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of their greatest champion's apologetic method, their escape is due not only to the happy inconsistency of the theological intellect but also to the pervasive influence of eighteenth century rationalism, extending as it did far beyond the small circle of avowed free-thinkers. Whatever else Englishmen might believe, their own Deists and the Voltairean movement abroad gradually convinced them that Popery was a superstition too absurd for even a Frenchman to accept-destined to speedy extinction, Horace Walpole thought, if the ill-advised abrogation of our penal laws had not given it a new lease of life. It would have surprised the dilettante of Strawberry Hill to hear that his own experiments in Gothic architecture had rather more to do with the dreaded revival of mediæval faith than the repeal of some obsolete statutes. Anyhow, by accident or otherwise, he proved a true prophet. Whether as grim wolf or good shepherd, two centuries after “Lycidas” Rome once more put in play the arts against which Milton had raised his warning voice. Or rather the natural magnetism exercised by the larger on the smaller body acted without the help of any direct proselytism on the part of Jesuits or others to disintegrate the Church of England and to draw its detached fragments into the central orb of Christendom.
Now it is interesting to note that in this process the method of Pascal and Butler played an important part, and was appealed to with confidence by both parties, by those who clung to the Via Media of Anglicanism and by those who scorned it as an illogical compromise between the right way and the wrong.
Cardinal Newman briefly refers to Butler's doctrine of probability as the guide of life as that whence his own theory of faith took its rise. Keble treats it at much greater length, and in particular connection with the issue on which he and his greater friend parted company in a very interesting but little read document, the preface to his "Sermons, Academical and Occasional,” published in 1847, soon after Newman's secession.
The principle in question is stated as follows: “In practical matters of eternal import, the safer way is always to be preferred, even though the excess of seeming evidence may tell in any degree on the opposite side. Thus if one mode of acting imply that there is an eternity and another contradict it ... the tremendous, overwhelming interest at stake ought to determine a man's conduct to the affirmative side. He should act, in spite of seeming evidence, as if eternity were true.” 13
Keble had not the same lingering regard for truth as such that still distinguishes Butler, and the context clearly shows that “acting” meant not merely conformity to Christian ethics but also adhesion to the Catholic creed, which, in the supposed circumstances, some, among whom the present writer is one, would call in plain language, cowardly and deceitful.
Fortunately, or rather inevitably, systematized immorality is suicidal; and a recent incident has reminded us that when sailors fall into a panic they are apt to fire into their own ships. Keble very frankly admits that “the principles of Butler and Pascal" cannot be limited to "the controversy with unbelievers." 14
And if personally he had been disposed so to limit them Newman would not have allowed him to stop short. So he proceeds to state the argument for going over to Rome in terms which I shall not transcribe as they are substantially identical with the Bourbon argument (white plume argument, let us call it already quoted.
Keble's way of getting out of it is amazing, and practically amounts to an abandonment of the whole principle. It is that “the argument put in this form proves too much, for it would equally show that Puritanism or Mahometanism, or the ancient Donatism, or any other exclusive system, is the safer way.” 15 And he also goes on to remark, rather late in the day, that there seems to be something "cold and ungenerous” about the method -in short what we call mean. Accordingly it is to be reserved for the exclusive benefit of unbelievers, and not mentioned in controversies among Christians. Kicking down the ladder by which we have risen is a policy with which persons of this class have made us familiar; but the ladder has been known successfully to resist such treatment. Or, to employ a perhaps more
relevant illustration, when a familiar spirit is sent for water to wash out the house, he has a trick of bringing bucket after bucket until the whole town is flooded and its inhabitants drowned. There is an Orthodox Church, not less positive in its anathemas than Rome, and growing at a far more rapid rate; while the immemorial Asiatic religions bide their time, "in patient deep disdain" for the pretensions of parvenu European establishments.
Pascal's method was destined to one more singular development before it silently took its place among the obsolete weapons of religious controversy. With the collapse of the Tractarian Movement the rationalistic movement which it had temporarily arrested returned in a flood, and before many years had passed became predominant at Oxford, at least among her more serious and intellectual residents. To meet this new danger Mansel delivered his famous Bampton Lectures in 1858. He does not, I think, ever mention the argument ad terrorem, but he follows Pascal in denying that our moral distinctions are applicable to the proceedings of an infinite Being about whose real nature we are totally ignorant; and he follows Butler in contending that every other system is open to as many objections as Christianity, or rather as his own particular version of Christianity.
Mansel was hailed by his admirers as a second Butler ; but the reception of his work by the intellectual public generally showed that such methods had passed out of date. I question whether in the controversy that it provoked a single name of distinction is to be found on his side. Against him were such writers as F. D. Maurice, James Martineau, R. H. Hutton, and Professor Goldwin Smith. Herbert Spencer, accepting his premises, pushed them to the length of an Agnosticism which absolutely excluded belief in revealed religion, and reduced natural religion to the most attenuated of abstractions. But the most resounding stroke of all came from John Stuart Mill. In the course of his destructive attack on the philosophy of Mansel's teacher, Sir William Hamilton, the great thinker and moralist, then at the very height of his fame and power, turns aside to tear up the flimsy pretences under which the Bampton
Lecturer on the “Limits of Religious Thoughts" had attempted to eliminate morality from religion. Pascal is not named; but here at last Pascal's method receives its final quietus. Convince me, says Mill, that the world is ruled by an infinite Being of whom I know nothing except that his proceedings are incompatible with the highest human morality, “and I will bear my fate as I may. But there is one thing he shall not do: he shall not compel me to worship him. I will call no being good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellowcreatures; and if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.
Mansel sneeringly forbore "to comment on the temper and taste of this declamation." 17 But what he said or did not say mattered equally little. The ghastly idol had fallen and fallen forever.
It has been said by some who are in full sympathy with Mill's contention that the sentiment here expressed, however admirable, is irreconcilable with his utilitarian ethics. I am not so sure of that. The moral degradation of worshiping an omnipotent demon through eternity might conceivably be more painful than any punishment in his power to inflict. finding himself defied he might "tak' a thought and men'”—to the great increase of the general felicity. But there seems a sort of pedantry about such considerations. The supreme ironies are partly serious; supreme seriousness is a little ironical. There is such a phrase as “I bet you all to nothing," and as the language of the gaming-table has once been introduced it may here be appropriately used as best describing Mill's position. There is no more than an infinitesimally small chance that Mansel's non-moral theology may be true; but neither on that chance nor on any other will a high-principled human soul forfeit its self-respect.
My object has been to show that to incur either intellectual or moral degradation on a calculation of selfish interest would be not only mean but unavailing. For with the limitation of
18 “Examinations of Sir W. Hamilton's Philosophy,” (3d ed.) p. 124. 17 "Philosophy of the Conditioned,” p. 168.
our knowledge assumed by the theologians who appeal to such motives there is no safe side, the chances either way being precisely equal whatever attitude towards the hidden arbiter of our destiny we assume. It remains that our conduct should be determined by considerations equally applicable whether the supernatural does or does not exist.
ALFRED W. BENN. FLORENCE, ITALY.
THE ARGUMENT FOR IMMORTALITY. There is without doubt at the present day a strong inclination in many quarters to dispute the importance of a belief in immortality, both for the practical conduct of life and for our intellectual constructions about the nature of the world. It is because I think that the religious feeling of mankind is truer here than the current tendencies, and that, instead of standing on the outskirts of the philosopher's task, as at best a work of supererogation, the question has a distinct importance for general philosophical results, that I wish in the following pages to inquire just what the significant point in the argument for immortality really is.
And as a means of approaching the question, it will be useful first to review briefly the general character of the historical proofs for the belief. It lies outside my purpose to dwell here upon the specifically Christian proof from revelation, except indeed as this is capable of a philosophical statement. When Paul speaks of life and immortality as brought to light through the Gospel, in part, I suppose, he means that the Christian revelation has been a revelation of the divineness of human life. No one, therefore, to whom this has once come home in its full power, can doubt that life is a permanent fact in God's universe, not to be broken off arbitrarily; that each man, as a recipient of God's love, and a co-worker with him, has a value which is eternal. In so far, this will enter into what I have to say later on. But certainly Paul also has in mind the historical fact of Christ's resurrection, as the basis of the Christian's hope. Of course, in so far as the historical evidence seems