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degree. And while his evolutionary psychology contributes nothing whatever towards the solution of the problem as to the nature of knowledge, Spencer really makes a solution of it impossible by degrading the relation of subject and object, the ego and non-ego, to a mere difference of degree in the strength or vividness of a series of sensations. An error so fundamental at the crucial point can do no other than produce a fatal effect upon the whole system built upon it. If a man fails to perceive in himself the active subject, the self-conscious mind, it cannot be expected of him that he should find it in the Absolute." 1

To Spencer the Absolute is the incomprehensible background of the phenomenal world, the primordial Being which we are compelled to assume, which is in fact a “necessary datum of consciousness," but of which we can know nothing, our knowledge being wholly of the finite and relative. Accordingly our thoughts of the Absolute are mere symbols which may serve the ends of religious devotion, but must not be credited with furnishing any true representation of the unknown God.

This species of agnosticism has thus been criticised by John Caird : “ Mr. Spencer, first, in order to maintain that the Absolute is inconceivable, defines it as that which has no relation to thought; and then, in order not to annihilate it altogether, drags it back half over the boundary of the thinkable. But he cannot thus play fast and loose with the object of thought. It must be either thinkable or unthinkable, — wholly incogitable and therefore a sheer blank or nonentity, or capable of becoming, as truly as the finite, a real and positive,

1 The Progress of Theology in Great Britain since 1825.

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though indeed inexhaustible, object of thought.”i On the relation of Spencer's theory to religious worship Caird remarks: “ The worship of the Unknowable is really an impossible attitude of mind. The feelings of awe, reverence, humility, which are supposed to be called forth by the contemplation of that which lies beyond the limits of consciousness, are not legitimately due to such an object. ... Religion by its very nature, contains, and must ever contain, an element of mystery ; but a religion all mystery is an absurd and impossible notion. ... In order to awaken humility and reverence, or indeed to awaken any emotion whatever, the object must be something more than the blank negation of thought. It is because we conceive of the unknown not as a mystery absolutely and forever beyond our comprehension,' but as containing more of what is admirable to us than we can grasp, because our intelligence is confronted by an object which is immeasurably above it in its own line, that there is awakened within us a sense of our own littleness in contrast with its greatness.” ?

In Caird's treatment of the philosophy of religion, the general outline of Hegel's system may be discerned. Thomas Hill Green also speaks as though Hegel were the preferred philosophical master. Nevertheless, it is with questionable propriety that he can be styled a disciple of Hegel. He certainly had but small confidence in the ability of the Hegelian method to give an indubitable exposition of the universe as it really exists. “A well-grounded conviction," he says, “ has made men refuse to believe that any dialectic of the discursive

1 Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, pp. 35, 36. 2 Pp. 27, 30, 31.

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intelligence would instruct them in the reality of the world, or that this reality could consist in thought, in any sense in which thought can be identified with such an intellectual process. It may not, indeed, have been of the essence of Hegel, but an accident explicable from his philosophical antecedents, that his doctrine was presented in a form which affronted this conviction. That there is one spiritual self-conscious being, of which all that is real is the activity or expression; that we are related to this spiritual being, not merely as parts of the world which is its expression, but as partakers in some inchoate measure of the self-consciousness through which it at once constitutes and distinguishes itself from the world; that this participation is the source of morality and religion ; — this we take to be the vital truth which Hegel had to teach. It still remains to be presented in a form which will command some general acceptance among serious and scientific men.

Whoever would so present it, though he cannot drink too deep of Hegel, should sit rather looser to the dialectical method than Dr. Caird has done.”i This distrust of the Hegelian dialectic exhibits Green, it seems to us, as being nearer in mental sympathy and tendency to Lotze than to Hegel.

The notion of evolution, whether in its realistic or idealistic type, in proportion as it has entered into the intellectual atmosphere of the age, naturally has acted in a measure upon theological thinking. Emphasizing the process more than the single act, it favors the contemplation of revelation as a gradual unfolding of divine thought in and through a great historic movement. It

1 Works, iii. 146.

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tends also to give prominence to the office of the Christian consciousness to progressively realize new truth, reaching beyond, not indeed the principles of the gospel, but the imperfect apprehension of their bearing and consequences which has characterized each Christian age. At this point it is doubtless easy to run into exaggeration and utopianism; but the thorough investigator will be slow to deny that a large element of truth lies in the modified view of the mode and function of revelation.

As we have dealt only with prominent phases of philosophical thinking in Britain, we have of course paid no just tribute to many eminent writers. The names of Henry Calderwood, Robert Flint, John Cairns, Edward Caird, and others, would properly find a place in a closer and fuller survey of the field.

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CHAPTER IV.

AMERICA SINCE THE COLONIAL ERA.

1. —THE EXPERIMENT OF A FREE CHURCH IN THE UNITED

STATES.

THE
HE founders of the Republic were debarred by ser-

eral reasons from all thought of the union of Church and State. Their knowledge of history taught them that such a relation involved serious entanglements, and had been a prolific source of dissension, conflict, and oppression in European states. They found the country possessed by a number of religious denominations, between which there was no such inequality as to suggest the feasibility or propriety of placing one above the rest, and making it the favored communion, the national church. They held large views of personal liberty, and thought of government as rather a means of protecting the individual in his rights, and of giving expression to public intelligence in matters of common concern, than as a paternal institute, an authority set over a body of minors for the purpose of guiding and moulding them according to a prescribed pattern. Thus their view of the function of government, the religious complexion of the country, and the lessons of past history combined to urge upon them a policy of separation between the civil and the religious sphere. In the Fed

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