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God of Elijah and Elisha, the Saviour of mankind—who was before Abraham, and yet who dwelt here with His father and mother, His brethren and His sisters, a wonder and a mystery, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
(To be continued.)
IS LIFE WORTH THE COST ?
The question which the title of this paper lays us open to discuss may appear to many to receive a positive answer in the unanimous verdict of mankind. But what is implicated in the total subject demands a closer examination than could be given to it in a brief
The subject before us falls rather within the domain of ethical inquiry than that of speculative philosophy; for we have not so much to inquire into the nature of life as a force or power or motive principle as into the results which flow from that life on the human plane. These results assume two forms—those which can be known by introspection and interrogation of consciousness and those manifest effects which take shape in the sphere of human action. In short, we have to study results which we cognize in ourselves and through intercommunication with our fellow-men. Nevertheless, a word
upon the nature of life seems necessary to the proper evolution of the subject. Now since we are the recipients only, and not the originators of that subtle principle of activity, life as an abstract power or force must for ever be unknown to us.
Its effects are everywhere within reach ; they can be examined and interrogated, but a final experimental examination of the absolute nature of life will never be made. That there is this unknown power philosophers are as certain of as that throughout all spaces infinitely great or infinitely small there is a subtle medium by which the vibrations of lightemitting bodies are transmitted to the retina. Yet with sceptical philosophers the source of life will continue to be a speculative question. Recognised leaders of thought, it is true, attempt to define life, but leave the definition incomplete. Thus Herbert Spencer : “Life is conceived only when we think of it as the definite combination of heterogeneous changes, both simultaneous and successive, in correspondence with external coexistence and sequence.”l This proposition, which has about it an air of philosophic mysticism, he reduces to a simpler form, that “life is the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations.".2 But this is the definition of an effect simply, but not of life. “The continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations" is a manifestation of molecular interaction, is a consequent of which life is the antecedent. We are not about to attempt to fix the meaning of life; but if we have any
notion of it we conceive it to be Divine energy or power, “the inmost activity of love and wisdom which are in God and which are God, which life may also be called the very essential living force.”3 It is the influx of this power into the sphere of material things which causes the molecular activity that results in the succession of phenomena in the three kingdoms of nature. To discuss in detail the proposition just advanced is not the object of this paper, but its importance demands that we should state it here.
Now a man is an immortal recipient of the influx of Divine energy, he cannot but receive it, he cannot be deprived of it, and consequently his existence is an eternal certainty, and even the Deity Himself cannot or will not annihilate the spiritual organism which we call the soul. And further, the mode of ultimating the Divine life on the natural plane is of the most significant consequence to its recipients. Now it should seem that if the Deity be a God of perfect love and immeasurably wise, in Him there must be an unspeakable desire for the completest harmonic working on the sphere of human activity. But the Divine desires cannot be ultimated in the domain of mind and sense unless there be a co-ordination of Divine and human ends. The Divine end is the perfect happiness of man first in the region of material existence and finally in the life immortal. Doubtless the human end of life is a certain mode of happiness, but how do the Divine and human ends co-ordinate ? To answer this commits us to an examination of the nature of happiness. And it is essential to distinguish between philosophic theories of happiness and the popular interpretation of the summum bonum. The philosophic conceptions often come near the truth, the popular interpretation is far from it. Popularly pleasure is synonymous with happiness, but it is evident 1 Herbert Spencer, Psychology, i. 293.
3 True Christian Religion, p. 471.
that in fact it is not so. The Epicurean doctrine of happiness does not separate it from pleasure. But pleasure as meant by Epicurus is not the pleasure of the profligate or the debauchee, but that enjoyment of the fitting things of life which involves neither present nor future pain whether of body or mind. In the Aristotelian system happiness receives what we conceive to be a close approximation to a just interpretation. The aim of all moral action is eudæmonia or happiness. Eudæmonia results from the peculiar work which belongs to man as man. The peculiar work of man cannot consist in merely living, for plants also live, nor in having sensations, for these are shared by man with the brute creation; it can only consist in a life of action under the control of reason. But this definition of happiness limits to a minority the possession of the summum bonum, for without doubt the majority of men live merely in the sensual plane, in simple sense pleasure, and with a countless multitude the gratification of the demands of two senses, or even one, seems to be the chief object of life. The drunkard and the glutton have little or no regard for the beautiful and grand either in nature or art. If they live a life higher than plants they certainly live on a level with animals. “The lusts of the flesh, of the eyes, and of the other senses, when separated from the affections and desires and delights of the spirit, are altogether similar to the lusts of brute creatures, and consequently in themselves are bestial. Hence it follows that in proportion as any one indulges in the lusts of the flesh he becomes a. brute beast." 2 Now Aristotle's definition of happiness is deficient in one particular. True happiness must always result from the Zon paktikỳ, life of action, but an element necessary to its completion is the guidance of Divine reason. Human reason must be directed by spiritual truth, which is the expression of Divine reason. The definition of happiness as given above has yet to be completed; for Aristotle conceives that " for complete happiness a sufficient provision of external goods is essential, since these are necessary for active manifestation of virtue, just as the equipping of the chorus is necessary for the representation of a dramatic work.” 3 Here, again, the definition excludes the majority from participation in complete happiness, since the multitude have not a “sufficient provision of external goods.” It should seem then that the happiness of Aristotle is unattainable under
1 Ueberweg, History of Philosophy, i. 172. 2 True Christian Religion, p. 328. 3 Ueberweg, History of Philosophy, i. 172.
the existing state of society. We now pass to an explication of happiness by a modern exponent. The Utilitarian principle of morals has a theory of happiness. John Stuart Mill says, “According to the greatest happiness principle, as above explained, the ultimate end with reference to and for the sake of which all other things are desirable (whether we are considering our own good or that of other people), is an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments both in point of quantity and quality.” Now the pleasures of enjoyment as here understood are those which call into exercise the higher faculties both of sense and mind. The pleasures of the highly intellectual senses of sight and hearing are of a higher order than those of the remaining. They are pleasures, too, of universal enjoyment. Thousands can look upon a beautiful landscape while only a few can partake of a luxurious dish, or taste the choicest productions of a nobleman's garden. The cultivation of the higher faculties enlarges the sphere of happiness. The happiness of a savage is widely differenced from that of an educated man.
But it may be replied, An ignorant sense-living carter is happier than your educated lady or your philosopher. We think not. He may be more contented; he is satisfied with the sensual delights of his life; he is not conscious of, nor does he desire, a higher degree of happiness. But the intelligent and instructed man or woman is conscious of th incompleteness of his happiness, and therefore unremittingly strives by culture of head and heart to increase it. “A being of higher faculties,” says John Stuart Mill, "requires more to make him happy, is capable probably of more acute suffering, and certainly accessible to it at more points, than one of an inferior type. But in spite of these liabilities he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower gravle of existence." And again, “It is true that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied, and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for as the world is constituted is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections if they are at all bearable, and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of these imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify. It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool or the pig are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the
1 Johu Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, p. 17.
question.”ı To this we subscribe. He who is not dissatisfied with his state of mind or heart cannot reach complete happiness. We believe that the old saying that a contented mind is a continual feast is only partly true. Discontent springing from envy and a restless ambition is a destroyer of happiness and an evil; but dissatisfaction originating from a consciousness of spiritual and even intellectual imperfections is an incentive to the attainment of greater happiness. The happiness defined by John Stuart Mill is a factor in the doctrine of Utility, and this as taught by Utilitarians is not far from the teaching of the Word of God. It now remains to give a final definition of happiness. Now if perfect happiness be known anywhere, certainly heaven must be the state where it is fully realized. What is the nature then of heavenly happiness? “All the delights of heaven are conjoined with uses and are inherent in its inhabitants ;" 2 and the happiness of heaven consists “in sincerely desiring the good of others more than their own, and in serving them for the sake of their happiness from pure love, without any selfish hope of reward.”3 This appears to us to be an ultimate definition, and expresses the nature of the highest good, the summum bonum. If, then, this definition of happiness be granted as a fitting one, ought we to say that he has lived in vain who has in this world attained such happiness ? in a word, ought we to say that his life has not been worth the cost ? The answer to this we shall endeavour to give in our next paper.
PROTESTANTISM IN PARIS.
AFTER the Reign of Terror Napoleon I., as Consul of the French Empire, promulgated a law in the tenth year of the Revolution recognising all forms of worship, and subsidizing, amongst others, the ministers of the Reformed Church of France. Three churches were set apart to its use in Paris. The first, strange to say, was that of St. Thomas, adjoining the Louvre, in which, two centuries earlier, the well-known preacher Panigarola celebrated the St. Bartholomew massacre in presence of Catherine de Medicis, Charles IX., and his
1 John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, p. 14. True Christian Religion, 402.
3 Ibid., 408.