Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Theism
THE term theism has three significations. In its widest acceptation its object is the Divine, whether regarded as personal or impersonal, as one being or as a number of beings. In this sense theism is coextensive with religion and worship, includes all forms of polytheism and of pantheism, as well as all varieties of monotheism, and so may be said to denote the genus of which polytheism, pantheism, and monotheism are species. The conception of the Divine, in its utmost abstractness and generality, is, however, so vague that it may reason ably be doubted if the forms of theism, thus understood, can be distributed into strictly logical and natural species, with definitions at once perfectly distinct in themselves and exactly accordant with phenomena. It may seem as if polytheism and monotheism must, by arithmetical necessity, be exclusive of each other and exhaustive of theism; but this is not so. Pantheism may clearly partake of the nature of both, and has been sometimes extravagantly polytheistic, sometimes only doubtfully dis tinguishable from fully developed monotheism. Probably few, if any, polytheistic religions are purely polytheistic, or, in other words, do not imply in some mode and measure the unity as well as the plurality of the Divine. Christian monotheism answers to a formal definition of monotheism only inasmuch as it holds to the unity of the Godhead, but contravenes it inasmuch as it holds that in the one Godhead there are three Divine persons, each God.
The complete negation of theism in its generic sense is atheism—the denial of the existence or of the knowability of the Divine. It is only in modern times that the word atheism has acquired this meaning, only in recent times that it has come to be exclusively employed with this meaning. The Greeks meant by it simply disbelief in the Greek gods. The early Christians were called atheists because they refused to acknowledge the pagan deities. Protestants have been charged by Roman Catholics and Roman Catholics by Protestants with atheism. Through out even the 18th century the word was used in an extremely loose manner, and often affixed to systems by which the existence and agency of God were unequivocally recognized. Atheism, in the sense now generally admitted to be alone appropriate, may be of three species, namely, denial of the existence of the Divine, denial that the Divine has been shown to exist, and denial that it can be known that the Divine exists. The first species has been called dogmatic atheism, the second critical atheism; and the third has been designated, and may conveniently be de signated, religious agnosticism. Agnosticism per se should not be identified with atheism or with any of its forms. The term antitheism has been used by some theologians, e.g., Chalmers and Foster, as equivalent to dogmatic atheism; but it may with much more practical advantage be employed to denote all systems of belief opposed to theism, either in the generic sense already indicated, or in the specific sense of monotheism. Understood in this latter mode, it is much more comprehensive than the term atheism. Polytheism and pantheism are alike antitheistic theories, although on different grounds; while only those theories which deny that there is evidence for belief even in the existence of any god, any divine being, are atheistic.
It is somewhat remarkable that the term theism by itself never occurs in its etymological and generic sense, never means as a separate word what it means in the compounds atheism, polytheism, pantheism, and monotheism. Ordinarily it is identified with monotheism, and consequently opposed to polytheism and to pantheism, as well as to atheism. Whereas polytheism acknowledges a plurality of finite gods, theism as monotheism acknowledges only one absolute infinite God. Whereas pantheism regards all finite things as merely aspects, modifications, or parts of one eternal self-existent being all material objects and all particular minds as necessarily derived from a single infinite substance, and thus combines, in its conception of the Divine, monism and determinism, theism as mono theism, while accepting monism, rejects determinism, and attributes to the Divine all that is essentially implied in free personal existence and agency. Pantheism is, how ever, wonderfully protean, and rarely conforms to its ideal; hence the systems called pantheistic are seldom purely pantheistic, and are often more monotheistic than pantheistic.
and with a protest against either being opposed to revela tion (Characteristics, vol. ii. p. 209, ed. 1727). Kant, in his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, explicitly distinguished and opposed deism and theism, but in a very peculiar manner. " The person who believes in a transcendental theology alone is termed a deist; he who acknowledges the possibility of a natural theology also, a theist. The former admits that we can cognize by pure reason alone the existence of a supreme being, but at the same time maintains that our conception of this being is purely transcendental, and that all that we can say of it is that it possesses all reality, without being able to define it more closely. The second asserts that reason is capable of presenting us, from the analogy of nature, with a more definite conception of this being, and that its operations, as the cause of all things, are the results of intelligence and .free will. The former regards the supreme being as the cause of the world whether by the necessity of his nature, or as a free agent, is left undetermined; the latter considers this being as the author of the world " ( Werke, ii. 491, edited by Rosenkranz, Meiklejohn's tr., 387-8). The account here given of deism seems neither self-con sistent nor intelligible, and applies, equally well or equally ill, to every system atheistic, agnostic, pantheistic, ideal istic, or materialistic which admits the existence but not the intelligence or personality of an Urwesen, eternal being, or first cause; and the account of theism excludes all reference to revelation, and applies to every form of what has been regarded as deism. In recent theology deism has generally come to be regarded as, in common with theism, holding in opposition to atheism that there is a God, and in opposition to pantheism that God is distinct from the world, but as differing from theism in maintain ing that God is separate from the world, having endowed it with self-sustaining and self-acting powers, and then abandoned it to itself. This distinction is real, and perhaps the best attainable. At the same time many called deists must be admitted not to have taught deism thus understood; for example, most of the " English deists " did not deny that God was present and active in the laws of nature, but merely denied that He worked otherwise than through natural laws. If by deism be meant belief in a personal God who acts only through natural laws, and by theism belief in a personal God who acts both through natural laws and by special interven tions, this distinction also is real, and may be useful. The chief objection to it is that deism when so contrasted with theism does not denote, or even include, what theologians have generally agreed to call by the name.Sometimes the term theism is employed in a still more special sense, namely, to denote one of two kinds of monotheism, the other kind being deism. Although deus and theos are equivalent, deism has come to be distinguished from theism. The former word first appeared in the 16th century, when it was used to designate antitrinitarian opinions. In the 17th century it came to be applied to the view that the light of nature is the only light in which man can know God, no special revelation having been given to the human race. Dr Samuel Clarke, in the Boyle Lectures preached in 1705, distributed deists into four classes. The first class " pretend to believe the existence of an eternal, infinite, independent, intelli gent being, and, to avoid the name of Epicurean atheists, teach also that this supreme being made the world; though at the same time they agree with the Epicureans in this, that they fancy God does not at all concern Himself in the government of the world, nor has any regard to, or care of, what is done therein." The second class acknow ledge not only that God made all things, but that He sustains and governs them, yet deny that He has any regard in His government to moral distinctions, these being merely the products of human will and law. The third class believe in the being, natural attributes, pro vidence, and to some extent in the moral attributes and government of God, but deny the immortality of the soul and a future state of rewards and punishments. The fourth class acknowledge the being, natural and moral perfections, and providence of God, as also the immor tality of the soul and a future state of rewards and punishments, yet profess to believe only what is discover able by the light of nature, without believing any divine revelation (Clarke, On the Attributes, pp. 140-153, ed. 1823). This division is not an exact classification, nor does it rest on any precise definition of deism, but it, with substantial accuracy, discriminates and grades the varieties of English deism. Clarke did not contrast deism with theism, or even employ the latter word. His contem porary, Lord Shaftesbury, on the other hand, generally used the term theism, yet only as synonymous with deism,
The present article will treat specially of theism in the sense of monotheism, but not to the exclusion of the relations between theism thus understood and theism in other acceptations.
possibility, therefore, can the analysis of existing languages disclose to us the oldest name for deity or the historical origin of the idea of deity. Geology shows the vast antiquity of man, and nothing proves that he may not have been awed or comforted by thoughts of the Divine ages before the invention of the oldest Aryan or Semitic words. It is merest conjecture to assign the formation of the conception of deity to the dawn of historic time. Between primitive speech, primitive religion, the primitive condition of man, and the little streak of light called human history there stretches an immeasurable expanse of darkness.Monotheism has been very generally assumed to have been the primitive religion. Lord Herbert, Cudworth, and others have elaborately defended this opinion in the past, and it still finds learned advocates. On the other hand, the vast majority of recent anthropologists hold that religion originated in some rude phase of polytheism, and that monotheism has been everywhere preceded by poly theism. Schelling, Max Miiller, and Hartmann have main tained that the starting-point of religion was henotheism, an imperfect kind of monotheism, in which God was thought of as one, only because others had not yet presented them selves to the mind, a monotheism of which polytheism was not the contradiction, but the natural development. Pantheism has also been frequently represented to be the earliest phase of religion. All these representations, how ever, will be found on examination to be very conjectural. The present state of our knowledge does not warrant our holding any view regarding the nature of primeval religion as established. The data which carry us farthest in our search for the historical origin of religion are undoubtedly the names expressive of the Divine which have been pre served in the most ancient languages. They show us how men conceived of the Divinity long before the erection of the oldest monuments or the inscription of the oldest records. Language is much older than any of the state ments in language. But language by no means carries us Evidence back to primitive man, or even to the historical origin of of lan ". the idea of deity. The Egyptian word nutar and the ^ a e "** names of the Egyptian gods found in the oldest Egyptian inscriptions prove that at a date long before the Egyptians wrote history, or are known to have worshipped animals or ancestors, they conceived of Divinity as power, and their deities as great cosmic forces; but, as that word and these names cannot be shown to have belonged to man's primitive speech, they cannot show what was man's primitive religious belief, and do not disprove that the forefathers of the people who first used them may have had some lower and ruder conception of the Divine than that which they convey. There are, according to Dr Legge, no words in the Chinese language known to be older than ti, fien, shang-ti, and these words are good historical evidence that the Chinese conceived of the Divine, thousands of years before the Christian era, as a universal ruling power, comprehending the visible heavens, and an invisible, infinite, omnipresent force, manifested in the azure of the firmament, possessed so far of intellectual and moral qualities, and working towards ethical ends. There is no evidence that when the Chinese first used these words they worshipped fetiches, but neither is there evidence to the contrary, and even if there were it would not disprove that the ancestors of the Chinese had passed through an era of fetichism. All members of the Semitic family of languages have the word El, or some modifica tion of it, to denote deity, and hence we may conclude that the Semites had the word in this sense before they separated and became distinct peoples, but not that the idea of God originated when the word was first thus employed. All members of the Teutonic group of languages have the word God, or some slightly modified form thereof, and all members of the Slavic group of languages have the word Bog, or some modification thereof, to express the same conception: it does not follow that either Teutons or Slavs had no idea of deity until the former so applied the word God, and the latter so applied the word Bog. Both Teutons and Slavs are Aryans, and there is an older Aryan term for deity than either God or Bog. The Sanscrit (leva, the Latin deus, and the northern ti, tivar, are forms of a word which must have been used by the Aryans to express their idea of the Divine when, in a prehistoric age, they lived together in their original home; but we are not entitled to infer that even that prehistoric Aryan term is the oldest word for deity. It may not be older than the primitive Semitic word or the primitive Turanian word, or the nutar of the Egyptians, or the fien of the Chinese, or the earliest designations for the Divine in the earliest African and American languages. And there may have been Divine names older than any of these. The science of language has been able to recon struct in part a prehistoric Aryan language, and may similarly be able to reconstruct a prehistoric Semitic language, a prehistoric Turanian, and perhaps a prehistoric Hamitic language. Should it proceed thus far it will probably perceive that all these prehistoric languages arose out of a still earlier prehistoric language in which also were words expressing ideas of the Divine. There may be many strata of language buried too deep for human excavation in the abysses of unrecorded time. By no
are ascribed to T'ien, and such ascriptions are exceptional in Chinese writings of any date. The great development of ancestor worship in China has been largely due to the impersonal character of T'ien. The arguments which have been adduced in support of the hypothesis of a primitive Semitic monotheism are also insufficient. M. Kenan's belief in a monotheistic instinct peculiar to the Semitic race has been so often and so convincingly shown to be contradicted both by history and psychology that another refutation of it might well be regarded as a mere slaying of the slain. Divine names like El, Baal, Adon, and Melech, being the oldest terms in the Semitic languages expressive of the Divinity, and having been retained through all the changes and perversions of Semitic religion, have often been maintained to imply that primitive Semitic belief was monotheistic. But in reality Baal, Melech, and Adon were not names originally, or indeed at any time, given to the one Supreme God, or exclusively to any particular god; on the contrary, they were titles applicable to many different gods. The oldest historical form of Aryan religion the form in which the Vedas present it is designated by Max Miiller henotheism, in opposition to the organized anthropomorphic polytheism to which he restricts the term polytheism, but henotheism thus understood includes polytheism in its wider and more ordinary acceptation, while it excludes monotheism properly so called. The oldest known form of Aryan religion was indubitably polytheistic in the sense of being the worship of various nature-deities; and everything approximating to monotheism in India, Persia, Greece, and other Aryan-peopled lands was the product of later and more advanced thought. The assertion that history everywhere or even anywhere shows religious belief to have commenced with monotheism is not only unsupported by evidence, but contrary to evidence.It is impossible to prove historically that monotheism was the primitive religion. Were, then, the oldest known historical forms of religion monotheistic? Many maintain they were, but adequate evidence has never been adduced for the opinion. The oldest known religion is probably the Egyptian, and for at least three thousand years its history can be traced by the aid of authentic records contemporary with the facts to which they relate. Its origin, however, is not disclosed by Egyptian history, and was unknown to the Egyptians themselves. When it first appears in the light of history it has already a definite form, a character not rude and simple, but of considerable elevation and subtility, and is complex in contents, having certain great gods, but not so many as in later times, ancestor-worship, but not so developed as in later times, and animal worship, but very little of it as compared with later times. For the opinion that its lower elements were older than the higher there is not a particle of properly historical evidence, not a trace in the inscriptions of mere propitiation of ancestors, or of belief in the absolute divinity of kings or animals; on the contrary, ancestors are always found propitiated through prayer to some of the great gods, kings worshipped as emanations and images of the sun-god, and the divine animals adored as divine symbols and incarnations. The greater gods mentioned on the oldest tombs and in the oldest writings are comparatively few, and their mere names Osiris, Horus, Thoth, Seb, Nut, Anubis, Apheru, Ra, Isis, Neith, Apis conclusively prove that they were not ancient kings or deceased ancestors, but chiefly powers of nature, and especially, although not exclusively, of the heavens; yet from the earliest historical time they were regarded as not merely elemental, but as also ethical powers, working indeed visibly and physically in the aspects and agents of nature, yet in conformity to law and with intelligence and moral purpose. Wherever the powers of nature are thus worshipped as gods, the feeling that the separate powers are not all power, that the particular deities are not the whole of divinity, must be entertained and will find expression. The Egyptians had undoubtedly such a sense of the unity of the Divine from the dawn of their history, and they expressed it so strongly in various ways from a very early period that they have been pronounced monotheists not merely by theologians attached to a traditional dogma but by most eminent Egyptologists De Rouge, Mariette, Brugsch, and Renouf. As these scholars, how ever, truthfully present the facts, they satisfactorily refute themselves. A religion with about a dozen great gods distinct as regards their names, characteristics, histories, relationships, symbols, and worship is not monotheism in the ordinary or proper sense of the term. A religion in which the Divine is viewed as merely immanent in nature, and the deities deemed physical as well as moral, elemental as well as ethical powers, is rather pantheistic than mono theistic. Further, all assertions to the effect that the unity of the Divine is most emphatically expressed in the earliest historical stages of the religion are contrary to the evidence adduced even by those who make them. To quote Patah-Hotep as a proof of the monotheism of the Egyptian religion in its oldest historical phase is as uncritical as it would be to draw Homeric theology from the dialogues of Plato. The Egyptian religion was a polytheism which implied monism; it was not mono theism, which is exclusive of polytheism. Hence, not withstanding frequent approximations to monotheism, tbe general result of the development of its monistic principles was pantheism, not monotheism. As to the ancient Chinese religion, Dr Legge easily shows that Prof. Tiele's description of it as "a purified and organized worship of spirits, with a predominant fetichist tendency," has no historical warrant, but he fails completely to substantiate his own view, namely, that it was a strict and proper monotheism. The names T ien and Ti afford no evidence that the early Chinese fathers regarded deity as truly and properly spiritual and personal. It is not in the most ancient Chinese writings that spirituality and personality
heart of the devout may be directed exclusively to the power of the powers, the God in the gods, God simply, the Divinity. The formation of names expressing Divinity in the abstract is an evidence of the existence of such a process, and names of the kind are to be found even among very rude peoples. But there are more obvious and con clusive indications. In one of the most ancient of books, for example, and probably the oldest manuscript in the world, the maxims of Patah-Hotep, a wise Egyptian prince of the fifth dynasty, God simply (nutar) is often spoken of without a name or any mythological characteristic, and in a way which is in itself quite monotheistic. "If any one beareth himself proudly he will be humbled by God, who maketh his strength." "If thou art a wise man, bring up thy son in the love of God." "God loveth the obedient, and hateth the disobedient." Sentences like these standing alone would be pronounced by every one monotheistic; and even when standing alongside of refer ences to "gods" and "powers" they show that said gods and powers were not deemed by the Egyptian sage incon sistent with oneness of power and godhead or exhaustive of their fulness. In Babylonian- Assyrian religious history there are also distinct traces of the rise of the spirits of worshippers above particular deities, simply to deity. Sometimes they appear with special clearness in con nexions which tell of awakened and afflicted conscience, of the pressure of a sense of sin and guilt forcing on the heart, as it were, a conviction of One with whom it has to deal, of its need of the forgiveness and favour, not of this god or of that, but of God. The following passage may be cited as an instance. " O my Lord, my sins are many, my trespasses are great, and the wrath of the gods has plagued me with disease, and with sickness and sorrow. I fainted, but no one stretched forth his hand! I groaned, but no one heard! O Lord, do not abandon Thy servant; in the waters of the great stream do Thou take his hand; the sins which he has committed do Thou turn to righteousness." Many parallel passages might be drawn from Hindu, Greek, and other sources. Clearness of moral perception is decidedly favourable to monotheistic belief. The practical reason contributes as well as the speculative reason, and precisely in the measure of its healthiness and vigour, to the formation of a true idea of the Divine. It was due more to their moral earnestness and insight than to their intellectual superiority that the Persians came nearer to monotheism than any other people of heathen antiquity. Ahriman was entirely evil, and therefore only to be hated and combated; while Ahuramazd was abso lutely divine, perfectly good, and therefore to be supremely worshipped and obeyed. This moral dualism approached more closely to true monotheism than the later speculative monism, which placed above both Ahuramazd and Ahriman Zervanakarene, boundless time, indeterminate being, an ethically indifferent destiny. Finally, reason in striving to understand and explain the world tends towards mono theism. The mind cannot be expected to recognize the unity of God until it recognizes the unity of nature; when it sees nature to be a whole, a universe or cosmos, it cannot but form a conception of it which will be panthe istic, if the unity of substance, law, and evolution be alone acknowledged, and monotheistic if a unity of causality, rational plan, and ethical purpose be also apprehended. In the measure in which reason advances either on the path of scientific investigation or of philosophical specu lation, polytheism must retreat and disappear; in the measure in which it discerns unity, order, system, moral government, indications of spiritual character and design in the world, monotheism must rise and spread. Now, in the chief progressive heathen nations reason, it can be proved, has gradually gained on imagination. Hence the polytheisms which they built up in their youth have been undermined and broken down by them in their maturity.While the oldest known religions of the world were thus not forms of monotheism, neither were they mere poly theisms, wholly devoid of monistic and monotheistic germs and tendencies. The Chinese religion, indeed, can hardly be said to have been at any period a polytheism, the Chinese people no more regarding spirits and deceased ancestors as gods than Roman Catholics so regard angels and saints. They have throughout their whole known history explicitly and clearly acknowledged the unity of the Divine the uniqueness of T'ien (Ti, Shang-Ti). Had they in like manner acknowledged the spirituality, personality, transcendence of the Divine, their monotheism would have been indubitable. Then, even in those ancient religions, where a plurality of deities is apparent, a sense of the unity of the Divine is notwithstanding implied, and in the course of their development comes to expression in various ways. It could not be otherwise, for in these religions the divine powers (deities) are also powers of nature, and hence sprung from and participant in a mysterious common nature, an ultimate and universal agency which is at once the source of physical and divine existences and forces. Neither nature-deities nor powers of nature are ever conceived of, or indeed can be conceived of, as entirely distinct and independent. The lowest forms of polytheism, such as fetichism and animism, have no more marked characteristic than the indefiniteness of their idea of the Divine and the imperfect individualization of their deities. In the highest forms of nature-worship, e.g., the Vedic, Egyptian, and Baby Ionian- Assyrian, the same trait is perceptible. This implicit monism of natureworship may, through the action of various causes, come to explicit utterance in diverse modes, and has in fact done so, with the result that even in the oldest known poly theisms are to be found remarkable approximations to monotheism. One form of approximation was henotheism. When worship is ardent and earnest the particular god worshipped is apt to have ascribed to him the attributes, as it were, of all the gods an almost absolute and exclusive godhead. Max Müller has shown how prominent a phenomenon henotheism is in the Vedas. Page Renouf has shown that it is very conspicuous also in the ancient inscriptions and hymns of Egypt. Horus, Ra, Osiris, Amun, Knum, were severally spoken of as if each were absolute God, invested not only with distinctive divine attributes but with all divine attributes. In the religious records of Babylon and Assyria monotheistic approximations of the same kind are likewise common. Now, in themselves such monotheistic modes of expression may truly be held to be the products of passing moods of mind, not reflexions of permanent conviction. But every mood of mind tends to perpetuate itself, and the enthusiasm of piety which utters itself in henotheistic praises and prayers may take abiding possession of the soul of a powerful ruler or even of the hearts of a whole class of society or of a whole people, and may seem to them to find the strongest possible confirmation in experience. We may illustrate from Assyrian religious history. Tiglath-Pileser showed a marked preference for the worship of Asshur, to him "king of all the gods," "he who rules supreme over the gods." Nebuchadnezzar, again, showed a great partiality for the god Merodach, and applied exclusively to him such magnificent titles as " the lord of all beings," " the lord of the house of the gods," " the lord of lords," " the lord of the gods," "the king of heaven and earth." Nabonidus, on the other hand, specially revered Sin, the moon-god, and represented him as " the great divinity," " the king of gods upon gods," " the chief and king of the gods of heaven and earth." A preference of this kind might arise from some merely accidental or personal cause, and be confirmed by experiences mainly individual, and yet have a vast historical influence. The devotional choice of a people must tend, however, still more than that of any monarch to the elevation of one god towards absolute godhead. It was accordingly what raised Asshur, the special national god of the Assyrians, to the head of the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon during the Assyrian period. In a struggle of deities for supremacy the national god has an immense advantage in that he has both the piety and the patriotism of the people on his side. His rule is identified with providence; he is credited with all the victories and successes of the nation; and his power and godhead seem certified by fact and experience. The logic of events in every advancing nation combines with the essential tendencies of piety and with the growth of conscience and reason to promote belief in the unity and perfection of the Divine. The general course of providence is no more polytheistic than it is atheistic. The best exemplification of the operation of the piety of an influential class in transcending polytheism is Brahmanism. But for the impulse given by Brahmanical piety Brahmanical speculation would never have reduced the Vedic gods to manifestations of Brahma. Henotheistic forms of approximation to mono theism are not, however, the only ones. Particular gods all of them may be dropped out of view, and the generic thought of God alone retained. The mind and
THEISM 239 Mono theism in Israel. Old Testa ment theology. New Testa ment theology. spirit, self-thinking reason, the vo^crt? vo^o-ews ; the one perfect being, whose life is completely blessed, and whose likeness is the goal towards which the whole universe tends. Stoicism was originally and predominantly a materialistic or hylozoic form of pantheism ; but some of its greatest representatives conceived of God in a decid edly theistic manner as the supreme moral reason. The beautiful hymn of Cleanthes to Zeus is full of the purest devotional feeling, springing from a clear sense of personal relationship to the one all-ruling personal Spirit. Greek philosophy proceeded throughout its whole course in entire independence of the popular polytheism, and was a con tinuous demonstration of its futility ; and it largely con tributed to that reasoned natural knowledge of God which must underlie all rational belief in revelation. It discerned in some measure all the chief arguments which have since been employed as theistic proofs. It failed, however, to conceive of God as truly creative, or of the universe as in its very substance the result of divine action ; it failed also to make evident, even to cultured minds, the superiority of monotheism to pantheism and scepticism ; and it failed especially to convert the common people to faith in one sole Deity. 1 Israel presents us with the first example of a mono theistic nation. The controversies as to how Israel ac quired this pre-eminence can only be decided by critical and historical investigations into which we cannot here enter (see ISRAEL). The science of Old Testament theology, giving due heed to the results of critical, historical, and exegetical research regarding the documents with which it deals, has to trace by what means and through what stages Hebrew mono theism was developed and established ; and to the treatises on this science our readers must be referred. The mono theistic movement in Israel was one of continuous progress through incessant conflict until a result was reached of incalculable value to humanity. That result was a faith in God singularly comprehensive, sublime, and practical, a faith which rested, not on speculation and reasoning, but on a conviction of God having directly revealed Himself to the spirits of men, and which, while ignoring meta physical theorizing, ascribed to God all metaphysical as well as moral perfections ; a faith which, in spite of its simplicity, so apprehended the relationship of God to nature as neither to confound them like pantheism nor to separate them like deism, but to assert both the immanence and the transcendence of the divine ; a faith in a living and per sonal God, the almighty and sole creator, preserver, and ruler of the world ; a faith, especially, in a God holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works, who was directing and guiding human affairs to a destination worthy of His own character ; and, therefore, an essentially ethical, elevating, and hopeful faith. The existence of utterances in the Hebrew Scriptures which show that Hebrew faith was not always thus enlightened, and sometimes conceived of God as partial and cruel, is no reason for not acknow ledging the general justice and grandeur of its representa tion of the Supreme. 2 The God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New. Christ and the apostles accepted what Moses and the prophets had taught concerning God ; they assigned to 1 See Zeller, Die Entwickelung des Monotheismus bei den Griechen (in Vortriige, vol. i. ) ; and Cocker, Christianity and Greek Philosophy, 1875; also, Meiners, Historia Doctrlnse de Vero Deo, 1780. 2 See the 0. T. Theologies of Oehler, Schultz, Kayser, Piepenbring, &c. ; Ewald, Lehre der Bibel von Gott ; Baudissen, Stud. z. Semit. Religionsgeschichte ; Kuenen, Hibbert Lecture ; Duhm, Theologie d. Propheten ; W. Robertson Smith, Prophets of Israel, &c. As to the name " Jahveh," an instructive summary and examination of views is given by Prof. Driver in his article "Recent Theories on the Origin and Nature of the Tetragrammaton," in Stitdia Biblica, Oxford, 1885. Him no other attributes than had already been assigned to Him. Like Moses and the prophets also they made no attempt formally to prove the existence or logically to define the nature of God, but spoke of Him either as from vision or inspiration. And yet their doctrine of God has original and peculiar features. Thus, first, the fatherhood of God was taught with incomparable distinctness and fulness by Jesus Christ, a fatherhood not merely of natural creation or national election, but of spiritual relationship of love, sympathy, mercy, and grace for individual souls. Such fatherhood, if acknowledged at all, was only very rarely and vaguely acknowledged in heathendom, and, although not wholly absent from the Old Testament, is far from clearly and prominently there, and, indeed, is present chiefly by implication in passages which refer directly only to God s connexion with the people of Israel, as an elect and covenant people ; it is conspicuous and central, however, in the conception of God introduced by Christianity. Secondly, Divine father hood had its correlate in Divine sonship. God is repre sented in the New Testament as revealing His fatherhood through His Son, Jesus Christ. In Old Testament repre sentations of Israel, the Messiah, and Wisdom, and in the Logos doctrine of Judseo- Alexandrian philosophy, some approximations to this conception of the Divine may be traced, but they fell far short of it. According to the New Testament, God is not merely infinitely exalted above the world and definitely distinguished therefrom, nor merely immanent and everywhere operative in nature, but also incarnate in Christ ; and Christ is not merely " the Son of man," essentially sharing in humanity and truly representing it before God, but also " the Son of God," essentially sharing in Divinity, and giving the fullest disclosure of it to man. The foundation of the Christian faith as laid down in the New Testament is that Christ through His unique relation as Son to the Father perfectly declared and expressed the nature and will of God in relation to human salvation. Thirdly, God is exhibited in the New Testament as the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, who dwells in the spirits of men, to work in them the will of the Father, and to conform them to the image of the Son. Only when thus exhibited can the revelation of the Divine name be regarded from the New Testament point of view as other than manifestly incomplete. Even the manifesta tion of God in Christ, being objective and single, must be supplemented by a manifestation which is subjective and multiple, before the one God, the one Christ, can find a place in the manifoldness of souls, the multitude of sep arate hearts and lives. The manifestation of the Spirit is such a manifestation, and completes in principle the revelation of the Christian idea of God, the revelation of His threefold nature and name. This revelation completed God can be thought of as absolute spirit, absolute love, absolute good, and was, to some extent explicitly, and throughout implicitly, so represented in the New Testa ment. It is precisely in virtue of the threefold represen tation of God characteristic of the New Testament that Christianity is still held by so many of the world s pro- foundest thinkers as the absolute and perfect religion, the crown and consummation of religion, speculatively con sidered, an absolute revelation of God, and practically considered, a perfect salvation, within which there may be infinite evolution and progress, but beyond which there can be no true light or real growth. 3 The threefold representation of God in the New Testa- Doctrine ment was an entirely religious and practical representa- of ^ tion, inseparably connected with the historical facts of ruutv - 3 The New Testament representation of God is treated of in the New Testament Theologies of Schmid, Reuss, Oosterzee, and Weiss ; also in Wittichen, Die Idee Gottes, 1865. THEISM Christ s life and the spiritual experiences of the early Christians. It was not an ontological or even theological doctrine, and will be identified by no competent exegete with the dogma of the Divine Trinity set forth in the oecumenical creeds. The propositions constitutive of the dogma of the Trinity the propositions in the symbols of Nice, Constantinople, and Toledo relative to the immanent distinctions and relations in the Godhead were not drawn directly from the New Testament, and could not be ex pressed in New Testament terms. They were the pro ducts of reason speculating on a revelation to faith the New Testament representation of God as a father, a redeemer, and a sanctifier with a view to conserve and vindicate, explain and comprehend it. They were only formed through centuries of effort, only elaborated by the aid of the conceptions and formulated in the terms of Greek and Roman metaphysics. The evolution of the doctrine of the Trinity was far the most important fact in the doctrinal history of the church during the first five centuries of its post-apostolic existence. To trace and describe it fully would be almost to exhibit the history of Christian thought during these centuries. It had neces sarily an immense influence on the development of theism. The acceptance of the catholic doctrine of the Trinity implied the rejection of pantheism, of abstract monotheism, of all forms of monarchianism or unitarianism. It decided that theistic development was not to be on these lines or in these directions. At the same time the dogma itself was a seed for new growths of theistic thought, and demanded a development consistent with its own nature. It is a doctrine, not as to the manifestations and revela tions of Godhead, but as to their ground and explanation, the constitution of Godhead, a doctrine as to a trinity of essence, which accounts for the Trinity of the gospel dis pensation. It affirms the unity of God, but requires us to conceive of His unity, not as an abstract or indeter minate self-identity, not as "sterile, monotonous simpli city," but as a unity rich in distinctions and perfections, the unity of an infinite fulness of life and love, the unity of a Godhead in which there are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a trinity of persons, a diversity of properties, a variety of offices, a multiplicity of operations, yet sameness of nature, equality of power and glory, oneness in purpose and affection, harmony of will and work. It finds its dogmatic expression as to what is ultimate in it in the formula One substance in three persons, of which the first eternally generates the second, and the third eternally proceeds from the first and second. Now, manifestly, however much such a doctrine as this may have satisfied thought on a revelation as to the Godhead, it cannot have exhausted or completed it. If it answered certain ques tions it raised others, and these more speculative and pro found than those which had been answered. What is meant by affirming God to be " substance " or " in three persons " ? What is meant by divine " generation " or " procession " 1 How are the substance and persons related? How are the persons distinguished and inter related ? These and many kindred and connected ques tions reason became bound to discuss by its adoption of the doctrine of the Trinity. This obligation could only be temporarily and partially evaded or concealed by represent ing the doctrine as " a mystery " to be accepted simply on authority or with blind faith. Data of the doctrine may have been given to faith, but the doctrine itself was the work of reason, and on no ground not plainly absurd could that work be held to have terminated in 589 A.D. As soon as an inspired record is left at all, as soon as any speculation is allowed on its contents, as soon as the pro cess of forming doctrine is permitted to begin, all conceiv able right to stop the movement anywhere is lost. By the blending, however, of trinitarianism with theism the whole character of the latter was, of necessity, profoundly changed. A trinitarian theism must be vastly different from a Unitarian as regards practice. It must be equally so as regards theory. It must be far more speculative. By its very nature it is bound to undertake speculative labours in which a simply Unitarian theism will feel no call to engage. 1 It was the general conviction of the early Christian Theism in writers that formal proofs of the Divine existence were patristic neither necessary nor useful. In their view the idea of writers - God was native to the soul, the knowledge of God intuitive, the mind of man a mirror in which, if not rusted by sin, God could not fail to be reflected. The design argument, however, came early into use and was frequently employed. More speculative modes of reasoning were resorted to by Dionysius of Tarsus, Augustine, and Boetius. The unity of God had to be incessantly affirmed against polytheists, Gnostics, and Manichseans. The incomprehensibility of God and His cognoscibility were both maintained, although each was sometimes so emphasized as to seem to obscure the other. That the knowledge of God may be reached by the three ways of causality, negation, and eminence was implied by the pseudo-Dionysius, although only explicitly announced by Scotus. Neither any systematic treatment of the Divine attributes nor any elaborate discussion of single attributes was attempted. The hypothesis of eternal creation found a vigorous defender in Origen, but met with the same fate as the dualist hypothesis of un created matter and the pantheistic hypothesis of emana tion. Of all the patristic theologians Augustine was undoubtedly the most philosophical apologist and ex ponent of theism. He alone attempted to refute agnos ticism, and to find a basis for the knowledge of God in a doctrine of cognition in general. On the large, difficult, and as yet far from adequately investigated subject, the influence of Platonic and Aristotelian, Stoic and Academic, Neopythagorean and Neoplatonic speculation on the for mation of the Christian doctrina de Deo, it is, of course, impossible here to enter. 2 Mohammed (570-632) founded a monotheistic religion Moham- which spread with amazing rapidity through Arabia, Syria, me ; d Persia, North Africa, and Spain, and gave, almost wherever anism> it spread, a mighty impulse to the minds and wills of men. It was received as the gift of special inspiration and revelation, although its creed contained little of moment on which reason would seem to be incompetent to decide. It had obvious merits, and must be admitted to have rendered real and important services to culture, religion, and humanity, but had also conspicuous faults, which have done much injury to individual, domestic, and national life. If the latest were always the best, it would be the most perfect of the three great theistic religions of the world; but it is, in fact, the least developed and most defective. Instead of evolving and extending, it marred and mutilated the theistic idea which it borrowed. In stead of representing God as possessed of all spiritual fulness and perfections, it exhibited Him as devoid of the divinest spiritual attributes. It recognized His transcendent exaltation above His creatures, but not His sympathetic presence with His creatures ; apprehended vividly His almighty power, His eternity, His omnipres ence and omniscience, but only vaguely and dimly His moral glory, His love and goodness, His righteousness 1 Baur, Ch. Lehre v. d. Dreieinigkeit, &c., 1841-43; Meier, Lehre v. d. Trinitat in hist. Entwickl., 1844. 2 Roesler, Philosophic/, Veteris Ecd. de Deo, 1782 ; and the histories of Christian doctrine byHagenbach, Neander, Shedd, Bonifas, Sheldon, Harnack, &c. ; Gangauf, Des h. Augustinus speculative Lehre von Oott, 1884. THEISM 241 and holiness. The Allah of Mohammed was essentially despotic will, and so fell far below the Jahveh of Moses, essentially righteousness, and the Heavenly Father of Christ, essentially holy love. Mohammedanism is almost as contrary to Christianity as one form of theism can be to another. It is as Unitarian as Christianity is trini- tarian. Its cardinal tenet is as distinctly anti-trinitarian as anti-polytheistic. It has often been represented as hav ing had the providential task assigned it of preparing the way for Christianity by destroying polytheism ; in reality, it has hitherto offered a far more stubborn resistance to Christianity than any polytheistic religion has done. 1 Medieval The mediaeval world was so complex, so full of contrasts theology, and contradictions, that it cannot be " summed up in a formula." Most general statements current regarding it will be found on examination only partially true. It is often described as the age in which external religious authority ruled, and all religious thought ran in narrow, strictly prescribed paths, whereas, in fact, the mediaeval theologians were far freer to speculate on almost all points of religious doctrine than Protestant divines have been. Because traditionalism abounded, it is forgotten that ration alism also abounded ; because scholasticism flourished, that mysticism was prevalent ; because theism was com mon, that pantheism, speculative and practical, was not uncommon. The Middle Age was, however, par excellence, the age of theology. Theology never before or since so interested and dominated the human intellect. Nearly every eminent mediaeval thinker was a theologian. The chief streams of theistic belief and speculation which tra versed the Middle Age were three, the Christian, Jewish, and Mohammedan. The first was much the broadest and fullest. Few points of theistic doctrine were left un- handled by the Christian divines of the Middle Age. The conclusions came to on the chief points were various and divergent. As to the manner in which God is known, for instance, some laid stress on faith or authoritative revela tion ; others on immediate consciousness, the direct vision of the pure in heart, the illumination of the Spirit of God in the minds and hearts of the true children of God ; others on reason and proof ; and some attempted media tion and synthesis. Anselm gave logical form to an a priori argument for the Divine existence based on the idea of God as a being than whom a greater cannot be con ceived. His most ingenious attempt to demonstrate the absurdity of supposing the perfect, the infinite, to be a mere subjective fiction prepared the way for the multitude of attempts, identical or similar in aim, which have since been made. Thomas Aquinas was the best representative of those who held that the invisible God was only to be known through His visible works. He argued from motion to a mover, from effect to cause, from the contingent to the necessary, from lower kinds of good to a supreme good, and from order and purpose in the world to a governing intelligence. Raymond of Sebonde added to the ontological and physico-teleological arguments a moral argument. William of Occam criticized keenly and un favourably both the a priori and a posteriori proofs, and held that the existence of God was not a known truth but merely an article of faith. There was not less diversity of view as to how far God may be known. Erigena held that even God Himself could not comprehend His own nature, and Eckhart that the nature of God is neces sarily unknowable, as being a nature without nature, without predicates, without opposites, pure oneness. That man cannot know God s real nature, cannot know Him per essentiam, cannot have a quidditiva cognitio Dei, and that 1 See MOHAMMEDANISM, and authorities there mentioned ; also Kuenen, Hibbert Lectures, lect. 1, with authors and works there indicated. the so-called attributes of God are only descriptive of the effects of His operations as they appear to the human mind, or even are merely symbols or metaphors, was maintained by many of the scholastic doctors. Aquinas, for example, with all his confidence as a dogmatic system- builder, so denied the cognoscibility of God. That the human mind may have a true, although it cannot have a perfect knowledge of God, an apprehensive but not a comprehensive knowledge of Him, was, however, in the Middle Age, as it has been ever since, the position most commonly taken up. The scholastic divines discussed a multitude of foolish questions regarding God, but that was not due to extravagant faith in the power of the human mind to know or comprehend God. Prof. Sheldon very justly says, " on the whole, the scholastic theology, notwithstanding some strong negative statements, assumes in reality a minimum of acquaintanceship with the essen tial nature of God." The negative statements are, for the most part, those of the mystics with respect to the beatific vision. Mediseval discussions as to the nature of God turned chiefly on two points, the relation of the Divine essence to the Divine attributes and of the one Divine substance to the three Divine persons. The conclusion come to by the vast majority of scholastic theo logians on the first point was that the attributes were not really or objectively in God, but merely human repre sentations reflected, as it were, on the idea of God, because the mental constitution of man is what it is, and because God wished to be thought of in certain divers manners. To hold them objectively real in God, and therefore intrin sically distinct either from the essence of God or from one another, was considered to be incompatible both with the incomprehensibility and with the absolute simplicity of the Divine nature. Duns Scotus, in maintaining that the attributes were formalitates realiter distinctx, took up an exceptional position. On the other point the conclusion as generally reached was one seemingly quite inconsistent with the foregoing, namely, that the persons were objec tively and eternally real and distinct. The discrepancy is especially apparent in those theologians (e.g., Anselm, Abelard, Hugo and Richard of St Victor, Alexander of Hales, and Aquinas) who represented the persons of the Trinity as corresponding to distinctions among the very attributes which they in another reference denied to be distinct. The mediaeval schoolmen, with very few and doubtful exceptions, conjoined with their theism the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by the ancient church. Roscelin of Compiegne and Gilbert de la Porre"e laid themselves open to the charge of tritheism ; and obviously nominalism, by allowing nothing but a nominal existence to the essence or general nature of which the individual is a specimen, tended towards tritheism, towards resolv ing the Trinity into a triad of Divine individuals or self- subsistent beings, connected only by a common specific character. While the schoolmen accepted the doctrine of the Trinity on authority, they did not conceive them selves precluded from endeavouring to illustrate it and to make it appear as consonant to reason as possible. They sought to show its consistency with the unity of God, and its general reasonableness by various speculative con siderations, but especially by the aid of analogies drawn from the constitution of the mind and even from particular physical phenomena. They did not suppose that they were thereby demonstrating the doctrine of the Trinity : they fully recognized that doctrine to be the indication of a mystery, " dark with excess of light," and the truth of which could only be directly apprehended in the beatific vision conferred by the highest and most special grace ; but they proceeded on the belief that, inasmuch as it was a central truth of revelation, the whole creation, and. XXIII. 31 242 THEISM above all, the nature and essence of man s spirit, must bear witness to it. At least one good result followed. Those who exercised their minds on the doctrine of the Trinity were necessarily led in some measure to form another idea of God than that of either an indeterminate unity or a confused synthesis of attributes, to think of Him, with some clearness and steadiness, in an organic and harmonious manner, as absolute being, absolute life, absolute spirit, absolute intelligence, absolute love. Such thought as this distinctly appeared in Anselm, the St Victors, Aquinas, Bonaventura, Dante, &c. The omni presence, omnipotence, and omniscience of God, and, generally, what are called His metaphysical and intellectual attributes, were discussed with excessive elaborateness and subtlety, while His moral attributes were left in the back ground, or considered without sufficient earnestness or insight. The problems regarding the relationship of the Divine attributes to human agency, and, in particular, as to the compatibility of Divine prescience and predestina tion with human freedom and responsibility, were even too laboriously and minutely debated between the mediaeval Augustinians and their opponents. What the disputants on both sides lacked was intellectual humility. They strode along " dim and perilous ways " as if they were in plain and safe paths, or as if their own faculties were superhuman. As to the general relation of God to the universe, few, if any, of the schoolmen can be charged with deism. While assigning to God a being and life transcending the universe, they also affirmed that He was everywhere in the universe, everywhere wholly present, everywhere essentially and actively present. Pantheism was prevalent all through the Middle Ages, but only two of its representatives, perhaps Erigena and Eckhart, showed much speculative capacity. 1 Moham- Mohammedan theism drew chiefly from faith and fana- medan ticism the force which carried it onwards with such rapid- theism. j ty - n - tg ear jy career O f con q ues t. At the same time it powerfully stimulated reason, as soon appeared in remark able intellectual achievements. Of course, reason could not fail to reflect on the contents of the faith by which it had been awakened. The result was the formation of many schools of religious opinion. So far as our subject is concerned, however, all mediaeval Mohammedan thinkers may be ranked as philosophers, theologians, or mystics. The philosophers derived little of their doctrine from Mohammed. Even in what they taught regarding God they followed mainly Aristotle, and in some measure the Neoplatonists. They maintained the unity of God, but conceived of it in a way unknown to Mohammed, namely, as a unity allowing of the reality of no distinctions, quali ties, or attributes in God. Then, although they affirmed the unity of God in the strictest abstract manner, they were not monists but dualists, inasmuch as they denied creation ex nihilo, and asserted the eternity of matter. The mode in which they supposed the multiplicity of finite 1 For the history of mediaeval theism may be consulted the histories of philosophy by Tennemann, Ritter, Erdmann, &c. ; the special histories of mediaeval philosophy by Stockl and Haureau, and of later scholasticism by K. Werner; the histories of the Trinity and of Christian doctrine already mentioned; and a multitude of monographs, e.g., those of Christlieb, Huber, and Stoekl on Erigena; of Hasse, Reinusat, Bouchitte on Anselm or his ontological argument ; Delitzsch s Krilische Darstellung der Gotteslehre dfs Thomas Aquinas; Ritschl s "Gesch. Studien z. ch. Lehre von Gott," iu Jahresb. f. deutsche Theol., x., referring chiefly to Aquinas and Scotus, &c. Mediaeval mysticism has found in Schmidt, Lasson, Preger, Jundt, admirable historians. On Eckhart there are good works by Martensen, Lasson, and others; see also a paper by Prof. Pearson in Mind, No. xli! On mediaeval predestinarianism consult chapter in Mozley s Treatise on the Augitstinian Doctrine of Predestination. The keenest hostile criticism of mediaeval theism is that of Pasquale D Ercole, 11 Teismo Filosofico Christiana, 1884. things to have been produced from God was by a series of emanations originating in Divine intelligence, not in Divine will. Their proofs of the Divine existence were, for the most part, founded on the principle of causality. The philosophers did not openly oppose the theism of the Koran, but they ignored it or set it aside, and represented it as only a useful popular faith, not a response to the demands of cultured reason. The " theologians," on the other hand, took their stand upon the Koran, sought to defend and develop into doctrine its representations of God, and to show the inconclusiveness and inconsistencies of the teaching of the philosophers regarding God. Even those of them, however, who exalted faith and revelation most the orthodox Motakallemin or Asharites by no means dispensed with philosophy and reason. It was chiefly on the metaphysical hypothesis of the atomic consti tution of matter that they rested their proofs of the Divine existence. It was by subtle reasonings that they sought to establish the non-eternity of matter and the unity and immateriality of God. It was on speculative grounds that they contended God had eternally possessed all the attri butes ascribed to Him in the Koran. Their predestina- tionism was as logically elaborated as that of the Augus- tinian scholastics. There flourished for a short period a school of liberal Mohammedan theologians, the Motazil- ites, who, while accepting the two fundamental doctrines of Islam the unity of God and the divine mission of Mohammed, refused to regard the Koran as an absolute religious authority, and sought to transform Mohammed anism into a reasonable and ethical monotheism. They insisted on the rightful conformity of faith to reason, on human freedom, and on the righteousness as well as the unity of God. They endeavoured, in fact, to substitute for a God whose essence was absolute or arbitrary will a God whose essence was justice. This meant, however, not to develop or even reform, but to subvert and displace the Mohammedan idea of God, and the wonder is, not that they failed in so arduous a task, but that they had the courage to undertake it. Mohammedan mysticism (Sufism) was a reaction, chiefly of the Persian mind, against the narrowness and harshness of the monotheism of the Arabian prophet. Unlike philosophy, it was not a mere exotic, but an indigenous growth within the Mohammedan area, and hence orthodoxy has never been able to eradicate it. It has been the chief support of spiritual feeling and the chief source of poetry in Mohammedan lands. It still flourishes, has branches innumerable, and through its poets has shed seed widely even over Christendom. The mystics refuse to think of God as an arbitrary unlimited Will, separate and apart from everything ; as one who reveals Himself clearly only through the words of a prophet ; as a being before whom man is mere dust and ashes, and who demands no higher service than fear, unquestioning faith, and outward obedience. In their view God is immanent in all things, expresses Himself through all things, and is the essence of every human soul. There is not only no God but God, but no being, life, or spirit except the being, life, and spirit of God; and every man may be God s prophet, and more even than His prophet. For a man to know God is to see that God is immanent in himself, and that he is one with God, the universal life which breathes through all things. Such knowledge or vision must glorify all nature, and must dilate and rejoice the heart of him who possesses it. Joy and ecstacy must characterize the worship of the Sufi. A religious scepticism based on philosophical scepticism disbelief in the existence of God grounded on disbelief in any truth not guaranteed by sense or mathematical demonstration was not unknown among the Saracens, although no work in defence of it has come down to us, and perhaps none may have been written. THEISM In Algazel philosophical scepticism was combined with religious dogmatism and mysticism. He subjected the doctrines of the philosophers to a keen and hostile criticism, and maintained that reason was incompetent, to reach the knowledge of God, yet cherished an ardent and exalted faith in God, based partly on the Koran and partly on mystic contemplation and devout experience. 1 Theism Jewish and Mohammedan religious thought were inti- of later niately connected in the Middle Age, and ran a nearly 15 m parallel course. The Rabbanites and the Karaites of Juda ism corresponded to the orthodox and the Motazilites of Mohammedanism. In their theism there was no new feature or peculiar significance. Jewish theosophic mysti cism found expression in the Kabbalah. The idea of God there presented was at once excessively abstract and excessively fanciful. It must be studied, however, in the original source or in special works. The Jewish philoso phers differed little from the Arabian philosophers in their teaching regarding the evidences of the Divine existence, the nature and consequences of the Divine unity, and the meaning of the Divine attributes. At the same time, they, with a few exceptions, affirmed the non- eternity of matter, and did not, like the Arabian Aristotelians, represent pro vidence as merely general. They maintained strongly the transcendence of God and the impossibility of the human mind forming any positive conception of His essential being. They held that He was known as necessarily existent, but also as in Himself necessarily unknowable. Their view of the unity of God led them to an idea of God which may not unjustly be designated agnostic, and which prevented their regarding either nature or Scripture as a revelation of what God really is. Almost alone among eminent Jew ish writers of the Middle Age, Jehuda Halevi contended that the representation of God given in the revelation to Israel was self-evidencing, independent of the support of philosophy, and unattainable in any speculative way. The function of reason was, in his view, not to sit in judgment on what had been delivered regarding God to the Jews, but to repel the objections which philosophy had brought against it, and to show the inadequacy of the results reached by unaided human intelligence. Maimonides undertook to establish that reason and faith, science and revelation, were at one in what they affirmed regarding God, but in order to make out his thesis he sacrificed the literal sense of Scripture whenever it did not accord with the tenets of his philosophy, and substituted for the representation of God given through Moses and the prophets one very different in character. His idea of God is highly abstract and metaphysical, the idea of a being so unlike every other being that no name or predicate whatever when applied to Him can bear its ordinary, or indeed any intelligible meaning. Existence, eternity, unity, power, wisdom, justice, and other attributes, are not in Him what they are in any other being or even analogous in Him to what they are in any other being. 2 1 Schahrastani s Qeschichte der religiosen u. philosophischen Secten bei den Arabern, Germ, trans, by Haarbriicker, 1850-51 ; Wiistenfeld, Die Akademie der Araber u. ihre Lehrer, 1837 ; Schmolders, Essai sur les coles Philosophiques ckez les Arabes, 1842 ; Munk, Melanges de Philosophic Juive et Arabe, 1859 ; Steiner, Die Mutaziliten oder Freidenker in Islam, 1865 ; Renan, Averroes et L Averrcnsme, 1852, &c. On Eastern mysticism, see Tholuck, Sufismus s. Theosophia Persarum Pantheistica, 1821, and Bluthensammlung aus der morgen- landischen Mystik, 1825; Cowell, "Persian Literature," in Oxford Essays for 1855 ; Palmer, Oriental Mysticism, 1867; Redhouse, The Mesnevi of Jelalu-d-Din, 1881 sq. ; Vaughan, in Hours with the Mystics, treats of the Oriental as well as Christian mystics. For Persian mysticism in its latest forms, see De Gobineau, Religions et Philosophic dans I Asie Centrale, 1866. On Algazel, see Gosche, " Ueber Ghazzalis Leben u. Werke, " inAbhand. (philol. u. hist.) d. k. Akad. d. Wiss. z. Berlin, 1858. 2 Muuk, Esquisse Historiquede la PMlosophie chez les Juifs, 1849; Eisler, Vorlesungen uber die judischen Philosophen des Mittelalters, In Christian Europe the human mind took a fresh start Renais- at the epoch of the Renaissance. It revolted against the san . ce authorities to which it had long been submissive, and penod> exercised private judgment with a confidence uncorrected and unmoderated by experience. It turned with ardour to the free discussion of the greatest theme of thought, and probably at no period of history has there been more individual diversity of opinion on that theme. God and His relation to the universe were treated of from a multi tude of points of view. Scepticism, naturalism, and pan theism appeared in various forms ; all ancient systems of thought as to the Supreme Being found advocates; ail modern theories as to the nature of the Divine were in some measure anticipated. Did our limits permit it would not be uninteresting to expound the speculations concern ing Deity of several of the writers of the Renaissance, and especially, perhaps, of these three Nicolaus of Cusa, Giordano Bruno, and Thomas Campanella. The theo sophic mysticism of the period was a preparation for the Reformation. 3 The fusion of theology and philosophy was the distinc tive feature of mediaeval Christendom ; their separation has been a marked characteristic of modern Christendom. Even when both have been occupied with religious inquiries and thoughts of God they have kept apart ; they have often co-operated, but seldom commingled. Theology has been on the whole cleric, and comparatively conserva tive ; philosophy has been on the whole laic, and compara tively progressive. But for theology holding fast to what had been handed down as truth regarding God there must have been little continuity or consistency in the development of religious convictions ; but for philosophy restlessly seek ing ever more light there would have been little growth or increase of knowledge of the Divine. The Reformers held that there was a knowledge of God The naturally planted in the human mind, and also derivable Reforma- from observation of the constitution and government of tlon> the world, but that this knowledge was so marred and corrupted by ignorance and sin as to require to be con firmed and supplemented by the far clearer and fuller light of the special revelation in- the Scriptures. They were deeply sensible of the evils which had arisen from the over-speculation of the scholastic divines on the nature of God, and were under the " impression that it would have been well if men had been content to accept the statements of Scripture on the subject with simple and unhesitating faith. Luther wished theology to begin at once with Jesus Christ. Melanchthon said, " There is no reason why we should devote ourselves much to these most lofty subjects, the doctrine of God, of the unity of God, of the Trinity ol God"; and in the early editions of his Loci Communes he entered into no discussion of these themes. Zwingli in his De Vera et Falsa Beligione and even Calvin in his Institutio Religionis Christianas delineated the doctrina de Deo only in outline and general features. In the confessions of the churches of the Reformation nothing which the ancient church had cecumenically determined as regards that doctrine was rejected, and nothing new was added thereto. It soon became apparent, however, that the mind would by no means confine its thoughts of God within the limits which the Reformers believed to be alone legitimate and safe. The idea of God is so central in religion that it must affect and be affected by every change of thought on 1870, 1876; Joel, Beitrage z. Gesch. d. Philosophic, 1876. On the Kabbalah, see Franck and Ginsburg. Kaufmann, Qeschichte der Attri- butenlehre in der judischen Religionsphilosophie der Mittelalters, 1877; Friedlander, Guide of the Perplexed of Maimonides, 3 vols., 1885. 3 M. Carriere s Philosophische Weltanschauung der Reformationszcit, 1887 ; Punjer s Religionsphilosophie, i. 51-59, 69-75, 76-80 ; Bobba s Conoscenza di Dio, iii. 1-90. 244 THEISM any religious theme. The many and violent controversies within Protestantism all reacted on the doctrine relative to Deity, causing it to be studied with intense energy, but in a manner and spirit very unfavourable, on the whole, to truth and piety. Every new dispute elicited more abstruse conclusions and more subtle definitions. In the disputa tions of orthodox divines of the 17th and 18th centuries as to the nature, the attributes, the decrees, and the operations of God, we see scholasticism with all its peculiarities re- introduced and often exaggerated. Yet Protestant theism was in various respects an advance on that of the doctors of mediaeval scholasticism. The protest of the Reformers against the faults of the scholastic treatment regarding God did not lose its pertinency or value because their own followers fell into these very faults. If the subsequent history plainly showed that the doctrine could not have been so fixedly and exhaustively determined by the ancient church as the Reformers supposed, it also showed that the scholastic treatment of the doctrine had been justly condemned by them, and that speculation regarding God when not rooted in spiritual experience must necessarily be unfruitful. The scholasticism of Protestantism was in essential contradiction to the genius and aim of Protestan tism. Then, in the Protestant doctrine of God more prominence was given than had previously been done to His manifestation in redemption, to the relation of His character towards sin, and, in particular, to the attribute of justice. The strong emphasis laid on the righteousness of God marked a distinct ethical advance. At the same time the idea of God in the older Protestant theology was far from ethically complete. His fatherhood was strangely ignored or most defectively apprehended. Absolute sove reignty had assigned to it the place which should have been given to holy love, and was often conceived of in an unethical manner. Further, whereas among mediaeval theologians it was the rule and not the exception, among Protestant divines it was the rare exception and not the rule, to affirm God to be unknowable. They asserted merely His incomprehensibility and man s limited know ledge of His perfections. They did not in general, how ever, abandon, at least explicitly, the premiss from which mediaeval theologians inferred the Divine incognoscibility, namely, that the absolute simplicity of the Divine essence was incompatible with the existence of distinctions there in. 1 Anti- Difference of opinion as to the relation of reason to trinitari- Scripture was in the Protestant world one of the chief sm- causes of difference of belief as to God. Assaults on trinitarianism were contemporary with the Reformation, and they proceeded more on the conviction that the doctrine of the Trinity was unreasonable than that it was unscriptural. The founder of Socinianism, indeed, not only fully accepted the authority of Scripture, but went so far as to represent it as the source of all religious truth, even of the primary truths of natural religion ; yet, while he thus apparently and in theory attributed the knowledge of God more to Scripture and less to reason than did Luther or Calvin, really and in practice he did just the reverse, because he conceived quite otherwise of the con nexion between Scripture and reason. While he held Scripture to be the source of religious truth, he also held reason to be so the organ of religious truth that nothing contrary to reason could be accepted on the authority of Scripture, and that only those declarations of Scripture could be deemed to be interpreted aright which were inter preted in accordance with the axioms of reason. Luther, on the other hand, proclaimed aloud, Strangle reason like 1 Gass, Gesch. d. prot. Dogm., i. ; Heppe, Dogm. d. deutsch. Protes- t intismusiml6tenJahrh., i. ; Frank, Gesch. d. prot. Tfieol., i. ; Dorner, Hist, of Prot. Th., ii ; and Muller, De Godsleer van Calviin,1883. a dangerous beast if it dare to question Scripture ; and Calvin, although he did not speak so harshly, demanded the unqualified submission of reason to the authority of Scripture. Antitrinitarianism has maintained its ground throughout the Protestant area, has assumed a variety of forms, and has exerted a powerful influence. It has been unable, it is often said, to do more than revive the doctrines which distracted the ancient church and were condemned by it as heresies. And this must be so far admitted. The doctrine of the Trinity comprehends only a few propositions, and every departure from it must involve a rejection of one or more of these, and must, consequently, belong to some one of a very few possible types or classes of belief. But essentially the statement is superficial and unjust. For the ways in which, and the grounds on which, both the affirmations of which the doctrine consists and the negations of these have been main tained have not been the same. Alike the defences and the attacks have in the later era iiriplied a deeper consciousness of the nature of the problems in dispute than those of earlier times. As of history in general, so of the history of the doctrine of God, it holds good that no present has been the mere reproduction of any past. The rationalistic process Deism, was carried farther in English deism and its Continental developments. Deism sought to found religion on reason alone. It represents " nature " as the sole and sufficient revelation of God. There is no warrant for the view that the deists held nature to be independent of God, self- conservative and self-operative, or, in other words, God to be withdrawn from nature, merely looking on and " seeing it go." They believed that God acted through natural laws, and that it was doubtful if He ever acted otherwise than through these. Whatever was taught about God in Christianity and other positive religions beyond what reason could infer from nature ought, in their opinion, to be rejected as fiction and superstition. All their zeal was negative, against " superstition." What was positive in their own doctrine had but a feeble hold on them. God was little more to them than a logical inference from the general constitution of the world. They lacked perception of the presence of God, not only in the Bible, but in all human life and history. 2 Modern philosophy, from its rise to the close of the 18th Modern century, showed a double development, the one ideal and philo- the other empirical, the Cartesian and the Baconian. The SOI> 1 ^ former was the more essentially religious. Descartes en deavoured to found philosophy on an indubitable refuta tion of absolute scepticism. Such a refutation he believed himself to have effected when he had argued that thought, even in .the form of doubt, necessarily implies the exist ence of him who thinks; that the implication yields a universal criterion of certainty ; and that the presence of the idea of God in a man s mind, the consciousness of the mind s imperfection, and especially the character of the mind s concept of God as that of the most real being con taining every perfection, demonstratively establish that God is and is what He is thought to be. God is and is true ; therefore man has not been made to err, and what ever he clearly and distinctly sees as true must be true. In the opinion of Descartes, the idea of God is inherent in reason, is the seal of all certainty, and the corner-stone of all true philosophy. To the whole Cartesian school theology was the foundation of all science. To Spinoza, 2 Besides the works of Gass, Frank, and Dorner already mentioned, see the histories of deism by Lei and, Lechler, and Sayous ; of rationalism by Staudlin, Tholuck, Hagenbach, and Hurst; Noack s Freidenker, 3 vols., 1853-55; Farrar s Grit. Hist, of Free Thought, 1863; Hunt s Rel. Thought in England, 3 vols., 1870-73; Leslie Stephen s Engl. Thought in the Eighteenth Cent., 2 vols., 1883; Cairns s Unbelief in the Eighteenth Cent. , 1881 ; Beard s Hib. Led. , 1883 ; and the 2d vol. of Gillett s God in Human Thought, 1874. THEISM 245 who most fully developed some of the distinctive principles of Descartes, it was identical with all science, for to him God was the only substance, and all things else were only His attributes or modes. Besides the pantheism of Spinoza, the occasionalism of Guelinx, Malebranche s vision of things in God, Leibnitz s pre-established harmony and optimism, and Wolf s rationalism were natural, if not necessary, outgrowths from the same root, Cartesian theism. Perhaps, of all the many services to the cause of theism with which Cartesianism must be credited the greatest was that it constantly gave prominence to the absolute perfection of God. 1 Baconian or empirical philo sophy was content if, by the ways of causality and design, it could rise to an apprehension of a First Cause and Su preme Intelligence. It tended of itself to a phenomenal ism, sensationism, associationism, unfavourable to theism. It was, however, counteracted, restrained, and modified by Cartesianism and Platonism, and it naturally allied itself with positive science. The massive defence of theism erected by the Cambridge school of philosophy against atheism, fatalism, and the denial of moral distinctions was avowedly built on a Platonic foundation. The popularity during the 18th century of the design argument, and what was called physico-theology, was largely due to the impres sion made on the general mind by the brilliant discoveries of the founders of modern astronomy, chemistry, and other physical sciences. Bishop Berkeley showed how an em pirical philosophy might be logically evolved into a theistic im materialism, Hume how it might be logically dissolved into an agnostic nihilism. Mysti- In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries mysticism had cism. many representatives, several of whom, as, e.g., Weigel, Ottingen, Swedenborg, and especially Jacob Boehme, are entitled to a considerable place in any detailed history of theism. To the eyes of Boehme God revealed Himself from without and within in the most real and intimate manner. In the powers, antagonisms, and conjunctions of creation he saw the energies, struggles, and victories of the creative Spirit itself ; in the constitution and opera tions of physical and human nature, the essential constitu tion and necessary processes of the Divine nature. His thoughts of God were in striking contrast to those of the deists and natural theologians of the 17th and 18th cen turies, and strikingly anticipated those of a Schelling, Hegel, and Baader in the 19th century. Could Sweden- borg s doctrine of correspondences be verified, our means of insight into the character of God would be largely extended. Nine- The 19th century is sufficiently far advanced to allow teenth us to see that a new epoch even in the history of theism ntury. b e g an near j^ commencement. The revolution in philo sophy initiated by Kant has profoundly affected theistic thought. It has introduced that type of agnosticism which is what is most original and distinctive in the antitheism of the present age, and at the same time stimu lated reason to undertake bolder inquiries as to the Divine than those which Kant prohibited. The enlarged and deepened views of the universe attained through the dis coveries of recent physical science have rendered incredible the idea of a God remote from the world, irresistible the 1 Saisset, in the first part of his Modern Pantheism has some what elaborate studies on (1) the theism of Descartes, (2) God in the system of Malebranche, (3) the pantheism of Spinoza, and (4) the theism of Leibnitz. Huber (1854) and Elvenich (1865) have written special treatises on the Cartesian proofs of the Divine existence. Among the most thorough studies of Spinoza are those of Camerar, Pollock, and Martineau. Herder, Voigtlander, and others have maintained that he was a theist, not a pantheist. On the Theodicee of Leibnitz there are three excellent papers by Prof. Torrey in the Andover Rev. for October, November, and December 1885. The best general history of philosophy is Kuno Fischer s ; the best history of Cartesianism F. Bouillier s. conviction that the eternal source of things must be immanent in their constitution, changes, and laws. The rapid growth of biology and the spread of the doctrine of evolution have not only tended in the same direction, but given a new and nobler conception of the teleology of the universe, and, consequently, of God as the supreme in telligence. History which the natural theologians of the 18th century so strangely ignored, which the solitary Italian thinker Vico alone recognized with clearness and comprehensiveness of vision to be necessarily the chief scene of the self-revelation of God began with Lessing and Herder to be generally seen in its true religious light. The comparative or historical method of study has created two disciplines or sciences, comparative theology and Biblical theology, which are both largely occupied with tracing the development of the idea of God. The ethical spirit of the age has so told on its religious teaching that to no generation save that to which the gospel was originally given has the Divine fatherhood been so distinctly set forth as to the present. Dogmatic theology, especially in Germany, has been earnestly active ; and its chief repre sentatives have laboured so to amend and advance the doctrine concerning God that it may satisfy the new requirements which have arisen. It is now necessary briefly to indicate the present state of thought Present on the chief points and problems of theism. state of As to the origin, then, of our actual idea of God, that, it is seen, thought, can only be the whole religious history of man which precedes it, Origin of and the whole religious nature of man which underlies that history, idea of It is absurd to refer exclusively to any faculty, intuition, or feeling, God. any revelation or instruction, any person or event, what can be traced in growth and formation through thousands of years, and can be shown by facts and documents to have" been influenced by all the chief causes which have made history what it is. The history of the idea of God is the centre of all history, both explained by and explaining it ; and our nineteenth-century idea of God is the result of the entire historico-psychological process which has produced the culture and religion of the 19th century. The idea of God is what it now is because God s whole guidance of man and man s whole search for God, the whole economy and evolution of things and the whole constitution and development of thought and feeling, have been what they have been from the beginning of history to the present time. Anthropology, comparative psycho logy, the science of language, comparative theology, Biblical theo logy, the history of philosophy, and the history of Christian doctrine, have all been engaged in attempting to discover the factors and stages of the vast and complex process which has resulted in the accepted idea of God ; and, by their separate and conjunct endeavours, they have succeeded in casting great light on all parts of the process. As to the absolute historical origin of theism as to where, when, and how the theistic conception of the Divine first obtained recog nition among men a definitive answer has not yet been reached. But the labonr expended on the problem has not been wasted. It has made clearer the nature of the inquiry, rendered apparent the unsatisfactoriness of previous solutions, opened up glimpses of divers ways by which men have been led to belief in the unity of God, and accumulated means and materials for future and probably more successful work. The question as to the psychological origin of theism cannot be wholly separated from that as to its historical origin. Unless theism can be shown to be the primitive form of religion, it cannot be held to have had an entirely peculiar and distinct psychological origin, but must be viewed as simply a phase or development of religion. It cannot be said that there is as yet agreement as to the psychological origin, or as to the psychological constitution even, of religion. The hypothesis of a simple impartation of the knowledge of God and spiritual things through primitive revelation, or through instruction and tradition which go back to the first appearance of man on earth, still retains a hold on certain conser vative minds, but has received no confirmation from modern science and discovery, and is plainly of its very nature inadequate. A revelation relative to God in words or signs could have no meaning to a mind devoid of thoughts of God ; spiritual instruction is only possible where there are spiritual powers to understand and profit by it ; tradition will carry nothing far to which intelligence is in different. There have been many attempts made dnring the present century to refer the origin of belief in God to some emotional source, some element or state of sensitivity. Thus Strauss has re affirmed the hypothesis of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Hume, that fear made the gods ; Feuerbach has resolved religion into desire, 246 THEISM God being conceived to be what man would wish himself to be ; Schleiermacher has argued that a feeling of absolute dependence, of pure and complete passiveness, is our evidence for the presence of an infinite energy, an infinite being; Mansel has represented the feeling of dependence and the conviction of moral obligation as the sources of the religious consciousness ; Pfleiderer represents reli gion as a response to the sense of conflict and contradiction between man s feelings of dependence and of freedom ; Rauwenhoff traces its origin to respect (Achtung), the root also of moral conduct and of family life ; others have referred it to specific ethical feelings ; and many have represented it to be essentially love. The number of these attempts and the diversity of these results are explained by the complexity of religious feeling. In religion all the feelings which raise man above the merely animal condition are involved. Man is not religious by any one feeling or by a few feelings, but by the whole constitution of his emotional nature. His heart, with all its wealth of feelings, has been made for God, Hence all the theories referred to have easily been shown to be one-sided, and to have exaggerated the significance and influence in religion of particular emotional elements, but hence also they all contain more or less important portions of the truth, and have all contri buted towards a knowledge of the full truth. Man is not only, however, disposed by all his chief sentiments for religion, but all these sentiments, when normally and healthfully developed, tend towards theism. It is only in a theistic form of religion that they can find true rest and satisfaction. One God can alone be the object of the highest devotional fear, can alone be regarded as ideally perfect, or as a being on whom the worshipper is absolutely dependent, can alone be loved with the whole heart and esteemed with undivided reverence, can alone be recognized as the sole author of the moral law, the alone good. The theories which trace the origin of religion to feeling have the merit of recognizing that religion is not an affair of mere intellect ; that the Divine could not even be known by men if they had not feelings and affections as well as intellectual powers ; that, if God be love, for example, He can only be known by love ; that, if He have moral attributes, we must have moral feelings in order to be able to recognize them. On the other hand, in so far as those theories represent religion as reducible to mere feeling or as independent of intel lect, they have the fault of overlooking that all the feelings included in religion presuppose apprehensions and judgments, and are valid only in so far as they have the warrant of intelligence. It is as much an error, however, to account for religion by any one intellectual principle as by any one emotional element. Religion has no one special seat, such as "the central point of unity behind conscious ness," imagined by Schleiermacher; no "special organ," such as "conscience" was supposed to be by Schenkel; and no one special principle of cognition, such as the law of causality has been repre sented to be by several philosophers and theologians. All the ultimate principles of cognition are involved in religion, and all lead, if consistently followed far enough, to theism. The whole head as well as the whole heart has been made for religion, and for the perfect form of religion. Max Muller, in his Hibbert Lectures, traces the idea of God to a special faculty of religion "a subjective faculty for the apprehension of the infinite," "a mental faculty, which, independent of, nay, in spite of, sense and reason, enables man to apprehend the infinite under different names and under varying disguises." This view will not bear, perhaps, a close scrutiny. The infinite, as an implicit condition of thought, is not more involved in religious than in other thought. We cannot think anything as finite without implying the infinite. Space cannot be thought of except as extensively, nor time except as pro- tensively, infinite. As a condition of thought, the infinite is in volved in religious knowledge only so far as it is involved in all knowledge. On the other hand, as an explicit object of thought, it is not present in the lower forms of religion at all, which exist only because the thought of infinity is not associated in the religious consciousness with that of Deity, except where reflexion is some what highly developed; and, even in the highest stages of religion, it is only apprehended as one aspect of Deity. Infinity is not God, but merely an attribute of the attributes of God, and not even an exclusively Divine attribute. The hypothesis that the idea of God is gained by intuition or vision is proved to be erroneous by the fact that the idea of God, and the process by which it is reached, are capable of being analysed, and therefore not simple, and like wise by the variety and discordance of the ideas of God which have been actually formed. The apprehension of God seems to be only possible through a process which involves all that is essential in the human constitution will, affection, intelligence, conscience, reason, and the ideas which they supply cause, design, goodness, infinity, &c. These are so connected that they may all be embraced in a single act and coalesce in one grand issue. During the last thirty years there has beeu more psychological investigation as to the origin and nature of religion than during all previous history, and the whole tendency of it has been to set aside all solutions which represent man as religious only in virtue of particular senti ments or principles, and to make manifest that the psychology of religion is that of the entire human nature in a special relationship. The best of the later investigations are much more thorough and comprehensive than any of earlier date. 1 The agnosticism originated by Kant has been one of the distinc- Kantian tive and prominent phenomena in the history of religion and theism agnosti- during the 19th century. It sprang out of an earlier agnosticism, cisrn. Hume and his predecessors admitted that the conditions of thought otherwise, the categories of experience or ideas of reason were in appearance necessary and objectively valid, but in reality only arbitrary and subjective, their seeming necessity and objectivity being illusory, and consequent on mere repetitious and accidental associations of sensations and feelings. Kant showed that they were not only seemingly but really necessary to thought, and irresolvable into the particular in experience. He denied, however, that we are entitled to consider them as of more than subjective applicability, that what we necessarily think must necessarily be, or be as we think it. He affirmed all knowledge to be confined to experience, the phenomenal, the conditioned. It was quite in accordance with this view of the limits of knowledge that he should have denied that we can know God, even while he affirmed that we cannot but think of God. It was by no means in obvious harmony with it that he should have affirmed that we must, on moral grounds, retain a certain belief in God. Sir W. Hamilton and Dean Mansel followed Kant in holding that we can have no knowledge of God in Himself, as knowledge is only of the relative and phenomenal. They strove to show that the notions of the unconditioned, the infinite, the absolute, are mere negations of thought, which destroy themselves by their mutual contradictions and by the absurdities which they involve. Yet both of these philosophers held that there is a revelation of God in Scripture and conscience, and that we are bound to believe it, not indeed as teaching us what God really is, but what He wishes us to believe concerning Him. Herbert Spencer, adopting Kant s theory of the limits of knowledge, and regarding as decisive Hamilton and Mansel s polemic against the philosophies of the Absolute, has concluded that the only truth underlying professed revelations, positive religions, and so-called theological sciences is the existence of an unknowable and unthinkable cause of all things. In the view of the Positivist the unknowable itself is a metaphysical fiction. The Kantian doctrine has had a still more extensive influence in Germany than in Britain, and German philosophers and theologians have displayed great ingenuity in their endeavours to combine with it some sort of recognition of God and of religion. Fries, De Wette, and others have relegated religion to the sphere of faith, Schleiermacher and his followers to that of feeling, Ritschl and his school to that of ethical wants, F. A. Lange to that of imagination, &c. Their common aim has been to find for piety towards God a special place which they can fence off from the rest of human nature, so as to be able to claim for religion independence of reason, speculation, and science, a right to existence even although necessarily ignorant of the object of its faith, feeling, moral sense, or phantasy. 2 The movement indicated has led to no direct conclusion which has obtained, or is likely to obtain, general assent. It has had, however, a very important indirect result. It has shown how interested in, and dependent on, a true criticism or science of cognition are theism and theology. It has made increasingly manifest the immense significance to religion of the problem as to the powers and limits of thought which Kant stated and discussed with so much vigour and originality. Hence research into what the Germans call "die erkenntnisstheoretischen Grundsatze" the philosophical bases of theism has been greatly stimulated and advanced by the movement. This is an enormous gain, which more than compensates for sundry incidental losses. Kant s solu tion of the problem which he placed in the foreground of philosophy has not been found to be one in which the mind can rest. From his agnosticism down to the very empiricism which it was his aim to refute descent is logically inevitable. The agnosticism of piety has in no form been able to discover a halting place, a spot on 1 Among recent disquisitions as to the psychological origin of the religious consciousness and the conception of God may be specified Pfleiclerer s in last ed. of his Religionsphilosophie; Biedermann s In last cd. of his Dogmatik; W. Hermann s in his Die Religion im Verhiiltnisi zum Welterkennen widzur Sittlich- kcit, 1879 ; Kaftan s in his Das Wesen der chr. Religion, 1881 ; Lipsius s in his Philosophic und Religion, 1885; and Uauwenhoff s in his "Ontstaan van den Godsdienst," Theol. Tijdichr., Hay 1885. 2 Among works in which it is denied that the real nature of God can be known are Kant s Kr. d, r. V. ; Fichte s A r. aller Offi-nbarvng Schltiermacher s Reden, Dialektik, and Glaubenslehre ; Trendelenburg s Log. I ntersuchungen, ii. xx.-xxiv.; Hamilton s Lect. on Met., and Discussions ; Mansel s Hampton Lect., and Philosophy of the Conditioned; H. Spencer s First Principles; and the writings of Lange, Hitschl, and other Neo-Kantists. Among works in which the real cog- noscibility of God is affirmed are Calderwood s Ph. of the Infinite ; C. Hodge s Sys. T/i.,.; M Cosh s Int. of the Mind, Phil. Series, <kc.; II. IS. Smith s Intr. to Ch. Th., and Fuith and Philosophy; Maurice s What is Revelation 1 ; Young s Province of Reason ; and Harris s Phil. liases of Theism. See also L. Robert, De la Certitude, &c., 1880; 0116-Laprune, Dela Certitude Morale, 1880 ; G. Derepas Lcs Theorief de I Inconnaissable, 1883 ; G. JJatheson, in Can the Old faith Lire with the A eic!, 1885 ; R. T. Smith, Man s Knowledge of Man and of God, 1886 ; Schramm, Die Erkennbarkeit Gvttcs, 1S7C ; and Bertling, Die Erkennbarkeit Gottes, 1885. THEISM 247 Philo sophy of the Ab solute. which to raise theism or any solid religious construction. In no form has it been able to prove its legitimacy, to maintain its self- consistency, or to defend itself successfully against the agnosticism of unbelief. It is, therefore, not surprising that it should have been very generally regarded as dangerous to theism in reality, even when friendly to it in intention. Yet there is much in the theory of cognition on which it proceeds which the theist can utilize. Indeed, no theory of cognition can afford a satisfactory basis to theism which does not largely adopt and assimilate that of Kant. He has conclusively shown that all our knowledge is a synthesis of contingent impressions and necessary conditions ; that without the latter there can be neither sense, understanding, nor reason; that they constitute intelligence, and are the light of mind ; that they also pervade the whole world of experience and illuminate it ; that there is neither thing nor thought in the uni verse which does not exhibit thein in some of their aspects ; that apart from them there can be no reality, no truth, no science. The agnostic corollaries appended to this theory by Kant and others, instead of being necessary consequences from it, are incon sistent with it. Kant and the agnostics say that we know only the conditioned; but what they prove is that we know also the conditions of thought, and that these conditions are themselves unconditioned, otherwise they would not be necessary. They affirm that we can know only the phenomenal and relative, but what they establish is that it is as impossible to know only the relative and phenomenal as to know only the absolute and noumenal, and that in so far as we know at all we know through ideas which are absolute and noumenal in the only intelligible, and in a very real and important, sense. They maintain, what is very true, if not a truism, that the categories are only valid for experience, and they imply that this is because experience limits and defines the cate gories, whereas, according to their own theory, it is the categories which condition experience and enter as constituents into all experience, so that to say that the categories are only valid for experience means veiy little, experience merely existing so far as the categories enable us to have it, and being valid so far as the categories are legitimately applied, although not farther, which leaves no more presumption against religious experience than against sensible experience. They have denied the objective validity of the categories or necessary conditions of thought. This denial is the distinctive feature of all modern agnosticism ; and the theist who would vindicate the reality of his knowledge of God, the legi timacy of his belief in God, the worth of his religious experience, must refute the reasonings by which it has been supported ; show that consciousness testifies against it, the subjectivity of any true category being unthinkable and inconceivable ; and indicate how its admission must subvert not only the foundation of theology but of all other sciences, and resolve them all into castles in the air, or into such stuff as dreams are made of. In the accomplishment of this task as much guidance and aid may be found, perhaps, in the theories of cognition of Ferrier and Rosmini as from those of any of the Germans ; but Hegel and his followers, not a few of the Herbartists, Ulrici, Harms, and many other German thinkers, have contributed to show the falsity of the critical theory at this point. Amended here, it is a theory admirably fitted to be the corner-stone of a philosophical theism. More may be attempted to be done in the region of the necessary and unconditioned. The conditions of thought, the categories of experience, the ideas of reason are all linked together, so that each has its own place and is part of a whole. And of what whole ? The idea of God. All the metaphysical categories are included therein, for God is the Absolute Being ; all the physical categories, for He is Absolute Force and Life ; all the mental categories, for He is Absolute Spirit ; all the moral categories, for He is the Absolutely Good. The idea of God is the richest, the most inclusive, the most comprehensive, of all ideas. It is the idea of ideas, for it takes up all other ideas into itself and gives them unity, so that they constitute a system. The whole system issues into, and is rendered organic by, the idea of God, which, indeed, contains within itself all the ideas which are the conditions of human reason and the grounds of known existence. All sciences, and even all phases and varieties of human experience, are only developments of some of the ideas included in this supreme and all-comprehensive idea, and the developments have in no instance exhausted the ideas. Hence in the idea of God must be the whole truth of the universe as well as of the mind. These sentences are an attempt to express in the briefest intelligible form what it was the aim of the so-called philosophy of the Absolute to prove to be not only true, but the truth. Hegel and Schelling, Krause and Baader, and their associates, all felt themselves to have the one mission in life of making manifest that God was thus the truth, the light of all knowledge, self-revealing in all science, the sole object of all philosophy. The Absolute with which they occupied themselves so earnestly was no abstraction, no fiction, such as Hamilton and Mansel supposed it to be, not the wholly indeter minate, not that which is out of all relation to everything or to anything, not the Unknowable, but the ground of all relationship, the foundation alike of existence and of thought, that which it is not only not impossible to know, but which it is impossible not to know, the knowledge of it being implied in all knowledge. Hegel expressed not only his own conviction, but the central and vital thought of the whole anti-agnostic movement which culminated in him when he wrote, "The object of religion is, like that of philo sophy, the eternal truth itself in its objective existence : it is God, and nothing but God, and the explanation of God. Philosophy is not a wisdom of the world, but a knowledge of the unworldly ; not a knowledge >of outward matter, of empirical being and life, but knowledge of that which is eternal, of that which is God and which flows from His nature, as that must manifest and develop itself. Hence philosophy in explaining religion explains itself, and in explaining itself explains religion. Philosophy and religion thus coincide iu that they have one and the same object." The adherents of the philosophy of the Absolute must be admitted to have fallen, in their revulsion from agnosticism, into many extra vagances of gnosticism ; but a theist who does not sympathize with their main aim, and even accepts most of the results as to which they are agreed, cannot be credited with having much philosophical insight into what a thorough and consistent theism implies. A God who is not the Absolute as they understood the term, not the Unconditioned revealed in all that is conditioned, and the essential content of all knowledge at its highest, cannot be the God either of a profound philosophy or a fully-developed religion. The philosophy of the Absolute was, on the whole, a great advance towards a philosophical theism. 1 And yet it was largely pantheistic, and tended strongly towards pantheism. This was not surprising. Any philosophy which is in thorough earnest to show that God is the ground of all existence and the condition of all knowledge must find it difficult to retain a firm grasp of the personality and transcendence of the Divine and to set them forth with due prominence. Certainly some of the most influential representatives of the philosophy of the Absolute ignored or misrepresented them. The consequence was, however, that a band of thinkers soon appeared who were animated with the most zealous desire to do justice to these aspects of the Absolute, and to make evident the one-sidedness and inadequacy of every pantheistic conception of the Divine. This was the common aim of those who gathered around the younger Fichte, and whose literary organ was the Zeitschrift fur Philosophic. Chalybaus, K. Ph. Fischer, Sengler, "Weisse, Wirth, and Ulrici may be named as among the ablest and most active. The Roman Catholic Giinther and his followers worked in much the same spirit. Lotze has effectively co-operated by his ingenious defence of the thesis that "perfect personality is to be found only in God, while in all finite spirits there exists only a weak imitation of personality ; the fmiteness of the finite is not a productive condi tion of personality, but rather a limiting barrier to its perfect development." This movement also, then, has tended to develop and contributed to enrich the theory of theism. Its special mis sion has been to prove that theism is wider than pantheism, and can include all the truth in pantheism, while pantheism must necessarily exclude truth, in theism essential to the vitality and vigour both of religion and of morality. 2 The philosophy of the Absolute, judged of from a distinctly theistic point of view, was defective on another side. It regarded too exclusively the necessary and formal in thought, trusted almost entirely to its insight into the significance of the categories and its powers of rational deduction. Hence the idea of the Divine which it attained, if vast and comprehensive, was also vague and abstract, shadowy and unimpressive. Correction was needed on this side also, and it came through Schleiermacher and that large company of theologians, among whom Lipsius and Ritschl are at present the most prominent, who have dwelt on the importance of proceed ing from immediate personal experience, from the direct testimony of pious feeling, from the practical needs of the moral life, &c. From these theologians may be learned that God is to be known, not through mere intellectual cognition, but through spiritual experience, an d that no dicta as to the Divine not verifiable in experience, not efficacious to sustain piety and to promote virtue, to elevate and purify the heart, to invigorate the will, to ennoble 1 On the doctrine of God propounded by the philosophers of the Absolute may be consulted the histories of philosophy by Chalybaus, Michelet, Erdmann, Ueberweg, K. Fischer, Harms, Zeller, &c., also Ptinjer, ii. bks. 3 and 5 ; the chapters in Pfleiderer on Schelling, Hegel, Neo-Schellingianism, and Neo- Hegelianism ; Corner s Hist, of P rot. Th., ii. 257, 395; Lichtemberger s Hist, des Ide es Religieuses en Allemagne, &c., passim; Ehrenhaus s Hegel s Gottesbegriff, &c. ; Franz on Schelling s Positive Philosophie ; Opzoomer s Leer van God, bij Krause ; K. Ph. Fischer s Characteristik der Theosophie Baaders ; <fcc. 2 See art. "Theismus," by Ulrici, in Herzog s Real-Encyklopddie, xv. As representing this phase of theism the following works may be named : C. H. Weisse s Idee der Gottheit, 1844, and Philosophische Dogmatik, 1855 ; Wirth s Speculative Idee Gottes, 1845 ; Sengler s Idee Gottes, 1S45-J7 ; J. H. Fichte s Speculative Theologie, 1846-47 ; Hanne s Idee der absoluten Persoiilichkeit, 1867 ; Ulrici s Gott u. die Natur, 1875 ; and Lotze s Microcosmos, ii. ix. 4-5 (Eng. tr.). The school is well represented in America by Prof. Bowne. See his Studies in Theism, especially ch. 7-9. See also art. of Prof. J. S. Candlish on "The Personality of God," in Princeton Rev., Sept. 1884, and of Gardiner on "Lotze s Theistic Philosophy," in Presb j. Rev., Oct. 1885. 248 THEISM the character, to sanctify both individuals and communities, are likely to be true. Experience of the Divine can be the richest and surest experience only if it not merely implies all that is absolute and necessary in consciousness and existence, but is also confirmed and guaranteed by all that is relative and contingent therein. Theistic What are known as "the proofs" for the Divine existence have "proofs." from the time of Kant to the present been often represented as sophistical or useless. This view is, however, less prevalent than it was. During the last twenty years the proofs have been in much greater repute, and have had far more labour expended on them, than during the previous part of the century. They have, of course, been considerably modified, in conformity with the general growth of thought and knowledge. For instance, they are no longer presented elaborately analysed into series or groups of syllogisms. It is recognized that the fetters which would assuredly arrest the progress of physical and mental science cannot be favourable to that of theology. It is recognized that the validity of the proofs must be entirely dependent on the truthfulness with which they indicate the modes in which God reveals Himself, the facts through which man apprehends the presence and attributes of God, and that, therefore, the more simply they are stated the better. Man knows God some what as he knows the minds of his fellow-men namely, inferen- tially, yet through an experience at once so simple and so manifold that all attempts at a syllogistic representation of the process must necessarily do it injustice. The closeness and character of the con nexion of the proofs have also come to be more clearly seen. They are perceived to constitute an organic whole of argument, each of which establishes its separate element, and thus contributes to the general result confirmatory evidence tliat God is, and complemen tary evidence as to wJiat God is. The explanation of this doubtless is that the apprehension of God is itself an organic whole, a complex and harmonious process, involving all that is essential in the human mind, yet all the constituents of which are so connected that they may be embraced in a single act and coalesce into one grand issue. The cos- The cosmological argument concludes from the existence of the mological world as temporal and contingent, conditioned and phenomenal, argu- to the existence of God as its one eternal, unconditioned, self- rnent. existent cause. It is an argument which has been in no respect discredited by recent research and discussion, which is in substance accepted not only by theists but by pantheists, and which forms the basis even of the philosophy of Herbert Spencer. The principle on which it proceeds the principle of causality has only come to be more clearly seen to be ultimate, universal, and necessary. The hypothesis of an infinite series of causes and effects has not had its burden of irrationality in the least diminished. The progress of science has not tended to show that the world itself may be reason ably regarded as eternal and self-existent ; in the view of theists it lias only tended to render more probable the doctrine that all physical things must have their origin in a single non-physical cause. The necessity of determining aright the bearings of the new views reached or suggested by science as to the ultimate constitution of matter, the conservation of energy, cosmic evolution, the age and duration of the present physical system, &c., has been the chief factor in the latest developments of the argument a contingentia inundi. The teleological argument, which concludes from the regularities and adjustments, precon form i ties and har monies, in nature that its first cause must be an intelligence, has been both corrected and extended owing to recent advances of science and especially of biological science. The theory of evolu tion has not shaken the principle or lessened the force of the argument, while it has widened its scope and opened up vistas of grander design, but it has so changed its mode of presentation that already the Bridgewatcr Treatises and similar works are to some extent antiquated. Perhaps the most promising of the later applications of the argument is that which rests on the results obtained by a philosophical study of history, and which seeks to show that the goal of the evolution of life, so far as it has yet pro ceeded, is the perfecting of human nature, and the eternal source of things a power which makes for truth and righteousness. The ethical argument the proof from conscience and the moral order held a very subordinate place in the estimation of writers on natural theology until Kant rested on it almost the whole weight of theism. It has ever since been prominent, and has been the argument most relied on to produce practical conviction. Much importance is now rarely attached to those forms of the metaphysical argument which are deductions from a particular conception, as, e.g., of a perfect being. Ignorance alone, however, can account for the assertion often met with that the argument is generally abandoned. It has only been transformed. It has passed from a stage in which it was presented in particular ontological forms into one in which it is set forth in a general epistemological form. As at present maintained it is to the effect that God is the idea of ideas, the ultimate in human thought, without whom all thought is confusion and self- contradiction. . In this form, by what theologians and religious philosophers possessed of much speculative insight is it not held I 1 i See the present writer s Theism, and the indications of the literature given in the notes. The changes adopted in the methods of theistic proof have all tended in one direction, namely, to remove or correct extreme and exaggerated conceptions of the Divine transcendence and to produce a true appreciation of the Divine immanence, to set aside deism and to enrich theism with what is good in pantheism. The general movement of religious speculation within the theistic area has been towards mediation between the extremes of pantheism and of deism, towards harmonious combination of the personal self-equality and the universal agency of the Divine. Positive science has power fully co-operated with speculation in giving support and impulse to this movement. While the modern scientific view of the world does not result in pantheism, it affords it a partial and relative justification, and requires a theism which, while maintaining the personality of God, recognizes God to be in all things and all things to be of God, through God, and to God. It may be said that theism has always thus recognized the Divine immanence. The vague recognition of it, however, which precedes scientific insight and the conquest and absorption of pantheism is not to be identified with the realizing comprehension of it which is their result. 2 As to the further treatment of the idea of God in recent or con- The idea temporary theology, the following may be mentioned as, perhaps, of God the chief distinctive features : first, the general endeavour to in con- present the idea as a harmonious reflex of the Divine nature and tempo- life, instead of as a mere aggregate of attributes ; secondly, and rary consequently, the greater care shown in the classification and theology, correlation of the attributes, so as to refer them to their appropriate places in the one great organic thought ; and, thirdly, the more truly ethical and spiritual representation given of the Divine character. To realize the nature and import of the first of these features it is only necessary to compare the expositions given of the idea of God in the works of such theologians as Nitzsch, Thomasius, Dorner, Philippi, Kahuis, and even more in those of the represen tatives of German speculative theism, with such as are to be found in the treatises of Hill, Watson, Wardlaw, and Hodge, which, although published in the present century, express only the views of an earner age. As to the second point, there has of late been a vast amount of thought expended in endeavouring so to classify and co-ordinate the attributes, and so to refer them to the various moments of the Divine existence and life, as that God may be able to be apprehended both in His unity and completeness, self-iden tity and spiritual richness, as one whole harmonious and perfect personality. Of the work attempted in this direction our limits will not allow us to treat. In regard to the third feature, any one who will peruse an essay like Weber s Vom Zorne Gottes, or Ritschl s De Ira Dei, and compares the way in which the Biblical conception of the wrath of God is there presented with the mode of exhibiting it prevalent for so many ages, is likely to be convinced that considerable progress has been made even in recent times in the study of the moral aspects of God s character. That the Divine glory must centre iu moral perfection, in holy love, is a thought which is undoubtedly being realized by all theists with ever-increas ing clearness and fulness. 3 It follows from the above that theistic thought has been moving Advance in a direction which could not fail to suggest to those influenced by of trini- it that a rigidly Unitarian conception of God must be inadequate, tarian and that the trinitarian conception might be the only one in which theism, reason can rest as self-consistent. So long as the simplicity of the Divine nature was conceived of as an abstract self-identity, intelligence could not venture to attempt to pass from the unity to the trinity of the Godhead, or hope for any glimpse of the pos sibility of harmoniously combining them. But, this view of the simplicity of the Divine nature having been abandoned, and an idea of God attained which assigns to Him all the distinctions com patible with, and demanded by, completeness and perfection of personality, the doctrine of the Trinity necessarily entered on a new stage of its history. The free movement of thought in this century, far from expelling it from its place in the mind of Christendom, has caused it to strike deeper root and grow with fresh vigour. Never since the Nicene age has theological speculation been so actively occupied with the constitution of the Godhead, and with the trinitarian representation thereof, as from the commencement of the present century. It is, of course, impossible here to describe any of the attempts which, during this period, have been made to show that the absolute Divine self -consciousness implies a trinitarian form of existence, and that intelligently to think the essential Trinity is to think those moments in the Divine existence without which personality and self-consciousness are unthinkable ; or that a worthy conception of Divine love demands a trinitarian mode of life ; or that a world distinct from God presupposes that God as triune is in and for Himself a perfect and infinite world, so that wwieuge, 1000. 3 Bruch, Lehre von den Gottl. Eigenschaften, 1842; Moll, De Juslo Attributoittm Dei Discrimine, 1855. Both are, however, already inadequate. His attributes and activities already fully realized in the trinitarian life can proceed outwards, not of necessity but of absolute freedom; or that the whole universe is a manifestation of His triune nature, and all finite spiritual life a reflexion of the archetypal life, selfsustained and self-fulfilled therein. All the more thoughtful trinitarian divines of the present endeavour to make it apparent that the doctrine of the Trinity is not one which has been merely imposed upon faith by external authority, but one which satisfies reason, gives expression to the self-evidencing substance of reve lation, and explains and supports religious experience. If it be thought that their success has not been great, it has to be remem bered that they have been labouring near the commencement of a movement, and so at a stage when all individual efforts can have only a very limited worth. To one general conclusion they all seem to have come, namely, that the idea of God as substance is not the only idea with which we can connect, or in which we may find implied, tri-personality. The category of substance is, in some respects, one very inapplicable to God, as the philosophy of Spinoza has indirectly shown. If the theologians referred to be correct, the doctrine of the Trinity is not specially dependent upon it. In their view God cannot be thought of consistently as, e.g., Absolute Life, Absolute Intelligence, or Absolute Love, unless He be thought of in a trinitarian manner.A monotheistic movement can be clearly traced in ancient Greece. The popular religion of Greece, as it appeared in the Homeric poems, was as distinctly polytheistic and as little monotheistic as any known religion.Its gods were all finite, begotten, and thoroughly indi vidualized beings. The need of unity was responded to only by the supremacy of Zeus, and Zeus was subject to destiny, surrounded by an aristocracy far from orderly or obedient, and participant in weakness, folly, and vice. To its eternal honour the Greek spirit, however, was not content with so inadequate a conception of the Divine, but laboured to amend, enlarge, and elevate it. The poets and dramatists of Greece purified and ennobled the popular myths, and, in particular, so idealized the character and agency of Zeus as to render them accordant with a true conception of the Godhead. The Zeus of ^Eschylus and of Sophocles was not only not the Zeus of Homer, but was a god belief in whom was inconsistent with belief in any of the Homeric gods. The dramatists of Greece did not assail the popular conception of Divinity, but they sub stituted for it one which implied that it was without warrant or excuse. They developed the germs of mono theism in the Greek religion, while leaving untouched its polytheistic assumptions and affirmations. These, how ever, were not only persistently undermined, but often directly attacked by the philosophers, some of whom eventually reached a reasoned knowledge of the one absolute Mind. Xenophanes, Empedocles, and Anaxagoras were among the pre-Socratic philosophers who, on grounds of reason, rejected the polytheism and anthropomorphism of the current mythology, and advocated belief in one allperfect divine nature. Socrates, although avoiding all attacks on the popular religion calculated to weaken the popular reverence for divine things, had real faith only in the one supreme Reason, the source and end of all things; and the best representatives of later Greek philosophy were in this respect his followers. Plato attained by his dialectic a conception of God which will always deeply interest thoughtful men. God he deemed the highest object of knowledge and love, the source of all being, cognoscibility, truth, excellence, and beauty, the One, the Good. The controversy as to whether his conception may be more correctly designated theistic or pantheistic will, perhaps, never be brought to a decisive conclusion, but in its general truth and grandeur it must be admitted far to transcend either the monotheism of the vulgar or any popular form of pantheism. Aristotle's character istic cautiousness of judgment showed itself in the very meagreness of his theology. The representation which he gives of God hardly meets at all the demands of affection and of practical life, yet so far as it goes will be generally regarded as thoroughly reasonable. It is more unequivo cally theistic than that of Plato. It sets forth God as without plurality and without parts; free from matter, contingency, change, and development; the eternal un moved mover, whose essence is pure energy; absolute
The mind of man has clearly not yet ceased to be intensely interested in thoughts of God. There are no grounds apparent for supposing that it will ever cease to seek after Him or to strive to enlarge its knowledge of His ways. And, if the idea of God be what has been suggested in the foregoing pages, the search for God cannot fail to meet with an ever-growing response. If the idea of God be the most comprehensive of ideas, inclusive of all the cate gories of thought and implicative of their harmonious synthesis and perfect realization, all thought and experience must of its very nature tend to lead onwards to a fuller knowledge of God. For the knowledge of God, on this view, consists in no mere inference reached through a process of theological argumentation, but in an ever-growing apprehension of an ever-advancing self-revelation of God; and all philosophy, science, experience, and history must necessarily work together to promote it.
 And this continuous onward move ment is towards the clearer and wider apprehension of the whole system of ultimate truths which is comprehended in the idea of the Absolute Truth. The thoughts of men as to God are necessarily enlarged by increase of insight into the conditions of their own thinking. The disquisitions of merely professional theologians on the nature and attributes of God have done far less to elucidate the idea of God than the philosophical views of great speculative thinkers, and would have done less than they have actually accom plished were it not for the guidance and suggestion found in these views.All speculative thought, whether professedly metaphysical or professedly theological, is conversant with ideas included in the idea of God. It deals with what is necessary in and to thought; and within that sphere, notwithstanding many aberrations, it has made slow but sure progress. The history of philosophical specu lation is not only, like the whole history of man, essentially rational, but it is, in substance, the history of reason itself in its purest form, not the record of an accidental succession of opinions, but of the progressive apprehension by reason of God's revelation of Himself in its own constitution. "There is much in the history of speculative thought, just as in the outward life of man, that belongs to the accidental and irrational errors, vagaries, paradoxes, whimsicalities, assuming in all ages the name and the guise of philosophy. But, just as the student of the constitutional history of England can trace, amidst all the complexity and contingency of outward and passing events, through successive times and dynasties, underneath the waywardness of individual passion and the struggle for ascendency of classes and orders, the silent, steady development of that system of ordered freedom which we name the constitution of England, so, looking back on the course which human thought has travelled, we shall be at no loss to discern beneath the surface change of opinions, unaffected by the abnormal displays of individual folly and unreason, the traces of a continuous onward movement of mind."
The sciences co-operate with speculative philosophy and with one another in aiding thought to grow in the knowledge of God. The greatness, the power, the wisdom, the goodness, of the God of creation and providence must be increasingly apprehended in the measure that nature and its course, humanity and its history, are apprehended; and that measure is given us in the stage of develop ment attained by the sciences. "God's glory in the heavens," for example, is in some degree visible to the naked eye and uiiinstructed intellect, but it becomes more perceptible and more impressive with every discovery of astronomy. Not otherwise is it as regards all the sciences. Each of them has its distinctive and appropriate contribution to bring towards the completion of the revelation of God, and cannot withhold it.
But the idea of God is not one which can be rightly apprehended merely through intellect speculatively exercised or operating on the findings of science. It requires to be also apprehended through moral experience and the discipline of life. Neither individuals nor communities can know more of God as a moral being than their moral condition and character permit them to know. The appre hension of God and the sense of moral distinctions and moral obli gations condition each other and correspond to each other. History shows us that sincere and pious men may receive as a supernaturally revealed truth the declaration that God is love, and yet hold that His love is very limited, being real only to a favoured class, and that He has foreordained, for His mere good pleasure, millions of the human race to eternal misery. How was such inconsistency possible? Largely because these men, notwithstanding their sincerity and piety, were lacking in that love to man through experience of which alone God's love can be truly apprehended. In like manner, it is not only the science of law which cannot advance more rapidly than the sense of justice, but also theology so far as it treats of the righteousness of God. Thus the knowledge of God is conditioned and influenced by the course of man's moral experience.
The same may be said of the distinctively religious experience. In it also there has been a continuous discovery and a continuous disclosure of God. It is not long since the ethnic religions were very generally regarded as merely stages of human folly, so many monuments of aversion to God and of departure from the truth as to God. It was supposed that they were adequately described when they were called "idolatries" and "superstitions." This view rested on a strangely unworthy conception both of human nature and of Divine providence, and is fast passing away. In its place has come the conviction that the history of religion has been essen tially a process of search for God on the part of man, and a process of self-revelation on the part of God to man, resulting in a continuous widening and deepening of human apprehension of the Divine. All, indeed, has not been progress in the history of religion either in the ethnic or Christian period; much has been the reverse; but all stages of religion testify that man has been seeking and finding God, and God making Himself known unto man.
(R. F.)But, while knowledge of God may reasonably be expected unceasingly to grow, in all the ways which have been indicated, from more to more, it is not to be supposed that doubt or denial of God's existence must, therefore, speedily disappear. Religious agnosticism cannot fail to remain long prevalent. The very wealth of contents in the idea of God inevitably exposes the idea to the assaults of agnosticism. All kinds of agnosticism merge into agnosticism as to God, from the very fact that all knowledge implies and may contribute to the knowledge of God. The more comprehensive an idea is from the more points can it be assailed, and the idea of God, being comprehensive of all ultimate ideas, may be assailed through them all, as, for example, through the idea of being, or of infinity, or of causality, or of personality, or of rectitude. Then, in another way, the unique fulness of the idea of God explains the prevalence of agnosticism in regard to it. The ideas are not precisely in God what they are in man or nature. God is being as man or nature is not; for He is independent and necessary being, and in that sense the one true Being. God is not limited by time and space as creatures are; for, whereas duration and extension merely are predicates of creatures, the corresponding attributes of God are eternity and immensity. God as first cause is a cause in a higher and more real sense than any second cause. So as to personality, intelligence, holiness, love. Just because the idea of God is thus elevated in all respects, there are many minds which fail or refuse to rise up to it, and which because of its very truth reject it as not true at all. They will not hear of that Absolute Truth which is simply the idea of God; but that they reject it is their misfortune, not any argument against the truth itself.
- Among works in which the hypothesis of primitive monotheism is supported, the following may be mentioned:—Steuco, De Perenni Philosophia, 1540; Herbert, De Religione Gentilium, 1645; Gale, Court of the Gentiles, 1669-78; Cudworth, True Intellectual System, 1678; Bryant, Ancient Mythology, 1774-76; Creuzer, Symbolik u. Mythologie, 1819-21; DeBonald, Législation Primitive, 1819; Lüken, Traditionen des Menschengeschlechts, 1856; Gladstone, Homer and the Homeric Age, 1860; Ebrard, Apologetik, pt. ii., 1875; Zöckler, Lehre vom Urstand des Menschen, 1880; Cook, Origins of Religion and Language, 1884; Rawlinson, Early Prevalence of Monotheistic Beliefs (No. 11 of Present Day Tracts).
- The view opposed in the above paragraph is that maintained in the following works (as well as those mentioned in the previous note),—De Rougé, Études sur le Rituel Funéraire, 1860; Renouf, Hibbert Lectures, 1879; Brugsch, Religion u. Mythologie d. alten Aegypter, 1884; Legge, Religion of the Chinese, 1880; Renan, Hist, des Langues Sémitiques, also Considérations sur le Caractère Gen. des Peuples Semitiques, and Nouvelles Considerations; Pesch, Der Gottesbegriff in den heidnischen Religionen des Alterthums, 1886. Among the many replies to Renan, Max Müller's ("Semitic Monotheism," in Chips, vol. i.) and Steinthal's (in Z.V.S.W., i.) specially merit to be mentioned.
- The best literature relating to the subject of the preceding paragraph is indicated in the lists of books given in connexion with the relevant sections in Tiele's Outlines of the History of Religion, and particularly in the French translation by M. Vernes. Hegel's Philosophy of Religion, Bunsen's God in History, Freeman Clarke's Ten Great Religions, the St Giles Lectures on the Faiths of the World, still more the series of Sacred Books of the East, and of ancient texts published under the title of Records of the Past, and the volumes of the Rev. de l'Hist. des Religions, will be found useful to those wishing to make a survey of heathen thought regarding God so far as it approximated to the theistic idea. For the conceptions of the Divine entertained by non-civilized peoples, see especially Waitz's Anthropologie, and Reville's Religions des Non-Civilisés, who both give extensive lists of literature.
- Goblet d'Alvlella, Contemporary Evolution of Religious Thought in England, America, and India, 1885.
- Principal Caird, Progressiveness of the Sciences, pp. 27-28, Glasgow, 1875.