objectively before us fall into a new expressiveness and make a new
connection with our active life. They do not contradict these facts as
such or deny anything that our senses have immediately seized. * It is
the rationalistic critic rather who plays the part of denier in the
controversy, and his denials have no strength, for there never can
be a state of facts to which new meaning may not truthfully be
added, provided the mind ascend to a more enveloping point of view. It
must always remain an open question whether mystical states may not
possibly be such superior points of view, windows through which the
mind looks out upon a more extensive and inclusive world. The
difference of the views seen from the different mystical windows
need not prevent us from entertaining this supposition. The wider
world would in that case prove to have a mixed constitution like
that of this world, that is all. It would have its celestial and its
infernal regions, its tempting and its saving moments, its valid
experiences and its counterfeit ones, just as our world has them;
but it would be a wider world all the same. We should have to use
its experiences by selecting and subordinating and substituting just
as is our custom in this ordinary naturalistic world; we should be
liable to error just as we are now; yet the counting in of that
wider world of meanings, and the serious dealing with it, might, in
spite of all the perplexity, be indispensable stages in our approach
to the final fullness of the truth.
  * They sometimes add subjective audita et visa to the facts, but
as these are usually interpreted as transmundane, they oblige no
alteration in the facts of sense.
  In this shape, I think, we have to leave the subject. Mystical
states indeed wield no authority due simply to their being mystical
states. But the higher ones among them point in directions to which
the religious sentiments even of non-mystical men incline. They tell
of the supremacy of the ideal, of vastness, of union, of safety, and
of rest. They offer us hypotheses, hypotheses which we may voluntarily
ignore, but which as thinkers we cannot possibly upset. The
supernaturalism and optimism to which they would persuade us may,
interpreted in one way or another, be after all the truest of insights
into the meaning of this life.
  "Oh, the little more, and how much it is; and the little less, and
what worlds away!" It may be that possibility and permission of this
sort are all that the religious consciousness requires to live on.
In my last lecture I shall have to try to persuade you that this is
the case. Meanwhile, however, I am sure that for many of my readers
this diet is too slender. If supernaturalism and inner union with
the divine are true, you think, then not so much permission, as
compulsion to believe, ought to be found. Philosophy has always
professed to prove religious truth by coercive argument; and the
construction of philosophies of this kind has always been one favorite
function of the religious life, if we use this term in the large
historic sense. But religious philosophy is an enormous subject, and
in my next lecture I can only give that brief glance at it which my
limits will allow.

                            LECTURE XVIII
  THE subject of Saintliness left us face to face with the question,
Is the sense of divine presence a sense of anything objectively
true? We turned first to mysticism for an answer, and found that
although mysticism is entirely willing to corroborate religion, it
is too private (and also too various) in its utterances to be able
to claim a universal authority. But philosophy publishes results which
claim to be universally valid if they are valid at all, so we now turn
with our question to philosophy. Can philosophy stamp a warrant of
veracity upon the religious man's sense of the divine?
  I imagine that many of you at this point begin to indulge in guesses
at the goal to which I am tending. I have undermined the authority
of mysticism, you say, and the next thing I shall probably do is to
seek to discredit that of philosophy. Religion, you expect to hear
me conclude, is nothing but an affair of faith, based either on
vague sentiment, or on that vivid sense of the reality of things
unseen of which in my second lecture and in the lecture on Mysticism I
gave so many examples. It is essentially private and
individualistic; it always exceeds our powers of formulation; and
although attempts to pour its contents into a philosophic mould will
probably always go on, men being what they are, yet these attempts are
always secondary processes which in no way add to the authority, or
warrant the veracity, of the sentiments from which they derive their
own stimulus and borrow whatever glow of conviction they may
themselves possess. In short, you suspect that I am planning to defend
feeling at the expense of reason, to rehabilitate the primitive and
unreflective, and to dissuade you from the hope of any Theology worthy
of the name.

  To a certain extent I have to admit that you guess rightly. I do
believe that feeling is the deeper source of religion, and that
philosophic and theological formulas are secondary products, like
translations of a text into another tongue. But all such statements
are misleading from their brevity, and it will take the whole hour for
me to explain to you exactly what I mean.
  When I call theological formulas secondary products, I mean that
in a world in which no religious feeling had ever existed, I doubt
whether any philosophic theology could ever have been framed. I
doubt if dispassionate intellectual contemplation of the universe,
apart from inner unhappiness and need of deliverance on the one hand
and mystical emotion on the other, would ever have resulted in
religious philosophies such as we now possess. Men would have begun
with animistic explanations of natural fact, and criticised these away
into scientific ones, as they actually have done. In the science
they would have left a certain amount of 'psychical research,' even as
they now will probably have to re-admit a certain amount. But
high-flying speculations like those of either dogmatic or idealistic
theology, these they would have had no motive to venture on, feeling
no need of commerce with such deities. These speculations must, it
seems to me, be classed as over-beliefs, buildings-out performed by
the intellect into directions of which feeling originally supplied the
  But even if religious philosophy had to have its first hint supplied
by feeling, may it not have dealt in a superior way with the matter
which feeling suggested? Feeling is private and dumb, and unable to
give an account of itself. It allows that its results are mysteries
and enigmas, declines to justify them rationally, and on occasion is
willing that they should even pass for paradoxical and absurd.
Philosophy takes just the opposite attitude. Her aspiration is to
reclaim from mystery and paradox whatever territory she touches. To
find an escape from obscure and wayward personal persuasion to truth
objectively valid for all thinking men has ever been the intellect's
most cherished ideal. To redeem religion from unwholesome privacy, and
to give public status and universal right of way to its
deliverances, has been reason's task.
  I believe that philosophy will always have opportunity to labor at
this task. * We are thinking beings, and we cannot exclude the
intellect from participating in any of our functions. Even in
soliloquizing with ourselves, we construe our feelings intellectually.
Both our personal ideals and our religious and mystical experiences
must be interpreted congruously with the kind of scenery which our
thinking mind inhabits. The philosophic climate of our time inevitably
forces its own clothing on us. Moreover, we must exchange our feelings
with one another, and in doing so we have to speak, and to use general
and abstract verbal formulas. Conceptions and constructions are thus a
necessary part of our religion; and as moderator amid the clash of
hypotheses, and mediator among the criticisms of one man's
constructions by another, philosophy will always have much to do. It
would be strange if I disputed this, when these very lectures which
I am giving are (as you will see more clearly from now onwards) a
laborious attempt to extract from the privacies of religious
experience some general facts which can be defined in formulas upon
which everybody may agree.
  * Compare Professor W. WALLACE'S Gifford Lectures, in Lectures and
Essays, Oxford, 1898, pp. 17 ff.
  Religious experience, in other words, spontaneously and inevitably
engenders myths, superstitions, dogmas, creeds, and metaphysical
theologies, and criticisms of one set of these by the adherents of
another. Of late, impartial classifications and comparisons have
become possible, alongside of the denunciations and anathemas by which
the commerce between creeds used exclusively to be carried on. We have
the beginnings of a 'Science of Religions,' so-called; and if these
lectures could ever be accounted a crumb-like contribution to such a
science, I should be made very happy.
  But all these intellectual operations, whether they be
constructive or comparative and critical, presuppose immediate
experiences as their subject-matter. They are interpretative and
inductive operations, operations after the fact, consequent upon
religious feeling, not coordinate with it, not independent of what
it ascertains.
  The intellectualism in religion which I wish to discredit pretends
to be something altogether different from this. It assumes to
construct religious objects out of the resources of logical reason
alone, or of logical reason drawing rigorous inference from
non-subjective facts. It calls its conclusions dogmatic theology, or
philosophy of the absolute, as the case may be; it does not call
them science of religions. It reaches them in an a priori way, and
warrants their veracity.
  Warranted systems have ever been the idols of aspiring souls.
All-inclusive, yet simple; noble, clean, luminous, stable, rigorous,
true;- what more ideal refuge could there be than such a system
would offer to spirits vexed by the muddiness and accidentality of the
world of sensible things? Accordingly, we find inculcated in the
theological schools of to-day, almost as much as in those of the
fore-time, a disdain for merely possible or probable truth, and of
results that only private assurance can grasp. Scholastics and
idealists both express this disdain. Principal John Caird, for
example, writes as follows in his Introduction to the Philosophy of
  "Religion must indeed be a thing of the heart; but in order to
elevate it from the region of subjective caprice and waywardness,
and to distinguish between that which is true and false in religion,
we must appeal to an objective standard. That which enters the heart
must first be discerned by the intelligence to be true. It must be
seen as having in its own nature a right to dominate feeling, and as
constituting the principle by which feeling must be judged. * In
estimating the religious character of individuals, nations, or
races, the first question is, not how they feel, but what they think
and believe- not whether their religion is one which manifests
itself in emotions, more or less vehement and enthusiastic, but what
are the conceptions of God and divine things by which these emotions
are called forth. Feeling is necessary in religion, but it is by the
content or intelligent basis of a religion, and not by feeling, that
its character and worth are to be determined." *(2)
  * Op. cit., p. 174, abridged.
  *(2) Ibid., p. 186, abridged.
  Cardinal Newman, in his work, The Idea of a University, gives more
emphatic expression still to this disdain for sentiment. * Theology,
he says, is a science in the strictest sense of the word. I will
tell you, he says, what it is not- not 'physical evidences' for God,
not 'natural religion,' for these are but vague subjective
  * Discourse II. SS 7.
  "If," he continues, "the Supreme Being is powerful or skillful, just
so far as the telescope shows power, or the microscope shows skill, if
his moral law is to be ascertained simply by the physical processes of
the animal frame, or his will gathered from the immediate issues of
human affairs, if his Essence is just as high and deep and broad as
the universe and no more; if this be the fact, then will I confess
that there is no specific science about God, that theology is but a
name, and a protest in its behalf an hypocrisy. Then, pious as it is
to think of Him, while the pageant of experiment or abstract reasoning
passes by, still such piety is nothing more than a poetry of
thought, or an ornament of language, a certain view taken of Nature
which one man has and another has not, which gifted minds strike
out, which others see to be admirable and ingenious, and which all
would be the better for adopting. It is but the theology of Nature,
just as we talk of the philosophy or the romance of history, or the
poetry of childhood, or the picturesque or the sentimental or the
humorous, or any other abstract quality which the genius or the
caprice of the individual, or the fashion of the day, or the consent
of the world, recognizes in any set of objects which are subjected
to its contemplation. I do not see much difference between avowing
that there is no God, and implying that nothing definite can be
known for certain about Him."
  What I mean by Theology, continues Newman, is none of these
things: "I simply mean the Science of God, or the truths we know about
God, put into a system, just as we have a science of the stars and
call it astronomy, or of the crust of the earth and call it geology."
  In both these extracts we have the issue clearly set before us:
Feeling valid only for the individual is pitted against reason valid
universally. The test is a perfectly plain one of fact. Theology based
on pure reason must in point of fact convince men universally. If it
did not, wherein would its superiority consist? If it only formed
sects and schools, even as sentiment and mysticism form them, how
would it fulfill its programme of freeing us from personal caprice and
waywardness? This perfectly definite practical test of the pretensions
of philosophy to found religion on universal reason simplifies my
procedure to-day. I need not discredit philosophy by laborious
criticism of its arguments. It will suffice if I show that as a matter
of history it fails to prove its pretension to be 'objectively'
convincing. In fact, philosophy does so fail. It does not banish
differences; it founds schools and sects just as feeling does. I
believe, in fact, that the logical reason of man operates in this
field of divinity exactly as it has always operated in love, or in
patriotism, or in politics, or in any other of the wider affairs of
life, in which our passions or our mystical intuitions fix our beliefs
beforehand. It finds arguments for our conviction, for indeed it has
to find them. It amplifies and defines our faith, and dignifies it and
lends it words and plausibility. It hardly ever engenders it; it
cannot now secure it. *
  * As regards the secondary character of intellectual
constructions, and the primacy of feeling and instinct in founding
religious beliefs, see the striking work of H. FIELDING, The Hearts of
Men, London, 1902, which came into my hands after my text was written.
"Creeds," says the author, "are the grammar of religion, they are to
religion what grammar is to speech. Words are the expression of our
wants; grammar is the theory formed afterwards. Speech never proceeded
from grammar, but the reverse. As speech progresses and changes from
unknown causes, grammar must follow" (p. 313). The whole book, which
keeps unusually close to concrete facts, is little more than an
amplification of this text.
  Lend me your attention while I run through some of the points of the
older systematic theology. You find them in both Protestant and
Catholic manuals, best of all in the innumerable text-books
published since Pope Leo's Encyclical recommending the study of
Saint Thomas. I glance first at the arguments by which dogmatic
theology establishes God's existence, after that at those by which
it establishes his nature. *
  * For convenience' sake, I follow the order of A. STOCKL'S
Lehrbuch der Philosophie, 5te Auflage, Mainz, 1881, Band ii. B.
BOEDDER'S Natural Theology, London, 1891, is a handy English
Catholic Manual; but an almost identical doctrine is given by such
Protestant theologians as C. HODGE: Systematic Theology, New York,
1873, or A.H. STRONG: Systematic Theology, 5th edition, New York,
  The arguments for God's existence have stood for hundreds of years
with the waves of unbelieving criticism breaking against them, never
totally discrediting them in the ears of the faithful, but on the
whole slowly and surely washing out the mortar from between their
joints. If you have a God already whom you believe in, these arguments
confirm you. If you are atheistic, they fail to set you right. The
proofs are various. The 'cosmological' one, so-called, reasons from
the contingence of the world to a First Cause which must contain
whatever perfections the world itself contains. The 'argument from
design' reasons, from the fact that Nature's laws are mathematical,
and her parts benevolently adapted to each other, that this cause is
both intellectual and benevolent. The 'moral argument' is that the
moral law presupposes a lawgiver. The 'argument ex consensu gentium'
is that the belief in God is so widespread as to be grounded in the
rational nature of man, and should therefore carry authority with it.
  As I just said, I will not discuss these arguments technically.
The bare fact that all idealists since Kant have felt entitled
either to scout or to neglect them shows that they are not solid
enough to serve as religion's all-sufficient foundation. Absolutely
impersonal reasons would be in duty bound to show more general
convincingness. Causation is indeed too obscure a principle to bear
the weight of the whole structure of theology. As for the argument
from design, see how Darwinian ideas have revolutionized it. Conceived
as we now conceive them, as so many fortunate escapes from almost
limitless processes of destruction, the benevolent adaptations which
we find in Nature suggest a deity very different from the one who
figured in the earlier versions of the argument. * The fact is that
these arguments do but follow the combined suggestions of the facts
and of our feeling. They prove nothing rigorously. They only
corroborate our pre-existent partialities.
  * It must not be forgotten that any form of disorder in the world
might, by the design argument, suggest a God for just that kind of
disorder. The truth is that any state of things whatever that can be
named is logically susceptible of teleological interpretation. The
ruins of the earthquake at Lisbon, for example: the whole of past
history had to be planned exactly as it was to bring about in the
fullness of time just that particular arrangement of debris of
masonry, furniture, and once living bodies. No other train of causes
would have been sufficient. And so of any other arrangement, bad or
good, which might as a matter of fact be found resulting anywhere from
previous conditions. To avoid such pessimistic consequences and save
its beneficent designer, the design argument accordingly invokes two
other principles, restrictive in their operation. The first is
physical: Nature's forces tend of their own accord only to disorder
and destruction, to heaps of ruins, not to architecture. This
principle, though plausible at first sight, seems, in the light of
recent biology, to be more and more improbable. The second principle
is one of anthropomorphic interpretation. No arrangement that for us
is 'disorderly' can possibly have been an object of design at all.
This principle is of course a mere assumption in the interests of
anthropomorphic Theism.
  When one views the world with no definite theological bias one way
or the other, one sees that order and disorder, as we now recognize
them, are purely human inventions. We are interested in certain
types of arrangement, useful, aesthetic, or moral,- so interested that
whenever we find them realized, the fact emphatically rivets our
attention. The result is that we work over the contents of the world
selectively. It is overflowing with disorderly arrangements from our
point of view, but order is the only thing we care for and look at,
and by choosing, one can always find some sort of orderly
arrangement in the midst of any chaos. If I should throw down a
thousand beans at random upon a table, I could doubtless, by
eliminating a sufficient number of them, leave the rest in almost
any geometrical pattern you might propose to me, and you might then
say that that pattern was the thing prefigured beforehand, and that
the other beans were mere irrelevance and packing material. Our
dealings with Nature are just lines in innumerable directions. We
count and name whatever lies upon the special lines we trace, whilst
the other things and the untraced lines are neither named nor counted.
There are in reality infinitely more things 'unadapted' to each
other in this world than there are things 'adapted'; infinitely more
things with irregular relations than with regular relations between
them. But we look for the regular kind of thing exclusively, and
ingeniously discover and preserve it in our memory. It accumulates
with other regular kinds, until the collection of them fills our
encyclopedias. Yet all the while between and around them lies an
infinite anonymous chaos of objects that no one ever thought of
together, of relations that never yet attracted our attention.
  The facts of order from which the physico-theological argument
starts are thus easily susceptible of interpretation as arbitrary
human products. So long as this is the case, although of course no
argument against God follows, it follows that the argument for him
will fail to constitute a knock-down proof of his existence. It will
be convincing only to those who on other grounds believe in him
  If philosophy can do so little to establish God's existence, how
stands it with her efforts to define his attributes? It is worth while
to look at the attempts of systematic theology in this direction.
  Since God is First Cause, this science of sciences says, he
differs from all his creatures in possessing existence a se. From this
'a-se-ity' on God's part, theology deduces by mere logic most of his
other perfections. For instance, he must be both necessary and
absolute, cannot not be, and cannot in any way be determined by
anything else. This makes Him absolutely unlimited from without, and
unlimited also from within; for limitation is non-being; and God is
being itself. This unlimitedness makes God infinitely perfect.
Moreover, God is One, and Only, for the infinitely perfect can admit
no peer. He is Spiritual, for were He composed of physical parts, some
other power would have to combine them into the total, and his
aseity would thus be contradicted. He is therefore both simple and
non-physical in nature. He is simple metaphysically also, that is to
say, his nature and his existence cannot be distinct, as they are in
finite substances which share their formal natures with one another,
and are individual only in their material aspect. Since God is one and
only, his essentia and his esse must be given at one stroke. This
excludes from his being all those distinctions, so familiar in the
world of finite things, between potentiality and actuality,
substance and accidents, being and activity, existence and attributes.
We can talk, it is true, of God's powers, acts, and attributes, but
these discriminations are only 'virtual,' and made from the human
point of view. In God all these points of view fall into an absolute
identity of being.
  This absence of all potentiality in God obliges Him to be immutable.
He is actuality, through and through. Were there anything potential
about Him, He would either lose or gain by its actualization, and
either loss or gain would contradict his perfection. He cannot,
therefore, change. Furthermore, He is immense, boundless; for could He
be outlined in space, He would be composite, and this would contradict
his indivisibility. He is therefore omnipresent, indivisibly there, at
every point of space. He is similarly wholly present at every point of
time,- in other words eternal. For if He began in time, He would
need a prior cause, and that would contradict his aseity. If He ended,
it would contradict his necessity. If He went through any
succession, it would contradict his immutability.
  He has intelligence and will and every other creature-perfection,
for we have them, and effectus nequit superare causam. In Him,
however, they are absolutely and eternally in act, and their object,
since God can be bounded by naught that is external, can primarily
be nothing else than God himself. He knows himself, then, in one
eternal indivisible act, and wills himself with an infinite
self-pleasure. * Since He must of logical necessity thus love and will
himself, He cannot be called 'free' ad intra, with the freedom of
contrarieties that characterizes finite creatures. Ad extra,
however, or with respect to his creation, God is free. He cannot
need to create, being perfect in being and in happiness already. He
wills to create, then, by an absolute freedom.
  * For the scholastics the facultas appetendi embraces feeling,
desire, and will.
  Being thus a substance endowed with intellect and will and
freedom, God is a person; and a living person also, for He is both
object and subject of his own activity, and to be this distinguishes
the living from the lifeless. He is thus absolutely self-sufficient:
his self-knowledge and self-love are both of them infinite and
adequate, and need no extraneous conditions to perfect them.
  He is omniscient, for in knowing himself as Cause He knows all
creature things and events by implication. His knowledge is previsive,
for He is present to all time. Even our free acts are known beforehand
to Him, for otherwise his wisdom would admit of successive moments
of enrichment, and this would contradict his immutability. He is
omnipotent for everything that does not involve logical contradiction.
He can make being- in other words his power includes creation. If what
He creates were made of his own substance, it would have to be
infinite in essence, as that substance is; but it is finite: so it
must be non-divine in substance. If it were made of a substance, an
eternally existing matter, for example, which God found there to his
hand, and to which He simply gave its form, that would contradict
God's definition as First Cause, and make Him a mere mover of
something caused already. The things he creates, then, He creates ex
nihilo, and gives them absolute being as so many finite substances
additional to himself. The forms which he imprints upon them have
their prototypes in his ideas. But as in God there is no such thing as
multiplicity, and as these ideas for us are manifold, we must
distinguish the ideas as they are in God and the way in which our
minds externally imitate them. We must attribute them to Him only in a
terminative sense, as differing aspects, from the finite point of
view, of his unique essence.
  God of course is holy, good, and just. He can do no evil, for He
is positive being's fullness, and evil is negation. It is true that He
has created physical evil in places, but only as a means of wider

good, for bonum totius praeeminet bonum partis. Moral evil He cannot
will, either as end or means, for that would contradict his
holiness. By creating free beings He permits it only, neither his
justice nor his goodness obliging Him to prevent the recipients of
freedom from misusing the gift.
  As regards God's purpose in creating, primarily it can only have
been to exercise his absolute freedom by the manifestation to others
of his glory. From this it follows that the others must be rational
beings, capable in the first place of knowledge, love, and honor,
and in the second place of happiness, for the knowledge and love of
God is the mainspring of felicity. In so far forth one may say that
God's secondary purpose in creating is love.
  I will not weary you by pursuing these metaphysical determinations
farther, into the mysteries of God's Trinity, for example. What I have
given will serve as a specimen of the orthodox philosophical
theology of both Catholics and Protestants. Newman, filled with
enthusiasm at God's list of perfections, continues the passage which I
began to quote to you by a couple of pages of a rhetoric so
magnificent that I can hardly refrain from adding them, in spite of
the inroad they would make upon our time. * He first enumerates
God's attributes sonorously, then celebrates his ownership of
everything in earth and Heaven, and the dependence of all that happens
upon his permissive will. He gives us scholastic philosophy 'touched
with emotion,' and every philosophy should be touched with emotion
to be rightly understood. Emotionally, then, dogmatic theology is
worth something to minds of the type of Newman's. It will aid us to
estimate what it is worth intellectually, if at this point I make a
short digression.
  * Op. cit., Discourse III. SS 7.
  What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. The
Continental schools of philosophy have too often overlooked the fact
that man's thinking is organically connected with his conduct. It
seems to me to be the chief glory of English and Scottish thinkers
to have kept the organic connection in view. The guiding principle
of British philosophy has in fact been that every difference must make
a difference, every theoretical difference somewhere issue in a
practical difference, and that the best method of discussing points of
theory is to begin by ascertaining what practical difference would
result from one alternative or the other being true. What is the
particular truth in question known as? In what facts does it result?
What is its cash-value in terms of particular experience? This is
the characteristic English way of taking up a question. In this way,
you remember, Locke takes up the question of personal identity. What
you mean by it is just your chain of particular memories, says he.
That is the only concretely verifiable part of its significance. All
further ideas about it, such as the oneness or manyness of the
spiritual substance on which it is based, are therefore void of
intelligible meaning; and propositions touching such ideas may be
indifferently affirmed or denied. So Berkeley with his 'matter.' The
cash-value of matter is our physical sensations. That is what it is
known as, all that we concretely verify of its conception. That,
therefore, is the whole meaning of the term 'matter'- any other
pretended meaning is mere wind of words. Hume does the same thing with
causation. It is known as habitual antecedence, and as tendency on our
part to look for something definite to come. Apart from this practical
meaning it has no significance whatever, and books about it may be
committed to the flames, says Hume. Dugald Stewart and Thomas Brown,
James Mill, John Mill, and Professor Bain, have followed more or
less consistently the same method; and Shadworth Hodgson has used
the principle with full explicitness. When all is said and done, it
was English and Scotch writers, and not Kant, who introduced 'the
critical method' into philosophy, the one method fitted to make
philosophy a study worthy of serious men. For what seriousness can
possibly remain in debating philosophic propositions that will never
make an appreciable difference to us in action? And what could it
matter, if all propositions were practically indifferent, which of
them we should agree to call true or which false?
  An American philosopher of eminent originality, Mr. Charles
Sanders Peirce, has rendered thought a service by disentangling from
the particulars of its application the principle by which these men
were instinctively guided, and by singling it out as fundamental and
giving to it a Greek name. He calls it the principle of pragmatism,
and he defends it somewhat as follows:- *
  * In an article, How to make our Ideas Clear, in the Popular Science
Monthly for January, 1878, vol. xii. p. 286.

  Thought in movement has for its only conceivable motive the
attainment of belief, or thought at rest. Only when our thought
about a subject has found its rest in belief can our action on the
subject firmly and safely begin. Beliefs, in short, are rules for
action; and the whole function of thinking is but one step in the
production of active habits. If there were any part of a thought
that made no difference in the thought's practical consequences,
then that part would be no proper element of the thought's
significance. To develop a thought's meaning we need therefore only
determine what conduct it is fitted to produce; that conduct is for us
its sole significance; and the tangible fact at the root of all our
thought-distinctions is that there is no one of them so fine as to
consist in anything but a possible difference of practice. To attain
perfect clearness in our thoughts of an object, we need then only
consider what sensations, immediate or remote, we are conceivably to
expect from it, and what conduct we must prepare in case the object
should be true. Our conception of these practical consequences is
for us the whole of our conception of the object, so far as that
conception has positive significance at all.
  This is the principle of Peirce, the principle of pragmatism. Such a
principle will help us on this occasion to decide, among the various
attributes set down in the scholastic inventory of God's
perfections, whether some be not far less significant than others.
  If, namely, we apply the principle of pragmatism to God's
metaphysical attributes, strictly so called, as distinguished from his
moral attributes, I think that, even were we forced by a coercive
logic to believe them, we still should have to confess them to be
destitute of an intelligible significance. Take God's aseity, for
example; or his necessariness; his immateriality; his 'simplicity'
or superiority to the kind of inner variety and succession which we
find in finite beings, his indivisibility, and lack of the inner
distinctions of being and activity, substance and accident,
potentiality and actuality, and the rest; his repudiation of inclusion
in a genus; his actualized infinity; his 'personality,' apart from the
moral qualities which it may comport; his relations to evil being
permissive and not positive; his self-sufficiency, self-love, and
absolute felicity in himself:- candidly speaking, how do such
qualities as these make any definite connection with our life? And
if they severally call for no distinctive adaptations of our
conduct, what vital difference can it possibly make to a man's
religion whether they be true or false?
  For my own part, although I dislike to say aught that may grate upon
tender associations, I must frankly confess that even though these
attributes were faultlessly deduced, I cannot conceive of its being of
the smallest consequence to us religiously that any one of them should
be true. Pray, what specific act can I perform in order to adapt
myself the better to God's simplicity? Or how does it assist me to
plan my behavior, to know that His happiness is anyhow absolutely
complete? In the middle of the century just past, Mayne Reid was the
great writer of books of out-of-door adventure. He was forever
extolling the hunters and field-observers of living animals' habits,
and keeping up a fire of invective against the 'closet-naturalists,'
as he called them, the collectors and classifiers, and handlers of
skeletons and skins. When I was a boy, I used to think that a
closet-naturalist must be the vilest type of wretch under the sun. But
surely the systematic theologians are the closet-naturalists of the
deity, even in Captain Mayne Reid's sense. What is their deduction
of metaphysical attributes but a shuffling and matching of pedantic
dictionary-adjectives, aloof from morals, aloof from human needs,
something that might be worked out from the mere word 'God' by one
of those logical machines of wood and brass which recent ingenuity has
contrived as well as by a man of flesh and blood. They have the
trail of the serpent over them. One feels that in the theologians'
hands, they are only a set of titles obtained by a mechanical
manipulation of synonyms; verbality has stepped into the place of
vision, professionalism into that of life. Instead of bread we have
a stone; instead of a fish, a serpent. Did such a conglomeration of
abstract terms give really the gist of our knowledge of the deity,
schools of theology might indeed continue to flourish, but religion,
vital religion, would have taken its flight from this world. What
keeps religion going is something else than abstract definitions and
systems of concatenated adjectives, and something different from
faculties of theology and their professors. All these things are
after-effects, secondary accretions upon those phenomena of vital
conversation with the unseen divine, of which I have shown you so many
instances, renewing themselves in saecula saeculorum in the lives of
humble private men.
  So much for the metaphysical attributes of God! From the point of
view of practical religion, the metaphysical monster which they
offer to our worship is an absolutely worthless invention of the
scholarly mind.
  What shall we now say of the attributes called moral? Pragmatically,
they stand on an entirely different footing. They positively determine
fear and hope and expectation, and are foundations for the saintly
life. It needs but a glance at them to show how great is their
  God's holiness, for example: being holy, God can will nothing but
the good. Being omnipotent, he can secure its triumph. Being
omniscient, he can see us in the dark. Being just, he can punish us
for what he sees. Being loving, he can pardon too. Being
unalterable, we can count on him securely. These qualities enter
into connection with our life, it is highly important that we should
be informed concerning them. That God's purpose in creation should
be the manifestation of his glory is also an attribute which has
definite relations to our practical life. Among other things it has
given a definite character to worship in all Christian countries. If
dogmatic theology really does prove beyond dispute that a God with
characters like these exists, she may well claim to give a solid basis
to religious sentiment. But verily, how stands it with her arguments?
  It stands with them as ill as with the arguments for his
existence. Not only do post-Kantian idealists reject them root and
branch, but it is a plain historic fact that they never have converted
any one who has found in the moral complexion of the world, as he
experienced it, reasons for doubting that a good God can have framed
it. To prove God's goodness by the scholastic argument that there is
no non-being in his essence would sound to such a witness simply
  No! the book of Job went over this whole matter once for all and
definitively. Ratiocination is a relatively superficial and unreal
path to the deity: "I will lay mine hand upon my mouth; I have heard
of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee." An
intellect perplexed and baffled, yet a trustful sense of presence-
such is the situation of the man who is sincere with himself and
with the facts, but who remains religious still. *
  * Pragmatically, the most important attribute of God is his punitive
justice. But who, in the present state of theological opinion on
that point, will dare maintain that hell fire or its equivalent in
some shape is rendered certain by pure logic? Theology herself has
largely based this doctrine upon revelation; and, in discussing it,
has tended more and more to substitute conventional ideas of
criminal law for a priori principles of reason. But the very notion
that this glorious universe, with planets and winds, and laughing
sky and ocean, should have been conceived and had its beams and
rafters laid in technicalities of criminality, is incredible to our
modern imagination. It weakens a religion to hear it argued upon
such a basis.
  We must therefore, I think, bid a definitive good-by to dogmatic
theology. In all sincerity our faith must do without that warrant.
Modern idealism, I repeat, has said good-by to this theology
forever. Can modern idealism give faith a better warrant, or must
she still rely on her poor self for witness?
  The basis of modern idealism is Kant's doctrine of the
Transcendental Ego of Apperception. By this formidable term Kant
merely meant the fact that the consciousness 'I think them' must
(potentially or actually) accompany all our objects. Former skeptics
had said as much, but the 'I' in question had remained for them
identified with the personal individual. Kant abstracted and
depersonalized it, and made it the most universal of all his
categories, although for Kant himself the Transcendental Ego had no
theological implications.
  It was reserved for his successors to convert Kant's notion of
Bewusstsein uberhaupt, or abstract consciousness, into an infinite
concrete self-consciousness which is the soul of the world, and in
which our sundry personal self-consciousnesses have their being. It
would lead me into technicalities to show you even briefly how this
transformation was in point of fact effected. Suffice it to say that
in the Hegelian school, which to-day so deeply influences both British
and American thinking, two principles have borne the brunt of the
  The first of these principles is that the old logic of identity
never gives us more than a post-mortem dissection of disjecta
membra, and that the fullness of life can be construed to thought only
by recognizing that every object which our thought may propose to
itself involves the notion of some other object which seems at first
to negate the first one.
  The second principle is that to be conscious of a negation is
already virtually to be beyond it. The mere asking of a question or
expression of a dissatisfaction proves that the answer or the
satisfaction is already imminent; the finite, realized as such, is
already the infinite in posse.
  Applying these principles, we seem to get a propulsive force into
our logic which the ordinary logic of a bare, stark self-identity in
each thing never attains to. The objects of our thought now act within
our thought, act as objects act when given in experience. They
change and develop. They introduce something other than themselves
along with them; and this other, at first only ideal or potential,
presently proves itself also to be actual. It supersedes the thing
at first supposed, and both verifies and corrects it, in developing
the fullness of its meaning.
  The program is excellent; the universe is a place where things are
followed by other things that both correct and fulfill them; and a
logic which gave us something like this movement of fact would express
truth far better than the traditional school-logic, which never gets
of its own accord from anything to anything else, and registers only
predictions and subsumptions, or static resemblances and
differences. Nothing could be more unlike the methods of dogmatic
theology than those of this new logic. Let me quote in illustration
some passages from the Scottish transcendentalist whom I have
already named.
  "How are we to conceive," Principal Caird writes, "of the reality in
which all intelligence rests?" He replies: "Two things may without
difficulty be proved, viz., that this reality is an absolute Spirit,
and conversely that it is only in communion with this absolute
Spirit or Intelligence that the finite Spirit can realize itself. It
is absolute; for the faintest movement of human intelligence would
be arrested, if it did not presuppose the absolute reality of
intelligence, of thought itself. Doubt or denial themselves presuppose
and indirectly affirm it. When I pronounce anything to be true, I
pronounce it, indeed, to be relative to thought, but not to be
relative to my thought, or to the thought of any other individual
mind. From the existence of all individual minds as such I can
abstract; I can think them away. But that which I cannot think away is
thought or self-consciousness itself, in its independence and
absoluteness, or, in other words, an Absolute Thought or
  Here, you see, Principal Caird makes the transition which Kant did
not make: he converts the omnipresence of consciousness in general
as a condition of 'truth' being anywhere possible, into an omnipresent
universal consciousness, which he identifies with God in his
concreteness. He next proceeds to use the principle that to
acknowledge your limits is in essence to be beyond them; and makes the
transition to the religious experience of individuals in the following
  "If [Man] were only a creature of transient sensations and impulses,
of an ever coming and going succession of intuitions, fancies,
feelings, then nothing could ever have for him the character of
objective truth or reality. But it is the prerogative of man's
spiritual nature that he can yield himself up to a thought and will
that are infinitely larger than his own. As a thinking, self-conscious
being, indeed, he may be said, by his very nature, to live in the
atmosphere of the Universal Life. As a thinking being, it is
possible for me to suppress and quell in my consciousness every
movement of self-assertion, every notion and opinion that is merely
mine, every desire that belongs to me as this particular Self, and
to become the pure medium of a thought that is universal- in one word,
to live no more my own life, but let my consciousness be possessed and
suffused by the Infinite and Eternal life of spirit. And yet it is
just in this renunciation of self that I truly gain myself, or realize
the highest possibilities of my own nature. For whilst in one sense we
give up self to live the universal and absolute life of reason, yet
that to which we thus surrender ourselves is in reality our truer
self. The life of absolute reason is not a life that is foreign to
  Nevertheless, Principal Caird goes on to say, so far as we are
able outwardly to realize this doctrine, the balm it offers remains
incomplete. Whatever we may be in posse, the very best of us in actu
falls very short of being absolutely divine. Social morality, love,
and self-sacrifice even, merge our Self only in some other finite self
or selves. They do not quite identify it with the Infinite. Man's
ideal destiny, infinite in abstract logic, might thus seem in practice
forever unrealizable.
  "Is there, then," our author continues, "no solution of the
contradiction between the ideal and the actual? We answer, There is
such a solution, but in order to reach it we are carried beyond the
sphere of morality into that of religion. It may be said to be the
essential characteristic of religion as contrasted with morality, that
it changes aspiration into fruition, anticipation into realization;
that instead of leaving man in the interminable pursuit of a vanishing
ideal, it makes him the actual partaker of a divine or infinite
life. Whether we view religion from the human side or the divine- as
the surrender of the soul to God, or as the life of God in the soul-
in either aspect it is of its very essence that the Infinite has
ceased to be a far-off vision, and has become a present reality. The
very first pulsation of the spiritual life, when we rightly
apprehend its significance, is the indication that the division
between the Spirit and its object has vanished, that the ideal has
become real, that the finite has reached its goal and become
suffused with the presence and life of the Infinite.
  "Oneness of mind and will with the divine mind and will is not the
future hope and aim of religion, but its very beginning and birth in
the soul. To enter on the religious life is to terminate the struggle.
In that act which constitutes the beginning of the religious life-
call it faith, or trust, or self-surrender, or by whatever name you
will- there is involved the identification of the finite with a life
which is eternally realized. It is true indeed that the religious life
is progressive; but understood in the light of the foregoing idea,
religious progress is not progress towards, but within the sphere of
the Infinite. It is not the vain attempt by endless finite additions
or increments to become possessed of infinite wealth, but it is the
endeavor, by the constant exercise of spiritual activity, to
appropriate that infinite inheritance of which we are already in
possession. The whole future of the religious life is given in its
beginning, but it is given implicitly. The position of the man who has
entered on the religious life is that evil, error, imperfection, do
not really belong to him: they are excrescences which have no
organic relation to his true nature: they are already virtually, as
they will be actually, suppressed and annulled, and in the very
process of being annulled they become the means of spiritual progress.
Though he is not exempt from temptation and conflict, [yet] in that
inner sphere in which his true life lies, the struggle is over, the
victory already achieved. It is not a finite but an infinite life
which the spirit lives. Every pulse-beat of its [existence] is the
expression and realization of the life of God." *
  * John Caird: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion,
London and New York, 1880, pp. 243-250, and 291-299, much abridged.
  You will readily admit that no description of the phenomena of the
religious consciousness could be better than these words of your
lamented preacher and philosopher. They reproduce the very rapture
of those crises of conversion of which we have been hearing; they
utter what the mystic felt but was unable to communicate; and the
saint, in hearing them, recognizes his own experience. It is indeed
gratifying to find the content of religion reported so unanimously.
But when all is said and done, has Principal Caird- and I only use him
as an example of that whole mode of thinking- transcended the sphere
of feeling and of the direct experience of the individual, and laid
the foundations of religion in impartial reason? Has he made
religion universal by coercive reasoning, transformed it from a
private faith into a public certainty? Has he rescued its affirmations
from obscurity and mystery?
  I believe that he has done nothing of the kind, but that he has
simply reaffirmed the individual's experiences in a more generalized
vocabulary. And again, I can be excused from proving technically
that the transcendentalist reasonings fail to make religion universal,
for I can point to the plain fact that a majority of scholars, even
religiously disposed ones, stubbornly refuse to treat them as
convincing. The whole of Germany, one may say, has positively rejected
the Hegelian argumentation. As for Scotland, I need only mention
Professor Fraser's and Professor Pringle-Pattison's memorable
criticisms, with which so many of you are familiar. * Once more, I
ask, if transcendental idealism were as objectively and absolutely
rational as it pretends to be, could it possibly fail so egregiously
to be persuasive?
  * A.C. FRASER: Philosophy of Theism, second edition, Edinburgh and
London, 1899, especially part ii. chaps. vii. and viii.; A. SETH
[PRINGLE-PATTISON]: Hegelianism and Personality, Ibid., 1890, passim.
  The most persuasive arguments in favor of a concrete individual Soul
of the world, with which I am acquainted, are those of my colleague,
Josiah Royce, in his Religious Aspect of Philosophy, Boston, 1885;
in his Conception of God, New York and London, 1897; and lately in his
Aberdeen Gifford Lectures, The World and the Individual, 2 vols.,
New York and London, 1901-02. I doubtless seem to some of my readers
to evade the philosophic duty which my thesis in this lecture
imposes on me, by not even attempting to meet Professor Royce's
arguments articulately. I admit the momentary evasion. In the
present lectures, which are cast throughout in a popular mould,
there seemed no room for subtle metaphysical discussion, and for
tactical purposes it was sufficient, the contention of philosophy
being what it is (namely, that religion can be transformed into a
universally convincing science), to point to the fact that no
religious philosophy has actually convinced the mass of thinkers.
Meanwhile let me say that I hope that the present volume may be
followed by another, if I am spared to write it, in which not only
Professor Royce's arguments, but others for monistic absolutism
shall be considered with all the technical fullness which their
great importance calls for. At present I resign myself to lying
passive under the reproach of superficiality.
  What religion reports, you must remember, always purports to be a
fact of experience: the divine is actually present, religion says, and
between it and ourselves relations of give and take are actual. If
definite perceptions of fact like this cannot stand upon their own
feet, surely abstract reasoning cannot give them the support they
are in need of. Conceptual processes can class facts, define them,
interpret them; but they do not produce them, nor can they reproduce
their individuality. There is always a plus, a thisness, which feeling
alone can answer for. Philosophy in this sphere is thus a secondary
function, unable to warrant faith's veracity, and so I revert to the
thesis which I announced at the beginning of this lecture.
  In all sad sincerity I think we must conclude that the attempt to
demonstrate by purely intellectual processes the truth of the
deliverances of direct religious experience is absolutely hopeless.
  It would be unfair to philosophy, however, to leave her under this
negative sentence. Let me close, then, by briefly enumerating what she
can do for religion. If she will abandon metaphysics and deduction for
criticism and induction, and frankly transform herself from theology
into science of religions, she can make herself enormously useful.
  The spontaneous intellect of man always defines the divine which
it feels in ways that harmonize with its temporary intellectual
prepossessions. Philosophy can by comparison eliminate the local and
the accidental from these definitions. Both from dogma and from
worship she can remove historic incrustations. By confronting the
spontaneous religious constructions with the results of natural
science, philosophy can also eliminate doctrines that are now known to
be scientifically absurd or incongruous.
  Sifting out in this way unworthy formulations, she can leave a
residuum of conceptions that at least are possible. With these she can
deal as hypotheses, testing them in all the manners, whether
negative or positive, by which hypotheses are ever tested. She can
reduce their number, as some are found more open to objection. She can
perhaps become the champion of one which she picks out as being the
most closely verified or verifiable. She can refine upon the
definition of this hypothesis, distinguishing between what is innocent
over-belief and symbolism in the expression of it, and what is to be
literally taken. As a result, she can offer mediation between
different believers, and help to bring about consensus of opinion. She
can do this the more successfully, the better she discriminates the
common and essential from the individual and local elements of the
religious beliefs which she compares.
  I do not see why a critical Science of Religions of this sort
might not eventually command as general a public adhesion as is
commanded by a physical science. Even the personally non-religious
might accept its conclusions on trust, much as blind persons now
accept the facts of optics- it might appear as foolish to refuse them.
Yet as the science of optics has to be fed in the first instance,
and continually verified later, by facts experienced by seeing
persons; so the science of religions would depend for its original
material on facts of personal experience, and would have to square
itself with personal experience through all its critical
reconstructions. It could never get away from concrete life, or work
in a conceptual vacuum. It would forever have to confess, as every
science confesses, that the subtlety of nature flies beyond it, and
that its formulas are but approximations. Philosophy lives in words,
but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal
formulation. There is in the living act of perception always something
that glimmers and twinkles and will not be caught, and for which
reflection comes too late. No one knows this as well as the
philosopher. He must fire his volley of new vocables out of his
conceptual shotgun, for his profession condemns him to this
industry, but he secretly knows the hollowness and irrelevancy. His
formulas are like stereoscopic or kinetoscopic photographs seen
outside the instrument; they lack the depth, the motion, the vitality.
In the religious sphere, in particular, belief that formulas are
true can never wholly take the place of personal experience.
  In my next lecture I will try to complete my rough description of
religious experience; and in the lecture after that, which is the last
one, I will try my own hand at formulating conceptually the truth to
which it is a witness.

                             LECTURE XIX
                        OTHER CHARACTERISTICS
  WE have wound our way back, after our excursion through mysticism
and philosophy, to where we were before: the uses of religion, its
uses to the individual who has it, and the uses of the individual
himself to the world, are the best arguments that truth is in it. We
return to the empirical philosophy: the true is what works well,
even though the qualification 'on the whole' may always have to be
added. In this lecture we must revert to description again, and finish
our picture of the religious consciousness by a word about some of its
other characteristic elements. Then, in a final lecture, we shall be
free to make a general review and draw our independent conclusions.
  The first point I will speak of is the part which the aesthetic life
plays in determining one's choice of a religion. Men, I said awhile
ago, involuntarily intellectualize their religious experience. They
need formulas, just as they need fellowship in worship. I spoke,
therefore, too contemptuously of the pragmatic uselessness of the
famous scholastic list of attributes of the deity, for they have one
use which I neglected to consider. The eloquent passage in which
Newman enumerates them * puts us on the track of it. Intoning them
as he would intone a cathedral service, he shows how high is their
aesthetic value. It enriches our bare piety to carry these exalted and
mysterious verbal additions just as it enriches a church to have an
organ and old brasses, marbles and frescoes and stained windows.
Epithets lend an atmosphere and overtones to our devotion. They are
like a hymn of praise and service of glory, and may sound the more
sublime for being incomprehensible. Minds like Newman's *(2) grow as
jealous of their credit as heathen priests are of that of the
jewelry and ornaments that blaze upon their idols.
  * Idea of a University, Discourse III. SS 7.
  *(2) Newman's imagination so innately craved an ecclesiastical
system that he can write: "From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the
fundamental principle of my religion: I know no other religion; I
cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion." And
again, speaking of himself about the age of thirty, he writes "I loved
to act as feeling myself in my Bishop's sight, as if it were the sight
of God." Apologia, 1897, pp. 48, 50.
  Among the buildings-out of religion which the mind spontaneously
indulges in, the aesthetic motive must never be forgotten. I
promised to say nothing of ecclesiastical systems in these lectures. I
may be allowed, however, to put in a word at this point on the way
in which their satisfaction of certain aesthetic needs contributes
to their hold on human nature. Although some persons aim most at
intellectual purity and simplification, for others richness is the
supreme imaginative requirement. * When one's mind is strongly of this
type, an individual religion will hardly serve the purpose. The
inner need is rather of something institutional and complex,
majestic in the hierarchic interrelatedness of its parts, with
authority descending from stage to stage, and at every stage objects
for adjectives of mystery and splendor, derived in the last resort
from the Godhead who is the fountain and culmination of the system.
One feels then as if in presence of some vast incrusted work of
jewelry or architecture; one hears the multitudinous liturgical
appeal; one gets the honorific vibration coming from every quarter.
Compared with such a noble complexity, in which ascending and
descending movements seem in no way to jar upon stability, in which no
single item, however humble, is insignificant, because so many
august institutions hold it in its place, how flat does evangelical
Protestantism appear, how bare the atmosphere of those isolated
religious lives whose boast it is that "man in the bush with God may
meet." *(2) What a pulverization and leveling of what a gloriously
piled-up structure! To an imagination used to the perspectives of
dignity and glory, the naked gospel scheme seems to offer an almshouse
for a palace.
  * The intellectual difference is quite on a par in practical
importance with the analogous difference in character. We saw, under
the head of Saintliness, how some characters resent confusion and must
live in purity, consistency, simplicity. For others, on the
contrary, superabundance, over-pressure, stimulation, lots of
superficial relations, are indispensable. There are men who would
suffer a very syncope if you should pay all their debts, bring it
about that their engagements had been kept, their letters answered,
their perplexities relieved, and their duties fulfilled, down to one
which lay on a clean table under their eyes with nothing to
interfere with its immediate performance. A day stripped so
staringly bare would be for them appalling. So with ease, elegance,
tributes of affection, social recognitions- some of us require amounts
of these things which to others would appear a mass of lying and
  *(2) In Newman's Lectures on Justification, Lecture VIII. SS 6,
there is a splendid passage expressive of this aesthetic way of
feeling the Christian scheme. It is unfortunately too long to quote.
  It is much like the patriotic sentiment of those brought up in
ancient empires. How many emotions must be frustrated of their object,
when one gives up the titles of dignity, the crimson lights and
blare of brass, the gold embroidery, the plumed troops, the fear and
trembling, and puts up with a president in a black coat who shakes
hands with you, and comes, it may be, from a 'home' upon a veldt or
prairie with one sitting-room and a Bible on its centre-table. It
pauperizes the monarchical imagination!
  The strength of these aesthetic sentiments makes it rigorously
impossible, it seems to me, that Protestantism, however superior in
Spiritual profundity it may be to Catholicism, should at the present
day succeed in making many converts from the more venerable
ecclesiasticism. The latter offers a so much richer pasturage and
shade to the fancy, has so many cells with so many different kinds
of honey, is so indulgent in its multiform appeals to human nature,
that Protestantism will always show to Catholic eyes the almshouse
physiognomy. The bitter negativity of it is to the Catholic mind
incomprehensible. To intellectual Catholics many of the antiquated
beliefs and practices to which the Church gives countenance are, if
taken literally, as childish as they are to Protestants. But they
are childish in the pleasing sense of 'childlike,'- innocent and
amiable, and worthy to be smiled on in consideration of the
undeveloped condition of the dear people's intellects. To the
Protestant, on the contrary, they are childish in the sense of being
idiotic falsehoods. He must stamp out their delicate and lovable
redundancy, leaving the Catholic to shudder at his literalness. He
appears to the latter as morose as if he were some hard-eyed, numb,
monotonous kind of reptile. The two will never understand each
other- their centres of emotional energy are too different. Rigorous
truth and human nature's intricacies are always in need of a mutual
interpreter. * So much for the aesthetic diversities in the
religious consciousness.
  * Compare the informality of Protestantism, where the 'meek lover of
the good,' alone with his God, visits the sick, etc., for their own
sakes, with the elaborate 'business' that goes on in Catholic
devotion, and carries with it the social excitement of all more
complex businesses. An essentially worldly-minded Catholic woman can
become a visitor of the sick on purely coquettish principles, with her
confessor and director, her 'merit' storing up, her patron saints, her
privileged relation to the Almighty, drawing his attention as a
professional devote, her definite 'exercises,' and her definitely
recognized social pose in the organization.
  In most books on religion, three things are represented as its
most essential elements. These are Sacrifice, Confession, and
Prayer. I must say a word in turn of each of these elements, though
briefly. First of Sacrifice.
  Sacrifices to gods are omnipresent in primeval worship; but, as
cults have grown refined, burnt offerings and the blood of he-goats
have been superseded by sacrifices more spiritual in their nature.
Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism get along without ritual sacrifice; so
does Christianity, save in so far as the notion is preserved in
transfigured form in the mystery of Christ's atonement. These
religions substitute offerings of the heart, renunciations of the
inner self, for all those vain oblations. In the ascetic practices
which Islam, Buddhism, and the older Christianity encourage we see how
indestructible is the idea that sacrifice of some sort is a
religious exercise. In lecturing on asceticism I spoke of its
significance as symbolic of the sacrifices which life, whenever it
is taken strenuously, calls for. But, as I said my say about those,
and as these lectures expressly avoid earlier religious usages and
questions of derivation, I will pass from the subject of Sacrifice
altogether and turn to that of Confession.
  In regard to Confession I will also be most brief, saying my word
about it psychologically, not historically. Not nearly as widespread
as sacrifice, it corresponds to a more inward and moral stage of
sentiment. It is part of the general system of purgation and cleansing
which one feels one's self in need of, in order to be in right
relations to one's deity. For him who confesses, shams are over and
realities have begun; he has exteriorized his rottenness If he has not
actually got rid of it, he at least no longer smears it over with a
hypocritical show of virtue- he lives at least upon a basis of
veracity. The complete decay of the practice of confession in
Anglo-Saxon communities is a little hard to account for. Reaction
against popery is of course the historic explanation, for in popery
confession went with penances and absolution, and other inadmissible
practices. But on the side of the sinner himself it seems as if the
need ought to have been too great to accept so summary a refusal of
its satisfaction. One would think that in more men the shell of
secrecy would have had to open, the pent-in abbesses to burst and gain
relief, even though the ear that heard the confession were unworthy.
The Catholic church, for obvious utilitarian reasons, has
substituted auricular confession to one priest for the more radical
act of public confession. We English-speaking Protestants, in the
general self-reliance and unsociability of our nature, seem to find it
enough if we take God alone into our confidence. *
  * A fuller discussion of confession is contained in the excellent
work by FRANK GRANGER: The Soul of a Christian, London, 1900, ch. xii.
  The next topic on which I must comment is Prayer, and this time it
must be less briefly. We have heard much talk of late against
prayer, especially against prayers for better weather and for the
recovery of sick people. As regards prayers for the sick, if any
medical fact can be considered to stand firm, it is that in certain
environments prayer may contribute to recovery, and should be
encouraged as a therapeutic measure. Being a normal factor of moral
health in the person, its omission would be deleterious. The case of
the weather is different. Notwithstanding the recency of the
opposite belief, * every one now knows that droughts and storms follow
from physical antecedents, and that moral appeals cannot avert them.
But petitional prayer is only one department of prayer; and if we take
the word in the wider sense as meaning every kind of inward
communion or conversation with the power recognized as divine, we
can easily see that scientific criticism leaves it untouched.
  * Example: "The minister at Sudbury, being at the Thursday lecture
in Boston, heard the officiating clergyman praying for rain. As soon
as the service was over, he went to the petitioner and said, 'You
Boston ministers, as soon as a tulip wilts under your windows, go to
church and pray for rain, until all Concord and Sudbury are under
water.'" R.W. EMERSON: Lectures and Biographical Sketches, p. 363.
  Prayer in this wide sense is the very soul and essence of
religion. "Religion," says a liberal French theologian, "is an
intercourse, a conscious and voluntary relation, entered into by a
soul in distress with the mysterious power upon which it feels
itself to depend, and upon which its fate is contingent. This
intercourse with God is realized by prayer. Prayer is religion in act;
that is, prayer is real religion. It is prayer that distinguishes
the religious phenomenon from such similar or neighboring phenomena as
purely moral or aesthetic sentiment. Religion is nothing if it be
not the vital act by which the entire mind seeks to save itself by
clinging to the principle from which it draws its life. This act is
prayer, by which term I understand no vain exercise of words, no
mere repetition of certain sacred formula, but the very movement
itself of the soul, putting itself in a personal relation of contact
with the mysterious power of which it feels the presence,- it may be
even before it has a name by which to call it. Wherever this
interior prayer is lacking, there is no religion; wherever, on the
other hand, this prayer rises and stirs the soul, even in the
absence of forms or of doctrines, we have living religion. One sees
from this why 'natural religion,' so-called, is not properly a
religion. It cuts man off from prayer. It leaves him and God in mutual
remoteness, with no intimate commerce, no interior dialogue, no
interchange, no action of God in man, no return of man to God. At
bottom this pretended religion is only a philosophy. Born at epochs of
rationalism, of critical investigations, it never was anything but
an abstraction. An artificial and dead creation, it reveals to its
examiner hardly one of the characters proper to religion." *
  * AUGUSTE SABATIER: Esquisse d'une Philosophie de la Religion, 2me
ed., 1897, pp. 24-26, abridged.
  It seems to me that the entire series of our lectures proves the
truth of M. Sabatier's contention. The religious phenomenon, studied
as an inner fact, and apart from ecclesiastical or theological
complications, has shown itself to consist everywhere, and at all
its stages, in the consciousness which individuals have of an
intercourse between themselves and higher powers with which they
feel themselves to be related. This intercourse is realized at the
time as being both active and mutual. If it be not effective; if it be
not a give and take relation; if nothing be really transacted while it
lasts; if the world is in no whit different for its having taken
place; then prayer, taken in this wide meaning of a sense that
something is transacting, is of course a feeling of what is
illusory, and religion must on the whole be classed, not simply as
containing elements of delusion,- these undoubtedly everywhere exist,-
but as being rooted in delusion altogether, just as materialists and
atheists have always said it was. At most there might remain, when the
direct experiences of prayer were ruled out as false witnesses, some
inferential belief that the whole order of existence must have a
divine cause. But this way of contemplating nature, pleasing as it
would doubtless be to persons of a pious taste, would leave to them
but the spectators' part at a play, whereas in experimental religion
and the prayerful life, we seem ourselves to be actors, and not in a
play, but in a very serious reality.
  The genuineness of religion is thus indissolubly bound up with the
question whether the prayerful consciousness be or be not deceitful.
The conviction that something is genuinely transacted in this
consciousness is the very core of living religion. As to what is
transacted, great differences of opinion have prevailed. The unseen
powers have been supposed, and are yet supposed, to do things which no
enlightened man can nowadays believe in. It may well prove that the
sphere of influence in prayer is subjective exclusively, and that what
is immediately changed is only the mind of the praying person. But
however our opinion of prayer's effects may come to be limited by
criticism, religion, in the vital sense in which these lectures
study it, must stand or fall by the persuasion that effects of some
sort genuinely do occur. Through prayer, religion insists, things
which cannot be realized in any other manner come about: energy
which but for prayer would be bound is by prayer set free and operates
in some part, be it objective or subjective, of the world of facts.
  This postulate is strikingly expressed in a letter written by the
late Frederic W.H. Myers to a friend, who allows me to quote from
it. It shows how independent the prayer-instinct is of usual doctrinal
complications. Mr. Myers writes:-
  "I am glad that you have asked me about prayer, because I have
rather strong ideas on the subject. First consider what are the facts.
There exists around us a spiritual universe, and that universe is in
actual relation with the material. From the spiritual universe comes
the energy which maintains the material; the energy which makes the
life of each individual spirit. Our spirits are supported by a
perpetual indrawal of this energy, and the vigor of that indrawal is
perpetually changing, much as the vigor of our absorption of
material nutriment changes from hour to hour.
  "I call these 'facts' because I think that some scheme of this
kind is the only one consistent with our actual evidence; too
complex to summarize here. How, then, should we act on these facts?
Plainly we must endeavor to draw in as much spiritual life as
possible, and we must place our minds in any attitude which experience
shows to be favorable to such indrawal. Prayer is the general name for
that attitude of open and earnest expectancy. If we then ask to whom
to pray, the answer (strangely enough) must be that that does not much
matter. The prayer is not indeed a purely subjective thing; it means a
real increase in intensity of absorption of spiritual power or grace;-
but we do not know enough of what takes place in the spiritual world
to know how the prayer operates; who is cognizant of it, or through

what channel the grace is given. Better let children pray to Christ,
who is at any rate the highest individual spirit of whom we have any
knowledge. But it would be rash to say that Christ himself hears us;
while to say that God hears us is merely to restate the first
principle,- that grace flows in from the infinite spiritual world."
  Let us reserve the question of the truth or falsehood of the
belief that power is absorbed until the next lecture, when our
dogmatic conclusions, if we have any, must be reached. Let this
lecture still confine itself to the description of phenomena; and as a
concrete example of an extreme sort, of the way in which the prayerful
life may still be led, let me take a case with which most of you
must be acquainted, that of George Muller of Bristol, who died in
1898. Muller's prayers were of the crassest petitional order. Early in
life he resolved on taking certain Bible promises in literal
sincerity, and on letting himself be fed, not by his own worldly
foresight, but by the Lord's hand. He had an extraordinarily active
and successful career, among the fruits of which were the distribution
of over two million copies of the Scripture text, in different
languages; the equipment of several hundred missionaries; the
circulation of more than a hundred and eleven million of scriptural
books, pamphlets, and tracts; the building of five large orphanages,
and the keeping and educating of thousands of orphans; finally, the
establishment of schools in which over a hundred and twenty-one
thousand youthful and adult pupils were taught. In the course of
this work Mr. Muller received and administered nearly a million and
a half of pounds sterling, and traveled over two hundred thousand
miles of sea and land. * During the sixty-eight years of his ministry,
be never owned any property except his clothes and furniture, and cash
in hand; and he left, at the age of eighty-six, an estate worth only a
hundred and sixty pounds.
  * My authority for these statistics is the little work on Muller, by
FREDERIC G. WARNE, New York, 1898.
  His method was to let his general wants be publicly known, but not
to acquaint other people with the details of his temporary
necessities. For the relief of the latter, he prayed directly to the
Lord, believing that sooner or later prayers are always answered if
one have trust enough. "When I lose such a thing as a key," he writes,
"I ask the Lord to direct me to it, and I look for an answer to my
prayer; when a person with whom I have made an appointment does not
come, according to the fixed time, and I begin to be inconvenienced by
it, I ask the Lord to be pleased to hasten him to me, and I look for
an answer; when I do not understand a passage of the word of God, I
lift up my heart to the Lord that he would be pleased by his Holy
Spirit to instruct me, and I expect to be taught, though I do not
fix the time when, and the manner how it should be; when I am going to
minister in the Word, I seek help from the Lord, and... am not cast
down, but of good cheer because I look for his assistance."
  Muller's custom was to never run up bills, not even for a week.
"As the Lord deals out to us by the day,... the week's payment might
become due and we have no money to meet it; and thus those with whom
we deal might be inconvenienced by us, and we be found acting
against the commandment of the Lord: 'Owe no man anything.' From
this day and henceforward whilst the Lord gives to us our supplies
by the day, we purpose to pay at once for every article as it is
purchased, and never to buy anything except we can pay for it at once,
however much it may seem to be needed, and however much those with
whom we deal may wish to be paid only by the week."
  The articles needed of which Muller speaks were the food, fuel,
etc., of his orphanages. Somehow, near as they often come to going
without a meal, they hardly ever seem actually to have done so."
Greater and more manifest nearness of the Lord's presence I have never
had than when after breakfast there were no means for dinner for
more than a hundred persons; or when after dinner there were no
means for the tea, and yet the Lord provided the tea; and all this
without one single human being having been informed about our need....
Through Grace my mind is so fully assured of the faithfulness of the
Lord, that in the midst of the greatest need, I am enabled in peace to
go about my other work. Indeed, did not the Lord give me this, which
is the result of trusting in him, I should scarcely be able to work at
all; for it is now comparatively a rare thing that a day comes when
I am not in need for one or another part of the work." *
  * The Life of Trust; Being a Narrative of the Lord's Dealings with
George Muller, New American edition, N.Y., Crowell, pp. 228, 194, 219.
  In building his orphanages simply by prayer and faith, Muller
affirms that his prime motive was "to have something to point to as
a visible proof that our God and Father is the same faithful God
that he ever was,- as willing as ever to prove himself the living God,
in our day as formerly, to all that put their trust in him." * For
this reason be refused to borrow money for any of his enterprises.
"How does it work when we thus anticipate God by going our own way? We
certainly weaken faith instead of increasing it; and each time we work
thus a deliverance of our own we find it more and more difficult to
trust in God, till at last we give way entirely to our natural
fallen reason and unbelief prevails. How different if one is enabled
to wait God's own time, and to look alone to him for help and
deliverance! When at last help comes, after many seasons of prayer
it may be, how sweet it is, and what a present recompense! Dear
Christian reader, if you have never walked in this path of obedience
before, do so now, and you will then know experimentally the sweetness
of the joy which results from it." *(2)
  * Ibid., p. 126.
  *(2) Op. cit., p. 383, abridged.
  When the supplies came in but slowly, Muller always considered
that this was for the trial of his faith and patience. When his
faith and patience had been sufficiently tried, the Lord would send
more means. "And thus it has proved,"- I quote from his diary,- "for
to-day was given me the sum of 2050 pounds, of which 2000 are for
the building fund [of a certain house], and 50 for present
necessities. It is impossible to describe my joy in God when I
received this donation. I was neither excited nor surprised; for I
look out for answers to my prayers.- I believe that God hears me.
Yet my heart was so full of joy that I could only sit before God,
and admire him, like David in 2 Samuel vii. At last I cast myself flat
down upon my face and burst forth in thanksgiving to God and in
surrendering my heart afresh to him for his blessed service." *
  * Ibid., p. 323.
  George Muller's is a case extreme in every respect, and in no
respect more so than in the extraordinary narrowness of the man's
intellectual horizon. His God was, as he often said, his business
partner. He seems to have been for Muller little more than a sort of
supernatural clergyman interested in the congregation of tradesmen and
others in Bristol who were his saints, and in the orphanages and other
enterprises, but unpossessed of any of those vaster and wilder and
more ideal attributes with which the human imagination elsewhere has
invested him. Muller, in short, was absolutely unphilosophical. His
intensely private and practical conception of his relations with the
Deity continued the traditions of the most primitive human thought. *
When we compare a mind like his with such a mind as, for example,
Emerson's or Phillips Brooks's, we see the range which the religious
consciousness covers.
  * I cannot resist the temptation of quoting an expression of an even
more primitive style of religious thought, which I find in Arber's
English Garland, vol. vii. p. 440. Robert Lyde, an English sailor,
along with an English boy, being prisoners on a French ship in 1689,
set upon the crew, of seven Frenchmen, killed two, made the other five
prisoners, and brought home the ship. Lyde thus describes how in
this feat he found his God a very present help in time of trouble:-
  "With the assistance of God I kept my feet when they three and one
more did strive to throw me down. Feeling the Frenchman which hung
about my middle hang very heavy, I said to the boy, 'Go round the
binnacle, and knock down that man that hangeth on my back.' So the boy
did strike him one blow on the head which made him fall.... Then I
looked about for a marlin spike or anything else to strike them
withal. But seeing nothing, I said, 'LORD! what shall I do?' Then
casting up my eye upon my left side, and seeing a marlin spike
hanging, I jerked my right arm and took hold, and struck the point
four times about a quarter of an inch deep into the skull of that
man that had hold of my left arm. [One of the Frenchmen then hauled
the marlin spike away from him.] But through GOD's wonderful
providence! it either fell out of his hand, or else he threw it
down, and at this time the Almighty GOD gave me strength enough to
take one man in one hand, and throw at the other's head: and looking
about again to see anything to strike them withal, but seeing nothing,
I said, 'LORD! what shall I do now?' And then it pleased GOD to put me
in mind of my knife in my pocket. And although two of the men had hold
of my right arm, yet GOD Almighty strengthened me so that I put my
right hand into my right pocket, drew out the knife and sheath,... put
it between my legs and drew it out, and then cut the man's throat with
it that had his back to my breast: and he immediately dropt down,
and scarce ever stirred after."- I have slightly abridged Lyde's
  There is an immense literature relating to answers to petitional
prayer. The evangelical journals are filled with such answers, and
books are devoted to the subject, * but for us Muller's case will
  * As, for instance, In Answer to Prayer, by the BISHOP OF RIPON
and others, London, 1898; Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to
Prayer, Harrisburg, Pa., 1898 (?); H.L. HASTINGS: The Guiding Hand, or
Providential Direction, illustrated by Authentic Instances, Boston,
1898 (?).
  A less sturdy beggar-like fashion of leading the prayerful life is
followed by innumerable other Christians. Persistence in leaning on
the Almighty for support and guidance will, such persons say, bring
with it proofs, palpable but much more subtle, of his presence and
active influence. The following description of a 'led' life, by a
German writer whom I have already quoted, would no doubt appear to
countless Christians in every country as if transcribed from their own
personal experience. One finds in this guided sort of life, says Dr.
  "That books and words (and sometimes people) come to one's
cognizance just at the very moment in which one needs them; that one
glides over great dangers as if with shut eyes, remaining ignorant
of what would have terrified one or led one astray, until the peril is
past- this being especially the case with temptations to vanity and
sensuality; that paths on which one ought not to wander are, as it
were, hedged off with thorns; but that on the other side great
obstacles are suddenly removed; that when the time has come for
something, one suddenly receives a courage that formerly failed, or
perceives the root of a matter that until then was concealed, or
discovers thoughts, talents, yea, even pieces of knowledge and
insight, in one's self, of which it is impossible to say whence they
come; finally, that persons help us or decline to help us, favor us or
refuse us, as if they had to do so against their will so that often
those indifferent or even unfriendly to us yield us the greatest
service and furtherance. (God takes often their worldly goods, from
those whom he leads, at just the right moment, when they threaten to
impede the effort after higher interests.)
  "Besides all this, other noteworthy things come to pass, of which it
is not easy to give account. There is no doubt whatever that now one
walks continually through 'open doors' and on the easiest roads,
with as little care and trouble as it is possible to imagine.
  "Furthermore one finds one's self settling one's affairs neither too
early nor too late, whereas they were wont to be spoiled by
untimeliness, even when the preparations had been well laid. In
addition to this, one does them with perfect tranquility of mind,
almost as if they were matters of no consequence, like errands done by
us for another person, in which case we usually act more calmly than
when we act in our own concerns. Again, one finds that one can wait
for everything patiently, and that is one of life's great arts. One
finds also that each thing comes duly, one thing after the other, so
that one gains time to make one's footing sure before advancing
farther. And then everything occurs to us at the right moment, just
what we ought to do, etc., and often in a very striking way, just as
if a third person were keeping watch over those things which we are in
easy danger of forgetting.
  "Often, too, persons are sent to us at the right time, to offer or
ask for what is needed, and what we should never have had the
courage or resolution to undertake of our own accord.
  "Through all these experiences one finds that one is kindly and
tolerant of other people, even of such as are repulsive, negligent, or
ill-willed, for they also are instruments of good in God's hand, and
often most efficient ones. Without these thoughts it would be hard for
even the best of us always to keep our equanimity. But with the
consciousness of divine guidance, one sees many a thing in life
quite differently from what would otherwise be possible.
  "All these are things that every human being knows, who has had
experience of them; and of which the most speaking examples could be
brought forward. The highest resources of worldly wisdom are unable to
attain that which, under divine leading, comes to us of its own
accord." *
  * C. HILTY: Gluck, Dritter Theil, 1900, pp. 92 ff.
  Such accounts as this shade away into others where the belief is,
not that particular events are tempered more towardly to us by a
superintending providence, as a reward for our reliance, but that by
cultivating the continuous sense of our connection with the power that
made things as they are, we are tempered more towardly for their
reception. The outward face of nature need not alter, but the
expressions of meaning in it alter. It was dead and is alive again. It
is like the difference between looking on a person without love, or
upon the same person with love. In the latter case intercourse springs
into new vitality. So when one's affections keep in touch with the
divinity of the world's authorship, fear and egotism fall away; and in
the equanimity that follows, one finds in the hours, as they succeed
each other. a series of purely benignant opportunities. It is as if
all doors were opened, and all paths freshly smoothed. We meet a new
world when we meet the old world in the spirit which this kind of
prayer infuses.
  Such a spirit was that of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. * It is
that of mind-curers, of the transcendentalists, and of the so-called
'liberal' Christians. As an expression of it, I will quote a page from
one of Martineau's sermons:-
  "The universe, open to the eye to-day, looks as it did a thousand
years ago: and the morning hymn of Milton does but tell the beauty
with which our own familiar sun dressed the earliest fields and
gardens of the world. We see what all our fathers saw. And if we
cannot find God in your house or in mine, upon the roadside or the
margin of the sea; in the bursting seed or opening flower; in the
day duty or the night musing; in the general laugh and the secret
grief; in the procession of life, ever entering afresh, and solemnly
passing by and dropping off; I do not think we should discern him
any more on the grass of Eden, or beneath the moonlight of Gethsemane.
Depend upon it, it is not the want of greater miracles, but of the
soul to perceive such as are allowed us still, that makes us push
all the sanctities into the far spaces we cannot reach. The devout
feel that wherever God's hand is, there is miracle: and it is simply
an indevoutness which imagines that only where miracle is, can there
be the real hand of God. The customs of Heaven ought surely to be more
sacred in our eyes than its anomalies; the dear old ways, of which the
Most High is never tired, than the strange things which he does not
love well enough ever to repeat. And he who will but discern beneath
the sun, as he rises any morning, the supporting finger of the
Almighty, may recover the sweet and reverent surprise with which
Adam gazed on the first dawn in Paradise. It is no outward change,
no shifting in time or place; but only the loving meditation of the
pure in heart, that can reawaken the Eternal from the sleep within our
souls: that can render him a reality again, and reassert for him
once more his ancient name of 'the Living God.'" *(2)
  * "Good Heaven!" says Epictetus, "any one thing in the creation is
sufficient to demonstrate a Providence, to a humble and grateful mind.
The mere possibility of producing milk from grass, cheese from milk,
and wool from skins; who formed and planned it? Ought we not,
whether we dig or plough or eat, to sing this hymn to God? Great is
God, who has supplied us with these instruments to till the ground;
great is God, who has given us hands and instruments of digestion; who
has given us to grow insensibly and to breathe in sleep. These
things we ought forever to celebrate.... But because the most of you
are blind and insensible, there must be some one to fill this station,
and lead, in behalf of all men, the hymn to God; for what else can I
do, a lame old man, but sing hymns to God? Were I a nightingale, I
would act the part of a nightingale; were I a swan, the part of a
swan. But since I am a reasonable creature, it is my duty to praise
God... and I call on you to join the same song." Works, book i. ch.
xvi., CARTER-HIGGINSON translation, abridged.
  *(2) JAMES MARTINEAU: end of the sermon 'Help Thou Mine Unbelief,'
in Endeavours after a Christian Life, 2d series. Compare with this
page the extract from Voysey, above, and those from Pascal and
Madame Guyon.
  When we see all things in God, and refer all things to him, we
read in common matters superior expressions of meaning. The deadness
with which custom invests the familiar vanishes, and existence as a
whole appears transfigured. The state of a mind thus awakened from
torpor is well expressed in these words, which I take from a
friend's letter: "If we occupy ourselves in summing up all the mercies
and bounties we are privileged to have, we are overwhelmed by their
number (so great that we can imagine ourselves unable to give
ourselves time even to begin to review the things we may imagine we
have not). We sum them and realize that we are actually killed with
God's kindness; that we are surrounded by bounties upon bounties,
without which all would fall. Should we not love it; should we not
feel buoyed up by the Eternal Arms?
  Sometimes this realization that facts are of divine sending, instead
of being habitual, is casual, like a mystical experience. Father
Gratry gives this instance from his youthful melancholy period:-
  "One day I had a moment of consolation, because I met with something
which seemed to me ideally perfect. It was a poor drummer beating
the tattoo in the streets of Paris. I walked behind him in returning
to the school on the evening of a holiday. His drum gave out the
tattoo in such a way that, at that moment at least, however peevish
I were, I could find no pretext for fault-finding. It was impossible
to conceive more nerve or spirit, better time or measure, more
clearness or richness, than were in this drumming. Ideal desire
could go no farther in that direction. I was enchanted and consoled;
the perfection of this wretched act did me good. Good is at least
possible, I said, since the ideal can thus sometimes get embodied." *
  * Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse, 1897, p. 122.
  In Senancour's novel of Obermann a similar transient lifting of
the veil is recorded. In Paris streets, on a March day, he comes
across a flower in bloom, a jonquil:
  "It was the strongest expression of desire it was the first
perfume of the year. I felt all the happiness destined for man. This
unutterable harmony of souls, the phantom of the ideal world, arose in
me complete. I never felt anything so great or so instantaneous. I
know not what shape, what analogy, what secret of relation it was that
made me see in this flower a limitless beauty.... I shall never
inclose in a conception this power, this immensity that nothing will
express; this form that nothing will contain; this ideal of a better
world which one feels, but which, it seems, nature has not made
actual." *
  * Op. cit., Letter XXX.
  We heard in previous lectures of the vivified face of the world as
it may appear to converts after their awakening. * As a rule,
religious persons generally assume that whatever natural facts connect
themselves in any way with their destiny are significant of the divine
purposes with them. Through prayer the purpose, often far from
obvious, comes home to them, and if it be 'trial,' strength to
endure the trial is given. Thus at all stages of the prayerful life we
find the persuasion that in the process of communion energy from on
high flows in to meet demand, and becomes operative within the
phenomenal world. So long as this operativeness is admitted to be
real, it makes no essential difference whether its immediate effects
be subjective or objective. The fundamental religious point is that in
prayer, spiritual energy, which otherwise would slumber, does become
active, and spiritual work of some kind is effected really.
  * Above, Lecture X. Compare the withdrawal of expression from the
world, in Melancholiacs, p. 151.
  So much for Prayer, taken in the wide sense of any kind of
communion. As the core of religion, we must return to it in the next
  The last aspect of the religious life which remains for me to
touch upon is the fact that its manifestations so frequently connect
themselves with the subconscious part of our existence. You may
remember what I said in my opening lecture * about the prevalence of
the psychopathic temperament in religious biography. You will in.
point of fact hardly find a religious leader of any kind in whose life
there is no record of automatisms. I speak not merely of savage
priests and prophets, whose followers regard automatic utterance and
action as by itself tantamount to inspiration, I speak of leaders of
thought and subjects of intellectualized experience. Saint Paul had
his visions, his ecstasies, his gift of tongues, small as was the
importance he attached to the latter. The whole array of Christian
saints and heresiarchs, including the greatest, the Bernards, the
Loyolas, the Luthers, the Foxes, the Wesleys, had their visions,
voices, rapt conditions, guiding impressions, and 'openings.' They had
these things, because they had exalted sensibility, and to such things
persons of exalted sensibility are liable. In such liability there
lie, however, consequences for theology. Beliefs are strengthened
wherever automatisms corroborate them. Incursions from beyond the
transmarginal region have a peculiar power to increase conviction. The
inchoate sense of presence is infinitely stronger than conception, but
strong as it may be, it is seldom equal to the evidence of
hallucination. Saints who actually see or bear their Saviour reach the
acme of assurance. Motor automatisms, though rarer, are, if
possible, even more convincing than sensations. The subjects here
actually feel themselves played upon by powers beyond their will.
The evidence is dynamic; the God or spirit moves the very organs of
their body. *(2)
  * Above, Lecture I.
  *(2) A friend of mine, a first-rate psychologist, who is a subject
of graphic automatism, tells me that the appearance of independent
actuation in the movements of his arm, when he writes automatically,
is so distinct that it obliges him to abandon a psychophysical
theory which he had previously believed in, the theory, namely, that
we have no feeling of the discharge downwards of our voluntary
motor-centres. We must normally have such a feeling, he thinks, or the
sense of an absence would not be so striking as it is in these
experiences. Graphic automatism of a fully developed kind is rare in
religious history, so far as my knowledge goes. Such statements as
Antonia Bourignon's, that "I do nothing but lend my hand and spirit to
another power than mine," is shown by the context to indicate
inspiration rather than directly automatic writing. In some
eccentric sects this latter occurs. The most striking instance of it
is probably the bulky volume called, 'Oahspe, a new Bible in the Words
of Jehovah and his angel ambassadors,' Boston and London, 1891,
written and illustrated automatically by DR. NEWBROUGH of New York,
whom I understand to be now, or to have been lately, at the head of
the spiritistic community of Shalam in New Mexico. The latest
automatically written book which has come under my notice is
'Zertoulem's Wisdom of the Ages,' by GEORGE A. FULLER, Boston, 1901.
  The great field for this sense of being the instrument of a higher
power is of course 'inspiration.' It is easy to discriminate between
the religious leaders who have been habitually subject to
inspiration and those who have not. In the teachings of the Buddha, of
Jesus, of Saint Paul (apart from his gift of tongues), of Saint
Augustine, of Huss, of Luther, of Wesley, automatic or
semi-automatic composition appears to have been only occasional. In
the Hebrew prophets, on the contrary, in Mohammed, in some of the
Alexandrians, in many minor Catholic saints, in Fox, in Joseph
Smith, something like it appears to have been frequent, sometimes
habitual. We have distinct professions of being under the direction of
a foreign power, and serving as its mouthpiece. As regards the
Hebrew prophets, it is extraordinary, writes an author who has made
a careful study of them, to see-
  "How, one after another, the same features are reproduced in the
prophetic books. The process is always extremely different from what
it would be if the prophet arrived at his insight into spiritual
things by the tentative efforts of his own genius. There is
something sharp and sudden about it. He can lay his finger, so to
speak, on the moment when it came. And it always comes in the form
of an overpowering force from without, against which he struggles, but
in vain. Listen, for instance, [to] the opening of the book of
Jeremiah. Read through in like manner the first two chapters of the
prophecy of Ezekiel.
  "It is not, however, only at the beginning of his career that the
prophet passes through a crisis which is clearly not self-caused.
Scattered all through the prophetic writings are expressions which
speak of some strong and irresistible impulse coming down upon the
prophet, determining his attitude to the events of his time,
constraining his utterance, making his words the vehicle of a higher
meaning than their own. For instance, this of Isaiah's: 'The Lord
spake thus to me with a strong hand,'- an emphatic phrase which
denotes the overmastering nature of the impulse,- 'and instructed me
that I should not walk in the way of this people.'... Or passages like
this from Ezekiel: 'The hand of the Lord God fell upon me,' 'The
hand of the Lord God was strong upon me.' The one standing
characteristic of prophet is that he speaks with the authority of
Jehovah himself. Hence it is that the prophets one and all preface
their addresses so confidently, 'The Word of the Lord,' or 'Thus saith
the Lord.' They have even the audacity to speak in the first person,
as if Jehovah himself were speaking. As in Isaiah: 'Hearken unto me, O
Jacob, and Israel my called; I am He, I am the First, I also am the
last,'- and so on. The personality of the prophet sinks entirely
into the background; he feels himself for the time being the
mouthpiece of the Almighty." *
  * W. SANDAY: The Oracles of God, London, 1892, pp. 49-56, abridged.
  "We need to remember that prophecy was a profession, and that the
prophets formed a professional class. There were schools of the
prophets, in which the gift was regularly cultivated. A group of young
men would gather round some commanding figure- a Samuel or an
Elisha- and would not only record or spread the knowledge of his
sayings and doings, but seek to catch themselves something of his
inspiration. It seems that music played its part in their
exercises.... It is perfectly clear that by no means all of these Sons
of the prophets ever succeeded in acquiring more than a very small
share in the gift which they sought. It was clearly possible to
'counterfeit' prophecy. Sometimes this was done deliberately.... But
it by no means follows that in all cases where a false message was
given, the giver of it was altogether conscious of what he was
doing." *
  * Op. cit., p. 91. This author also cites Moses's and Isaiah's
commissions, given in Exodus, chaps. iii. and iv., and Isaiah, chap.
  Here, to take another Jewish case, is the way in which Philo of
Alexandria describes his inspiration:-
  "Sometimes, when I have come to my work empty, I have suddenly
become full; ideas being in an invisible manner showered upon me,
and implanted in me from on high; so that through the influence of
divine inspiration, I have become greatly excited, and have known
neither the place in which I was, nor those who were present, nor
myself, nor what I was saying, nor what I was writing; for then I have
been conscious of a richness of interpretation, an enjoyment of light,
a most penetrating insight, a most manifest energy in all that was
to be done; having such effect on my mind as the clearest ocular
demonstration would have on the eyes." *
  * Quoted by AUGUSTUS CLISSOLD: The Prophetic Spirit in Genius and
Madness, 1870, p. 67. Mr. Clissold is a Swedenborgian. Swedenborg's
case is of course the palmary one of audita et visa, serving as a
basis of religious revelation.
  If we turn to Islam, we find that Mohammed's revelations all came
from the subconscious sphere. To the question in what way he got
  "Mohammed is said to have answered that sometimes he heard a knell
as from a bell, and that this had the strongest effect on him; and
when the angel went away, he had received the revelation. Sometimes
again he held converse with the angel as with a man, so as easily to
understand his words. The later authorities, however,... distinguish
still other kinds. In the Itgan (103) the following are enumerated: 1,
revelations with sound of bell, 2, by inspiration of the holy spirit
in M.'s heart, 3, by Gabriel in human form, 4, by God immediately,
either when awake (as in his journey to heaven) or in dream.... In
Almawahib alladuniya the kinds are thus given: 1, Dream, 2,
Inspiration of Gabriel in the Prophet's heart, 3, Gabriel taking
Dahya's form, 4, with the bell-sound, etc., 5, Gabriel in propria
persona (only twice), 6, revelation in heaven, 7, God appearing in
person, but veiled, 8, God revealing himself immediately without veil.
Others add two other stages, namely: 1, Gabriel in the form of still
another man, 2, God showing himself personally in dream." *
  * NOLDEKE, Geschichte des Qorans, 1860, p. 16. Compare the fuller
account in Sir WILLIAM MUIR'S Life of Mahomet, 3d ed., 1894, ch. iii.
  In none of these cases is the revelation distinctly motor. In the
case of Joseph Smith (who had prophetic revelations innumerable in
addition to the revealed translation of the gold plates which resulted
in the Book of Mormon), although there may have been a motor
element, the inspiration seems to have been predominantly sensorial.
He began his translation by the aid of the 'peepstones' which he
found, or thought or said that he found, with the gold plates,-
apparently a case of 'crystal gazing.' For some of the other
revelations he used the peep-stones, but seems generally to have asked
the Lord for more direct instruction. *
  * The Mormon theocracy has always been governed by direct
revelations accorded to the President of the Church and its
Apostles. From an obliging letter written to me in 1899 by an
eminent Mormon, I quote the following extract:-
  "It may be very interesting for you to know that the President
[Mr. Snow] of the Mormon Church claims to have had a number of
revelations very recently from heaven. To explain fully what these
revelations are, it is necessary to know that we, as a people, believe
that the Church of Jesus Christ has again been established through
messengers sent from heaven. This Church has at its head a prophet,
seer, and revelator, who gives to man God's holy will. Revelation is
the means through which the will of God is declared directly and in
fullness to man. These revelations are got through dreams of sleep
or in waking visions of the mind, by voices without visional
appearance or by actual manifestations of the Holy Presence before the
eye. We believe that God has come in person and spoken to our
prophet and revelator."
  Other revelations are described as 'openings'- Fox's, for example,
were evidently of the kind known in spiritistic circles of to-day as
'impressions.' As all effective initiators of change must needs live
to some degree upon this psychopathic level of sudden perception or
conviction of new truth, or of impulse to action so obsessive that
it must be worked off, I will say nothing more about so very common
a phenomenon.
  When, in addition to these phenomena of inspiration, we take
religious mysticism into the account, when we recall the striking
and sudden unifications of a discordant self which we saw in
conversion, and when we review the extravagant obsessions of
tenderness, purity, and self-severity met with in saintliness, we
cannot, I think, avoid the conclusion that in religion we have a
department of human nature with unusually close relations to the
transmarginal or subliminal region. If the word 'subliminal' is
offensive to any of you, as smelling too much of psychical research or
other aberrations, call it by any other name you please, to
distinguish it from the level of full sunlit consciousness. Call
this latter the A-region of personality, if you care to, and call
the other the B-region. The B-region, then, is obviously the larger
part of each of us, for it is the abode of everything that is latent
and the reservoir of everything that passes unrecorded or
unobserved. It contains, for example, such things as all our
momentarily inactive memories, and it harbors the springs of all our
obscurely motived passions, impulses, likes, dislikes, and prejudices.
Our intuitions, hypotheses, fancies, superstitions, persuasions,
convictions, and in general all our non-rational operations, come from
it. It is the source of our dreams, and apparently they may return
to it. In it arise whatever mystical experiences we may have, and
our automatisms, sensory or motor; our life in hypnotic and
'hypnoid' conditions, if we are subjects to such conditions; our
delusions, fixed ideas, and hysterical accidents, if we are hysteric
subjects; our supra-normal cognitions, if such there be, and if we are
telepathic subjects. It is also the fountain-head of much that feeds
our religion. In persons deep in the religious life, as we have now
abundantly seen,- and this is my conclusion,- the door into this
region seems unusually wide open; at any rate, experiences making
their entrance through that door have had emphatic influence in
shaping religious history.
  With this conclusion I turn back and close the circle which I opened
in my first lecture, terminating thus the review which I then
announced of inner religious phenomena as we find them in developed
and articulate human individuals. I might easily, if the time allowed,
multiply both my documents and my discriminations, but a broad
treatment is, I believe, in itself better, and the most important
characteristics of the subject lie, I think, before us already. In the
next lecture, which is also the last one, we must try to draw the
critical conclusions which so much material may suggest.

                              LECTURE XX
  THE material of our study of human nature is now spread before us;
and in this parting hour, set free from the duty of description, we
can draw our theoretical and practical conclusions. In my first
lecture, defending the empirical method, I foretold that whatever
conclusions we might come to could be reached by spiritual judgments
only, appreciations of the significance for life of religion, taken
'on the whole.' Our conclusions cannot be as sharp as dogmatic
conclusions would be, but I will formulate them, when the time
comes, as sharply as I can.
  Summing up in the broadest possible way the characteristics of the
religious life, as we have found them, it includes the following
  1. That the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe
from which it draws its chief significance;
  2. That union or harmonious relation with that higher universe is
our true end;
  3. That prayer or inner communion with the spirit thereof- be that
spirit 'God' or 'law'- is a process wherein work is really done, and
spiritual energy flows in and produces effects, psychological or
material, within the phenomenal world.
  Religion includes also the following psychological characteristics:-
  4. A new zest which adds itself like a gift to life, and takes the
form either of lyrical enchantment or of appeal to earnestness and
  5. An assurance of safety and a temper of peace, and, in relation to
others, a preponderance of loving affections.
  In illustrating these characteristics by documents, we have been
literally bathed in sentiment. In re-reading my manuscript, I am
almost appalled at the amount of emotionality which I find in it.
After so much of this, we can afford to be dryer and less
sympathetic in the rest of the work that lies before us.
  The sentimentality of many of my documents is a consequence of the
fact that I sought them among the extravagances of the subject. If any
of you are enemies of what our ancestors used to brand as
enthusiasm, and are, nevertheless, still listening to me now, you have
probably felt my selection to have been sometimes almost perverse, and
have wished I might have stuck to soberer examples. I reply that I
took these extremer examples as yielding the profounder information.
To learn the secrets of any science, we go to expert specialists, even
though they may be eccentric persons, and not to commonplace pupils.
We combine what they tell us with the rest of our wisdom, and form our
final judgment independently. Even so with religion. We who have
pursued such radical expressions of it may now be sure that we know
its secrets as authentically as any one can know them who learns
them from another; and we have next to answer, each of us for himself,
the practical question: what are the dangers in this element of
life? and in what proportion may it need to be restrained by other
elements, to give the proper balance?
  But this question suggests another one which I will answer
immediately and get it out of the way, for it has more than once
already vexed us. Ought it to be assumed that in all men the mixture
of religion with other elements should be identical? Ought it, indeed,
to be assumed that the lives of all men should show identical
religious elements? In other words, is the existence of so many
religious types and sects and creeds regrettable?
  To these questions I answer 'No' emphatically. And my reason is that
I do not see how it is possible that creatures in such different
positions and with such different powers as human individuals are,
should have exactly the same functions and the same duties. No two
of us have identical difficulties, nor should we be expected to work
out identical solutions. Each, from his peculiar angle of observation,
takes in a certain sphere of fact and trouble, which each must deal
with in a unique manner. One of us must soften himself, another must
harden himself; one must yield a point, another must stand firm,- in
order the better to defend the position assigned him. If an Emerson
were forced to be a Wesley, or a Moody forced to be a Whitman, the
total human consciousness of the divine would suffer. The divine can
mean no single quality, it must mean a group of qualities, by being
champions of which in alternation, different men may all find worthy
missions. Each attitude being a syllable in human nature's total
message, it takes the whole of us to spell the meaning out completely.
So a 'god of battles' must be allowed to be the god for one kind of
person, a god of peace and heaven and home, the god for another. We
must frankly recognize the fact that we live in partial systems, and
that parts are not interchangeable in the spiritual life. If we are
peevish and jealous, destruction of the self must be an element of our
religion; why need it be one if we are good and sympathetic from the
outset? If we are sick souls, we require a religion of deliverance;
but why think so much of deliverance, if we are healthy-minded? *
Unquestionably, some men have the completer experience and the
higher vocation, here just as in the social world; but for each man to
stay in his own experience, whate'er it be, and for others to tolerate
him there, is surely best.
  * From this point of view, the contrasts between the healthy and the
morbid mind, and between the once-born and the twice-born types, of
which I spoke in earlier lectures cease to be the radical
antagonisms which many think them. The twice-born look down upon the
rectilinear consciousness of life of the once-born as being 'mere
morality,' and not properly religion. "Dr. Channing," an orthodox
minister is reported to have said, "is excluded from the highest
form of religious life by the extraordinary rectitude of his
character." It is indeed true that the outlook upon life of the
twice-born- holding as it does more of the element of evil in
solution- is the wider and completer. The 'heroic' or 'solemn' way
in which life comes to them is a 'higher synthesis' into which
healthy-mindedness and morbidness both enter and combine. Evil is
not evaded, but sublated in the higher religious cheer of these
persons. But the final consciousness which each type reaches of
union with the divine has the same practical significance for the
individual; and individuals may well be allowed to get to it by the
channels which lie most open to their several temperaments. In the
cases which were quoted in Lecture IV, of the mind-cure form of
healthy-mindedness, we found abundant examples of regenerative
process. The severity of the crisis in this process is a matter of
degree. How long one shall continue to drink the consciousness of
evil, and when one shall begin to short-circuit and get rid of it, are
also matters of amount and degree, so that in many instances it is
quite arbitrary whether we class the individual a once-born or a
twice-born subject.
  But, you may now ask, would not this one-sidedness be cured if we
should all espouse the science of religions as our own religion? In
answering this question I must open again the general relations of the
theoretic to the active life.
  Knowledge about a thing is not the thing itself. You remember what
Al-Ghazzali told us in the Lecture on Mysticism,- that to understand
the causes of drunkenness, as a physician understands them, is not
to be drunk. A science might come to understand everything about the
causes and elements of religion, and might even decide which
elements were qualified, by their general harmony with other
branches of knowledge, to be considered true; and yet the best man
at this science might be the man who found it hardest to be personally
devout. Tout savoir c'est tout pardonner. The name of Renan would
doubtless occur to many persons as an example of the way in which
breadth of knowledge may make one only a dilettante in
possibilities, and blunt the acuteness of one's living faith. * If
religion be a function by which either God's cause or man's cause is
to be really advanced, then he who lives the life of it, however
narrowly, is a better servant than he who merely knows about it,
however much. Knowledge about life is one thing; effective
occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing
through your being, is another.
  * Compare, e.g., the quotation from Renan in Lecture II, above.
  For this reason, the science of religions may not be an equivalent
for living religion; and if we turn to the inner difficulties of
such a science, we see that a point comes when she must drop the
purely theoretic attitude, and either let her knots remain uncut, or
have them cut by active faith. To see this, suppose that we have our
science of religions constituted as a matter of fact. Suppose that she
has assimilated all the necessary historical material and distilled
out of it as its essence the same conclusions which I myself a few
moments ago pronounced. Suppose that she agrees that religion,
wherever it is an active thing, involves a belief in ideal
presences, and a belief that in our prayerful communion with them, *
work is done, and something real comes to pass. She has now to exert
her critical activity, and to decide how far, in the light of other
sciences and in that of general philosophy, such beliefs can be
considered true.
  * 'Prayerful' taken in the broader sense explained above in
Lecture XIX.
  Dogmatically to decide this is an impossible task. Not only are
the other sciences and the philosophy still far from being
completed, but in their present state we find them full of
conflicts. The sciences of nature know nothing of spiritual presences,
and on the whole hold no practical commerce whatever with the
idealistic conceptions towards which general philosophy inclines.
The scientist, so-called, is, during his scientific hours at least, so
materialistic that one may well say that on the whole the influence of
science goes against the notion that religion should be recognized
at all. And this antipathy to religion finds an echo within the very
science of religions itself. The cultivator of this science has to
become acquainted with so many groveling and horrible superstitions
that a presumption easily arises in his mind that any belief that is
religious probably is false. In the 'prayerful communion' of savages
with such mumbo-jumbos of deities as they acknowledge, it is hard
for us to see what genuine spiritual work- even though it were work
relative only to their dark savage obligations- can possibly be done.
  The consequence is that the conclusions of the science of
religions are as likely to be adverse as they are to be favorable to
the claim that the essence of religion is true. There is a notion in
the air about us that religion is probably only an anachronism, a case
of 'survival,' an atavistic relapse into a mode of thought which
humanity in its more enlightened examples has outgrown; and this
notion our religious anthropologists at present do little to
  This view is so widespread at the present day that I must consider
it with some explicitness before I pass to my own conclusions. Let
me call it the 'Survival theory,' for brevity's sake.
  The pivot round which the religious life, as we have traced it,
revolves, is the interest of the individual in his private personal
destiny. Religion, in short, is a monumental chapter in the history of
human egotism. The gods believed in- whether by crude savages or by
men disciplined intellectually- agree with each other in recognizing
personal calls. Religious thought is carried on in terms of
personality, this being, in the world of religion, the one fundamental
fact. To-day, quite as much as at any previous age, the religious
individual tells you that the divine meets him on the basis of his
personal concerns.
  Science, on the other hand, has ended by utterly repudiating the
personal point of view. She catalogues her elements and records her
laws indifferent as to what purpose may be shown forth by them, and
constructs her theories quite careless of their bearing on human
anxieties and fates. Though the scientist may individually nourish a
religion, and be a theist in his irresponsible hours, the days are
over when it could be said that for Science herself the heavens
declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork.
Our solar system, with its harmonies, is seen now as but one passing
case of a certain sort of moving equilibrium in the heavens,
realized by a local accident in an appalling wilderness of worlds
where no life can exist. In a span of time which as a cosmic
interval will count but as an hour, it will have ceased to be. The
Darwinian notion of chance production, and subsequent destruction,
speedy or deferred, applies to the largest as well as to the
smallest facts. It is impossible, in the present temper of the
scientific imagination, to find in the driftings of the cosmic
atoms, whether they work on the universal or on the particular
scale, anything but a kind of aimless weather, doing and undoing,
achieving no proper history, and leaving no result. Nature has no
one distinguishable ultimate tendency with which it is possible to
feel a sympathy. In the vast rhythm of her processes, as the
scientific mind now follows them, she appears to cancel herself. The
books of natural theology which satisfied the intellects of our
grandfathers seem to us quite grotesque, * representing, as they
did, a God who conformed the largest things of nature to the paltriest
of our private wants. The God whom science recognizes must be a God of
universal laws exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail
business. He cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of
individuals. The bubbles on the foam which coats a stormy sea are
floating episodes, made and unmade by the forces of the wind and
water. Our private selves are like those bubbles,- epiphenomena, as
Clifford, I believe, ingeniously called them; their destinies weigh
nothing and determine nothing in the world's irremediable currents
of events.
  * How was it ever conceivable, we ask, that a man like Christian
Wolff, in whose dry-as-dust head all the learning of the early
eighteenth century was concentrated, should have preserved such a
baby-like faith in the personal and human character of Nature as to
expound her operations as he did in his work on the uses of natural
things? This, for example, is the account he gives of the sun and
its utility:-
  "We see that God has created the sun to keep the changeable
conditions on the earth in such an order that living creatures, men
and beasts, may inhabit its surface. Since men are the most reasonable
of creatures, and able to infer God's invisible being from the
contemplation of the world, the sun in so far forth contributes to the
primary purpose of creation: without it the race of man could not be
preserved or continued.... The sun makes daylight, not only on our
earth, but also on the other planets; and daylight is of the utmost
utility to us; for by its means we can commodiously carry on those
occupations which in the night-time would either be quite
impossible, or at any rate impossible without our going to the expense
of artificial light. The beasts of the field can find food by day
which they would not be able to find at night. Moreover we owe it to
the sunlight that we are able to see everything that is on the earth's
surface, not only near by, but also at a distance, and to recognize
both near and far things according to their species, which again is of
manifold use to us not only in the business necessary to human life,
and when we are traveling, but also for the scientific knowledge of
Nature, which knowledge for the most part depends on observations made
with the help of sight, and, without the sunshine, would have been
impossible. If any one would rightly impress on his mind the great
advantages which he derives from the sun, let him imagine himself
living through only one mouth, and see how it would be with all his
undertakings, if it were not day but night. He would then be
sufficiently convinced out of his own experience, especially if he had
much work to carry on in the street or in the fields.... From the
sun we learn to recognize when it is midday, and by knowing this point
of time exactly, we can set our clocks right, on which account
astronomy owes much to the sun.... By help of the sun one can find the
meridian.... But the meridian is the basis of our sun-dials, and
generally speaking, we should have no sun-dials if we had no sun."
Vernunftige Gedanken von den Absichten der naturlichen Dinge, 1782,
pp. 74-84.
  Or read the account of God's beneficence in the institution of
"the great variety throughout the world of men's faces, voices, and
handwriting," given in Derham's Physico-theology, a book that had much
vogue in the eighteenth century. "Had Man's body," says Dr. Derham,
"been made according to any of the Atheistical Schemes, or any other
Method than that of the infinite Lord of the World, this wise
Variety would never have been: but Men's Faces would have been cast in
the same, or not a very different Mould, their Organs of Speech
would have sounded the same or not so great a Variety of Notes; and
the same Structure of Muscles and Nerves would have given the Hand the
same Direction in Writing. And in this Case, what Confusion, what
Disturbance, what Mischiefs would the world eternally have lain under!
No Security could have been to our persons; no Certainty, no Enjoyment
of our Possessions; no Justice between Man and Man; no Distinction
between Good and Bad, between Friends and Foes, between Father and
Child, Husband and Wife, Male or Female; but all would have been
turned topsy-turvy, by being exposed to the Malice of the Envious
and ill-Natured, to the Fraud and Violence of Knaves and Robbers, to
the Forgeries of the crafty Cheat, to the Lusts of the Effeminate
and Debauched, and what not! Our Courts of Justice can abundantly
testify the dire Effects of Mistaking Men's Faces, of counterfeiting
their Hands, and forging Writings. But now as the infinitely wise
Creator and Ruler hath ordered the Matter, every man's Face can
distinguish him in the Light, and his Voice in the Dark; his
Hand-writing can speak for him though absent, and be his Witness,
and secure his Contracts in future Generations. A manifest as well
as admirable Indication of the divine Superintendence and Management."
  A God so careful as to make provision even for the unmistakable
signing of bank checks and deeds was a deity truly after the heart
of eighteenth century Anglicanism.

  I subjoin, omitting the capitals, Derham's 'Vindication of God by
the Institution of Hills and Valleys,' and Wolff's altogether culinary
account of the Institution of Water:-
  "The uses," says Wolff, "which water serves in human life are
plain to see and need not be described at length. Water is a universal
drink of man and beasts. Even though men have made themselves drinks
that are artificial, they could not do this without water. Beer is
brewed of water and malt, and it is the water in it which quenches
thirst. Wine is prepared from grapes, which could never have grown
without the help of water; and the same is true of those drinks
which in England and other places they produce from fruit....
Therefore since God so planned the world that men and beasts should
live upon it and find there everything required for their necessity
and convenience, he also made water as one means whereby to make the
earth into so excellent a dwelling. And this is all the more
manifest when we consider the advantages which we obtain from this
same water for the cleaning of our household utensils, of our
clothing, and of other matters.... When one goes into a
grinding-mill one sees that the grindstone must always be kept wet and
then one will get a still greater idea of the use of water."
  Of the hills and valleys, Derham, after praising their beauty,
discourses as follows: "Some constitutions are indeed of so happy a
strength, and so confirmed an health, as to be indifferent to almost
any place or temperature of the air. But then others are so weakly and
feeble, as not to be able to bear one, but can live comfortably in
another place. With some the more subtle and finer air of the hills
doth best agree, who are languishing and dying in the feculent and
grosser air of great towns, or even the warmer and vaporous air of the
valleys and waters. But contrariwise, others languish on the hills,
and grow lusty and strong in the warmer air of the valleys.
  "So that this opportunity of shifting our abode from the hills to
the vales, is an admirable easement, refreshment, and great benefit to
the valetudinarian, feeble part of mankind; affording those an easy
and comfortable life, who would otherwise live miserably, languish,
and pine away.
  "To this salutary conformation of the earth we may add another great
convenience of the hills, and that is affording commodious places
for habitation, serving (as an eminent author wordeth it) as screens
to keep off the cold and nipping blasts of the northern and easterly
winds, and reflecting the benign and cherishing sunbeams, and so
rendering our habitations both more comfortable and more cheerly in
  "Lastly, it is to the hills that the fountains owe their rise and
the rivers their conveyance, and consequently those vast masses and
lofty piles are not, as they are charged, such rude and useless
excrescences of our ill-formed globe; but the admirable tools of
nature, contrived and ordered by the infinite Creator, to do one of
its most useful works. For, was the surface of the earth even and
level, and the middle parts of its islands and continents not
mountainous and high as now it is, it is most certain there could be
no descent for the rivers, no conveyance for the waters; but,
instead of gliding along those gentle declivities which the higher
lands now afford them quite down to the sea, they would stagnate and
perhaps stink, and also drown large tracts of land.
  "[Thus] the hills and vales, though to a peevish and weary
traveler they may seem incommodious and troublesome, yet are a noble
work of the great Creator, and wisely appointed by him for the good of
our sublunary world."
  You see how natural it is, from this point of view, to treat
religion as a mere survival, for religion does in fact perpetuate
the traditions of the most primeval thought. To coerce the spiritual
powers, or to square them and get them on our side, was, during
enormous tracts of time, the one great object in our dealings with the
natural world. For our ancestors, dreams, hallucinations, revelations,
and cock-and-bull stories were inextricably mixed with facts. Up to
a comparatively recent date such distinctions as those between what
has been verified and what is only conjectured, between the impersonal
and the personal aspects of existence, were hardly suspected or
conceived. Whatever you imagined in a lively manner, whatever you
thought fit to be true, you affirmed confidently; and whatever you
affirmed, your comrades believed. Truth was what had not yet been
contradicted, most things were taken into the mind from the point of
view of their human suggestiveness, and the attention confined
itself exclusively to the aesthetic and dramatic aspects of events. *
  * Until the seventeenth century this mode of thought prevailed.
One need only recall the dramatic treatment even of mechanical
questions by Aristotle, as, for example, his explanation of the
power of the lever to make a small weight raise a larger one. This
is due, according to Aristotle, to the generally miraculous
character of the circle and of all circular movement. The circle is
both convex and concave; it is made by a fixed point and a moving
line, which contradict each other; and whatever moves in a circle
moves in opposite directions. Nevertheless, movement in a circle is
the most 'natural' movement; and the long arm of the lever, moving, as
it does, in the larger circle, has the greater amount of this
natural motion, and consequently requires the lesser force. Or
recall the explanation by Herodotus of the position of the sun in
winter: It moves to the south because of the cold which drives it into
the warm parts of the heavens over Libya. Or listen to Saint
Augustine's speculations: "Who gave to chaff such power to freeze that
it preserves snow buried under it, and such power to warm that it
ripens green fruit? Who can explain the strange properties of fire
itself, which blackens all that it burns, though itself bright, and
which, though of the most beautiful colors, discolors almost all
that it touches and feeds upon, and turns blazing fuel into grimy
cinders?... Then what wonderful properties do we find in charcoal,
which is so brittle that a light tap breaks it, and a alight
pressure pulverizes it, and yet is so strong that no moisture rots it,
nor any time causes it to decay." City of God, book xxi. ch. iv.
  Such aspects of things as these, their naturalness and
unnaturalness, the sympathies and antipathies of their superficial
qualities, their eccentricities, their brightness and strength and
destructiveness, were inevitably the ways in which they originally
fastened our attention.
  If you open early medical books, you will find sympathetic magic
invoked on every page. Take, for example, the famous vulnerary
ointment attributed to Paracelaus. For this there were a variety of
receipts, including usually human fat, the fat of either a bull, a
wild boar, or a bear; powdered earthworms, the usnia, or mossy
growth on the weathered skull of a hanged criminal, and other
materials equally unpleasant- the whole prepared under the planet
Venus if possible, but never under Mars or Saturn. Then, if a splinter
of wood, dipped in the patient's blood, or the bloodstained weapon
that wounded him, be immersed in this ointment, the wound itself being
tightly bound up, the latter infallibly gets well,- I quote now Van
Helmont's account,- for the blood on the weapon or splinter,
containing in it the spirit of the wounded man, is roused to active
excitement by the contact of the ointment, whence there results to
it a full commission or power to cure its cousin-german, the blood
in the patient's body. This it does by sucking out the dolorous and
exotic impression from the wounded part. But to do this it has to
implore the aid of the bull's fat, and other portions of the
unguent. The reason why bull's fat is so powerful is that the bull
at the time of slaughter is full of secret reluctancy and vindictive
murmurs, and therefore dies with a higher flame of revenge about him
than any other animal. And thus we have made it out, says this author,
that the admirable efficacy of the ointment ought to be imputed, not
to any auxiliary concurrence of Satan, but simply to the energy of the
posthumous character of Revenge remaining firmly impressed upon the
blood and concreted fat in the unguent. J.B. VAN HELMONT: A Ternary of
Paradoxes, translated by WALTER CHARLETON, London, 1650.- I much
abridge the original in my citations.
  The author goes on to prove by the analogy of many other natural
facts that this sympathetic action between things at a distance is the
true rationale of the case. "If," he says, "the heart of a horse,
slain by a witch, taken out of the yet reeking carcase, be impaled
upon an arrow and roasted, immediately the whole witch becomes
tormented with the insufferable pains and cruelty of the fire, which
could by no means happen unless there preceded a conjunction of the
spirit of the witch with the spirit of the horse. In the reeking and
yet panting heart, the spirit of the witch is kept captive, and the
retreat of it prevented by the arrow transfixed. Similarly hath not
many a murdered carcase at the coroner's inquest suffered a fresh
hemorrhage or cruentation at the presence of the assassin?- the
blood being, as in a furious fit of anger, enraged and agitated by the
impress of revenge conceived against the murderer, at the instant of
the soul's compulsive exile from the body. So, if you have dropsy,
gout, or jaundice, by including some of your warm blood in the shell
and white of an egg, which, exposed to a gentle heat, and mixed with a
bait of flesh, you shall give to a hungry dog or hog, the disease
shall instantly pass from you into the animal, and leave you entirely.
And similarly again, if you burn some of the milk either of a cow or
of a woman, the gland from which it issued will dry up. A gentleman at
Brussels had his nose mowed off in a combat, but the celebrated
surgeon Tagliacozzus digged a new nose for him out of the skin of
the arm of a porter at Bologna. About thirteen months after his return
to his own country, the engrafted nose grew cold, putrefied, and in
a few days dropped off, and it was then discovered that the porter had
expired, near about the same punctilio of time. There are still at
Brussels eye-witnesses of this occurrence," says Van Helmont; and
adds, "I pray what is there in this of superstition or of exalted
  Modern mind-cure literature- the works of Prentice Mulford, for
example- of sympathetic magic.
  How indeed could it be otherwise? The extraordinary value, for
explanation and prevision, of those mathematical and mechanical
modes of conception which science uses, was a result that could not
possibly have been expected in advance. Weight, movement, velocity,
direction, position, what thin, pallid, uninteresting ideas! How could
the richer animistic aspects of Nature, the peculiarities and oddities
that make phenomena picturesquely striking or expressive, fail to have
been first singled out and followed by philosophy as the more
promising avenue to the knowledge of Nature's life? Well, it is
still in these richer animistic and dramatic aspects that religion
delights to dwell, It is the terror and beauty of phenomena, the
'promise' of the dawn and of the rainbow, the 'voice' of the
thunder, the 'gentleness' of the summer rain, the 'sublimity' of the
stars, and not the physical laws which these things follow, by which
the religious mind still continues to be most impressed; and just as
of yore, the devout man tells you that in the solitude of his room
or of the fields he still feels the divine presence, that inflowings
of help come in reply to his prayers, and that sacrifices to this
unseen reality fill him with security and peace.
  Pure anachronism! says the survival-theory;- anachronism for which
deanthropomorphization of the imagination is the remedy required.
The less we mix the private with the cosmic, the more we dwell in
universal and impersonal terms, the truer heirs of Science we become.
  In spite of the appeal which this impersonality of the scientific
attitude makes to a certain magnanimity of temper, I believe it to
be shallow, and I can now state my reason in comparatively few
words. That reason is that, so long as we deal with the cosmic and the
general, we deal only with the symbols of reality, but as soon as we
deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal with
realities in the completest sense of the term. I think I can easily
make clear what I mean by these words.
  The world of our experience consists at all times of two parts, an
objective and a subjective part, of which the former may be
incalculably more extensive than the latter, and yet the latter can
never be omitted or suppressed. The objective part is the sum total of
whatsoever at any given time we may be thinking of, the subjective
part is the inner 'state' in which the thinking comes to pass. What we
think of may be enormous, the cosmic times and spaces, for example,-
whereas the inner state may be the most fugitive and paltry activity
of mind. Yet the cosmic objects, so far as the experience yields them,
are but ideal pictures of something whose existence we do not inwardly
possess but only point at outwardly, while the inner state is our very
experience itself; its reality and that of our experience are one. A
conscious field plus its object as felt or thought of plus an attitude
towards the object plus the sense of a self to whom the attitude
belongs- such a concrete bit of personal experience may be a small
bit, but it is a solid bit as long as it lasts; not hollow, not a mere
abstract element of experience, such as the 'object' is when taken all
alone. It is a full fact, even though it be an insignificant fact;
it is of the kind to which all realities whatsoever must belong; the
motor currents of the world run through the like of it; it is on the
line connecting real events with real events. That unsharable
feeling which each one of us has of the pinch of his individual
destiny as he privately feels it rolling out on fortune's wheel may be
disparaged for its egotism, may be sneered at as unscientific, but
it is the one thing that fills up the measure of our concrete
actuality, and any would-be existent that should lack such a
feeling, or its analogue, would be a piece of reality only half made
up. *
  * Compare Lotze's doctrine that the only meaning we can attach to
the notion of a thing as it is 'in itself' is by conceiving it as it
is for itself; i. e., as a piece of full experience with a private
sense of 'pinch' or inner activity of some sort going with it.
  If this be true, it is absurd for science to say that the
egotistic elements of experience should be suppressed. The axis of
reality runs solely through the egotistic places,- they are strung
upon it like so many beads. To describe the world with all the various
feelings of the individual pinch of destiny, all the various spiritual
attitudes, left out from the description- they being as describable as
anything else- would be something like offering a printed bill of fare
as the equivalent for a solid meal. Religion makes no such blunder.
The individual's religion may be egotistic, and those private
realities which it keeps in touch with may be narrow enough; but at
any rate it always remains infinitely less hollow and abstract, as far
as it goes, than a science which prides itself on taking no account of
anything private at all.
  A bill of fare with one real raisin on it instead of the word
'raisin,' with one real egg instead of the word 'egg,' might be an
inadequate meal, but it would at least be a commencement of reality.
The contention of the survival-theory that we ought to stick to
non-personal elements exclusively seems like saying that we ought to
be satisfied forever with reading the naked bill of fare. I think,
therefore, that however particular questions connected with our
individual destinies may be answered, it is only by acknowledging them
as genuine questions, and living in the sphere of thought which they
open up, that we become profound. But to live thus is to be religious;
so I unhesitatingly repudiate the survival-theory of religion, as
being founded on an egregious mistake. It does not follow, because our
ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their
religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all. *
By being religious we establish ourselves in possession of ultimate
reality at the only points at which reality is given us to guard.
Our responsible concern is with our private destiny, after all.
  * Even the errors of fact may possibly turn out not to be as
wholesale as the scientist assumes. We saw in Lecture IV how the
religious conception of the universe seems to many mind-curers
'verified' from day to day by their experience of fact. 'Experience of
fact' is a field with so many things in it that the sectarian
scientist, methodically declining, as he does, to recognize such
'facts' as mind-curers and others like them experience, otherwise than
by such rude heads of classification as 'bosh,' 'rot,' 'folly,'
certainly leaves out a mass of raw fact which, save for the
industrious interest of the religious in the more personal aspects
of reality, would never have succeeded in getting itself recorded at
all. We know this to be true already in certain cases; it may,
therefore, be true in others as well. Miraculous healings have
always been part of the supernaturalist stock in trade, and have
always been dismissed by the scientist as figments of the imagination.
But the scientist's tardy education in the facts of hypnotism has
recently given him an apperceiving mass for phenomena of this order,
and he consequently now allows that the healings may exist, provided
you expressly call them effects of 'suggestion.' Even the stigmata
of the cross on Saint Francis's hands and feet may on these terms
not be a fable. Similarly, the time-honored phenomenon of diabolical
possession is on the point of being admitted by the scientist as a
fact, now that he has the name of 'hystero-demonopathy' by which to
apperceive it. No one can foresee just how far this legitimation of
occultist phenomena under newly found scientist titles may proceed-
even 'prophecy,' even 'levitation,' might creep into the pale.
  Thus the divorce between scientist facts and religious facts may not
necessarily be as eternal as it at first sight seems, nor the
personalism and romanticism of the world, as they appeared to
primitive thinking, be matters so irrevocably outgrown. The final
human opinion may, in short, in some manner now impossible to foresee,
revert to the more personal style, just as any path of progress may
follow a spiral rather than a straight line. If this were so, the
rigorously impersonal view of science might one day appear as having
been a temporarily useful eccentricity rather than the definitively
triumphant position which the sectarian scientist at present so
confidently announces it to be.
  You see now why I have been so individualistic throughout these
lectures, and why I have seemed so bent on rehabilitating the
element of feeling in religion and subordinating its intellectual
part. Individuality is founded in feeling; and the recesses of
feeling, the darker, blinder strata of character, are the only
places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making, and
directly perceive how events happen, and how work is actually done. *
Compared with this world of living individualized feelings, the
world of generalized objects which the intellect contemplates is
without solidity or life. As in stereoscopic or kinetoscopic
pictures seen outside the instrument, the third dimension, the
movement, the vital element, are not there. We get a beautiful picture
of an express train supposed to be moving, but where in the picture,
as I have heard a friend say, is the energy or the fifty miles an
hour? *(2)
  * Hume's criticism has banished causation from the world of physical
objects, and 'Science' is absolutely satisfied to define cause in
terms of concomitant change- read Mach, Pearson, Ostwald. The
'original' of the notion of causation is in our inner personal
experience, and only there can causes in the old-fashioned sense be
directly observed and described.
  *(2) When I read in a religious paper words like these: "Perhaps the
best thing we can say of God is that he is the Inevitable
Inference," I recognize the tendency to let religion evaporate in
intellectual terms. Would martyrs have sung in the flames for a mere
inference, however inevitable it might be? Original religious men,
like Saint Francis, Luther, Behmen, have usually been enemies of the
intellect's pretension to meddle with religious things. Yet the
intellect, everywhere invasive, shows everywhere its shallowing
effect. See how the ancient spirit of Methodism evaporates under those
wonderfully able rationalistic booklets (which every one should
read) of a philosopher like Professor Bowne (The Christian Revelation,
The Christian Life, The Atonement: Cincinnati and New York, 1898,
1899, 1900). See the positively expulsive purpose of philosophy
properly so called:-
  "Religion," writes M. Vacherot (La Religion, Paris, 1869, pp. 313,
436, et passim), "answers to a transient state or condition, not to
a permanent determination of human nature, being merely an
expression of that stage of the human mind which is dominated by the
imagination.... Christianity has but a single possible final heir to
its estate, and that is scientific philosophy."
  In a still more radical vein, Professor Ribot (Psychologie des
Sentiments, p. 310) describes the evaporation of religion. He sums
it up in a single formula- the ever-growing predominance of the
rational intellectual element, with the gradual fading out of the
emotional element, this latter tending to enter into the group of
purely intellectual sentiments. "Of religions sentiment properly so
called, nothing survives at last save a vague respect for the
unknowable x which is a last relic of the fear, and a certain
attraction towards the ideal, which is a relic of the love, that
characterized the earlier periods of religious growth. To state this
more simply, religion tends to turn into religious philosophy.-
These are psychologically entirely different things, the one being a
theoretic construction of ratiocination, whereas the other is the
living work of a group of persons, or of a great inspired leader,
calling into play the entire thinking and feeling organism of man."
  I find the same failure to recognize that the stronghold of religion
lies in individuality in attempts like those of Professor Baldwin
(Mental Development, Social and Ethical Interpretations, ch. x.) and
Mr. H. R. Marshall (Instinct and Reason, chaps. viii. to xii.) to make
it a purely 'conservative social force.'
  Let us agree, then, that Religion, occupying herself with personal
destinies and keeping thus in contact with the only absolute realities
which we know, must necessarily play an eternal part in human history.
The next thing to decide is what she reveals about those destinies, or
whether indeed she reveals anything distinct enough to be considered a
general message to mankind. We have done as you see, with our
preliminaries, and our final summing up can now begin.
  I am well aware that after all the palpitating documents which I
have quoted, and all the perspectives of emotion-inspiring institution
and belief that my previous lectures have opened, the dry analysis
to which I now advance may appear to many of you like an
anti-climax, a tapering-off and flattening out of the subject, instead
of a crescendo of interest and result. I said awhile ago that the
religious attitude of Protestants appears poverty-stricken to the
Catholic imagination. Still more poverty-stricken, I fear, may my
final summing up of the subject appear at first to some of you. On
which account I pray you now to bear this point in mind, that in the
present part of it I am expressly trying to reduce religion to its
lowest admissible terms, to that minimum, free from individualistic
excrescences, which all religions contain as their nucleus, and on
which it may be hoped that all religious persons may agree. That
established, we should have a result which might be small, but would
at least be solid; and on it and round it the ruddier additional
beliefs on which the different individuals make their venture might be
grafted, and flourish as richly as you please. I shall add my own
over-belief (which will be, I confess, of a somewhat pallid kind, as
befits a critical philosopher), and you will, I hope, also add your
over-beliefs, and we shall soon be in the varied world of concrete
religious constructions once more. For the moment, let me dryly pursue
the analytic part of the task.
  Both thought and feeling are determinants of conduct, and the same
conduct may be determined either by feeling or by thought. When we
survey the whole field of religion, we find a great variety in the
thoughts that have prevailed there; but the feelings on the one hand
and the conduct on the other are almost always the same, for Stoic,
Christian, and Buddhist saints are practically indistinguishable in
their lives. The theories which Religion generates, being thus
variable, are secondary; and if you wish to grasp her essence, you
must look to the feelings and the conduct as being the more constant
elements. It is between these two elements that the short circuit
exists on which she carries on her principal business, while the ideas
and symbols and other institutions form loop-lines which may be
perfections and improvements, and may even some day all be united into
one harmonious system, but which are not to be regarded as organs with
an indispensable function, necessary at all times for religious life
to go on. This seems to me the first conclusion which we are
entitled to draw from the phenomena we have passed in review.
  The next step is to characterize the feelings. To what psychological
order do they belong?
  The resultant outcome of them is in any case what Kant calls a
'sthenic' affection, an excitement of the cheerful, expansive,
'dynamogenic' order which, like any tonic, freshens our vital
powers. In almost every lecture, but especially in the lectures on
Conversion and on Saintliness, we have seen how this emotion overcomes
temperamental melancholy and imparts endurance to the Subject, or a
zest, or a meaning, or an enchantment and glory to the common
objects of life. The name of 'faith-state,' by which Professor Leuba
designates it, is a good one. * It is a biological as well as a
psychological condition, and Tolstoy is absolutely accurate in
classing faith among the forces by which men live. *(2) The total
absence of it, anhedonia, *(3) means collapse.
  * American Journal of Psychology, vii. 345.
  *(2) Above, Lecture VIII.
  *(3) Above, Lectures VI and VII.
  The faith-state may hold a very minimum of intellectual content.
We saw examples of this in those sudden raptures of the divine
presence, or in such mystical seizures as Dr. Bucke described. * It
may be a mere vague enthusiasm, half spiritual, half vital, a courage,
and a feeling that great and wondrous things are in the air. *(2)
  * Above, Lectures XVI and XVII.
  *(2) Example: Henri Perreyve writes to Gratry: "I do not know how to
deal with the happiness which you aroused in me this morning. It
overwhelms me; I want to do something, yet I can do nothing and am fit
for nothing.... I would fain do great things." Again, after an
inspiring interview, he writes: "I went homewards, intoxicated with
joy, hope, and strength. I wanted to feed upon my happiness in
solitude, far from all men. It was late; but, unheeding that, I took a
mountain path and went on like a madman, looking at the heavens,
regardless of earth. Suddenly an instinct made me draw hastily back- I
was on the very edge of a precipice, one step more and I must have
fallen. I took fright and gave up my nocturnal promenade." A.
GRATRY: Henri Perreyve, London, 1872, pp. 92, 89.
  This primacy, in the faith-state, of vague expansive impulse over
direction is well expressed in Walt Whitman's lines (Leaves of
Grass, 1872, p. 190):-
    "O to confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents,
        rebuffs, as the trees and animals do...
    Dear Camerado! I confess I have urged you onward with me, and
        still urge you, without the least idea what is our
    Or whether we shall be victorious, or utterly quell'd and
  This readiness for great things, and this sense that the world by
its importance, wonderfulness, etc., is apt for their production,
would seem to be the undifferentiated germ of all the higher faiths.
Trust in our own dreams of ambition, or in our country's expansive
destinies, and faith in the providence of God, all have their source
in that onrush of our sanguine impulses, and in that sense of the
exceedingness of the possible over the real.
  When, however, a positive intellectual content is associated with
a faith-state, it gets invincibly stamped in upon belief, * and this
explains the passionate loyalty of religious persons everywhere to the
minutest details of their so widely differing creeds. Taking creeds
and faith-state together, as forming 'religions,' and treating these
as purely subjective phenomena, without regard to the question of
their 'truth,' we are obliged, on account of their extraordinary
influence upon action and endurance, to class them amongst the most
important biological functions of mankind. Their stimulant and
anaesthetic effect is so great that Professor Leuba, in a recent
article, *(2) goes so far as to say that so long as men can use
their God, they care very little who he is, or even whether he is at
all. "The truth of the matter can be put," says Leuba, "in this way:
God is not known, he is not understood; he is used- sometimes as
meat-purveyor, sometimes as moral support, sometimes as friend,
sometimes as an object of love. If he proves himself useful, the
religious consciousness asks for no more than that. Does God really
exist? How does he exist? What is he? are so many irrelevant
questions. Not God, but life, more life, a larger, richer, more
satisfying life, is, in the last analysis, the end of religion. The
love of life, at any and every level of development, is the
religious impulse. *(3)
  * Compare LEUBA: Loc. Cit., pp. 346-349.
  *(2) The Contents of Religious Consciousness, in The Monist, xi.
536, July, 1901.
  *(3) Loc. cit., pp. 571, 572, abridged. See, also, this writer's
extraordinarily true criticism of the notion that religion primarily
seeks to solve the intellectual mystery of the world. Compare what
W. BENDER says (in his Wesen der Religion, Bonn, 1888, pp. 85, 38):
"Not the question about God, and not the inquiry into the origin and
purpose of the world is religion, but the question about Man. All
religious views of life are anthropocentric." "Religion is that
activity of the human impulse towards self-preservation by means of
which Man seeks to carry his essential vital purposes through
against the adverse pressure of the world by raising himself freely
towards the world's ordering and governing powers when the limits of
his own strength are reached." The whole book is little more than a
development of these words.
  At this purely subjective rating, therefore, Religion must be
considered vindicated in a certain way from the attacks of her
critics. It would seem that she cannot be a mere anachronism and
survival, but must exert a permanent function, whether she be with
or without intellectual content, and whether, if she have any, it be
true or false.
  We must next pass beyond the point of view of merely subjective
utility, and make inquiry into the intellectual content itself.
  First, is there, under all the discrepancies of the creeds, a common
nucleus to which they bear their testimony unanimously?
  And second, ought we to consider the testimony true?
  I will take up the first question first, and answer it immediately
in the affirmative. The warring gods and formulas of the various
religions do indeed cancel each other, but there is a certain
uniform deliverance in which religions all appear to meet. It consists
of two parts:-
  1. An uneasiness; and
  2. Its solution.
  1. The uneasiness, reduced to its simplest terms, is a sense that
there is something wrong about us as we naturally stand.
  2. The solution is a sense that we are saved from the wrongness by
making proper connection with the higher powers.
  In those more developed minds which alone we are studying, the
wrongness takes a moral character, and the salvation takes a
mystical tinge. I think we shall keep well within the limits of what
is common to all such minds if we formulate the essence of their
religious experience in terms like these:-
  The individual, so far as he suffers from his wrongness and
criticises it, is to that extent consciously beyond it, and in at
least possible touch with something higher, if anything higher
exist. Along with the wrong part there is thus a better part of him,
even though it may be but a most helpless germ. With which part he
should identify his real being is by no means obvious at this stage;
but when stage 2 (the stage of solution or salvation) arrives, * the
man identifies his real being with the germinal higher part of
himself; and does so in the following way. He becomes conscious that
this higher part is conterminous and continuous with a MORE of the
same quality, which is operative in the universe outside of him, and
which he can keep in working touch with, and in a fashion get on board
of and save himself when all his lower being has gone to pieces in the
  * Remember that for some men it arrives suddenly, for others
gradually, whilst others again practically enjoy it all their life.
  It seems to me that all the phenomena are accurately describable
in these very simple general terms. * They allow for the divided
self and the struggle; they involve the change of personal centre
and the surrender of the lower self; they express the appearance of
exteriority of the helping power and yet account for our sense of
union with it; *(2) and they fully justify our feelings of security
and joy. There is probably no autobiographic document, among all those
which I have quoted, to which the description will not well apply. One
need only add such specific details as will adapt it to various
theologies and various personal temperaments, and one will then have
the various experiences reconstructed in their individual forms.
  * The practical difficulties are: 1, to 'realize the reality' of
one's higher part; 2, to identify one's self with it exclusively;
and 3, to identify it with all the rest of ideal being.
  *(2) "When mystical activity is at its height, we find consciousness
possessed by the sense of a being at once excessive and identical with
the self: great enough to be God; interior enough to be me. The
'objectivity' of it ought in that case to be called excessivity,
rather, or exceedingness." RECEJAC: Essai sur les fondements de la
conscience mystique, 1897, p. 46.
  So far, however, as this analysis goes, the experiences are only
psychological phenomena. They possess, it is true, enormous biological
worth. Spiritual strength really increases in the subject when he
has them, a new life opens for him, and they seem to him a place of
conflux where the forces of two universes meet; and yet this may be
nothing but his subjective way of feeling things, a mood of his own
fancy, in spite of the effects produced. I now turn to my second
question: What is the objective 'truth' of their content? *
  * The word 'truth' is here taken to mean something additional to
bare value for life, although the natural propensity of man is to
believe that whatever has great value for life is thereby certified as
  The part of the content concerning which the question of truth
most pertinently arises is that 'MORE of the same quality' with
which our own higher self appears in the experience to come into
harmonious working relation. Is such a 'more' merely our own notion,
or does it really exist? If so, in what shape does it exist? Does it
act, as well as exist? And in what form should we conceive of that
'union' with it of which religious geniuses are so convinced?
  It is in answering these questions that the various theologies
perform their theoretic work, and that their divergencies most come to
light. They all agree that the 'more' really exists; though some of
them hold it to exist in the shape of a personal god or gods, while
others are satisfied to conceive it as a stream of ideal tendency
embedded in the eternal structure of the world. They all agree,
moreover, that it acts as well as exists, and that something really is
effected for the better when you throw your life into its hands. It is
when they treat of the experience of 'union' with it that their
speculative differences appear most clearly. Over this point pantheism
and theism, nature and second birth, works and grace and karma,
immortality and reincarnation, rationalism and mysticism, carry on
inveterate disputes.
  At the end of my lecture on Philosophy * I held out the notion
that an impartial science of religions might sift out from the midst
of their discrepancies a common body of doctrine which she might
also formulate in terms to which physical science need not object.
This, I said, she might adopt as her own reconciling hypothesis, and
recommend it for general belief. I also said that in my last lecture I
should have to try my own hand at framing such an hypothesis.
  * Above, Lecture XVIII.
  The time has now come for this attempt. Who says 'hypothesis'
renounces the ambition to be coercive in his arguments. The most I can
do is, accordingly, to offer something that may fit the facts so
easily that your scientific logic will find no plausible pretext for
vetoing your impulse to welcome it as true.
  The 'more,' as we called it, and the meaning of our 'union' with it,
form the nucleus of our inquiry. Into what definite description can
these words be translated, and for what definite facts do they
stand? It would never do for us to place ourselves offhand at the
position of a particular theology, the Christian theology, for
example, and proceed immediately to define the 'more' as Jehovah,
and the 'union' as his imputation to us of the righteousness of
Christ. That would be unfair to other religions, and, from our present
standpoint at least, would be an over-belief.
  We must begin by using less particularized terms; and, since one
of the duties of the science of religions is to keep religion in
connection with the rest of science, we shall do well to seek first of
all a way of describing the 'more,' which psychologists may also
recognize as real. The subconscious self is nowadays a well-accredited
psychological entity; and I believe that in it we have exactly the
mediating term required. Apart from all religious considerations,
there is actually and literally more life in our total soul than we
are at any time aware of. The exploration of the transmarginal field
has hardly yet been seriously undertaken, but what Mr. Myers said in
1892 in his essay on the Subliminal Consciousness * is as true as when
it was first written: "Each of us is in reality an abiding psychical
entity far more extensive than he knows- an individuality which can
never express itself completely through any corporeal manifestation.
The Self manifests through the organism; but there is always some part
of the Self unmanifested; and always, as it seems, some power of
organic expression in abeyance or reserve." *(2) Much of the content
of this larger background against which our conscious being stands out
in relief is insignificant. Imperfect memories, silly jingles,
inhibitive timidities, 'dissolutive' phenomena of various sorts, as
Myers calls them, enter into it for a large part. But in it many of
the performances of genius seem also to have their origin; and in
our study of conversion, of mystical experiences, and of prayer, we
have seen how striking a part invasions from this region play in the
religious life.
  * Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. vii. p.
305. For a full statement of Mr. Myers's views, I may refer to his
posthumous work, 'Human Personality in the Light of Recent
Research,' which is already announced by Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co.
as being in press. Mr. Myers for the first time proposed as a
general psychological problem the exploration of the subliminal region
of consciousness throughout its whole extent, and made the first
methodical steps in its topography by treating as a natural series a
mass of subliminal facts hitherto considered only as curious
isolated facts, and subjecting them to a systematized nomenclature.
How important this exploration will prove, future work upon the path
which Myers has opened can alone show. Compare my paper: 'Frederic
Myers's Services to Psychology,' in the said Proceedings, part
xlii., May, 1901.
  *(2) Compare the inventory given above, Lecture XIX, and also what
is said of the subconscious self in Lecture X.
  Let me then propose, as an hypothesis, that whatever it may be on
its farther side, the 'more' with which in religious experience we
feel ourselves connected is on its hither side the subconscious
continuation of our conscious life. Starting thus with a recognized
psychological fact as our basis, we seem to preserve a contact with
'science' which the ordinary theologian lacks. At the same time the
theologian's contention that the religious man is moved by an external
power is vindicated, for it is one of the peculiarities of invasions
from the subconscious region to take on objective appearances, and
to suggest to the Subject an external control. In the religious life
the control is felt as 'higher'; but since on our hypothesis it is
primarily the higher faculties of our own hidden mind which are
controlling, the sense of union with the power beyond us is a sense of
something, not merely apparently, but literally true.
  This doorway into the subject seems to me the best one for a science
of religions, for it mediates between a number of different points
of view. Yet it is only a doorway, and difficulties present themselves
as soon as we step through it, and ask how far our transmarginal
consciousness carries us if we follow it on its remoter side. Here the
over-beliefs begin: here mysticism and the conversion-rapture and
Vedantism and transcendental idealism bring in their monistic
interpretations * and tell us that the finite self rejoins the
absolute self, for it was always one with God and identical with the
soul of the world. *(2) Here the prophets of all the different
religions come with their visions, voices, raptures, and other
openings, supposed by each to authenticate his own peculiar faith.
  * Compare above, Lectures XVI and XVII.
  *(2) One more expression of this belief, to increase the reader's
familiarity with the notion of it:-
  "If this room is full of darkness for thousands of years, and you
come in and begin to weep and wail, 'Oh, the darkness,' will the
darkness vanish? Bring the light in, strike a match, and light comes
in a moment. So what good will it do you to think all your lives, 'Oh,
I have done evil, I have made many mistakes'? It requires no ghost
to tell us that. Bring in the light, and the evil goes in a moment.
Strengthen the real nature, build up yourselves, the effulgent, the
resplendent, the ever pure, call that up in every one whom you see.
I wish that every one of us had come to such a state that even when we
see the vilest of human beings we can see the God within, and
instead of condemning, say, 'Rise, thou effulgent One, rise thou who

art always pure, rise thou birthless and deathless, rise almighty, and
manifest your nature.'... This is the highest prayer that the
Advaita teaches. This is the one prayer: remembering our nature."...
"Why does man go out to look for a God?... It is your own heart
beating, and you did not know, you were mistaking it for something
external. He, nearest of the near, my own self, the reality of my
own life, my body and my soul.- I am Thee and Thou art Me. That is
your own nature. Assert it, manifest it. Not to become pure, you are
pure already. You are not to be perfect, you are that already. Every
good thought which you think or act upon is simply tearing the veil,
as it were, and the purity, the Infinity, the God behind, manifests
itself- the eternal Subject of everything, the eternal Witness in this
universe, your own Self. Knowledge is, as it were, a lower step, a
degradation. We are It already; how to know It?" SWAMI VIVEKANANDA:
Addresses, No. XII., Practical Vedanta, part iv. pp. 172, 174, London,
1897; and Lectures, The Real and the Apparent Man, p. 24, abridged.
  Those of us who are not personally favored with such specific
revelations must stand outside of them altogether and, for the present
at least, decide that, since they corroborate incompatible theological
doctrines, they neutralize one another and leave no fixed result. If
we follow any one of them, or if we follow philosophical theory and
embrace monistic pantheism on non-mystical grounds, we do so in the
exercise of our individual freedom, and build out our religion in
the way most congruous with our personal susceptibilities. Among these
susceptibilities intellectual ones play a decisive part. Although
the religious question is primarily a question of life, of living or
not living in the higher union which opens itself to us as a gift, yet
the spiritual excitement in which the gift appears a real one will
often fail to be aroused in an individual until certain particular
intellectual beliefs or ideas which, as we say, come home to him,
are touched. * These ideas will thus be essential to that individual's
religion;- which is as much as to say that over-beliefs in various
directions are absolutely indispensable, and that we should treat them
with tenderness and tolerance so long as they are not intolerant
themselves. As I have elsewhere written, the most interesting and
valuable things about a man are usually his overbeliefs.
  * For instance, here is a case where a person exposed from her birth
to Christian ideas had to wait till they came to her clad in
spiritistic formulas before the saving experience set in:-
  "For myself I can say that spiritualism has saved me. It was
revealed to me at a critical moment of my life, and without it I don't
know what I should have done. It has taught me to detach myself from
worldly things and to place my hope in things to come. Through it I
have learned to see in all men, even in those most criminal, even in
those from whom I have most suffered, undeveloped brothers to whom I
owed assistance, love, and forgiveness. I have learned that I must
lose my temper over nothing, despise no one, and pray for all. Most of
all I have learned to pray! And although I have still much to learn in
this domain, prayer ever brings me more strength, consolation, and
comfort. I feel more than ever that I have only made a few steps on
the long road of progress; but I look at its length without dismay,
for I have confidence that the day will come when all my efforts shall
be rewarded. So Spiritualism has a great place in my life, indeed it
holds the first place there." Flournoy Collection.
  Disregarding the over-beliefs, and confining ourselves to what is
common and generic, we have in the fact that the conscious person is
continuous with a wider self through which saving experiences come, *
a positive content of religious experience which, it seems to me, is
literally and objectively true as far as it goes. If I now proceed
to state my own hypothesis about the farther limits of this
extension of our personality, I shall be offering my own
over-belief- though I know it will appear a sorry under-belief to some
of you- for which I can only bespeak the same indulgence which in a
converse case I should accord to yours.
  * "The influence of the Holy Spirit, exquisitely called the
Comforter, is a matter of actual experience, as solid a reality as
that of electro-magnetism." W. C. BROWNELL, Scribner's Magazine,
vol. xxx. p. 112.
  The further limits of our being plunge, it seems to me, into an
altogether other dimension of existence from the sensible and merely
'understandable' world. Name it the mystical region, or the
supernatural region, whichever you choose. So far as our ideal
impulses originate in this region (and most of them do originate in
it, for we find them possessing us in a way for which we cannot
articulately account), we belong to it in a more intimate sense than
that in which we belong to the visible world, for we belong in the
most intimate sense wherever our ideals belong. Yet the unseen
region in question is not merely ideal, for it produces effects in
this world. When we commune with it, work is actually done upon our
finite personality, for we are turned into new men, and consequences
in the way of conduct follow in the natural world upon our
regenerative change. * But that which produces effects within
another reality must be termed a reality itself, so I feel as if we
had no philosophic excuse for calling the unseen or mystical world
  * That the transaction of opening ourselves, otherwise called
prayer, is a perfectly definite one for certain persons, appears
abundantly in the preceding lectures. I append another concrete
example to reinforce the impressi