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LECTURE I.

THE SOUL'S LONGING AFTER A FINAL

CAUSE.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.—Eccl. i. 8.

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him."-Acts xvii. 27.

IF, as I presume, you all take an interest in the progress of scientific discovery and the consequent modifications in theological opinion during the last half-century, I cannot appeal to unsympathetic hearts when I say that sometimes the future seems a very dreary outlook. I do not of course refer to the revolutions in time-honoured organizations and modes of thought, which appear more and more inevitable. The issue with which I propose to deal is much deeper than that. A

vapour hueless, formless, cold” creeps more and more above the distant horizon, and we feel as though its touch must be so far deadlier than physical death, that we would very much rather die before it comes any nearer. In one word, as all our bodily actions tend to death, so, to some moods

“heavy,

B

of mind at the present day, all activities of thought seem to have but one inevitable goal, a blank material atheism. I am of course not stating my own fears ; though I should be ill prepared to deal with the subject if I had never felt them. But I can easily understand the frame of mind to which in view of prevalent currents of thought at the present day, it may appear that there is no ultimate issue possible other than the one I have named. Let us therefore at the outset put the fears natural to such a frame of mind in the most plausible light, in order that we may not overestimate our resources against them.

The tendencies of the future, it may be urged, are to be augured, not from the present enthusiasms or prejudices of the many, but rather from the uniform leanings of those leaders of thought, who best know what the significance of scientific progress is. Indeed the real state of public opinion now is to be gathered, not from formulas of religious profession or worship, but rather from the practical attitude of men's minds, and the conclusions which this tacitly assumes. Judging then in this way of the general tendency of thought, we may regard certain positions as permanently and irreversibly taken up, at least by the sort of minority which always

, decides the future of the world. It used to be regarded as a great stretch of charity if one could hope for the salvation of a Romanist or a Unitarian. But now it has come practically to this, that no intellectual opinion whatever whether religious or otherwise can possibly

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