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is a contemptible being, an evil being, for he supports and perpetuates human ruin and the degradation of reason. Such a god is in truth the prince of this world, who has been condemned long ago through the mouth of truth. What they call God, is to me not-God. They are the true atheists; and because I do not accept their not-God as the true God, they call me an atheist.'
Goethe and Lavater. And even in a more friendly encounter, as that between Goethe and Lavater, we see how entirely what the one and the other called religion was determined by the object to which their religion was directed. To recognise God wheresoever and howsoever he reveals himself, that is true blessedness on earth,' Goethe says, and he would call that true religion. His friend Lavater, on the contrary, could see the Divine revealed in one person only, in Christ, so that his personal religion consisted, as he declared, in his own soul being hid in Christ.
All definitions of religion, therefore, in which the object of religious knowledge or reverence or love is left undefined, may indeed interest us as throwing light on the relation between the subject and the object of religion, between man and what is called God, but they can hardly claim the title of a formal and complete definition, in the recognised sense of that term.
Different classes of Definitions. We can best examine some of the most important and instructive definitions of religion by classing them, not according to the subject of religion, which
is always man, or according to the object, which is called by various names, but according to the form in which this relation between man and God is supposed to manifest itself.
Most definitions may be arranged under two heads, in so far as they lay the chief stress either on the practical or on the theoretical side of religion. Let us begin with the former.
Practical Religion. The old scholastic definition, according to which religion is the chain of conscience by which we feel ourselves bound to the Godhead in all we think and will and do 1,' refers to the practical side of religion, to what has been called our conscience or the voice of God within us, so far as it regulates our actions.
Kant. It is well known that Kant took a similar view of religion. “Religion,' he wrote, “ (as subjective) consists in our recognising all our duties as divine commandments ?,' or, ' in our regarding God as the universally to be revered lawgiver for all our duties 3.' He is very careful, however, to exclude mere cultus or worship from the sphere of religion, and he declares that any attempt to please the Deity by acts which by themselves have no moral value, by mere external worship, is not religion, but simply superstition 4.
Caird. We must likewise class here the definition of religion given by the author of the Philosophy of
1 “Conscientiae vinculum, quo cogitando et volendo et agendo numini nos obstrictos sentimus.' Ammon, Summa Theolog. Christ. § 1.
2 Hibbert Lectures, p. 14.
Religion, though it aims at a higher phase of religious morality than that of Kant. According to him, ' Religion is the surrender of the finite will to the infinite, the abnegation of all desire, inclination, volition that pertains to me as this private individual, the giving up of every aim or activity that points only to my exclusive pleasure and interest, the absolute identification of my will with the will of God?
Pfleiderer. A similar thought underlies the definition which Professor Pfleiderer has given in the second edition of his excellent work Die Religionsphilosophie?, of which an English translation is now in course of publication, or has lately been completed. “Religion,' he writes, “is the relation of our life to the worldcontrolling Power, which is to become a community of life with it 3. “Relation of our life to the worldcontrolling Power' is only a more generalised conception of what Dr. Caird has called the surrender of the finite will to the infinite. But the highest object of religion is conceived as the same by both philosophers, the community of life with the worldcontrolling Power' being evidently intended by Pfleiderer for what Dr. Caird calls the absolute identification of my will with the will of God.'
The difficult point, however, in all these definitions of religion as the submitting of our will to the will of God, seems to me this—that they leave unexplained our knowledge of the will of God, nay, even our knowledge of the existence and character of what we call God.
i Caird, Philosophy of Religion, p. 296. 2 Pfleiderer, vol. ii. p. 29.
3 It is almost impossible to render the exact meaning in English. • Der gemeinsame Kern der Religion in allen ihren Formen ist jene Lebensbeziehung auf die weltbeherrschende Macht, welche zur Lebensgemeinschaft mit ihr werden will.'
Martineau. Nor is much light thrown on that dark point if we simply substitute belief for knowledge. In his recent work, On the Study of Religion, Dr. Martineau defines religion as 'a belief in an Ever-living God, that is, a Divine Mind and Will, ruling the Universe and holding moral relations with mankind. Here
a belief in an Ever-living God' has as much to be accounted for as a knowledge of God, and the definition of God as a Divine Mind and Will would likewise call for an historical justification. If a definition of religion could be silent on these points, or could take man's knowledge of God and of the will of God, or man's belief in a Divine Mind and Will, for granted, al difficulties would certainly seem to vanish. But a glance at the history of religion teaches us that we should thus leave unexplained those long periods during which the human mind, after many struggles, arrived at last at the abstract and sublime conception of a Divine Mind and a Divine Will. If religion has become, as no doubt it has in many minds, a complete submission to the will of God, such submission must, in the beginning, at all events, have been preceded by an intellectual struggle which left behind as its result such concepts and names as · God' and 'the will of God.' Man's readiness to submit to the will of God would be inconceivable without a previous concept of God which justified such submission and rendered it intelligible. All definitions, therefore, of religion as
simply practical, and particularly that of Kant, seem to me like the definition of a fruit-bearing tree, which should ignore its invisible roots.
Schenkel and Newman. In order to avoid this difficulty of taking the concept of God for granted in our definition of religion, and making our conscience the vinculum with something unknown or undefined, some theologians maintain that our conscience is the very faculty which gives us an immediate knowledge of God, and wish us to accept conscience as the religious organ of the soul. In Germany this view has been eloquently defended by Dr. Schenkel, in England by John Newman, who has always pointed to conscience as the creative principle of religion. Still we gain but little for a better definition of religion by adopting this opinion, which may be quite true as a matter of personal experience in the nineteenth century, but which fails to remove the historical difficulty, how from the earliest times the human conscience elaborated the idea of the Godhead, and thus and thus only made religion a possibility ?
Theoretical Religion. Equally defective, however, are the other definitions of religion, which I call theoretical, as opposed to practical. They seem to look to the invisible roots only, and forget the tree and the fruit which these roots were meant to support and to nourish. Without its practical results, nay, without its practical purposes, religion would never have been religion.
+ See Professor Flint's remarks in his Baird Lectures on Theism, p. 210.