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when le Christianisme expérimental occurs in the body of the work. But in some places (pp. 235, 409) he has translated it “subjective Christianity;" and as Coquerel in some other places uses la théologie subjective as synonymous with le Christianisme expérimental (twice in Chap. LXXVII.), there need have been no difficulty in finding a phrase available on all occasions. Subjective Christianity would have expressed exactly what the author means; and if this seemed too metaphysical or too German for English readers, the Christianity of Experience would have done very well (or, if allowable, Experiential Christianity would have done better); or even Philosophical Christianity, or the Christianity of Human Life, the Christianity of the Soul, Real Christianity, or any of a dozen similar phrases, would have sufficiently expressed the idea. It is a great pity that a phrase of such perpetual occurrence and great significancy should have almost disappeared in the English translation.
But from the title let us proceed to the work itself. The author designs it as a “complete system of philosophy and of religion,” that is, of mental and moral philosophy and of Christianity; for it does not touch upon physics, nor upon the natural theology arising thence. Man and the Gospel, in their mutual relations, are its topics; not man in reference to outward nature, nor the religion of the universe as compared with that of Christianity. It is not the entire analogy of the gospel to natural religion, but simply its fitness for man. This volume consists of six Books, each followed by a body of scriptural notes and arguments, usually appropriate and convincing, and, when least so, always elegant, tasteful or poetical in their allusions and suggestions. Book I. is entitled, Man, God and Creation; II. Examination of the principal Problems of the Human Mind; III. Problem of Redemption; ĪV. Theory of Revelation; V. Method of Revelation ; VI. The Future of Christianity in Time and beyond Time. Thus the first two Books give our author's metaphysical system, and the rest his theological so far as the two are separable. He has, indeed, bound them up a little more closely than necessary; and this we think unfortunate, as his metaphysics are on the whole far less satisfactory to us than his theology. We shall endeavour to give a fair idea of each department.
His metaphysical Chapters are very brief and painfully condensed, as will appear from the enumeration of the subjects embraced in 48 moderate pages, forming Book I. These are as follows: Source of Certainty; Tendencies of Man; Notion of the Ideal; Action of the
the Tendencies; The Objective of our Tendencies; Law of Differences and of Reciprocity;* Of Language (Speech rather, Parole); Refutation of Three Great Errors; Notion of God; Idea, End and Model of Creation; Mystery of Free-will; Mystery in General; Of the Will and of Progress; Universality of Progress; Of the Phases of Progress; Immortality and Spiritualism ; Existence and Nature of Animals; Continuity of Activity.
The Source of Certainty, according to our author, is this: that man has a consciousness of his own individual existence; that this consciousness tells him he has had a beginning, and that his own will or
• Loi d'Inégalité et de Solidarité, “ Law of Inequality and Mutual Relation," we should have preferred translating.
power had no part in his origination. Man is further conscious that he possesses certain powers or tendencies: the intellect, the moral sense, affections, the desire of happiness,* and the religious tendency. From these powers he argues the existence of their corresponding objects; the subjective known to consciousness proves the existence of the objective ; the moi proves the non-moi.f The intellectual power existing in man proves the existence of truth to be known by it; the moral sense proves that a moral law exists; the affections prove the existence of our fellowmen; the love of happiness proves that happiness is attainable and lawful; the religious faculty proves the existence of God. In our author's summary,
“ Self proves not-self, in which matter and mankind are comprehended..... The last word remains to be spoken, the last veil to be raised ; self proves the existence of not-self, in which God is comprehended. If every inward tendency necessarily implies an outward reality, religiousness in man proves the existence of God; this subjective religiousness must have an object; this object is God. Man is a religious being, which he could not be, did not God exist; this would be a tendency towards a nonentity.”—P. 19.
A most uninviting specimen indeed of the “sources of certainty," are these rugged sentences. But neither can we think the argument logical. How does it logically follow that every subjective power has its objective reality, unless, indeed, on the implied assumption that the world is the work of skill and benevolence? But we are as yet in search of proofs of the Divine existence. We are to prove it objectively from our subjective religious faculty; and so we assume it tacitly all the time, as the only bond of connection or relation between the subjective and its objects. If this be not arguing in a circle, we know not what is. And how does the subjective religious feeling decide whether the Divine attributes are those of a Father or of a Fiend ? Satan may be the objective as well as God. Nay, he must be, to suit the subjective of some minds.
This argument is essentially the same as Theodore Parker's short cut to the “ Absolute Religion.” It is gravely alleged that there must be a God, because the human mind has an idea of God. So, says that sparkling writer by way of illustration (if we remember right), from the nature of the human body, with lungs requiring air and a stomach requiring food, might be rationally inferred the existence of air and of food, if we did not know of their existence independently! Great virtue is there in an if. We have, in point of fact, learnt the existence of air and food by other than metaphysical proof. Having learnt it d posteriori, we do not need this very plausible proof d priori. But imagine a new but full-grown man-an Adam this moment made-placed in vacuo and
• La force sensible, qui tend à la satisfaction, à la jouissance, au bonheur. The translator says, “it is impossible to translate this phrase,” because “our language does not possess any adjective by which sensible can be appropriately rendered.” He says it may be regarded as " legitimate selfishness;" but he translates it habitually sensitiveness, which means quite a different thing.. “The happiness principle," and "the desire of happiness," are recognized English phrases for la force sensible.
† It is difficult to naturalize these new German metaphysical terms. Das Ich is Frenchified into le moi. Our English translator uses the self and the not-self, fearing alike the ambiguity of the I (eye) and the not-I, and the anti-Murrayan grammar of the me and the not-me. It is a choice of evils, unless we re-cast the idea into pure English.
without food. Doubtless his lungs would experience a want, and his stomach too; only the former would be the all-urgent want. But would our Adam know thereby that there was air in abundance beyond his vacuum; and food, though out of his reach? A strange supposition this to make; but, under the supposition, we doubt the assertion that our Adam would philosophize as some now philosophize for him. He must at least possess the fullest and firmest faith already in the Divine existence and attributes, in order thus to argue. He must have gained the result, in order to frame its proof. On the assumption that an Infinite Wisdom and Goodness has been the origin of all things, we might indeed argue, that nothing can have been made in vain; and so, from the bodily constitution of man, we might expect (if we did not see it before expecting any thing about it) that the world in which he is placed was provided with food and air suited to his wants. And, on the same assumption that an Infinite Wisdom has created all things, and that nothing is made in vain, we might argue, with both Parker and Coquerel, that the religious sentiment in man corresponds to a suitable object out of man; that because man thinks and feels that there is a God, therefore God is. But this is sheer circular reasoning. We only prove the Divine existence by first tacitly assuming a Divine wisdom. This attempt at metaphysical certainty is far less likely to produce rational conviction, than arguments of less pretension, involving more of patient research and reasoning. Better, surely, to trace, as we have been long taught to do by devout students of Nature, the laws of Order and of Benevolence that rule the material, the mental and the moral creation; and referring law to design, and design to a designing Mind, find here the objective (however vaguely we may conceive it subjectively) for the religious faculty of our souls to love and worship.
This new philosophy, as it assumes to be, with all its high pretensions, seems to us a mere revival of the old and exploded d priori argument. It is a vain attempt to attain a higher certainty than that of inductive reasoning, and this without going through the patient investigation required by the common process. And it naturally ends either in unwarrantable absolutism or in cloudy mysticism, or else in general doubt. Having aimed at evidence such as the nature of things does not admit of, it is no uncommon case for the speculator to be unimpressed by such evidence of another kind as does exist.
Indeed, our author himself appears tacitly to confess the insufficiency of the argument from the subjective man to the objective God. For he inserts, in the midst of his argument, a chapter on the Ideal (Notion de l'Idéal), which is plainly designed as a stepping-stone over the chasm; but which is, we believe, incorrect in philosophy, and, whether true or false, is inconsistent with his argument from the subjective to the objective. In brief, he makes the Ideal to be at once subjective and objective, and thus bridges over the gulf. At first he makes it purely subjective-nay, abstract:
“The ideal is that which is supplied by the pure conception of the intellect alone, and which nothing but itself can measure (et ce dont rien n'offre la mesure). Thus, with what will you measure the ideal of justice, goodness, beauty, happiness? Where is the outward sign by which to recognize it? How will you succeed in determining its limits? Your mind alone supplies it, alone conceives it."
* The ideal, which cannot be measured, serves, on the other hand, as a measure; it is the model, emphatically the original, by which we measure the value of that which, in its supreme perfection, would be expressed or represented by the ideal" (de ce dont l'idéal exprime ou représente la perfection suprême). This, we submit, is mysticism under guise of metaphysics.
The ideal cannot be measured, but is a measure for that which would be the ideal if it came up to the measure !
Our author evidently confounds the Ideal and the Infinite in the following sentences, which are quite true of the ideal, but not true of the infinite. He appears, unconsciously, to use the two terms as convertible:
“ All our estimates are formed on the standard of the ideal.
“ We measure the degree of knowledge by the ideal* of infinite knowledge;
“The degree of holiness, by the ideal of infinite holiness; “ The degree of love, by the ideal of love;
“ The degree of happiness, by the ideal of happiness ; and we never judge by any other rule.”
Now this is not the true philosophy of the Ideal. It is not the Infi. nite. It is only ever-advancing towards the infinite, being always raised above the actual of the individual's own experience and attainment. The ideal, subjectively considered, grows with our growth, being always better than ourselves. And as it is the subjective ideal that we use as our standard of judgment (we can use no other), it is never the infinite in an absolute sense. And now our author, having first defined the ideal as “ given by the pure conception of the intellect alone,” ends, to our surprise, with declaring it objective as well as subjective ; apparently regarding it (for he is not clear in this part) as one of Plato's “ forms eternal of created things." He says,
“ This examination shews that the ideal cannot be a pure abstraction, and that it is allowable (légitime) to assign to it not merely a subjective, but an objective value; that is, to believe that the ideal is not merely a notion of our minds, a chimera of our imaginations, a dream of our feelings, but that it is realized externally (en dehors de nous), that it exists, that it is a real object (un fait). Otherwise, all the judgments of reason would be based on a nonentity, which implies a contradiction."
True, if our judgments are founded on a comparison with the infinite (which cannot be subjective in finite minds); but not if they are founded on the ideal subjectively existing in us, and always rising above the actual as fast as the actual is raised.
By this exposition, however, of the “Notion of the Ideal,” the proof of the existence of Deity from the religious faculty in man is aided in Chap. IX.
“ What then is God?
“God is not an abstraction of our minds, since we carry in the depths of our being a religious power, which prompts us to sustain relations with him.
• The translator says, our ideal. This is quite true; but it is not what our author says. He says the ideal, which he says is infinite. Our ideal never is infinite. We really measure by our ideal, not by the ideal.
“ If God did not really exist, toward what object would the religious impulse tend?
“If God were a mere abstraction, the religious impulse would tend towards itself; which implies a contradiction.
“If God did not really exist, man would have the simple notion of the infinite, but no active tendency towards an infinite Person.
“These relations constitute religion; he who realizes the ideal which we were in seach of, is found,--namely, God.
“God then is the Intellect's ideal. “God then furnishes the ultimate term of our comparisons and judgments.”
We think this will hardly be admitted as more conclusive than the old d posteriori argument from the works of nature to the being and attributes of God. Nor the following brief proof of his unity:
“Since the Ideal is one, God is one.
" The demonstration of the unity of God springs from the same source as that of his existence.”
We turn away to the old familiar signs of unity of work, correspondence of parts, oneness of scheme, throughout nature, as the intelligible proofs of the unity of God.
Liberavi animam meam, may the critic now say. We have now found all the serious faults we have to find, and that most unwillingly, with M. Coquerel's book. All the rest we have to do is, with unimportant exceptions, to shew the reader how much we love and admire it, and with how good reason. Many even of his metaphysical chapters—where his philosophy is expérimentale and not abstract-are admirable. That, for instance, on Prayer, the chief part of which we shall quote and offer no apology for its length,—so wise is it, while so devout.
“There are two kinds of prayers; those in which the subject-matter is God, and those in which it is ourselves.
“The prayers which have God for their subject-matter are praises ; those which have man are wishes.
“ The former are simple launchings forth of the soul towards the Infinite. They are its inward concentration (un recueillement intérieur). They are manifestations of religious feeling, expressions of religious thought, ascribing glory or giving thanks to God; yielding itself up, in fact, to effusions of admiration or of love.
“ These prayers present no new mystery, they add no new problem to the number of religious questions, because in them the providence of God is not confronted with the free-will of man. “ The difficulties of the subject are raised * by those prayers
which more especially concern ourselves,—the class of wishes.
“ In fact, according to the common idea, praying means asking above every thing else.
“What may be the object of this asking ? “ Is it to ask that God would cease to be immutable,—that God would change
* Sont soulevées, &c., the translator renders, “the difficulties are removed," a translation which contradicts the author's meaning. We have marked other passages in which we are unable to coincide with Mr. Davison's rendering of M. Coquerel's French into English. We state the fact reluctantly, from a sense of critical justice, and of what is due to the original author. We add with pleasure that the translation is in many parts free, fluent, and as good English as need be, and faithful too. There are some unfortunate errors of the press, uncorrected : as "accomplishment" for non-accomplishment (p. 33); "destruction" for distractions (p. 92); "made" for naked (p. 212); "health" for hearth (p. 292); "specific" for pacific (p. 352); which sadly puzzle the reader.