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force, as Goethe, Milton, and Emerson are forces. His gifts are rare, but not plenary and potent. His passion is pure, but not profound and elemental, nor the effect of his work upon us reorganizing and irresistible.
We reverted, at the outset, to the propriety of his use of the word "Idylls," and herein the poet made a safe estimate of his own gift and range.
Odes and sonnets, ballads, elegies, and idylls are the staple of his art, and mark his scope. When we speak of "The Princess" as an epic, and of "Harold" as a drama, it is by way of verbal accommodation, and in deference to the general merits of the author.
It is, indeed, Tennyson's "In Memoriam" that has made it possible to assign him to a higher rank than any of his other poems would justify. This poem is, in every sense, great, and marks the master; so great, indeed, in connection with the "Idylls," as to give a higher place to all his work and, despite his faults of mind and art, make it possible to assign him among England's Immortals in the field of letters.
As the years go on, his name and fame are widening; so that, whatever may be the special estimate of his genius or his work, as compared with that of his contemporaries, he may be said to be the most unique, conspicuous, and indispensable poet of the Victorian age. To have written "In Memoriam" and "The Idylls of the King" is enough to make an author permanently famous. There is, therefore,
a high sense in which, in view of modern poetic tendencies, we may say of Tennyson as Wordsworth sang of Milton,
"Thou shouldst be living at this hour.
England hath need of thee."
PROOFS OF DIVINE EXISTENCE.
BY PROFESSOR CORNELIUS WALKER, d.d.
IN a late theological publication, account is given of the prevalent drift of opinion just now in Germany, as to the validity of previously accepted proofs of the Divine ExistThis prevalent current of thought, part of the reaction of Ritschlianism from the dogmatic and positive in theology,-good, in certain respects, as is the case with all reactions, has also its extreme; and the question may be asked, whether such is not the result in this particular instance? The subject is so important that its discussion will not be out of place. The language of the article in question is singularly loose and indefinite in its use of terms; as also in its confusion of the two questions of the Divine Existence and the Divine Perfection. If there be the same confusion of thought and of expression in the writers spoken of, there need be no surprise at the result of their speculations.
"Efforts," it says, "are constantly made to find some mathematical, scientific, or philosophical demonstration that God exists." What is here meant by demonstration? Properly speaking, this word has reference to only one of three thus mentioned, the mathematical. It is only here that demonstration is possible; and mathematics cannot demonstrate a fact. Science or induction, in parts of its material and processes, deals not with demonstration, but in the probable. Philosophy, as in the region of first principles, self-evident or assumed to be so, cannot, in its very
nature, demonstrate them, especially the Principle of Allsufficient Reason, without which philosophy is not rationally possible. Truths, facts like that of the Divine existence, if proved as facts, must be by scientific or probable, not demonstrative evidence. Through such evidence, facts may be known, rationally certified, and made evident. The certitude, in the mind, from such evidence, the knowledge in such case, is as real, as rationally valid, as that from a mathematical process. Certainty, a state of mind, rational certitude, does not depend upon strict demonstration. The fact, thus proved and known, as it is not the result of demonstration, in one direction, so it is not that of faith, in another. Between these, there is an intermediate. Distinct, on the one side, from demonstration, and on the other from faith, there is rational, scientific, historical proof, and the certainty following. Such scientific proof and certainty, moreover, are not confined to the domain of physics. They belong, alike, to the psychological, the moral, the historical, and the theological.
And here we find the confusion of which we have already spoken. Wundt, one of the German theologians quoted, says, "We cannot prove a God. Rational, moral, and religious notions impel us to the idea of God, so there is valid ground for faith in him." Here the word "proof," covering all kinds, but just here meaning demonstration, is set over against rational, moral, and religious notions, proof probable. How in the absence of proof or evidence a rational, moral, or religious notion can impel to an idea, so as to afford ground for faith, in a fact without proof, is not explained. If rational or any other notions impel to an idea, the demand of reason, as of intelligent faith, is, How have we evidence, or proof, that this notion has its corresponding reality? Can it be verified? If so, it is the proper ground of faith. If not, the faith in it is credulity. While faith is distinguished from knowledge, it does not
imply the absence of knowledge. The man in the Gospel "saw and believed." His actual His actual knowledge of facts visible to observation led to faith in the proper inferences from such knowledge. Those who saw and did not believe had the same proof; and their want of faith was in the moral and rational failure to give that proof its proper consider
So again, as illustrative of the same indefiniteness of expression, Kant is quoted as saying, "It is necessary to have the conviction of God, but not necessary to demonstrate the fact." Facts, as already insisted upon, are not demonstrable; are only established upon proof admitting of degrees. Is not demonstration here used, as by Wundt, as the synonym of proof? If so, what is the ground of this valid conviction of a fact, without proof? Is it rational or irrational? Perhaps a nice distinction will be attempted here between positively irrational and negatively irrational. Whether it helps, is another question. Is conviction without proof, with a rational being, a valid one? If not, the faith grounded in it, as in the case preceding, is only credulity. Those exercising such faith cannot give answer to those asking a reason for the hope that is in them, and the faith upon which it is founded.
"It is admitted," is another of these statements, "it is admitted that God is an object of faith, not of absolute knowledge." Absolute knowledge is unrelated knowledge. As no finite being can have such knowledge in reference to any object, so no such being can have such knowledge as to God. And this statement, in appearance of such immeasurable profundity, if not nonsense, is a mere truism. The real issue in this matter is not that of absolute knowledge, but of real, positive knowledge, knowledge resting upon sufficient rational evidence. Faith which is thus contrasted with absolute knowledge is trust or confidence, not in arguments proving the existence of God, not in the
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knowledge of God supposing him known, but in God himself,-in his Person and character. Faith without knowledge or proof of the object of reliance and trust is faith in what? Men, it is to be said, have erected altars to an unknown God. The sort of faith which they had in him, was of no practical value.
"But there is room," we are further told, "in Christianity for an agnosticism which denies that God is an object of science, strictly so-called, but which does not deny that he may be an object of faith." Science is science, whether strictly so-called or not. Some people would say that physics, chemistry, biology, etc., are sciences strictly so-called, that psychology, ethics, theology are loosely so-called; in other words, are not sciences at all. When a theologian says this, he really says that the term theology is a misnomer, and that he, the theologian, is a humbug. Real science is truth certified, systematized, and unified. In all its fields, and in all its processes, as we have seen, it has its degrees of evidence, is not demonstrative, but satisfactorily provable. How God, or any other being, can be an object of faith is the difficulty with all these forms of so-called agnosticism. Can such Christianity say, with the Apostle, "I know him whom I have believed"? If it be urged that children and ignorant people have faith, the reply is, undoubtedly they do have it. But it is preceded, even in these, by some knowledge of God as the object of faith; upon evidence, rational grounds, the highest which, in their capacity, can be placed before them. "He that cometh" in such act of faith to God, "must believe that he is," that he exists. How? By an evolution of the idea, without reason or evidence; and then by an act of the will believing in it? Is it not rather as he manifests himself, or is manifested in nature, in his word, or in the experience and through the testimony of others? As thus, to some degree, an object of knowledge, he can become one