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be called His voice. And surely it is not possible for a Theist
a to watch the operations of conscience and the instruction it receives in life, and fail to recognize in them a Divine impress laid upon history and upon man. Conscience is the voice of God, not because it has an independent utterance in itself, but because it has nothing at all to say without His prompting. It seems to us that some such conception of the moral nature of man is necessary to give a meaning to the definition of religion upon which Professor Max Müller himself finally decides. It is reached by a course of reasoning which we may summarize as follows.
In the first place our highest aspirations have their roots in the universal soil of sensuous experience. Nihil est in fide quod non prius fuerit in sensu. There is no concept without language ; concepts arise from percepts, and all percepts are finite in themselves. But the finite implies the infinite. Limitation or finiteness, in whatever sense we use it, always implies a something beyond. It seems to the author that 'even in our earliest and simplest perceptions we always perceive the finite and the infinite simultaneously. We can only perceive a square by perceiving at the same time the space beyond the square. What applies to space applies also to time. And closely connected with the infinites in space
and time is a third infinite, namely, that of cause. The three infinites have three spheres-nature, man as an object, and man as a subject. The infinite in nature reveals itself to us chiefly through objects such as trees, mountains, and rivers, which we cannot know all round : they have a side of mystery, and therefore a 'theogonic capacity. The infinite in man as an object reveals itself in the memory of ancestors and great men who, though dead, yet seem to possess a kind of presence still, and in those phenomena to which the term animism has been applied. And in man as a subject the infinite is found when man regards his own self.
Little as we may suspect it, self-consciousness, or the consciousness of self, has given rise from the earliest times to as rich a mythology as the intuitions of nature and the love of our parents and ancestors. That mythology has really survived longer than any other, for we still live in it and speak of spirit and soul and mind and intellect and genius and many smaller psychological deities as so many independent beings or powers or faculties, just as the Greeks spoke of their Zeus, Apollo, and Athene.'?
We doubt whether this ingenious passage gives a real account of the subjective ground of religion. When man 1 Natural Religion, p. 115 599.
represents his own self and its powers to his mind, he assumes the position of an object to himself, and the psychological deities, mind, intellect, and genius, are as objective in their nature and origin as those which come from observation of the power of ancestors. From this, indeed, it is impossible to separate them, for we observe them in others as well as in ourselves. The truly subjective source of religion does not consist in man's reflection upon the constituents of his own wonderful nature, but in the active use of them : not in representing to himself that he has the power of understanding and affection, mind, intellect, and genius, but in the actual exercise of these powers. When in the act of loving man finds himself insufficiently supplied by the objects of love which the visible world includes, and extends his affection to higher existences ; when in the act of seeking sympathy for his intellectual and moral conclusions and aspirations man finds himself driven to look for a more divine and eternal companionship than that of his fellow-creatures, we recognize in those wants the subjective source of religion ; whereas his attempts to account for his possession of these powers by supposing divine forms as their embodiment or their source is only of a piece with the search after causes in nature and in humanity at large. Professor Max Müller actually acknowledges this when he informs us that
in the same way as behind the various gods of nature one supreme deity was at last discovered in India, the Brâhmans imagined that they perceived behind these different manifestations of feeling, thought, and will also, a supreme power which they called Atma, or self, and of which these intellectual powers or faculties were but the outward manifestation.'
The result is that in Professor Max Müller's account of Natural Religion the religious impulses of mankind, as such, are not taken into account. The creation of religion becomes an intellectual process, and the struggles of feeling and of conscience are regarded only as suggesting to the mind of man a problem of origin and not as in themselves possessing by God's gift a creative power, or as responding to objects divinely provided. And we feel this omission peculiarly strange in Professor Max Müller, since his own account of the original meaning of the term religion dwelt with such evident sympathy upon its subjective character in contrast with the external and theological conceptions of religion which afterwards prevailed.
1 Natural Religion, p. 163.
The definition of religion which Professor Max Müller finally gives as his own is this : Religion consists in the perception of the infinite under such manifestations as are able to influence the moral character of man.
This definition is an amendment of one which the author had formerly presented, and which described religion simply as the perception of the infinite.' It is so far a real amendment that it recognizes in some degree the practical aspect of a thing which has always been so practical as religion. It seems to us wonderful that anyone, especially Professor Max Müller, should ever have defined religion as consisting of a dry dogmatic perception, without moral power, without emotion, without worship. This is the objection which, as urged by Pfleiderer, induced Professor Max Müller to alter his formula. ut even in its present form the definition seems to be subject to objections which applied to its first state as well as to others of its own.
In the first place, the account of the conditions of human thought which the author has given does not put man in real possession of the infinite at all. That man in his perceptions of space, time, and the sequence of events should always be conscious of a beyond is not to know that there is an infinite. In space we know that beyond the edge of the furthest region to which we extend our thought there must still be space. But it is finite space ; for its edge touches the edge of the space of which we think, and is bounded by it. And the same obvious remark applies equally to our perceptions of the time beyond the time we think of, and to the physical causes which lie beyond the extent of physical sequences to which we extend our mental vision. Everywhere the beyond touches, on the side nearest to us, a finite region, and is therefore strictly finite upon this side, though it may stretch indefinitely far on the other. Professor Max Müller seems to us to press his principle, Nihil in fide quod non prius in sensu, so far as to render the true perception of the infinite impossible. His infinite is but an infinite finite.
However it be, and whatever the connexion (which we do not at all deny) of thought with sense, we yet do feel ourselves in communion with something which may be called infinite—not because its bounds stretch beyond those of our knowledge, but because the thought of bounds is inapplicable to it at all. We had rather call it the Spiritual than the Infinite. Now that which we feel as matter of our experience cannot have been impossible for man at any time. And the
1 Natural Religion, p. 188.
2 Ibid. p. 193.
reason why man has always found the infinite in the finite, the spiritual in the material, is not because his senses assure him that there must always be a sensuous region beyond every region of sensuous perception, but because there always springs up in the midst of the things of this world a something spiritual responding to those parts of man's own nature which are above the powers of sense-his emotions, his affections, and his conscience.
But when our author adds to his perception of the infinite' the limitation under such manifestations as are able to influence the moral character of man,' we doubt his right to make an addition which seems to us both arbitrary and obscure. Surely an immense amount of what has been called religion in the world has been without influence on the moral character of man ; M. de la Saussaye declares his belief 'that Religion and Morality, separate in their origin, became united in course of time.' Moreover, we are left in uncertainty whether the morality which 'religion must needs promote in order to deserve its name' is the morality of our latitude or that of some other place or time to which we deny the name of genuine morality altogether. Is religion, when it induces its votaries to include human sacrifices or impure rites among the necessary parts of morality, to be regarded as worthy of its name? If not, do we not, in deciding what kind of morality religion, in order to be religion, must promote, claim that power to apply a divine standard, and to possess the law of righteousness by the voice of God, however heard, which Professor Max Müller refuses to ascribe to us? But if, on the other hand, the influence which religion must exercise on the moral character of man includes everything that ever was deemed morality, the new words which Professor Max Müller adds to his definition become nugatory, amounting merely to this : that a perception of the infinite which is to be called religion must influence human action in some direction or other.
The definition which M. de la Saussaye gives of religion in its widest sense seems to us a better cne. It is a belief in superhuman powers combined with their worship.'? The same writer also treats very well the connexion between religion and morality.
Although the gods do not owe their origin to moral ideas, they acquire, nevertheless, a high importance for morality. The order they represent is the order in nature and in cult; but it faces man as something which ought to be, as something to which he must
1 Manual of the Science of Religion, p. 50.
? Ibid. p. 71.
submit-in fact, as a moral law. ... In the very thought of a religious duty the connexion between religion and morality is implied. Religious morality has passed through the following three stages : at first, the gods demand a careful observance of rites, and watch over their own rights in the cult as well as in social ordinances, so far as these are of a religious nature. Secondly, the gods require men to observe certain duties towards each other, and watch over all righteous acts. Lastly, they look to motives : they want man to be virtuous from his heart, and they are pleased with the virtues of humility and love.'
M. de la Saussaye naturally proceeds to notice the services of the Hebrew prophets in bringing about the latter development. But though in India ritual was for the most part superseded, not by morals, but by philosophical speculations and magic, yet the virtues of the heart were by no means unknown among all so-called pagans.
But the connexion of religion and morality has also its dangers, among which we are interested to note some tendencies with which we are acquainted.
* Asceticism represents what is against nature, as the demand of religious morality, and drives self-discipline to self-annihilation, and independence from the world as a complete negation of it. Ritualistic and nomistic piety cares only for a strict observance of rites and the ceremonial law, and thus leads to a casuistry pernicious to all morality, the results of which may be seen in Talmudic Judaism and Jesuitism. What is called moralism represents morality as being itself piety, and proclaims the honest man as the ideal of all religion. Methodism, on the contrary, which is prominent in Buddhism as well as in Protestant Churches, is so entirely absorbed in the method of reaching blessedness that, in spite of the many exercises which it prescribes, it often neglects true morality.' ?
We feel it to be somewhat unfair to Mr. Max Müller to pass over his historical information about heathen religions, which is uniformly interesting and important, and to dwell upon his own philosophy and theology, which seem to us by no means so intelligible or so true. The limits of our space compel us to do so, and we must remember that he himself presents his results not merely as historical collections, but as religious admonitions of what our age wants more than anything else.
When we regard his work in this didactic character there are certainly some parts of his method with which Catholic Churchmen find themselves in harmony. His exaltation of the worth of history in the study of Natural Religion falls
1 Manual of the Science of Religion, p. 237.
2 Ibid. p. 239.