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known and Unknowable.' In language, which owes its eloquence of
fervour and reverential feeling to christian literature, Professor Clif-
ford speaks of a Presence,' a Great Companion, arising in the
hearts of men, which has borne many names,' but which he resolves
into the god of the Positivists, and calls it the Fatherman, who looks
out upon us

and
says,

. Before Jehovah was I am!' Miss Bevington, in articles which have appeared in the Nineteenth Century and elsewhere, without asserting that there is no God, has sought to show that morality need not suffer, even though we do not continue to accept the fundamental dogmas of Theism. The position of Sir William Hamilton and Dean Mansel is, that whilst we believe there is an infinite and absolute Power, we cannot know Him or prove His existence, the former reaching his finest climax in the sentence, The last and highest consecration of all true religion must be an altar to the Unknown and Unknowable God.' Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his first book of First Principles, carries a step further the doctrine put into shape by Hamilton and Mansel, showing that the belief in an absolute that not only transcends human knowledge, but human conception, lies the only possible reconciliation of science and religion.' There is one famous saying of that prophet of culture, Mr. Matthew Arnold, which inevitably places him in the list of Agnostics. He speaks of a power, not ourselves, a stream of tendency, that makes for righteousness,' evidently not being able to decide whether it is a personal or impersonal power. A comparison of the views of the writers quoted above will serve to show that they do not reject the doctrines of the Theist, but simply assert that they are unprovable, and, therefore, argue for a suspension of judgment upon them.

Although Agnosticism has rightly been called the philosophy of Nescience, it has, properly speaking, both a negative and a positive side. It informs us what we cannot know; it tells us also what we may know ; and in this latter sense, that is, in so far as it is positive, it is the outgrowth of Materialistic Evolution. No one can think that Hamilton and Mansel would have accepted all the positions of our great physicists; but, in their own way, they have maintained the doctrine of the Unknowable, which is the basis of Herbert Spencer's Materialistic system of philosophy, and the avowed cause of the attitude of mind assumed by all Agnostics in relation to ultimate truths, whether religious or scientific. The great metaphysician has barred up the course of human inquiry in one direction. And our Materialists propose to point out the only course of investigation that is admitted

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to be open to us; for every system of Materialistic Evolution starts from the premiss, in most cases suppressed, that only physical phenomena are properly objects of contemplation. The Personal Intelligent First Cause of the Theist may may not have an existence; but in either case he cannot be comprehended or even apprehended by us. And we are equally unable to make any positive affirmation respecting a future life, inasmuch as the theory involves that all that can be known about mind is that it is the result of the development of matter. Physical Science professes to have bridged the gulf between cold matter and conscious being. The universe, originally in an atomic

. condition, contains, according to the theories of the physicists, a given quantity of matter and a given quantity of motion, which, acting spontaneously through numberless stages, have produced every form of organic life, not even excepting man. There is a clear connection between the first gropings of the vital force in the "fire-mist' and the brain of Darwin. Every intellectual effort, every feeling of guilty remorse or self-satisfaction is simply the result of a change in the molecular construction of the body, the force of which might be guaged, providing there were a mechanical instrument sufficiently fine for the purpose. Granted appliances which we might expect will ere long be forthcoming, it is not too much to say that the scientist will be able to show the difference between the molecular movements that take place in Dr. Tyndall's nerves when he has put forth an intellectual effort that startles the British Association, and those which occur in the nerve-centres’ of a Norfolk clodhopper when he has won a ploughing match.

It is not difficult to see how this doctrine will affect our primary religious beliefs—our belief in a God, and our belief in a future life. In seeking for knowledge, we always start from the fact of self-consciousness. Whatever theory of the universe we adopt, it must rest ultimately on the veracity of the position, 'I know that I exist.'

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Before the point was mooted, 'What is God?'
No savage man inquired, “What am myself ?'
Much less replied, First, last, and best of things.'
Man takes that title now if he believes
Might can exist with neither will nor love
In God's case—what he names now, Nature's Law'-
While in himself he recognises love

No less than might and will: and rightly takes. Just because we have been accustomed to think we have a mind which is independent of matter, rather than its product, we have concluded there is an Infinite and Eternal Mind, who has designed the universe,

and who now superintends its vast and varied operations. But if we are only forms of life, pushed up out of the earth by the shooting stalk of Materialistic Evolution, there remains no longer a necessity for thinking that there is a Supreme Intelligence above all. As far as the requirements of thought are concerned, if we accept this position, God becomes a superfluity. And in relation to the doctrine of immortality, it is clear that as the doctrine of Evolution does not recognise the soul to be an entity, but simply a function of the body, the Evolutionist, to be consistent, should reject the generally-accepted dogma of a future life, and affirm that at the dissolution of the body the soul will cease to exist. And if there is any future life at all it will be when the atoms of which the body is composed shall have again segregated and developed into some new form or forms; and, of course, what is now a man will then have the chance of being a horse, a monkey, or an elephant, or a part of all the three. But, as we have already pointed out, he does not reject the theses of the Theist; he evidently has a suspicion that Materialism does not cover the whole field of truth, although he argues that it covers the entire domain of truth open to human investigation, and, seeing contradictions alike in Theism and Atheism, he refuses to pronounce judgment between the two.

But though no judgment is pronounced, the Agnostic position for all practical purposes amounts to an absolute denial of the fundamental doctrines of religion. If we suspend judgment upon them, we must act as if they were not true; and, in fact, the arguments and theory of the Agnostic tend to bring us to the conclusion that an affirmation of the existence of God and of man's immortality is not needed, and cannot logically be maintained. This being the case, Agnosticism and rank Atheism occupy exactly the same ground in relation to all questions of morals. Kant appears to have been fully aware of this, for after having said that no man knows that God and a future life exist,' he goes on to admit that a belief only that they may exist can only produce a negative morality. This result cannot be avoided by the reasonings of Hamilton, the great Christian Agnostic, on "negative thought,' a form of expression which may be proved from the author's own writings to be a simple absurdity. He has argued that ' in any act of thinking there are three things we can discriminate in consciousness : there is the thinking subject, there is the object about which we think, and there is the relation between subject and object of which we are conscious.' It is remarkable that the author of this statement should say in reference to negative thought, When we per

form an act of negative thought, this is done by thinking of something as not existing in this or that determinate mode. And when we think of it as existing in no determinate mode, we cease to think at all, it becomes nothing. If, then, we cannot think of God as He is, but only by means of negative conceptions, He becomes nothing in the process. According to the Theistic theory, a belief in His existence is necessary to a sense of moral obligation; but if He is reduced to a negative conception, for all practical purposes he ceases to be; while immortality is said to be an unproved and unprovable dogma. Whether or not the doctrines of the Theist be true, our attitude in all our thinkings, and feelings, and actings ought to be as though they were not true. There need be no other justification for this conclusion than the

ent that nearly all modern Agnostics have adopted the theories of life and morals propounded by the Positivists. It is impossible for them to build up theories on these subjects from the basis of what they cannot know. They must take for their data what is admitted may be known. Our reason, they say, should be used, not in seeking for an enlargement of our range of inquiry, but in striving to avoid error by limiting the field of our investigation to the world of reality and certainty. Unquestionably, from one point of view, this world of reality and certainty is extended enough; but however wide the prospect over which a man may gaze from his back door, if the outlook at the front is closed up, it cannot be considered a satisfactory state of things. If we have to be confined to this one point of view, we will be forced to some rather inconvenient conclusions. Huxley's “Hume, in John Morley's series of English Men of Letters,' is a perfect specimen of the Agnostic philosophy. Both the author and his subject have sought to destroy the doctrine of personal identity by arguing that our recognition of self is simply a series of perceptions, strung together by a something they do not venture to define. There is no substratum of personality in which mental phenomena inhere, mind is simply the sumtotal of perceptions; and when these perceptions cease, as in sleep, the mind ceases to exist. It is further argued that we have no right to claim identity with our former selves, because such identity is unprovable. It will be seen that no account is here taken of the testimony of memory, which asserts not what I am,' but what •I was.' The Agnostic will not admit the validity of this assertion in respect of passed away states of existence, our consciousness being only the testimony of present perceptions of a present state.

Will suffers no less than personal identity. We are the effects of an eternal string of causes; and if it be said by a man that he can do what

.

he likes, the Agnostic replies that he cannot like to do anything, but only what is according to his constitution, and his constitution has already been determined by a blind, relentless causation. In other words, the only deity that can be known—the law of evolution—is as uncompromising in its dealings with man as in its dealings with all other existences. Every change of the past is a cause of the present and future condition of being, and this condition is as unalterable, by means of human volition, as the flowing of the tides or the courses of the sun and moon.

Equally unsatisfactory are the explanations given by this school of thought respecting moral life and the law of obligation. It has been thought that the recognition of a personal power—an eternal goodness external to ourselves—is a necessary condition for moral law to uphold itself. But the Agnostic undertakes to show that morality will lose none of its beauty, and, although some of its false sanctions may go, it will lose none of its real sanctions if our religions expire and our creeds be buried. Vice will always be that which is generally mischievous— virtue that which is beneficial to the race, and the love of humanity, together with the upward stream of tendency,' will be a sufficient safeguard from vileness, and secure for mankind all the moral development that is needful. If anything more is required, like Mr. Matthew Arnold, we may weave for ourselves an ideal God, that may

curb our evil propensities and fill us with an admiration for, and an ambition to attain to, a more blessed state of being. Thus, virtue and happiness become convertible terms.

For the sake of this untried scheme, we are asked to give up our system of morals at the very basis of which lies our faith in God and a future life. Before doing so it would be wise to remember that whether or not morality would continue to be what it now is and even develop into something higher by sinking our faith in the unseen, it is a fact that all the best types of morality hitherto have been bound up with a belief in God. Whither can we turn for our lessons in truth and purity, and from whence has come the stream of tendency making for righteousness,' whose power for good to man is so loudly preached ? Ancient Agnosticism is embodied in the teachings of Buddhism; and what has it done for the development of the race? It has produced a dreamy, lifeless, stunted manhood, inferior in every respect to the energetic and progressive type of human nature which has obtained under our Western Theism. When we turn to the idealistic Greeks, we find we can learn something from them respecting beauty and art, but nothing whatever about purity. It is to the

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