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Lecture II CIRCUMSCRIPTION OF THE TOPIC
  Most books on the philosophy of religion try to begin with a precise definition of what itsessence consists of. Some of these would-be definitions may possibly come before us in laterportions 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 toprove that the word "religion" cannot stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather acollective name. The theorizing mind tends always to the oversimplification of its materials. Thisis the root of all that absolutism and one-sided dogmatism by which both philosophy and religionhave been infested. Let us not fall immediately into a one-sided view of our subject, but let usrather admit freely at the outset that we may very likely find no one essence, but many characterswhich may alternately be equally important to religion. If we should inquire for the essence of"government," for example, one man might tell us it was authority, another submission, an otherpolice, another an army, another an assembly, an other a system of laws; yet all the while it wouldbe true that no concrete government can exist without all these things, one of which is moreimportant at one moment and others at another. The man who knows governments mostcompletely 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 regardan abstract conception in which these were unified as a thing more misleading than enlightening.

And why may not religion be a conception equally complex?[9]

[9] I can do no better here than refer my readers to the extended and admirable remarks on thefutility of all these definitions of religion, in an article by Professor Leuba, published in the Monistfor 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 asingle sort of mental entity. In the psychologies and in the philosophies of religion, we find theauthors 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 itwith the feeling of the infinite; and so on. Such different ways of conceiving it ought of themselvesto arouse doubt as to whether it possibly can be one specific thing; and the moment we are willingto treat the term "religious sentiment" as a collective name for the many sentiments which religiousobjects may in alternation, that it probably contains nothing whatever of psychologicallyspec(arouse) ificnature.Thereis(we) relig(see) ious fear, religious love, religious awe, religious joy,(a) 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 thehuman breast, in so far as the notion of divine retribution may arouse it; religious awe is the sameorganic thrill which we feel in a forest at twilight, or in a mountain gorge; only this time it comesover us at the thought of our supernatural relations; and similarly of all the various sentimentswhich may be called into play in the lives of religious persons. As concrete states of mind, madeup of a feeling PLUS a specific sort of object, religious emotions of course are psychic entitiesdistinguishable from other concrete emotions; but there is no ground for assuming a simpleabstract "religious emotion" to exist as a distinct elementary mental affection by itself, present inevery religious experience without exception.

As there thus seems to be no one elementary religious emotion, but only a common storehouse ofemotions upon which religious objects may draw, so there might conceivably also prove to he noone specific and essential kind of religious object, and no one specific and essential kind ofreligious act.

The field of religion being as wide as this, it is manifestly impossible that I should pretend tocover it. My lectures must be limited to a fraction of the subject. And, although it would indeed befoolish to set up an abstract definition of religion's essence, and then proceed to defend thatdefinition against all comers, yet this need not prevent me from taking my own narrow view ofwhat religion shall consist in FOR THE PURPOSE OF THESE LECTURES, or, out of the manymeanings 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 mustdo, 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 weare struck by one great partition which divides the religious field. On the one side of it liesinstitutional, on the other personal religion. As M. P. Sabatier says, one branch of religion keepsthe divinity, another keeps man most in view. Worship and sacrifice, procedures for working onthe dispositions of the deity, theology and ceremony and ecclesiastical organization, are theessentials of religion in the institutional branch. Were we to limit our view to it, we should have todefine religion as an external art, the art of winning the favor of the gods. In the more personalbranch of religion it is on the contrary the inner dispositions of man himself which form the centerof interest, his conscience, his deserts, his helplessness, his incompleteness. And although thefavor of the God, as forfeited or gained, is still an essential feature of the story, and theology playsa 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 itspriests and sacraments and other go-betweens, sinks to an altogether secondary place. The relationgoes 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 theecclesiastical organization, to consider as little as possible the systematic theology and the ideasabout the gods themselves, and to confine myself as far as I can to personal religion pure andsimple. To some of you personal religion, thus nakedly considered, will no doubt seem tooincomplete a thing to wear the general name. "It is a part of religion," you will say, "but only itsunorganized rudiment; if we are to name it by itself, we had better call it man's conscience ormorality than his religion. The name 'religion' should be reserved for the fully organized system offeeling, 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 tendsto become a dispute about names.

Rather than prolong such a dispute, I am willing to accept almost any name for the personalreligion of which I propose to treat. Call it conscience or morality, if you yourselves prefer, andnot religion--under either name it will be equally worthy of our study. As for myself, I think it willprove to contain some elements which morality pure and simple does not contain, and theseelements 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 saysomething of its relation to them.

In one sense at least the personal religion will prove itself more fundamental than either theologyor ecclesiasticism. Churches, when once established, live at second-hand upon tradition; but theFOUNDERS of every church owed their power originally to the fact of their direct personalcommunion 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 stillseem 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 personaldevoutness in the moral sense. Fetishism and magic seem to have preceded inward pietyhistorically--at least our records of inward piety do not reach back so far. And if fetishism andmagic be regarded as stages of religion, one may say that personal religion in the inward sense andthe genuinely spiritual ecclesiasticisms which it founds are phenomena of secondary or eventertiary order. But, quite apart from the fact that many anthropologists--for instance, Jevons andFrazer --expressly oppose "religion" and "magic" to each other, it is certain that the whole systemof thought which leads to magic, fetishism, and the lower superstitions may just as well be calledprimitive science as called primitive religion. The question thus becomes a verbal one again; andour knowledge of all these early stages of thought and feeling is in any case so conjectural andimperfect 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 ASTHEY APPREHEND THEMSELVES TO STAND IN RELATION TO WHATEVER THEYMAY CONSIDER THE DIVINE. Since the relation may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it isevident that out of religion in the in which we take it, theologies, philosophies, and ecclesiasticalorganizationsmaysecondaril(sense) y grow. In these lectures, however, as I have alreadysaid, the immediate personal experiences will amply fill our time, and we shall hardly considertheology or ecclesiasticism at all.

We escape much controversial matter by this arbitrary definition of our field. But, still, a chanceof controversy comes up over the word "divine," if we take the definition in too narrow a sense.

There are systems of thought which the world usually calls religious, and yet which do notpositively assume a God. Buddhism is in this case. Popularly, of course, the Buddha himself standsin place of a God; but in strictness the Buddhistic system is atheistic. Modern transcendentalidealism, Emersonianism, for instance, also seems to let God evaporate into abstract Ideality. Not adeity in concreto, not a superhuman person, but the immanent divinity in things, the essentiallyspiritual structure of the universe, is the object of the transcendentalist cult. In that address to thegraduating class at Divinity College in 1838 which made Emerson famous, the frank expression ofthis 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 notsubject to circumstance: Thus, in the soul of man there is a justice whose retributions are instantand entire. He who does a good deed is instantly ennobled. He who does a mean deed is by theaction 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 ofacquaintance with his own being. Character is always known. Thefts never enrich; alms neverimpoverish; murder will speak out of stone walls. The least admixture of a lie--for example, thetaint of vanity, any attempt to make a good impression, a favorable appearance--will instantlyvitiate the effect. But speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very rootsof the grass underground there do seem to stir and move to bear your witness. For all thingsproceed out of the same spirit, which is differently named love, justice, temperance, in its differentapplications, just as the ocean receives different names on the several shores which it washes. In sofar as he roves from these ends, a man bereaves himself of power, of auxiliaries. His beingshrinks . . . he becomes less and less, a mote, a point, until absolute badness is absolute death. Theperception of this law awakens in the mind a sentiment which we call the religious sentiment, andwhich makes our highest happiness. Wonderful is its power to charm and to command. It is amountain 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 ofman. 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 fromsupreme wisdom. Then he can worship, and be enlarged by his worship; for he can never gobehind this sentiment. All the expressions of this sentiment are sacred and permanent in proportionto 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 uponmankind, whose name is not so much written as ploughed into the history of this world, is proof ofthe subtle virtue of this infusion."[10]

[10] 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 qualitylike the eye's brilliancy or the skin's softness, or whether it be a self-conscious life like the eye'sseeing or the skin's feeling, is a decision that never unmistakably appears in Emerson's pages. Itquivers on the boundary of these things, sometimes leaning one way sometimes the other, to suitthe literary rather than the philosophic need. Whatever it is, though, it is active. As much as if itwere a God, we can trust it to protect all ideal interests and keep the world's balance straight. Thesentences in which Emerson, to the very end, gave utterance to this faith are as fine as anything inliterature: "If you love and serve men, you cannot by any hiding or stratagem escape theremuneration. Secret retributions are always restoring the level, when disturbed, of the divinejustice. It is impossible to tilt the beam. All the tyrants and proprietors and monopolists of theworld in vain set their shoulders to heave the bar. Settles forevermore the ponderous equator to itsline, and man and mote, and star and sun, must range to it, or be pulverized by the recoil."[11]

[11] Lectures and Biographical Sketches, 1868, p. 186.

Now it would be too absurd to say that the inner experiences that underlie such expressions offaith as this and impel the writer to their utterance are quite unworthy to be called religiousexperiences. The sort of appeal that Emersonian optimism, on the one hand, and Buddhistic pessimism, on the other, make to the individual and the son of response which he makes to them inhis life are in fact indistinguishable from, and in many respects identical with, the best Christianappeal and response. We must therefore, from the experiential point of view, call these godless orquasi-godless creeds "religions"; and accordingly when in our definition of religion we speak ofthe individual's relation to "what he considers the divine," we must interpret the term "divine" verybroadly, as denoting any object that is god-LIKE, whether it be a concrete deity or not. But theterm "godlike," if thus treated as a floating general quality, becomes exceedingly vague, for manygods have flourished in religious history, and their attributes have been discrepant enough. Whatthen is that essentially godlike quality--be it embodied in a concrete deity or not--our relation towhich determines our character as religious men? It will repay us to seek some answer to thisquestion before we proceed farther.

For one thing, gods are conceived to be first things in the way of being and power. Theyoverarch and envelop, and from them there is no escape. What relates to them is the first and lastword in the way of truth. Whatever then were most primal and enveloping and deeply true might atthis rate be treated as godlike, and a man's religion might thus be identified with his attitude,whatever it might be, toward 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 totalreaction upon life, so why not say that any total reaction upon life is a religion? Total reactions aredifferent 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 curioussense of the whole residual cosmos as an everlasting presence, intimate or alien, terrible oramusing, lovable or odious, which in some degree everyone possesses. This sense of the world'spresence, appealing as it does to our peculiar individual temperament, makes us either strenuous orcareless, 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 answersto the question, "What is the character of this universe in which we dwell?" It expresses ourindividual sense of it in the most definite way. Why then not call these reactions our religion, nomatter what specific character they may have? Non-religious as some of these reactions may be, inone sense of the word "religious," they yet belong to THE GENERAL SPHERE OF THERELIGIOUS LIFE, and so should generically be classed as religious reactions. "He believes inNo-God, and he worships him," said a colleague of mine of a student who was manifesting a fineatheistic ardor; and the more fervent opponents of Christian doctrine have often enough shown atemper which, psychologically considered, is indistinguishable from religious zeal.

But so very broad a use of the word "religion" would be inconvenient, however defensible itmight remain on logical grounds. There are trifling, sneering attitudes even toward the whole oflife; and in some men these attitudes are final and systematic. It would strain the ordinary use oflanguage too much to call such attitudes religious, even though, from the point of view of anunbiased critical philosophy, they might conceivably be perfectly reasonable ways of looking uponlife. Voltaire, for example, writes thus to a friend, at the age of seventy-three: "As for myself," hesays, "weak as I am, I carry on the war to the last moment, I get a hundred pike-thrusts, I returntwo hundred, and I laugh. I see near my door Geneva on fire with quarrels over nothing, and Ilaugh 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 evenwhen all the days are over."Much as we may admire such a robust old gamecock spirit in a valetudinarian, to call it areligious spirit would be odd. Yet it is for the moment Voltaire's reaction on the whole of life. Jeme'n fiche is the vulgar French equivalent for our English ejaculation "Who cares?" And the happyterm je me'n fichisme recently has been invented to designate the systematic determination not totake anything in <37> life too solemnly. "All is vanity" is the relieving word in all difficult crisesfor this mode of thought, which that exquisite literary genius Renan took pleasure, in his later daysof sweet decay, in putting into coquettishly sacrilegious forms which remain to us as excellentexpressions of the "all is vanity" state of mind. Take the following passage, for example--we musthold 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 Godhas care. We must therefore arrange ourselves so that on neither hypothesis we shall be completelywrong. We must listen to the superior voices, but in such a way that if the second hypothesis weretrue we should not have been too completely duped. If in effect the world be not a serious thing, itis the dogmatic people who will be the shallow ones, and the worldly minded whom thetheologians 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 thatat certain moments at least we shall be with the truth. . . . Good-humor is a philosophic state ofmind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us. I maintainthat one should always talk of philosophy with a smile. We owe it to the Eternal to be virtuous butwe have the right to add to this tribute our irony as a sort of personal reprisal. In this way we returnto the right quarter jest for jest; we play the trick that has been played on us. Saint Augustine'sphrase: Lord, if we arc deceived, it is by thee! remains a fine one, well suited to our modernfeeling. Only we wish the Eternal to know that if we accept the fraud, we accept it knowingly andwillingly. We are resigned in advance to losing the interest on our investments of virtue, but wewish not to appear ridiculous by having counted on them too securely."[12]

[12] Feuilles detachees, pp. 394-398 (abridged).

Surely all the usual associations of the word "religion" would have to be stripped away if such asystematic 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 anyone phrase could gather its universal message, that phrase would be, "All is not vanity in thisUniverse, whatever the appearances may suggest." If it can stop anything, religion as commonlyapprehended 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. Theworld appears tragic enough in some religions, but the tragedy is realized as purging, and a way ofdeliverance 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 thefashion of a sacrificed pig. The mood of a Schopenhauer or a Nietzsche--and in a less degree onemay sometimes say the same of our own sad Carlyle--though often an ennobling sadness, is almostas often only peevishness running away with the bit between its teeth. The sallies of the twoGerman authors remind one, half the time, of the sick shriekings of two dying rats. They lack thepurgatorial note which religious sadness gives forth.

There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude which we denominatereligious. If glad, it must not grin or snicker; if sad, it must not scream or curse. It is precisely asbeing SOLEMN experiences that I wish to interest you in religious experiences. So I propose-arbitrarilyagain, 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, forthat meaning if taken without restriction might prove too broad. The divine shall mean for us onlysuch a primal reality as the individual feels impelled to respond to solemnly and gravely, andneither by a curse nor a jest.

But solemnity, and gravity, and all such emotional attributes, admit of various shades; and, dowhat we will with our defining, the truth must at last be confronted that we are dealing with a fieldof 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 aslacking in understanding of our task. Things are more or less divine, states of mind are more orless religious, reactions are more or less total, but the boundaries are always misty, and it iseverywhere a question of amount and degree. Nevertheless, at their extreme of development, therecan never be any question as to what experiences are religious. The divinity of the object and thesolemnity of the reaction are too well marked for doubt. Hesitation as to whether a state of mind is"religious," or "irreligious," or "moral," or "philosophical," is only likely to arise when the state ofmind is weakly characterized, but in that case it will be hardly worthy of our study at all. Withstates that can only by courtesy be called religious we need have nothing to do, our only profitablebusiness being with what nobody can possibly feel tempted to call anything else. I said in myformer lecture that we learn most about a thing when we view it under a microscope, as it were, orin 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 wherethe religious spirit is unmistakable and extreme. Its fainter manifestations we may tranquilly passby. Here, for example, is the total reaction upon life of Frederick Locker Lampson, whoseautobiography, 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 whathas been called the pleasant habit of existence, the sweet fable of life. I would not care to live mywasted life over again, and so to prolong my span. Strange to say, I have but little wish to beyounger. I submit with a chill at my heart. I humbly submit because it is the Divine Will, and myappointed destiny. I dread the increase of infirmities that will make me a burden to those aroundme, those dear to me. No! let me slip away as quietly and comfortably as I can. Let the end come,if peace come with it.

"I do not know that there is a great deal to be said for this world, or our sojourn here upon it; butit 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, thestrange cozenage of a brighter to-morrow? At best it is but a froward child, that must be playedwith and humored, to keep it quiet till it falls asleep, and then the care is over."[13]

[13] Op. cit., pp. 314, 313.

This is a complex, a tender, a submissive, and a graceful state of mind. For myself, I should haveno objection to calling it on the whole a religious state of mind, although I dare say that to many ofyou it may seem too listless and half-hearted to merit so good a name. But what matters it in theend whether we call such a state of mind religious or not? It is too insignificant for our instructionin any case; and its very possessor wrote it down in terms which he would not have used unless hehad been thinking of more energetically religious moods in others, with which he found himselfunable to compete. It is with these more energetic states that our sole business lies, and we canperfectly well afford to let the minor notes and the uncertain border go. It was the extremer casesthat I had in mind a little while ago when I said that personal religion, even without theology orritual, would prove to embody some elements that morality pure and simple does not contain. Youmay remember that I promised shortly to point out what those elements were. In a general way Ican now say what I had in mind.

"I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New Englandtranscendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, hissardonic comment is said to have been: "Gad! she'd better!" At bottom the whole concern of bothmorality and religion is with the manner of our acceptance of the universe. Do we accept it only inpart and grudgingly, or heartily and altogether? Shall our protests against certain things in it beradical and unforgiving, or shall we think that, even with evil, there are ways of living that mustlead to good? If we accept the whole, shall we do so as if stunned into submission--as Carlylewould have us--"Gad! we'd better!"--or shall we do so with enthusiastic assent? Morality pure andsimple 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 forreligion, in its strong and fully developed manifestations, the service of the highest never is felt asa yoke. Dull submission is left far behind, and a mood of welcome, which may fill any place on thescale between cheerful serenity and enthusiastic gladness, has taken its place.

It makes a tremendous emotional and practical difference to one whether one accept the universein the drab discolored way of stoic resignation to necessity, or with the passionate happiness ofChristian saints. The difference is as great as that between passivity and activity, as that betweenthe defensive and the aggressive mood. Gradual as are the steps by which an individual may growfrom one state into the other, many as are the intermediate stages which different individualsrepresent, yet when you place the typical extremes beside each other for comparison, you feel thattwo discontinuous psychological universes confront you, and that in passing from one to the othera "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 theeternal reason that has ordered things, there is a frosty chill about his words which you rarely findin 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," withJob's cry: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!" and you immediately see the difference Imean. The anima mundi, to whose disposal of his own personal destiny the Stoic consents, is thereto be respected and submitted to, but the Christian God is there to be loved; and the difference ofemotional atmosphere is like that between an arctic climate and the tropics, though the outcome inthe way of accepting actual conditions uncomplainingly may seem in abstract terms to be much thesame.

"It is a man's duty," says Marcus Aurelius, "to comfort himself and wait for the naturaldissolution, and not to be vexed, but to find refreshment solely in these thoughts--first that nothingwill happen to me which is not conformable to the nature of the universe; and secondly that I needdo nothing contrary to the God and deity within me; for there is no man who can compel me totransgress. He is an abscess on the universe who withdraws and separates himself from the reasonof our common nature, through being displeased with the things which happen. For the samenature produces these, and has produced thee too. And so accept everything which happens, evenif it seem disagreeable, because it leads to this, the health of the universe and to the prosperity andfelicity of Zeus. For he would not have brought on any man what he has brought if it were notuseful for the whole. The integrity of the whole is mutilated if thou cuttest off anything. And thoudost cut off, as far as it is in thy power, when thou art dissatisfied, and in a manner triest to putanything out of the way."[14]

[14] 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 commitand commend themselves and all things to the eternal Goodness, so that every enlightened mancould say: 'I would fain be to the Eternal Goodness what his own hand is to a man.' Such men arein a state of freedom, because they have lost the fear of pain or hell, and the hope of reward orheaven, and are living in pure submission to the eternal Goodness, in the perfect freedom offervent love. When a man truly perceiveth and considereth himself, who and what he is, andfindeth himself utterly vile and wicked and unworthy, he falleth into such a deep abasement that itseemeth to him reasonable that all creatures in heaven and earth should rise up against him. Andtherefore he will not and dare not desire any consolation and release; but he is willing to beunconsoled and unreleased; and he doth not grieve over his sufferings, for they are right in hiseyes, and he hath nothing to say against them. This is what is meant by true repentance for sin; andhe who in this present time entereth into this hell, none may console him. Now God hath notforsaken a man in this hell, but He is laying his hand upon him, that the man may not desire norregard anything but the eternal Good only. And then, when the man neither careth for nor desirethanything but the eternal Good alone, and seeketh not himself nor his own things, but the honour ofGod only, he is made a partaker of all manner of joy, bliss, peace, rest, and consolation, and so theman is henceforth in the kingdom of heaven. This hell and this heaven are two good safe ways fora man, and happy is he who truly findeth them."[15]

[15] Chaps. x., xi. (abridged): Winkworth's translation.

How much more active and positive the impulse of the Christian writer to accept his place in theuniverse is! Marcus Aurelius agrees TO the scheme--the German theologian agrees WITH it. Heliterally ABOUNDS in agreement, he runs out to embrace the divine decrees.

Occasionally, it is true, the stoic rises to something like a Christian warmth of sentiment, as inthe often quoted passage of Marcus Aurelius:-"Everything harmonizes with me which is harmonious to thee, O Universe. Nothing for me is tooearly 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?"[16]

[16] Book IV., 523But compare even as devout a passage as this with a genuine Christian outpouring, and it seems alittle 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 tothine honour. Place me where thou wilt, and freely work thy will with me in all things. . . . Whencould it be evil when thou wert near? I had rather be poor for thy sake than rich without thee. Ichoose rather to be a pilgrim upon the earth with thee, than without thee to possess heaven. Wherethou art, there is heaven; and where thou art not, behold there death and hell."[17]

[17] Benham's translation: Book III., chaps. xv., lix. Compare Mary Moody Emerson: "Let mebe a blot on this fair world, the obscurest the loneliest sufferer, with one proviso--that I know it isHis 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 itsmost peculiar and characteristic sort of performance, and to seek its office in that one of itsfunctions which no other organ can possibly exert. Surely the same maxim holds good in ourpresent quest. The essence of religious experiences, the thing by which we finally must judgethem, must be that element or quality in them which we can meet nowhere else. And such a qualitywill be of course most prominent and easy to notice in those religious experiences which are mostone-sided, exaggerated, and intense.

Now when we compare these intenser experiences with the experiences of tamer minds, so cooland reasonable that we are tempted to call them philosophical rather than religious, we find acharacter that is perfectly distinct. That character, it seems to me, should be regarded as thepractically important differentia of religion for our purpose; and just what it is can easily bebrought out by comparing the mind of an abstractly conceived Christian with that of a moralistsimilarly conceived.

A life is manly, stoical, moral, or philosophical, we say, in proportion as it is less swayed bypaltry personal considerations and more by objective ends that call for energy, even though thatenergy 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 cosmicpatriotism which also calls for volunteers. Even a sick man, unable to be militant outwardly, cancarry on the moral warfare. He can willfully turn his attention away from his own future, whetherin this world or the next. He can train himself to indifference to his present drawbacks andimmerse 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 abouthis miseries. He can contemplate whatever ideal aspects of existence his philosophy is able topresent to him, and practice whatever duties, such as patience, resignation, trust, his ethical systemrequires. Such a man lives on his loftiest, largest plane. He is a high-hearted freeman and no piningslave. 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 altogetherdifferent denomination.

The Christian also spurns the pinched and mumping sick-room attitude, and the lives of saintsare full of a kind of callousness to diseased conditions of body which probably no other humanrecords show. But whereas the merely moralistic spurning takes an effort of volition, the Christianspurning is the result of the excitement of a higher kind of emotion, in the presence of which noexertion of volition is required. The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; andso long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well--morality suffices. But the athletic attitudetends ever to break down, and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when theorganism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind. To suggest personal will andeffort to one all sicklied o'er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest the mostimpossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness, to feel that thespirit of the universe <47> recognizes and secures him, all decaying and failing as he is. Well, weare all such helpless failures in the last resort. The sanest and best of us are of one clay withlunatics and prison inmates, and death finally runs the robustest of us down. And whenever we feelthis, such a sense of the vanity and provisionality of our voluntary career comes over us that all ourmorality appears but as a plaster hiding a sore it can never cure, and all our well-doing as thehollowest substitute for that well-BEING that our lives ought to be grounded in, but, alas! are not.

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 ownhas been displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as nothing in the floods andwaterspouts of God. In this state of mind, what we most dreaded has become the habitation of oursafety, and the hour of our moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday. The time for tensionin our soul is over, and that of happy relaxation, of calm deep breathing, of an eternal present, withno discordant future to be anxious about, has arrived. Fear is not held in abeyance as it is by meremorality, it is positively expunged and washed away.

We shall see abundant examples of this happy state of mind in later lectures of this course. Weshall see how infinitely passionate a thing religion at its highest flights can be. Like love, likewrath, like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other instinctive eagerness and impulse, it adds tolife an enchantment which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else. Thisenchantment, coming as a gift when it does come--a gift of our organism, the physiologists will tellus, 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 bymere word of command. Religious feeling is thus an absolute addition to the Subject's range oflife. It gives him a new sphere of power. When the outward battle is lost, and the outer worlddisowns 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 meaningthis added dimension of emotion, this enthusiastic temper of espousal, in regions where moralitystrictly so called can at best but bow its head and acquiesce. It ought to mean nothing short of thisnew reach of freedom for us, with the struggle over, the keynote of the universe sounding in ourears, and everlasting possession spread before our eyes.[18]

[18] Once more, there are plenty of men, constitutionally sombre men, in whose religious lifethis rapturousness is lacking. They are religious in the wider sense, yet in this acutest of all sensesthey are not so, and it is religion in the acutest sense that I wish, without disputing about words, tostudy 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. Itis parted off from all mere animal happiness, all mere enjoyment of the present, by that element ofsolemnity of which I have already made so much account. Solemnity is a hard thing to defineabstractly, but certain of its marks are patent enough. A solemn state of mind is never crude orsimple--it seems to contain a certain measure of its own opposite in solution. A solemn joypreserves 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 isat all acquainted with the Persian mystics knows how wine may be regarded as an instrument ofreligion. 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 themomentary 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 notdiscomfort or pain, not even the muscular contraction of strenuous manhood, but a joyousexpansion 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."[19]

[19] The New Spirit, p. 232.

But such a straight identification of religion with any and every form of happiness leaves theessential peculiarity of religious happiness out. The more commonplace happinesses which we getare "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. Itcares no longer to escape. It consents to the evil outwardly as a form of sacrifice--inwardly itknows it to be permanently overcome. If you ask HOW religion thus falls on the thorns and facesdeath, 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 ourfuture examples, even of the simplest and healthiest-minded type of religious consciousness, weshall find this complex sacrificial constitution, in which a higher happiness holds a lowerunhappiness in check. In the Louvre there is a picture, by Guido Reni, of St. Michael with his footon 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 thericher for having a devil in it, SO LONG AS WE KEEP OUR FOOT UPON HIS NECK. In thereligious 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 ofview.[20] 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, andthe thought of suffering and death--their souls growing in happiness just in proportion as theiroutward state grew more intolerable. No other emotion than religious emotion can bring a man tothis peculiar pass. And it is for that reason that when we ask our question about the value ofreligion for human life, I think we ought to look for the answer among these violenter examplesrather than among those of a more moderate hue.

[20] I owe this allegorical illustration to my lamented colleague and Friend, Charles CarrollEverett.

Having the phenomenon of our study in its acutest possible form to start with, we can shadedown as much as we please later. And if in these cases, repulsive as they are to our ordinaryworldly way of judging, we find ourselves compelled to acknowledge religion's value and treat itwith respect, it will have proved in some way its value for life at large. By subtracting and toningdown 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 muck with eccentricities and extremes.

"How CAN religion on the whole be the most important of all human functions," you may ask, "ifevery 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 likeit will have to be our final contention. That personal attitude which the individual finds himselfimpelled to take up towards what he apprehends to be the divine--and you will remember that thiswas our definition--will prove to be both a helpless and a sacrificial attitude. That is, we shall haveto confess to at least some amount of dependence on sheer mercy, and to practice some amount ofrenunciation, great or small, to save our souls alive. The constitution of the world we live inrequires 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 intosacrifices and surrenders of some sort, deliberately looked at and accepted, we are drawn andpressed as into our only permanent positions of repose. Now in those states of mind which fallshort of religion, the surrender is submitted to as an imposition of necessity, and the sacrifice isundergone 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 thehappiness may increase. Religion thus makes easy and felicitous what in any case is necessary; andif it be the only agency that can accomplish this result, its vital importance as a human facultystands vindicated beyond dispute. It becomes an essential organ of our life, performing a functionwhich no other portion of our nature can so successfully fulfill. From the merely biological pointof view, so to call it, this is a conclusion to which, so far as I can now see, we shall inevitably beled, and led moreover by following the purely empirical method of demonstration which I sketchedto you in the first lecture. Of the farther office of religion as a metaphysical revelation I will saynothing now.

But to foreshadow the terminus of one's investigations is one thing, and to arrive there safely isanother. 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.
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