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theistic Hebrews, the fundamental doctrine of whose faith is the existence of a 'Power not ourselves,' who is a Personal and Intelligent Power, that we are obligated for a rule of life that has held its position in the highest forms of civilisation the world has known, and a practical morality unequalled at least by the otber nations of ancient times. Christianity is the last, and, our opponents themselves will admit, the highest form of Theism, and in its central figure there are a blended purity and tenderness that have done more to produce holiness of life amongst men than all other operating forces. These results have been produced because there has been in the mind of the Theist a consciousness of the existence of a Supreme Lawgiver, whose prerogative it is to reward the right and punish the wrong. The impartial Agnostic admits all this, but takes care to add that Theism, taking more for granted than is warrantable, is now superseded, the race having outgrown its teachings. In the white heat of scientific investigation it must evaporate, and mankind in the future must carry on the work of progress by new and better methods. Mr. Mallock in his book, Is Life Worth Living ? has, we think, successfully combatted this position, showing that none of the substitutes offered in place of God will serve the required purposes of morality; that, in fact, with nothing more than these substitutes moral life will become colourless, vice and virtue indistinguishable. If pleasure and virtue are the same thing, vileness, with good sanitary conditions, unaccompanied by remorse, or scandal, or disease, will no longer be moral evil. This, at any rate, is a different thing from theistic morality, which condemns an evil act all the more if it is not attended with remorse, and does not allow sanitary conditions in the least to affect its verdict. Whether or not it is a better as well as a different morality, it ought not to be difficult to determine. Besides, as there is no future life to be taken into the account, may not the man whom we call wicked, if he is prudently wicked, have the advantage of him whom we call upright, but who has to struggle hard against disadvantages of constitution and of circumstances to the end of his life to maintain his integrity? Why struggle if all his struggling does is to add a trifle to the force and volume of the stream of tendency that makes for righteousness ?' His little drop given to swell the current of Niagara will not make any perceptible difference. Let him
Buy the merry madness of one hour
With the long irksomeness of following time.' But the use of the word “struggle' suggests another difficulty, proving how completely out of harmony with human experience is the
Agnostic position. According to this position, we are physically and morally subject to a law of necessity, and must do that which past events have already determined we shall do. Another meaning must, therefore, be attached to the word struggle,' and the race will settle down into a state of utter moral indifference. Of moral defeat the Agnostic must be regardless, and equally regardless of moral victory, if indeed they may be called by such names. Man has no power of volition, and therefore, to use the words of Professor Huxley, ‘his responsibility has nothing to do with the causation of his acts. As if afraid of the consequences of this assertion, the learned Professor goes on to say that man is responsible for the frame of mind that accompanies those acts. But, according to his own showing, frames of mind are the result of molecular motion, which all the complex changes of matter throughout past time have fixedly determined, so that responsibility can have reference neither to acts nor frames of mind. But if, for the sake of argument, we were to grant him all he says, it becomes a question how we are to determine upon the frame of mind that would make a lie a good action.
These are some of the more general consequences of the adoption of the Agnostic philosophy. They are not pleasant to contemplate. "Never,' says an English writer, who styles himself “Physicus,'' in the history of man has so terrific a calamity befallen the race as that which all who look may now behold, advancing as a deluge, black with destruction, resistless in might, uprooting our most cherished hopes, engulfing our most cherished creed, and burying our highest life in mindless destruction.' But however deplorable the consequence, if it is true, the stream of tendency'-the force of evolution—will bear us on to it, and we shall have to meet the "black destruction' that is
resistless in might.' Is it true? If we have to be shut up to scientific methods of investigation, we must submit ourselves to the inevitable with as good grace as possible. But if the eye of sense cannot see the Theist's God, this does not prove that He is altogether the Unknowable, for spiritual things are spiritually discerned. We do not question the existence of love, because, as yet, we have not been able to discover its constituent elements by means of the crucible and the laboratory fires. The position of the Agnostic is similar to that of a man who shuts his eyes and keeps his ears open, and then asks for a suspension of judgment on the question, is there light ? because he cannot hear it. If a man proposes to seek for God by the faculties which, from the Dature of the case, cannot find Him, leaving unemployed those by which he might be successful in his search, it cannot be said that the
search has been fairly conducted; and we may legitimately be excused from accepting his conclusions. But if our inner consciousness may be used as the instrument of investigation, we may arrive at a certain knowledge of the existence of God and at a limited acquaintance with His nature. If we are conscious of a will which is the cause of our action, and then look out on the universe, we come to a knowledge of the Supreme Will, which is the cause—the primary cause of its phenomena. Our consciousness of intelligence and our experience of its operations lead us to think of a Supreme Intelligence who orders the universe. And our moral consciousness brings to light a Supreme Lawgiver.
The whole question of the soul's immortality is to be determined by a solution of the difficulty, Is mind an entity or a function of the brain?' The Materialist says it is the latter, and proposes to prove his assertion by showing that every mental operation is attended by molecular movements in the nerves. But this does not really account for mental operations—it only removes the question further back. If he can show that molecular motions produce as well as attend mental operations, the dispute will be settled. This he has failed to do hitherto; and, in view of his failure, we are at liberty to hold by the opposite thesis—that it is mental operations that produce molecular change. The Agnostic is well aware of the difficulty that is thus presented, Tyndall himself admitting that the passage from the physics of the brain to the facts of consciousness is unthinkable.' Professor Clifford has made an attempt to meet this difficulty that is scarcely worthy of an exact thinker, by offering the assumption that all matter is what he calls mind-stuff,' a stuff having in it the potentiality of every mental experience, the courage of the hero, the benevolence of the philanthropist, and the wisdom of the philosopher. Had the Professor not been a man of light and leading, and the writer nobody, the latter would have been inclined to say, "stuff and nonsense.' Remembering our relative position, we will state, that to make such an assumption is to beg the whole question.
The fundamental position of the Agnostic is an insult to human nature, and, if admitted to be tenable, would be a reflection on all past methods of human progress. It asks for a suspension of judg. ment on all subjects that are not completely within our grasp and comprehension, whereas, all the most fruitful lines of thought and discovery, all the most fruitful lines of moral organisation and social regeneration, all the most fruitful lines of spiritual self-government and purification begin with assumptions involving, more or less, what man can never fully comprehend, though he may apprehend them. "The world, by wisdom, has not known God;' but, by faith, He may be known; and those who thus know Him are, by their knowledge, saved. We must admit of difficulties in the Theistic position; but to admit them is only to imply that there is room for a higher revelation of His character, such a revelation as we have in Christ and His Gospel. Meanwhile, as the conflict of opinion proceeds, we may ask, Which will triumph—the Gospel, that reveals God in the face of His Son, and which brings life and immortality to light, or the creed of Nescience, which tells us we cannot know anything of either ?' There is a magnificent array of intellect ranged on the side of the latter. But the heart of the race is with the Theist, and in this instance we are inclined to trust to the power of the heart rather than to the power of the intellect. Readily acknowledging there is much of the • Unseen' that is Unknowable, we feel that the little that we know is infinitely precious to us. And believing that the Agnostic is in error, we may hope that, ere long, that will be revealed to the wise and prudent which is now hid from them, and only known to babes. Until then, in view of their inconsistencies, their ideal substitutes for God, and their strange devotion to what they call ‘Humanity in the abstract,' we may banter them with the sarcasm of Him of Nazareth, ‘Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.'
VII.—THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL: ITS STRONG
AND WEAK POINTS.
THE Sunday-school, though but a century old, is already become one of the leading institutions of the age. The occurrence of its Centenary year offers a suitable occasion for submitting its several features to a more careful examination than may have been previously bestowed
The institution, as our title implies, presents to view both strong and weak points, that is, both strong and weak features. This fact is too plain to require proof. And our present object in making these a subject of discussion is to attempt, through the Divine blessing, the performance of our little part in conserving the strength and removing the weakness of an institution which has already been inestimably useful, and which, undoubtedly, is destined to be far more so.
It will be pleasant to begin with the bright side of the theme the strong points of the Sunday-school. Happily, these are both numerous and important, and we now proceed to an enumeration of some of them.
Going at once to the bottom of the subject, we remark that the Sunday-school is strong in its foundation. This foundation is not the shifting sand of human opinion, but the immovable rock of Divine revelation. For, though this institution is not expressly named in Scripture, its principle, its germ is there, and finds forcible expression in many places. Take a few instances. In Psalm lxxviii. 5-7, it is written, · For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them unto their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. In this beautiful portion of Scripture some may discern nothing but a representation made to parents of the necessity and design of teaching the Word of God to their children. We think, however, we can see more than this. For the term “fathers' frequently means ancestors, elders, in addition to its usual sense; and the term children’ often denotes the juvenile inhabitants of a country or