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upon some great and essential truth. The universality of the religious sentiment, to which this belief may be ascribed as an effect, can be accounted for in only one or the other of two ways. Either, according to the opinion of our ancestors and the immense majority of our contemporaries, it resulted, along with all other human faculties, from an act of special creation -in which case the matter is at once settled-man is directly endowed with the religious feeling by a Creator, and to that Creator it designedly responds; or, it arose, in common with the other faculties of man's nature, by a process of evolution, in which case it must be allowed to be as normal as any other faculty, and to indicate an important truth of nature, and of man's constitution as adapted to nature. In either case, we

, are bound to treat the religious sentiment with respect, and to believe that the various forms of religion, though even none of them be actually true, are yet all adumbrations of a truth.

What this fundamental truth of religion is, and whether science, the substantial verity of whose teachings cannot be denied, also bears testimony to its existence, are the next inquiries of the author. If science and religion are ever to be reconciled, the basis of reconciliation must be their common acceptance of this fundamental truth. Accordingly, the great topics of religion are first examined,—those questions concerning the origin of the universe, and the nature of the First Cause, which have ever pressed upon the mind of man as a religious being. The various theories of the universe are classed under three sorts: Atheism, or the hypothesis that the world is self-existent; Pantheism, or the hypothesis of selfcreation, or evolution ; and Theism, or the hypothesis of a selfexistent Creator, external to the world. Each of these suppositions is shown to involve an inconceivable element. Atheism is no explanation of the origin of all things, but makes the mystery of the world's existence only the more unintelligible, by requiring us to conceive of that which now exists as having similarly existed through an infinite past duration. Pantheism, or self-creation, is an hypothesis which cannot be represented in thought, and is absurd. Theism, which is the commonly received doctrine, requires us to believe that the Cre.

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ator of all things is Himself self-existent; and this idea is utterly inconceivable to the finite mind of man. Whatever explanation we adopt, it is impossible to comprehend the mystery of existence. So, when, from the origin of the universe, we turn to inquire into its nature, we find ourselves surrounded by insurmountable difficulties of the same kind as before. We are compelled to believe in a cause for every phenomenon; and, continuing the process of thought, we are compelled to believe in a First Cause ; nor can we stop till we have arrired at the idea that this Cause is Infinite and Absolute. But, by so doing, we have involved ourselves in inextricable dilemmas. Here the author makes good use of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy of the Unconditioned, as developed by Mr. Mansel in his “ Limits of Religious Thought,” showing, after the manner of Kant's antinomies, the contradictions involved in our notions of the infinite and the absolute.*

But what bearing have these merely negative results upon the question of a fundamental religious verity, common to all creeds? The answer is found in the fact that all religions, from the rudest to the most refined, however they may differ in their overt dogmas, agree tacitly in their recognition of the great problem of the universe: that the existence of the world with all which it contains and all which surrounds it, is a mystery ever pressing for interpretation. On this point, if on no other, there is entire unanimity. From the grossest Fetishism to the highest form of Monotheism, every religion acknowledges this mystery, by offering its own solution; and even positive Atheism admits that it exists, and propounds its à priori theory of self-existent matter, in order to explain it. This recognition of the universal mystery grows more distinct, as religion is more highly developed. It showed itself once in altars erected to the “Unknown God,” and in the worship of a God that cannot by any searching be found out; it is exhibit


* We omit, for the present, any criticism of Mr. Spencer's arguments, original or borrowed. We may note, however, that he avails himself of Mr. Mansel's demonstration, “not only because his mode of presentation cannot be improred, but also because, writing as he does in defense of the current theology, his reasonings will be the more acceptable to the majority of readers." p. 39.

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ed by the most cultivated Christian theology, in such assertions as that “a God understood would be no God at all," and “ to think that God is, as we can think Him to be, is blasphemy." Nor is this all; but the most unsparing criticism leaves unquestionable this most abstract belief which is common to all religions, and, indeed, makes it ever clearer; for it shows that the mystery which all religions recognize, is a more transcendent mystery than any of them suspect; not a relative, but an absolute mystery. The conclusion arrived at is, that the ultimate Religious Idea—the vital element of all religions—is a truth of the highest certainty, viz., that “the Power which the universe manifests to us is utterly inscrutable."

Does Science agree with Religion, in the acceptance of this truth? Here follows an examination of “Ultimate Scientific Ideas,” showing that, in regard to space, time, matter, motion, and force, as well as in regard to the facts of self-consciousness, whenever we attempt to explain their ultimate nature by scientific analysis, and tell what and how they are, we meet the same difficulties which we encountered in the sphere of religion. However far we may carry our scientific explanations, they can never give us a final solution, but there is always one step farther to go.

The explanation of that which is explicable does but bring out into greater clearness the inexplicableness of that which remains behind. Alike in the external and in the internal worlds, the man of science sees himself in the midst of perpetual changes, of which he can discover neither the beginning nor the end.

In all directions his investigations eventually bring him face to face with an insoluble enigma, and he ever more clearly perceives it to be an insoluble enigma. He learns at once the greatness and the littleness of the human intellect; its power in dealing with all that comes within the range of experience, its impotence in dealing with all that transcends experience. He realizes with a special vividness the utter incomprehensibleness of the simplest fact, considered in itself. He, more than any other, truly knows that in its ultimate essence nothing can be known.” pp. 66, 67.

All ultimate scientific ideas, then, are representative of realities that cannot be comprehended. Thus the same conclusion is arrived at, from whichever point we set out.

• If, respecting the origin and nature of things, we make some assumption, we find that, through an inexorable logic, it inevitably commits us to alternative impossibilities of thought; and this holds true of every assumption that can be

imagined. If, contrariwise, we make no assumption, but set out from the sensi. ble properties of surrounding objects, and, ascertaining their special laws of dependence, go on to merge these in laws more and more general, until we bring them all under some most general laws; we still find ourselles as far as ever from knowing what it is which manifests these properties to us. Clearly as we seem to know it, our apparent knowledge proves on examination to be utterly irreconcilable with itself. Ultimate religious ideas and ultimate scientific ideas alike turn out to be merely symbols of the actual, not cognitions of it,

The conviction, so reached, that human intelligence is incapable of absolute knowledge, is one that has been slowly gaining ground as civilization has ad. vanced. Each new ontological theory, from time to time propounded in lieu of previous ones shown to be untenable, has been followed by a new criticism leading to a new skepticism. All possible conceptions have been one by one tried and found wanting; and so the entire field of speculation has been gradually exhausted without positive result — the only result arrived at being the negative one above stated: that the reality existing behind all appearances is, and must ever be, unknown.” p. 68.

Pursning the same train of thought, the author proceeds to show how the induction, thus drawn from general and special experiences, may be confirmed by a deduction from the nature of our intelligence. Proof that our cognitions are not, and never can be, absolute, is obtainable by analyzing either the product of thought, or the process of thought; the first as exhibited objectively in scientific generalizations, the second as exhibited subjectively in consciousness. Under the first head, various illustrations are given, all tending to the conclusion that, “ as the most general cognition at which we arrive cannot be reduced to a more general one, it cannot be understood. Of necessity, therefore, explanation must eventually bring us down to the inexplicable. The deepest truth which we can get at must be unaccountable. Comprehension must become something other than comprehension, before the ultimate fact can be comprehended.” Under the second head, use is made of the powerful argument of Sir William Hamilton, in his essay on the “ Philosophy of the Unconditioned,” showing that, by the very nature of the thinking process, it is impossible for us to conceive anything but the conditioned, and that the absolute is therefore not to be represented in thought. Mr. Mansel is also again quoted, and to the same effect; while Mr. Spencer adds to the force of the argument, on this point, by some acute observations of his own, concerning the condition of likeness, which, as well as the conditions of relation and difference, mentioned by Hamilton and Mansel, is implied in every complete act of consciousness ; so that the absolute, as presenting none of these conditions, is trebly unthinkable.

From still another point of view, says Mr. Spencer, we may discern the same great truth: when we look at the connection between the mind and the world, and perceive that Life itself, in all its manifestations, including the highest forms of intelligence, consists in the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations. This is illustrated by a very ingenious course of thought, not proving, indeed, that this adjustment is the whole of "life," but showing that it is essential to all vital operations. The conclusion is, that “deep down in the very nature of Life, the relativity of our knowledge is discernible.” Fortunately, this relative knowledge is all-sufficient for the ordinary guidance of man. “The knowledge within our reach is the only knowledge that can be of service to us.” p. 86.

But the final question yet remains : “What must we say concerning that which transcends knowledge ? Are we to rest wholly in the consciousness of phenomena? Is the result of inquiry to exclude utterly from our minds everything but the relative? or must we also believe in something beyond the relative ?"

In answering these questions, Mr. Spencer has, we think, arrived nearer to a true philosophy than either Hamilton or Mansel. At least, he has indicated, in a more satisfactory manner than they have done, the positive datum of consciousness, that the unconditioned, though inconceivable, exists. In some other respects, we grant, his conclusions are of the most negative and unsatisfactory character ; since, after establishing this simple cognition of the existence of the absolute, he insists rigidly that nothing more than this is competent, either to reason or to faith ; thus, in a double sense, “ carrying a step farther the doctrine put into shape by Hamilton and Mansel.”


* It is simply our purpose, in this part, to indicate Mr. Spencer's leading ar. guments, and not to expand them, though they are often worthy of a full statement.

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