—1 Cor. xiv. 40.
To the type of man who is bent, before all things, on doing his thinking for himself, the great stumbling–block in the historical religions is, no doubt, that authoritarianism of which we have been speaking. Such a man, as Newman says of himself, can no more think to order than he can see with another’s eyes, or breathe with another’s lungs. But most men probably do not seriously resent authority in matters of belief as such; they are only too ready to have their thinking done for them in advance by others. If they reject the dictates of one “authority,” it is usually only to surrender themselves to another. The mentally indolent—and we are all mentally indolent in many things—must have a pillow for their heads; if they throw away St. Paul or Calvin, it is only to repose on Karl Marx or Bernard Shaw. Less deep, but more widely diffused, is the resentment aroused by the tendency, shown by all the great historical religions, to evolve an elaborate system of ritual and ceremonial words and acts, and more particularly to develop mysteries, or sacraments, in which material objects and external acts terminating on them are treated as channels through which a specially rich and direct contact is made with a supernatural spiritual reality. The history of any great positive religion abundantly illustrates both the universality and depth of this tendency to ceremonialism and the persistency of the opposition it evokes.
Thus it would be hard to imagine anything much simpler, more spontaneous, less formal than the worship of the early Christian congregations, as known to us from the New Testament, the Apostolic Fathers, and the first apologists, or more complex, conventionalised, and artificial than the systems which have grown out of those beginnings and still regulate the practice of the great majority of Christians. In the former the element of freedom and spontaneity of approach to the divine is at a maximum, that of artifice at a minimum; within a framework of the simplest, all detail is left to free improvisation. In the latter there is a fixed rule for almost everything—the words to be said, the tones in which they are to be uttered, the gestures to be made, the postures and garments of the officiants, the precise fashion of all sorts of accessories. Simplicity seems to have given place everywhere to rather cumbrous complexity, nature to artifice, spontaneity to rigid traditional formula. And the curious thing is that, after every reaction towards simplification, the same development seems regularly to begin again. The “reform” which started as a “return to nature” commonly ends in the adoption of a new conventional ceremonial, often less complex and usually less aesthetically rich than the old, but equally rigid and as little spontaneous. Thus, among ourselves, I suppose, we should expect to find spontaneity and freedom from fixed ceremonial form in the Salvation Army, if it is to be found anywhere. Yet I well remember being present years ago at a great “rally” of that body and receiving a very strong impression that in the “knee–drill,” “volley–firing,” and handkerchief–waving executed to order, I was witnessing the initial stages in the growth of a new ritual, cruder and noisier than those with a longer history, but no less truly artificial and conventional. (Whether the growth has resulted in further development to–day, I regret that I cannot state.)
It is a mistake to confuse this tendency of the historical religions to conventional ceremonial and ritual with a mere movement towards display, pomp, or materialistic splendour. Ritual, as such, is neither beautiful, nor pompous, nor glowing; it may be bald, ugly, drab, without ceasing to be ritual. There is nothing glowing or pompous about the Gregorian “modes”; the bands and Geneva gown of a Presbyterian minister, the garb of a Captain in the Salvation Army, are just as much ritualistic or ceremonial vestments, in the proper sense of the word, as alb or chasuble, since all are alike the conventional “uniform” appropriated to persons set apart to discharge specific functions. Ritualism, reduced to its simplest elements, is just the tendency to confine the expression of a specific human activity to one artificial form prescribed by convention; the antithesis to it is not simplicity, or baldness, but free spontaneity, permission granted to the activity of the moment to find its expression for itself unhampered by precedent, convention, or custom.
Both the tendency to ceremonial, or ritual, and the revolt against it are universal features of human life, present in many spheres besides that of worship. The difficulty, indeed, would be to find any human activity in connection with which both tendencies do not make themselves felt. Every human social activity inevitably tends to develop its own conventions, and so to create a ritual for itself. There is a recognised ritual of the breakfast–table, the dinner–table, the drawing–room, embodied in the rules which we speak of sometimes as those of etiquette, sometimes as those of civilised manners. Whenever we have intercourse of any kind with our fellows, there are always ways in which things are done and other ways in which they are not done, rules of mannerly behaviour to be adhered to, whether we are personally disposed to follow them or not. We all know that careless infraction of the rules, disregard of all the “conventions,” is commonly the beginning of that neglect of the “decencies of civilised life” which, surrendered to, means relapse into “barbarism,” loss, in great measure, of the rational man’s command over himself and his moods. We can understand well enough what Mr. Belloc means when, in one of his stories,1 he speaks of a man assailed by mortal illness as preserved from the complete collapse of his manhood by “habit, or ritual, the mistress of men sane.” Nor do we hesitate to condemn, as at least an early symptom of what may grow by neglect to be a serious moral disorder, needless or wilful departure, when there is no adequate reason, from the conventionally fixed way of conducting ourselves, even though we may be able to give no further ground for conformity than that the established way is established.
That the members of a family, for example, should ask after one another’s health, or greet one another with a kiss when they reassemble daily in the breakfast–room is, in itself, only a piece of conventionalism, a bit of ritual. But we know that disregard of the convention only too readily leads to a real preoccupation with self and a dulling of one’s concern for the other members of the family group. The habit of answering letters when possible, within twenty–four hours of their arrival, is a ritual which it is often a little “costing” to practice, and of no great moment to neglect, but—I speak with shame as an offender in this matter—refusal to have some rule of the kind, and to keep to it always, means that our “unconventionality” will, sooner or later, cause serious detriment to our own, or our correspondents’, interests. A rule of conversation, like that which forbids a well–bred man to gesticulate, or raise his voice, in the drawing–room when he feels justifiably excited or aggrieved, is never more necessary than at the moments when observance of it is hardest. We need an artificial barrier as a protection against the very real moral danger of “letting ourselves go,” and the impulsive man whose natural tendency is always to the unrestrained expression of all his moods in bawling, strong language, sharp contradiction, table–banging, needs the safeguard of the convention more than any of us.
Mr. Chesterton,2 indeed, has glorified freedom from all these conventional restraints as the essence of true masculine camaraderie, but I should suppose that even he would find the respect of some conventions necessary in one whom he could regard as bon camarade; he would not like to be hugged and slobbered over, or even perpetually thumped on the back, or prodded in the ribs, by his “comrade,” and still less to have the comrade performing all necessary natural functions in his presence. Without some foundation of respect for my whole personality, body as well as soul, a man, or even a dog, cannot be a “comrade” to me, and what lies at the bottom of ritual and convention is just this respect, which involves recognition of barriers which must not be broken down. The two most intimate associations of human life are, I take it, the “dear love of comrades” and the consortium totius vitae which is marriage; neither can exist without respect and the sense of inviolable privacies, and where these are there must always be some element of convention which finds its embodiment in ritual.
Of course, like all things which are of good use in life, convention and ritual have their obvious abuses. In all relations of life there must be certain barriers and self–repressions, and it is natural that mankind, once alive to the fact, should go to excess in setting up barriers and multiplying forms beyond what is needed; convention, the sustainer of wholesome human relations, then passes into a conventionalism which withers them. The proper respect for the bodily presence of another which is modesty, a thing no less salutary than beautiful, whatever Blake and his idolaters may have said falsely to the contrary, passes into the false modesty, or prudery, which affects to ignore the very fact of the body and its functions. The respect for parents which is the foundation of human relations between the young and the old is no less easily converted into an affected self–abasement which makes mutual confidence, true affection, and right guidance of the young by the old impossible. The different, but equally necessary, courtesy of equal towards equal, without which there could be no honourable friendship, is as readily overlaid by the forms of a ceremonialism which makes real friendship impossible. And thus, while convention is indispensable to sustain all the relations which give civilised life its superiority over savagery, the sense of the value of convention needs always to be kept in due restraint by wholesome impatience of the multiplication of superfluous rules of ceremony, etiquette, ritual. We can take our pattern of civilised life neither from a Roi soleil or a Castilian grande, nor from a sansculotte zealot for “fraternity,” or an Elijah Pogram. Civilised existence is “art,” not undressed “nature”; but art must not be allowed to ossify into artificiality. Here, as in all the problems of life, our business is to find a “right mean,” and the finding of the “mean” is never easy. We only find it at all on the condition that the two antithetic tendencies, to fixed form and to free spontaneity, compensate one another.
I have dwelt so long on what may appear obvious for a simple reason. If we are to appreciate the true strength and weakness, in the religious sphere or any other, of both the antithetic tendencies which we may conveniently call the ritualistic and the anti–ritualistic, it is important not to confuse the essence of either with some of its accidents; a confusion which is made only too often, especially in connection with the manifestation of the ritualistic tendency in the institutionalising and conventionalising of a community’s religious practice. In popular controversy among ourselves, it is common to hear ceremonial, or ritual, spoken of by those who sympathise with it as “imposing,” or “magnificent,” and equally common to find it confused by those who dislike it with such things as a taste for millinery and fancy–dress. In much the same spirit William James has somewhere, a little complacently, contrasted the European demand that rulers should exhibit themselves, on public occasions, in uniform with the gratification which, as he avers, the “democratic” sentiment of Americans derives from seeing a President discharge his public duties in a badly fitting morning coat.
Talk of this kind seems to me to betray complete misapprehension of the source of the opposing tendencies. What is really at the bottom of the demand for ceremonial is not the desire to be “splendid,” or “imposing,” but to be formal. The object of a fixed ritual is not to impose, but to impress in a certain specific way, and the impression may be, and often is, produced even more effectively by unusual austerity and artificial simplicity than by gorgeous show. There is, for example, a great deal of pomp and splendour about the ceremonial of a Missa Pontificalis, with its brilliant and varied vestments, its wealth of music, lights, and incense. A “plain celebration,” correctly conducted, dispenses with nearly all this show, and is sensibly austere and bare; the traditional worship of Good Friday, with its open and empty “sanctuary,” stripped altar, unkindled lights, and sombre black vestments, is artificially simplified to the extreme of austerity. But attention to the correctness of the worship is equally “ritualistic” in all three cases, and, to some temperaments at least, the austerest ceremony is much the most impressive.
Similarly it would be pure misunderstanding to suppose that the leaders in what is often called the “ritualistic” movement within the Anglican Church in the last century took any very profound interest in millinery and perfumes as such; indeed, the gentle satire of humorists like Thackeray, who saw the beginnings of the movement, is as often directed against its austerity in some respects as against its magnificence in others. The “Tractarian” of Thackeray’s satire makes it one part of his pose to affect an unusual simplicity in the cut of his surplice and the hang of his stole; like the early Methodist preachers, he crops his hair close and brushes it straight; in general, he makes a point of sacrificing the personal adornments of the older type of fashionable clergyman and even of cultivating an artificial monotony of delivery in his sermons, by way of protest against the meretriciousness of rhetoric and elocution.3 If he also wanted vestments and ceremonies, he wanted them not because they were rich, or artistic, but because they were traditional, charged with a certain conventional significance as symbols. To be sure, there were persons who attached themselves to the “movement” for different reasons; because, for example, their slightly barbaric aesthetic cravings found satisfaction in a riot of colour, light, and fragrance. It is conceivable even that there may have been a few foolish young curates here and there who did really at heart simply want to dazzle milkmaids and servant–girls by a showy costume. But it would be childish calumny to confuse such weaklings with the men who bore the brunt of the prosecutions and imprisonments for “ritual offences”.
On the other side, also, I can hardly believe that the typical American of whom James speaks is really much concerned that the coat worn by his President on public occasions shall be a misfit. His feeling, I take it, is one of protest against the principle of “uniform,”4 not a preference for ill–made and badly sitting clothes. The real issue is directly between convention and spontaneity. What the supporter of “forms” and “ceremonies” feels, often unconsciously, is that without regulation by convention there is no guarantee that expression, in word or act, will be adequate and appropriate to the thing to be expressed. The spirit which should dominate an occasion will not do so, as it should, if it gets a wrong embodiment, and without guidance by regulations carefully conformed to, it will constantly be getting an embodiment which is, more or less, a wrong one. What the enemy of “set forms” feels no less strongly is that the conventionalised embodiment of a spiritual activity is always in danger of becoming a dead body. If he sometimes talks as though he were positively attracted by slovenliness, crudity, and disorder, he only does so because he thinks, rightly or wrongly, that those things are inseparable from life; life itself is an untidy, disorderly, crude affair.
The whole controversy is, in the end, only one form of the wider disagreement between the votary of significant form and the enthusiast for a rude vitality which cannot be confined within any bounds of form, precisely because it never knows fully what it would be at. We find a precisely similar clash in letters between the worshippers of “style” and the worshippers of rough force, and in philosophy between the “intellectualist” and the partisan of the élan vital. To ignore this is to be unjust to both parties. And if we are to be discriminatingly just, we must be careful, in discussing the issue thus raised, to take it at a sufficiently universal level. We are not principally concerned with the worth of a certain kind or amount of ceremony, as against more or less ceremony, or the relative worth of the various “uses” of different communities; these are not questions for philosophy. Whenever it is maintained that certain activities, to flourish at all, must get special expression at special times and places, and in special ways, what is being asserted is the necessity of ritual, in the wide sense, for life. Complete denial of the principle, involving the position that set times, places, forms, are matters of indifference, or are even dangerous to the spiritual life, means unqualified adoption of a strictly individualistic “quietism”.5
Now we have, I think, only to conceive of “quietism” as systematically applied to the whole range of human activities to see that its results would pretty certainly be the very reverse of those at which the advocates of unfettered spontaneity aim. Consider, for example, what would be the probable effect of the unqualified suppression of form and conventional ritual on the most intimate of our personal affections. What would happen if the ritual of family life were entirely abolished? It would follow, in the first place, that we should recognise no special occasions on which family affections manifest themselves in some way consecrated by tradition. The keeping of birthdays within the family, with its traditional accompaniment of special salutations, letters, dinners, presents, the manifestation of the sense of loss after bereavements by the observance of a season of mourning, and the wearing of the garb of mourning, would have to be discontinued; though marriages, in view of their legal consequences, would still require to be celebrated with some sort of official formality, the formality would be reduced to the indispensable minimum; one must suppose that a wedding would cease to be a scene of festivity, and that the married would cease to mark the annual return of the wedding–day by any of the little customary observances.
Nor would this be all. Strict carrying out of the principle would even forbid the use within a family circle of such formal conventional gestures as the kiss of welcome and good will at morning and evening, at return from and departure on a journey. These are all pieces of customary ritual, and against all it may be argued that those who are most careful in observing the conventional form are by no means always the persons who feel most deeply and steadily the affection the form is meant to symbolise; and, again, that the truly loving father or brother does not really feel more love on the anniversary of a birthday than on other days of the year, or that those who display their grief in bereavement by the punctilious donning of mourning garb often seem to lay the memory of their lost friends and kinsmen aside with their sables. All this is true enough; one can easily understand the feeling which has often prompted sincere and warm–hearted persons to make a point of defying the conventions by disregard of these rituals. We can appreciate, even if we do not unreservedly approve, the contention that when a man’s heart is full of sorrow, or of family affection, he has no need to put on mourning or to celebrate birthdays.
Yet it is no less certain that, since men are very forgetful creatures, if they do not assist nature with art by providing themselves with occasions for contemplating the object of their affection and giving outward expression to the emotions aroused by the contemplation, remembrance and emotion must tend to fade. “Out of sight” really is “out of mind.” And if there is one point which has fairly been established in the psychology of the emotions, it is the falsity of the popular notion that emotion is deepened by inhibition, when the inhibition is more than temporary. James was at least right in saying that our real object in training children to suppress facile displays of emotion is not to make them feel more, but to make them think more and feel less.6 One may safely say, justified by one’s personal experience of life and the known practice of universal humanity, that if a man means to keep his own deepest personal affections alive, there is only a choice for him between two alternatives. Either he must fall back on the opportunities for recollection, and the expression of emotion in act, provided by social convention, or if he finds the provision for any reason unsuitable, he must devise a fresh ritual for himself, as a surrogate for that in general practice. If one will do neither, the “world,” the βιωτικαὶ μέριμναι, always “too much with us,” will infallibly choke the fountains of the inner life. For, without such an outlet,
Each day brings its little dust
Our petty souls to fill;
And we forget because we must,
And not because we will.
Further, even the most private ritual of occasions and opportunities never becomes completely individual. The little family circle, narrow as it is, is, after all, a circle, a community; it is indispensable to the wholesomeness of life that its affections shall be communal, and that the special occasions and opportunities which sustain them shall be opportunities and occasions for the whole group. For example, the keeping of a child’s birthday is such a special opportunity not merely to remember and display the father’s, and again the mother’s, affection for the child, but also for the parents to remember and display their affection for one another, and their common participation in affection for the child, and also for brothers and sisters to remember and display their love, not only for the child whose birthday is being kept, but for each other and for their parents. A true birthday celebration, like an annual reunion of the household, is a feast of the family and of family affection. It com prises a whole complex of finely discriminated and graded affections, and demands a ritual which gives comely and appropriate expression to them all. It may fail of its purpose if it strikes too loudly, or not loudly enough, any one of the notes which it ought to sound. And this means that, to be utilised to the full, it must contain features which are less spontaneously prompted by the special mood of some of its celebrants than by those of others. The parents would not spontaneously exhibit their parental affection for their child in precisely the behaviour which is most appropriate and spontaneous in his small brothers and sisters; yet the birthday feast must not fall apart into two concurrent but distinct festivals, a festival of parental, and another of fraternal, love; that would be destructive of its whole significance as a manifestation of the spirit of the family. This, of itself, implies that the observance will necessarily embrace features which some of the parties concerned will feel to be definitely conventional and artificial so far as they in particular are concerned, features which the general spirit of the occasion would not have dictated to them, if they had stood alone, or even features they might definitely wish to be away, if they were the only parties to be considered. Even within the close family group, the individualist temper which refuses to take its part in any detail of the conventional observances not directly fraught with meaning to itself would shatter the unity of the group, if it were allowed unfettered free play. Even here in practice life requires a certain amount of give–and–take, such as is called for on a larger scale by all institutionalism.
Nor have we, even now, exhausted the significance of art and convention for the life of the family circle. So far we have spoken chiefly of the value of comparatively rare special occasions for contemplation and the exercise of the emotions which attend it. In point of fact convention has a subtler part to play in the daily routine. We need recollection daily, not only once or twice in the year. If we are to meet the demands made on us by personal intimacies adequately, we shall have to show ourselves loving and sympathetic, to give appropriate expression to what we have at heart, not only on special occasions but daily, and we cannot trust to the moment always to provide the best response to situations. Some of us are by nature reticent and awkward; we do not find it easy to meet a situation properly, if it calls for the expression of what is deepest in us; our habitual tendency is to very inadequate expression. We shall seem careless and cold when we are not really so, unless we are at some pains to make ourselves speak and act as the situation demands. Others are naturally prone to the expression of surface moods, and so are constantly making a wrong impression. We seem, for instance, to be irritated when we are really not so. And all of us are careless, thoughtless, and preoccupied. From some or all of these causes we may only too easily spoil the most precious intimacies of life, and there is no better way to guard ourselves against this ever–present danger than to protect ourselves by the habit of little observances which are “conventional” in the sense that we should often not practise them if we left ourselves to the suggestion of the moment, and that it costs some effort to keep them in being.
The point to be made, then, is that a certain element of art, even of artifice, is indispensable everywhere in life, if the activities which give it its highest value are to be permanently sustained at an adequate level. Nowhere can we afford to be wholly “free–and–easy.” Least of all is it possible to be simply free–and–easy in the expression of activities aroused by the objects of our highest reverence, or even respect. If reverent devotion is to be kept at the level necessary for its rightful place in human life, there must be set occasions and opportunities for its special manifestation, and the forms in which it is manifested must not be left to improvisation, or they will inevitably be largely incongruous and jarring. We see this in connection with the maintenance of a national patriotism, a profound and ennobling sense of the worth of our national ideals and history and our gratitude to our national past. It would be impossible to keep a true patriotism alive without particular occasions for commemoration of the great achievements and deliverances of the past, and worthy celebration of the memory of those whom, under God, we have to thank for them. We should not be better Frenchmen, Englishmen, or Scots, nor even better Europeans, but worse, if we refused to honour the recurrent anniversaries of our deliverance from oppression or danger, if we forgot the memory of St. Joan of Arc, or Nelson, or Wallace. We cannot be always dwelling on these things in the routine of daily life, and it is well that we should not do so too often, or too obtrusively; but if daily life is to be unconsciously leavened through by the right kind of love of country, it is needful that there should be regular provided occasions when we may dwell very specially with the recollections which specially evoke the feeling of patriotic devotion.
Again, because the very function of such commemorations is to raise us, for the time, out of the atmosphere of every day, it is specially important that the forms taken by our “patriotic exercises” should be, in a high degree, conventional and, in no bad sense, artificial. If a whole community is to be lifted above its common level into a mood of worthy patriotic thought and emotion, we cannot trust for that effect to the inspirations of a haphazard spontaneity. Even a minor inadequacy in expression will, for example, pervert what might have been a stimulus to the finest type of national public spirit into a degrading exhibition of vulgar complacent or truculent “flag–flapping.” In any really appropriate public expression of true patriotism, the form taken by the expression will be consciously “conventional,” or “ceremonial”; it will be felt, to some degree, as an imposed restraint, just because it is so difficult to keep any mood, at its best, clean of the degradation which attends any lapse from the highest standard.
What Kant says of reverence for the moral law is true, in some measure, of all respect for an object of the mind’s contemplation. The attitude is hard to keep up; it is one of conscious constraint, and so “painfully tinged,” as Kant puts it, because of the inhibition of the commonplace and less worthy which it involves.7 It is the function of proper ceremony, or ritual, to maintain this inhibition at the same time that it gives expression to the exalted mood. We ought, therefore, to understand that there is real justification for the common feeling of mankind that the solemn public acts of national functionaries should be marked as having a public significance by an external dignity and decorum which stamps them as having a character out of the ordinary. There is something reasonable in making the inauguration of magistrates, the holding of courts of justice, the assembling of the legislature, notable by an etiquette of costume, gesture, utterance, which impresses the imagination, inhibits commonplace associations, and makes the spectator or auditor aware that he is being taken, for the time, out of the sphere of the merely domestic and private. There ought, for instance, to be a suggestion of the extraordinary and “otherworldly” about such a transaction as the administration of criminal justice. It would not be well that we should not be reminded by the surroundings that judge, jury, prisoner are engaged in a business which is not their private and personal affair; the “tonality” appropriate priate to the office or the market would be out of place here. If we are among the audience when a convicted murderer receives sentence of death, we need to have it brought home to us that the speaker who pronounces the sentence is not Jones or Smith signifying his personal pleasure; he “bears our person” and announces a purpose to which we are consenting parties; the responsibility for the doom pronounced rests on each of us. The real judge in the cause is “Everyman,” and this is why the execution of the murderer is not simply a second and premeditated murder. This is what the often thoughtlessly decried ceremonial of the courts of justice is meant to keep us from forgetting.8
Similarly there is just one department of life in connection with which even the type of American described sympathetically by William James seems to feel as the rest of us do. So far as I know, even he does not carry his hostility to ritual and ceremonial to the point of objecting to uniform in the Army and Navy. I do not believe that the explanation of this inconsistency is completely given by the utilitarian consideration that the very distinctive dress of combatants is a convenience to the combatants themselves and a protection both to them and to non–combatants. True as this is, it will not explain the universality of regulations requiring the wearing of uniform on public occasions in times of peace, or the strength of the sentiment that is outraged by the use of “colourable” imitations of the national uniform for purposes of advertisement, and by the exhibition of it in ludicrous circumstances on the comic stage. The truth, I believe, is that the national uniform is felt to be the symbol of a life dedicated to specially arduous devotion to the public service. We expect the sight of it to sustain noble public feeling at a high level. It marks out the soldier of the country to the rest of us for recognition and honour, and it should keep him from forgetting that he is under a special obligation of honour not to fall in his daily conduct below the standards demanded by his position as a dedicated man. I cannot help wondering, therefore, whether the anti–ritualism regarded by James as so typically American may not be connected with a certain failure in the population of the United States at large to take statesmanship and the administration of justice quite seriously. (There can be no harm in alluding to this failure, since American writers themselves have been among the first to proclaim and deplore it.) If the mass of any people are contented to see in political life, or in the administration of justice, only a set of artifices by which professional rogues compass their personal ends, it is quite intelligible that they should feel no need to invest the acts of the legislator and the judge with any special impressiveness. When the conviction has really come home to them that these acts are public and representative, and that the society as a whole, and its several members in particular, have a genuine responsibility in connection with them, I should think it most likely that the sentiment in question may be profoundly modified.
We may now apply what we have said to the special problem of the right place of the element of institution, ceremony, ritual, in the communal religious life. In principle, indeed, there seems nothing left to be said beyond what has been said already. But I think we can see why the conflict between the tendency to fixed forms and institutions and the complementary tendency to unregulated spontaneity should be exceptionally acute in this particular field. On the one side, it is in the acts which give expression to the religious life of the community that its members are lifted most completely into an atmosphere remote from that of all their everyday this–world transactions. In their communal worship they are conscious of being brought, as they are brought nowhere else, into direct relation with the wholly transcendent, supernatural, and “other.” Here, more than anywhere else, the sense of being in the presence of something entitled to absolute and unqualified reverence will be paramount, and it will carry with it the completest inhibition of all incongruous lower activities. The state of soul in which a man is wholly taken out of himself and filled with an adoring sense of the immediate presence of God is therefore exceptionally hard to maintain. At best it can be maintained by most of us in its intensity and purity for only a short time; the concentration and withdrawal demanded are eminently hard and exhausting, and we feel the need that they should be supported and encouraged by all the suggestions of an environment differentiated in subtle ways from that of our more everyday and worldly hours.
Again, as all experience proves, the very depth and intensity of the emotional mood of worship is itself a source of grave dangers. The danger—it is one which besets all deep and intense moments of feeling—is that other and incongruous emotions, which in the ordinary affairs of life only figure on a reduced scale, may intrude themselves. If one merely shuts out, for the time, the commonplace outer world and its surface interests, and does nothing more, there is the risk that the house of the soul, which has been swept and garnished for the coming of the supreme guest, may be occupied by “unclean” spirits. The “tumults” of the soul may usurp upon its “depths”; excitement, and that of a very evil kind, may take the place of intense interior stillness and the “waiting” spirit. I need not particularise to make it obvious why importance should be attached to the fostering of the true temper of worship by devices which aim at shutting out both the commonplace and the unworthy, and so erecting an environment which makes it easier to maintain in the worshipping assembly the right, not a wrong, mood of unworldliness. No doubt, if we could make the soul entirely independent of “environment,” we should have no need of these devices, but if we could do that we should have ceased to be what, in fact, we are, and must remain, “creatures.” It is part of the humility of the “creature” to recognise that there is for it no absolute escape from “environment.” This, as it seems to me, explains and largely justifies the tendency of all worships to take on a traditionally conventionalised form.
On the other side, there is no attitude in life which is so intensely personal as the attitude of the worshipper in the felt presence of his God. Unless adoration has occupied the inmost citadel of my personality, I am not really worshipping; I am merely complying with an external form. Religion is not, as the quietist holds it to be, merely a personal affair between myself and my Maker, but it is at least that, however much more it may be; when the intimate personal relation is absent, nothing can replace it. This is why we rightly feel that the cultus of a Greek city–state of the classical times is something quite different from what we mean by religion; it is cultus and it is nothing more. The philosophy of a man like Plato is profoundly saturated with religion, and for that very reason it treats the cultus with irony, or open hostility. Now there is always sure to be much in the conventional cultus of my group which does not stand in any felt relation to my own personality, much which to me individually is a matter of mere form imposed from outside, and perhaps felt to be more or less repugnant.9 We can understand, therefore, why in this department of life, more than in any other, the institutional and conventional should provoke the individual’s resentment. I want that in my worship of my God, so far as possible, there should be an utter breaking down of every barrier between my personality and His; that the two should come into a contact “closer than breathing”; that He should flow in upon me without let or hindrance. And the whole apparatus of conventional forms may readily appear to me no better than an artificial multiplication of hindrances and barriers, the banishing of God to an inaccessible distance. Hence it is often the most deeply religious men who feel the keenest resentment against the whole of the institutional and ceremonial element in the religion of their own communities. The very depth and sincerity of a man’s devotion to his God will make him impatient of the suggestion that there is not a way of access to God which stands open to the human soul at all times, in all places, and independently of all prescribed formal avenues of approach. It is in this spirit that we find Plotinus refusing to take any part in the revived Hellenic worship which carried some of his friends off their feet. He refused to visit the temples on the ground that “it is for the gods to come to me, not for me to go to them”.10 That is, the true temple of God is a soul made fit for His habitation. When a man has done all that is in him to make his own mind fit for the heavenly visitation, it must be left for Deity to choose when and how He will come to His temple; it is not for us to control His movements. It is the same spirit which inspires the vehement protests of the greatest Old Testament prophets against the ceremonialism of a people who draw near to their God through sacrifice and ritual, while there is no real contact of their personality with His: “Their hearts are far from Him”.
(In modern times these protests have often been exaggerated to the pitch of maintaining an absolute antithesis between two incompatible types of religion, a “priestly,” which is ex hypothesi false in principle, and a “prophetic,” which is true; but this is something of a caricature of the facts. It has not unreasonably been retorted that the two prophets who did most for the creation of the Jewish Church out of which Christianity has directly arisen, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, were themselves priests,11 and that “prophetic” religion is so far from being the same thing as true religion that the majority of prophets appear to have been false prophets. Indeed, it might perhaps be said that what Jeremiah, the greatest of all the prophets, foresees in the famous anticipation which has meant so much to the Christian Church is not the disappearance of institutionalism, but the supersession of the special function of the prophet: “In that day a man shall not teach his neighbour … for they shall all know me”.12 And according to the same prophet, in the Messianic days, “Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to burn oblations, and to do sacrifice continually”.13 But it is true to say that in the great Israelite prophets we see the tension between institutionalism and spontaneity at its acutest.)
The actual attacks upon institutionalism characteristic of certain quarters in our own times seem to me, indeed, to be very largely on a lower level. To some extent, to be sure, they are prompted by the impatience of an intense spirituality with things which are felt as hindrances in the way of free access of the individual human spirit to God. But largely, also, they appear, at least, to be inspired by different and inferior motives. Thus there is a widespread tendency to decry everything in the nature of institution, not so much on the ground that it is found to interfere with personal spirituality of temper, as on the ground that it is “childish” or “unreasonable.” Why, it is said, should I trouble, for example, to go to a church on set days and at set hours, to find God, when I am just as near Him every moment at home or in the fields? Why should I even have any special times of the day for private prayer, when God can be addressed by the human spirit at any moment? It would not, I believe, be unfair to say that most of the anti–institutionalists who urge these considerations are not persons of exceptionally high and ardent spirituality; more often, probably, they are worldly and indifferent. When a man declines to pray with the “congregation,” he does not most commonly decline with a view to making his prayer more intense and heart–felt; it is rather that he does not really feel any great need or desire to pray.14
There is also a position intermediate between that of the indifferentist and the passionately religious man of markedly individualist type. The one real function of religion, it is often said, is to promote the leading of a morally good life. The whole institutional side of a religion is valuable so far as it conduces to this end, but no further. And there is no close intrinsic connection between any part of it and the leading of a good life. Such connection as does actually exist is extrinsic and accidental, and it is chiefly those whose intelligence and reason are least developed who are “helped” in living a good life by institutional religion. It, with its apparatus of set times and places, prescribed forms and rites, may be temporarily allowed as a concession to the weak, but the aim of a rational piety should be to make men strong enough to live as they ought without such supports; a true and robust spirituality should be independent of them.
In large part this alleged irrationality and un–spirituality of the specifically institutional in the historical religions may fairly be regarded as disposed of by the general considerations on which we have been dwelling. But some further points suggested by the particular anti–institutional arguments just rehearsed seem to call for separate brief examination. In particular there are two widespread and mischievous mistakes which are between them responsible for a great deal of the present fashionable depreciation of what used to be called “religious observances”; though both these mistakes spring from misconception of the specific character of religion, they may seriously impair the inner life of naturally deeply religious souls.
(1) It is a complete mistake to find the sole value of religion for life in its instrumental services to morality. The reality of these services, and the extreme difficulty of attaining a high level of social or personal moral practice except under the influence of the “religious sanction”—by which I do not mean expectation of mere personal rewards and punishments—are facts patent and undeniable. But though religion, like art, may have, and when it is good religion will have, a morally ennobling effect, the effect is something different from its cause. To be religious is not the same thing as to try to be morally good, any more than to enjoy, or practise, art is to try to be morally good, though a man’s religion is not worth very much if it does not lead him to try earnestly to be virtuous. And it is a familiar fact of life that the persons who try most consciously to be morally good are by no means always those who respond most readily to “religious impressions,” while, on the other side, very real sensitiveness to the supernatural, like sensibility to beauty, is often found coexisting with grave moral weakness. It is still largely true that publicans and harlots—I do not mean ex–publicans and ex–harlots—can be much nearer to the kingdom of God than morally earnest Pharisees. The secret source of what is definitely religious in life is the vivid sense of creatureliness and the felt attitude of the creature towards its Creator, the experience of worship or devotion; and to adore is not the same thing as to cultivate moral betterment. To repeat what we have said so often already, morality which remains morality and nothing more is an attitude to that which ought to be; adoration and religion are attitudes to that which overpoweringly and tremendously is. To degrade worship into a mere instrument of moral improvement would be to make the same sort of mistake as that made when art is degraded into a mere vehicle of instruction.
By consequence, much as art would be deprived of most of its power to influence character if the artist, in producing his work of art, consciously aimed at being didactic, or the contemplator of the work at learning a “moral lesson,” so a religion would lose its best actual moral effects on life if its worship were consciously directed on moral reformation. A great religion produces noble moral fruit only because it is aiming, first and foremost, at something else. It aims at making a vision of God a real and dominant presence in life; moral ennoblement follows spontaneously on the vision. It is not myself and my “moral being,” but God and God’s being which occupy the centre of my attention in proportion as I have a really religious experience of reality.
(2) It follows, further, that a man’s religion, to be worth anything, must be something more than a purely personal and private transaction between himself and his God. Religion is degraded from its rightful place in life not only when it is conceived as a mere support of moral endeavour, but also when it is thought of, as it so often is, as primarily concerned with the personal “salvation,” however conceived, of the individual’s soul. God, not the self and its private destiny, is the true centre of genuine religious interest, and the supreme religious motive to action is the “glory of God,” not the safeguarding of a man’s personal interests. For this very reason that my private selfhood is not the true centre of religious interest, religion, though an intensely personal thing, is emphatically not a private concern. The saint’s interest in God, and worship of a God felt to be present, are no more the private affair of the saint than the scientific man’s interest in truth and its discovery is his private affair, or the artist’s interest in the making and contemplation of things of beauty his. In all these cases there is an experience of vision, or contemplation, and the experient, who is one term in the experience, has, of course, his own private, and in its concreteness incommunicable, personality. But the other term in the experience, the object contemplated, Truth, Beauty, the God of the spirits of all flesh, is above these privacies, and it is the object which gives the experience its significance. The experience, in all these cases, is one with a core of direct cognitive apprehension, and therefore an experience of being possessed, “informed by,” “assimilated to” the apprehended object, an adaequatio cognoscentis cum re, which takes the experient out of his private solitude without impairing his individuality. Worship, like the pursuit of truth, or the fashioning and enjoyment of beautiful things, is essentially a community–function, not because the individual person is something less real than the community, but for a different and deeper reason, because of the supereminence of the “form” to which the experient is “assimilated.” An adequate human worship of God cannot be the attitude of one single human soul, for the same reason that the whole of truth cannot be the knowledge of one mind, nor the whole of beauty the intuition of one artist. From these theoretical considerations there follow two consequences of a practical character.
(1) It may be true, indeed I would admit that it is very largely true, that many of the forms of an institutional religion have no direct connection, nor even such an indirect connection as could be detected by analysis, with any particular moral improvement. But, however true this may be, it affords no reason to pronounce observation of the occasions and opportunities provided by institutional religion irrational, nor even for denying that neglect of them is likely to be attended by specifically moral loss, since, as we said; the characteristic function of religion is not moral improvement, and its real, though indirect, influence on character is exerted, like that of the pursuit of truth or beauty, in infinitely subtle and obscure ways. It is similarly true that I shall, unless I am a very abnormal creature, be morally the better because I feed my mind on the greatest art, but in this case also it would be futile to undertake to show the precise moral benefit I derive from this and the other work of art. I cannot say precisely what particular moral profit I get from the contemplation of Othello or the Third Symphony; yet there is no denying that morally, as well as in other ways, I am the better for the contact of my mind with Shakespeare’s or Beethoven’s. True, a man may be morally excellent and yet unable to appreciate great art, and, as we know only too well, a man may be at once a true artist and a vicious man. But the question is whether the second man, in most cases, without his sensibility to art would not have been more vicious than he is with it. Some other man may be more virtuous than, for example, the art–loving man of strongly carnal appetites, and yet be without his sensitivity to art. But the comparison which is really relevant is not that of the sensual and art–loving man with the man who is neither sensual nor responsive to art; it is the comparison of the art–loving sensualist with himself as he would be without his love of art.
(2) Again, if worship itself is more than a merely private activity, it is not reasonable, but eminently unreasonable, to expect that the community’s institutional provision for it shall contain nothing which I do not find clearly beneficial to myself in particular. That which means little to me, or is even repugnant to me, may to another be a very real occasion for the lifting up of the heart. To forget this is as unreasonable as it would be to wish to banish from the world’s store of poems and pictures all works which leave me personally cold, or possibly actually annoy me. I have, in such a case, to remember two things. One is that I myself, like everyone else, have my personal limitations of defective sympathy. There is true and genuine beauty, it may be of a high quality, to which I do not personally yield a quick and spontaneous response; a second man, who does respond to it, may have his difficulties in appreciating some of the particular beauties which speak most directly to me. It is good for both of us that each should have the opportunity of learning to correct his own defects and limitations by going humbly to school to the other. Each may learn from the other in a way which really enriches his own capacity for personal appreciation. Even when this is not the case, we have to remember that all members of the community are not on the same level of appreciativeness. The poem or the picture which really is only a poor or mediocre achievement, and is correctly seen by me to be so, may also, if it has any beauty at all, be a real avenue to appreciation of beauty for my neighbour, whose perceptions have been less cultivated. There is thus a double reason why a society anxious, for example, to provide its members with opportunities for the appreciative enjoyment of pictorial art would be acting unwisely and irrationally if it admitted to its public galleries no paintings except those which satisfied the tastes of a small body of experts and connoisseurs. The smaller the group of these experts, the more serious the probability that some works really of the highest value would be excluded; there would also always be the still graver danger that a collection exactly to the taste of even a considerable body of experts would be “over the heads” of the great bulk of the public for whose benefit it is designed.
These considerations apply with undiminished force to the provision of opportunities for the cultivation of the spirit of religious adoration. There, too, we have to guard against the ever–present danger of the spiritual sin of priggishness. Religion, like art, is for everyone; we cannot afford to leave any part of the community, whatever its crudity or hebetude of perception, untouched by either. Genuine religion and genuine art are both profoundly “catholic” in the sense that neither can tolerate appropriation by a small intelligentsia of superior persons, and in both there is a very real necessity, in particular for those of us who are occupied with some department of the “academic life,” to protect ourselves against the danger of degenerating into “superior persons.” The grace of a true humility is just the grace we need more than any other, and we cannot afford to disregard the opportunities for growth in it. We ought to be alive to the truth that in literature and art we lose much, if we do not take pains to keep alive in ourselves the capacity for appreciating the simple and perhaps second–rate, or third–rate, poetry and painting which makes its direct appeal to the “common people.” The superfine person who cannot, in his reading, condescend to be interested in anything less subtle and unobvious than the verse of Donne or the prose of Henry James is not the sort of person we ought to wish to be. Similarly, if we would keep the spirit of worship alive in us, we cannot afford to neglect the opportunities for contact, it may be at the cost of overcoming some personal repugnances, with the forms of cultus which are most potent in evoking worship and the sense of being in the presence of God in the mass of simple folk.
The same thing is true of the cultivation of the sense of national loyalty and love of country. The appeal of such things as the national anthem, or the flag, to the “common people” may be a crude one; it may cost us the overcoming of an intelligible repugnance to sympathise with these things, knowing as we do how often they are traded on to provoke ignorant and prejudiced explosions of feeling on wrong occasions. If we know something of the detailed facts of history, we may, and often do, feel the same kind of annoyance with the “patriotic” rhetoric which converts very faulty “national heroes” of the past into figures without spot or reproach. No one can fairly expect me, for example, to see nothing in Oliver Cromwell but sheer devotion to the good of “God’s people,” or in Bruce nothing but Scottish patriotism, to imagine that the actual issue of the fight at Naseby or Bannockburn was just national freedom on the one side or “chains and slavery” on the other. Yet it is also certain that a man does not really promote intelligent love of his country by punctiliously refusing to honour its flag, or national anthem, or to join in the commemoration of its national achievements and its national heroes. A good Englishman or good Scot will not lie about facts for the greater glory of Nelson or Bruce, but he will take his share, along with his neighbours, in commemorating thankfully the deliverance of Trafalgar or Bannockburn, and will be all the better for doing so, even while he may be amused, or possibly annoyed, by some of the naïvetés of the commemoration. He feeds on what is wholesome in these things, and what is less wholesome does him no more harm than the inevitable “impurities” of the articles on which physical life is nourished. Neither for the soul nor for the body does a wise man expect to find a diet which can be assimilated wholly without remainder; he knows that if he refuses everything which contains the least trace of an “impurity” he will merely die of inanition. And so, I take it, philosophers have had other motives besides that of self–protection for their traditional recommendation that a man should worship God νόμῳ πόλεως.
It ought to be added that in practice the great institutional religions, in proportion to their inwardness, actually allow more scope for spontaneity in worship than might appear from much that is said in the popular controversies on the topic. In some of them, indeed, we seem to find a complete, or all but complete, conventionalising of the forms of public corporate worship. But every great religion recognises and insists upon the reality of a personal and intimate worship of its God in the temple of the worshipper’s own heart. There are such things as private prayer and secret meditation in the presence of Him who sees in secret, and no considerable historical religion has forgotten to dwell on them as privileges and duties. None seeks to take the spontaneity out of them. None, so far as I know, absolutely prescribes all words, postures, times for this private worship, though most, reasonably enough, as a matter of guidance, recommend fixed times as a protection against forgetfulness, or definite words and postures as most appropriate. Even when this recommendation is most emphatic and most systematised, it still leaves room for a very real spontaneity. When a religion has, for example, enjoined the observance of set offices for the “hours” of the day, it has never meant that the access of the worshipper to God is confined to these times and these prescribed forms. It is not meant that there is to be no lifting up of the heart to God except at the canonical hours, or that there are any prescribed and conventionalised forms for this secret personal devotion. Indeed, it is worthy of notice that among Christians the very Church which has gone furthest in developing a minutely systematised public worship, in which every utterance, gesture, and posture is subjected to precise regulation, has also the richest literature dealing with all the many ways in which the soul of the individual Christian may directly approach God in personal prayer, and lays most stress on the importance of the adaptation of the type of prayer to be employed to the special needs of the individual soul.
Nor is the same element really forgotten even under all the elaborate systematising of the visible acts and audible utterances of public communal worship. To take the most obvious instance, the principle of institutional ceremonial regulation could not well be carried further than it is carried in the rubrics of the Missale Romanum for the celebration of the Mass. Rules are laid down there for all the minute particulars of accessories, dress, posture, gesture, vocal inflection, on the part of the officiants. And yet one has to remember that, with all this stereotyping of the visible and audible, there is another and inner side to the public act of worship which is not stereotyped. Behind all that can be seen, or heard, there is the “intention” with which the celebrant is “offering the sacrifice,” a matter between him and his Maker. And, again, each of the silent worshippers is also “offering the sacrifice,” and each again with an “intention” of his own. One may be seeking guidance in perplexity; a second, strength to overcome or avoid some special temptation; a third, patience under bereavement; and so forth. Each worshipper may thus have his particular “intention”; what it is depends on his individual situation, and is a secret between himself and God. Thus, under all the apparent outward conventionality and fixity of such an act of worship, there may be intense and spontaneous prayer in secreto on the part of each of hundreds of worshippers. Each, if he is following the instructions of his Church and making his sacrifice really “acceptable,” is solus cum solo, though he is also one in a crowd. When all is said, the prayer of each is a spontaneous utterance of his own need.
The same thing is apparently to be seen even in Mohammedanism, a religion generally held not to be very favourable to the cultivation of inwardness of spirit. There, too, the hours of prayer and the words, tones, and gestures of the worshipper are exactly prescribed. But it appears that the Moslem’s prayer is actually invalid without the direction of it to a particular “intention,” as is humorously illustrated by Mr. E. W. Lane’s story of the man who was overheard in the mosque prefacing his recitation of the evening prayer with the declaration, “I purpose to steal this excellent pair of shoes.” The doctrine of the direction of intention is, of course, liable to be abused, and it is commonly in connection with real or supposed abuses that it is referred to in our own literature. But in its main principle it merely enforces the true perception that the purpose of the institutional in religion is not to replace, but to sustain, the spontaneous movement of the personal spirit. That a worship may be spiritual, it must be intensely personal; it is not necessary, and the history of Montanism, or again of the Anabaptist ferment of the sixteenth century, fairly proves it undesirable, that it should be anarchical.
When all has been said, it no doubt remains true that a due balance, both in the public and the private practice of devotion, between prescribed and hallowed form and free initiative is a “costing” thing, not easy to reach or to maintain. And it seems to be the fact that no one balance is equally adapted to the needs of all souls. What will be the right adjustment, even in private prayer, between the broken, perhaps wordless, aspiration of the individual creature to its Creator and the rethinking and reuttering for one’s self of time–honoured petitions, must be largely a matter of personal temperament and interior state. And so also in acts of public and communal worship, I cannot doubt that while, for practical purposes, we have to be content with such an adjustment as experience over a long period and a wide area shows to be beneficial to a great majority of average men, there will always be the difficulty that a degree of fixed form and ceremonial which positively helps some souls to realise the presence of God is a real hindrance to others; and, again, that the very absence of these things which is felt by some as setting the soul free to mount up to God on her own wings is to others what the exhaustion of the atmosphere would be to a bird. If it were my business here, as of course it is not, to make practical suggestions to those in authority over me, I would say, with great deference, that it seems to me desirable for this reason that any worshipping society should have the benefit of a plurality of alternative “uses,” leaving different degrees of external freedom in these matters; and, again, that individual congregations should not be allowed to become slaves to any single “use.” I conceive that congregations accustomed to a high degree of fixity in forms of prayer and an elaborate ritual of worship, and finding such a system on the whole most beneficial to them, would be the gainers if, at times at any rate, they varied their practice by reverting to something simpler and barer. A Church, for example, which has “high Masses,” celebrated with abundance of ritual, cannot well be too simple and unadorned in its “low” or “plain” celebrations. Again, I should say that a Church accustomed to the use of fixed forms of prayer, couched in words of chosen beauty and solemnity, would also do well to make provision for homely public utterance of “extemporary” prayers somewhere in its devotions. And I think, on the other side, that a Church whose public worship is for the most part devoid of ceremony and fluid in form, would be wise if it actually enjoined the occasional use of these things. It is desirable not to let even our most serviceable habits get too complete mastery over us. The best of them, too seriously followed, will impoverish our experiences. But to follow up this line of thought would be quite alien to my purpose in these lectures; indeed, I should hardly have ventured to forget myself so far as to express the Privat–meinungen of the present paragraph at all had I been speaking in any place other than the familiar and beloved city of St. Andrews, and to any audience but one of old friends.
Emmanuel Burden, c. 12.
What’s Wrong with the World, p. 96. Mr. Chesterton was ill–advised when he took the social behaviour of Johnson as his classic example of “unconventionality.” The “Club” was something different from a boozing–ken, and the records of Johnson’s actual conversation are marked by a degree of regard for “conventions” which strikes us to–day as exaggerated.
See the amusing account in The Newcomes of the effects of “Puseyism” on the Rev. Charles Honeyman.
A “uniform,” I take it, displeases him because he regards it as a kind of livery, a badge of the “menial,” who is not a really “free” citizen. His livery is the outward and visible sign that he is not dominus sui, his own master. The zeal of Puritan reformers against vestments had a different source. The traditional vestments were objected to not because they were uniform, and uniform is in se objectionable, but because they were the Pope’s uniform, “rags of Rome,” as the urbane phrase went. James’s American possibly also has a touch of more special animosity against a “militaristic” uniform.
I use the word, perhaps not quite conventionally, to mean any kind of “waiting for the spirit to move” one, and letting the expression take care of itself.
Principles of Psychology, ii. 466.
Werke (Hartenstein2), v. 82.
Something of the same effect is produced in our own country even by the use of the old Norman–French formula in signifying the royal assent to an Act of Parliament. There is a feeling which is satisfied by the formula Le roy le veult; it would be dissatisfied by “very well,” and outraged by “Yep.”
Is there any deeply religious Christian of any Christian church, I wonder, who does not find some features in the worship sanctioned by his church decidedly repellent?
Porphyry, Vit. Plot, 10, ἐκείνους δεῖ πρὸς ἐμὲ ἔρχεσθαι, οὐκ ἐμὲ πρὸς ἐκείνους.
The force of the retort would not be affected even if the recent theory that Ezekiel is a pseudonymous work of the Greek period should come to be generally accepted. In any case it is a “priestly” work.
Jer. xxxi. 34.
Ib. xxxiii. 18.
That God is as truly present in the fields as in the church is an argument not unknown on the lips of the sort of man who really means that he prefers “joyriding” to worship.