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Meditation XI: The Notion God in Its Concrete Fulness

The Notion God in its concrete fulness—Religion as the life of finite reason in this Notion—Consummation of the finite thought of God as Absolute. The Feeling-Experience of Absolute Being as Potentiality: The Intuition or Mystic contemplation of Being Absolute as fulfilment and One-All: Intuition not abolition of self: Intuition yields no new truth to man: Personality is not obliterated in Intuition.

The question we have been considering is: What do we mean when we use the word God?—a question ever urgent, and ever recurring in each successive generation of men. God, we found, must be the Absolute Synthesis and we proceeded to inquire into the Content of this Notion.

Absolute Being, if it contains Mind-infinite, must, in externalising itself, externalise itself as finite mind, beginning with the simple and evolving itself into more complex forms until the whole meaning of Mind is unfolded, in so far as that is possible within the Finite. The function of a finite mind is as subject to feel and know, according to its degree, that which is not itself; including in the highest stage itself as object. Finite mind is one moment in the concrete Totality—subject-object; and there is no question of “relation” between them in the banal sense of that term. In the epistemological meditations I tried to expound Natural Realism as I understand it. And I was the more concerned about this, because only on a theory of knowledge, it appeared to me, could a doctrine of God and Man be legitimately founded; and by a theory of knowledge, in relation to this question, I mean the steps and process by which the Object or Whole builds itself as necessary universals into the finite subject, from Pure Feeling upwards. The Universe reveals itself in Man and shines in and through him: there is no breach of continuity; and each stage of evolving mind yields a moment in the supreme Notion which is at once the ultimate of Knowledge and the Knowing of God. Man at the top is within Natura in the large sense of that word, and receives the whole of God in so far as a finite being can receive it. In the natural history of subject-object lies the whole revelation of God to Man.

This is on the speculative side; but, after all, the vital question is the ethical reference of the speculative Notion. Assuredly, the realisation of God must be the most potent of all forces in the consciousness of the man who realises Him. God is the Dynamic of the Universe; the consciousness a man has of God is the dynamic of his finite spirit.

Let us now gather together the moments in the Notion God—the Absolute Synthesis as these have been delivered to us by our method of procedure.

1. At the root is Absolute Unconditioned Being, object of Pure Feeling, of which we only say that it is given as the Potential of the actual and possible;—the implicit of the explicated world. In se and a se, it is beyond our ken save as fact, till it Becomes; that is to say reveals itself in the “Other” of itself. It is the One out of which the Many proceeds; and in which and within which the many exists. It is not to be called a Unity; but the eternal “One” identical with itself in all difference, and in the One of which all relations are held.

2. On the sentient plane of evolving mind (up to its completed form as attuition), Absolute Being having passed into the existent, continues Itself as fact in the object and as reflexed feeling of fact in the subject, and is felt as immanent in the diverse phenomenal and as constituting its ultimate reality.

3. On the dialectic plane of mind the initial functioning is Percipience, and the sensing of Being-immanent in things is now raised to the perception of it. But the chief fact is that on this stage of mind, the whole presentation is found to be an Objective Dialectic, just as it has already revealed itself as Being unconditioned and as conditioned in the existent and diverse. Our analysis of the moments of the dialectic tells us that this means that in Absolute Being is generated a nisus which is Will with form of End implicit. Absolute Being is, as Becoming, a dialectic, i.e., Will willing the world, and, as such, Kinetic or “Efficient” Cause: as mediating End, it is Cause formal and formative: as projecting End, it is Cause-teleological: and these ends in their organic sum constitute The Good (in the Hellenic sense). God as Being, God as Will-dialectic, is in the most minute as in the greatest; and He is all there in each according to its kind and grade of being.

4. As Dialectic He is not only Formative Energy, but the Sum of Ideals; for the dialectic movement must seek the perfect fulfilment of itself as End.

5. Further, God is, as Creative-Will, Personality.1

6. As immanent in creation He is pathic Feeling, Emotion and Beauty, out of which the subjective dialectic moulds ethical ideals within mind, and poietic ideals outside. This carries with it the conclusion that, as immanent in ethical and æsthetic ideals, Absolute Being as creative is a God of Love and of Beauty; and not merely of Dialectic and of the Good in the Hellenic sense.

Thus have we found that planes of finite mind are Infinite Mind evolving itself as finite mind and the object at each ascending stage is a revelation of a “moment” in the total notion—God. The revelation in its sum is a concrete of the necessary universals of finite mind receiving that which is not itself and yet embraces itself. We do not base our notion of God on human analogies; it is given as Object to finite subject. The Absolute, doubtless, is more than all this; but I cannot tell what. The content of the Absolute Synthesis is exhausted for me.

God, then, is not Being in the sense of Substance, of which substance the further revelation of Him are “properties”; still less is He a Being. He is Universal Being in which each moment, from Absolute Being upwards, goes to constitute the whole as All-One. No moment in the Notion is to be thought apart. He evolves Himself for us in subject-object. We must take the concrete Whole as God. God is all in the whole and all in every moment of His total notion. The End is immanent in the Beginning; the last in the first. The moments of the Absolute Synthesis revealed to us, and which we call God, are a One in Him, as they are a One in His externalisation; and they are to be so contemplated by the philosophic, as well as by the devout, spirit.

And when we say that God is Personality we merely affirm that the form of His activity as Dialectic is the form of personality, and is the highest term in God as knowable by man. At best and highest, it is the man-God that we know—God as revealed to a finite mind on this our plane of measureless Being; and whatever we may say carries with it of necessity the fact of Infinity—of possibilities that transcend, while containing, what we men can apprehend. Finite spirits seek the Highest and the all-comprehending, all-explaining synthesis; but neither in this transitory life nor elsewhere shall we ever reach it. To reach it would be to become God. We are on our way, but the way stretches out to infinity.

Such is the content of the Notion, GOD, such is the real Object which we adore and serve, thereby raising our limited humanity into the universal and infinite, and finding there at once our source of being and the final resting-place of finite spirit. In realising for ourselves the great conception we pass from the imperfect into the Perfect, from the particular to the Universal, and we abide in these. This is the religious attitude of mind; and here the pious peasant soul meets the philosopher as an equal. But in both alike, the bare intellectual emotion, although religious, is not religion. For religion further demands that we realise God for ourselves as immanent in ethical ideals by fulfilling Him in the finite ends of human life. Our finite ethical ideals are subsumed by us as God's ideals mediated in and by Man, and it is in the name of God that we pursue them, thereby identifying our Will with His.

The Absolute Synthesis, we further found, contains negation and finitude whereby the individual, as organised entity or monad, sustains itself in the presence of the Universal; nay, opposes it by virtue of its own negating individuality. When we consider self-conscious beings we call this negation by the name Sin, because we find as constitutive of them the Will-dialectic which can negate the negation of their bare individuality and allow free passage for the “idea” which is the affirmation of God in them; but this it does not do: hence Sin. To cling to bare individuality is to ignore, nay even to flout, the God living in us as idea. The great majority of the evils of this world are due to the aggressive individuality of men and of nations.

The God whom we have been trying to unveil does not “transcend” experience, as Kant would say: He is the presupposition and possibility of all experience, and also its End and Sum. He is given in the evolving stages of the man-subject from Pure Feeling upwards. At each stage, the finger of God writes His own Nature on the self-conscious subject. To realise the full God is not only to see all things through the eyes of God, so to speak, but to live in Him, and to co-operate with Him. This is the Life Eternal.

Consummation in man of the thought of God as the Absolute.

The Feeling-Experience of Absolute Being.—There is, however, more to be said, if we are fully to exhibit the life of the finite spirit in God. And to exhibit this, I must return to the Ground-moment in the Notion of God from which we started in our synthesis, viz., Absolute Unconditioned Being which is on the plane of Feeling alone, but, through negation of the finite, is negatively determined as a “percept” by reason. This Object, which is ever present to the true mystic, cannot be expelled from the most prosaic experience, if only man will pause and think. It is the great Reality before the worlds were. As in se and a se it is mysterious Ground and Source, and always One in all difference.

The Feeling of Unconditioned Being, first moment in the “Notion” God, is, in truth, the common element implicit in all religions. It so penetrates and overawes the man who is filled with it that he prostrates himself in adoration, and will offer up his very self in submissive dependence. However men may go astray in their conceptions of the nature and symbols of Absolute Being, and so be led to religious practices which a more advanced civilisation abhors, there still remains, at the root of the religious consciousness, the dim feeling, and, as man transcends primæval barbarism, the growing thought, of unsoundable Being in presence of which his transient life is as nothing—a God who transcends all individuals while comprehending them, Whom each must adore, and with Whom each must conciliate himself. If any man says that he has not this feeling and this thought, all I can answer is that he does not wait patiently on his own consciousness. The very beasts have the feeling, each with its own limitations; and it lies at the basis of our whole sentient life prior to, and independently of, the passive-activity of attuition and the active-activity of reason. A man must set aside the petty incidents and trivial conceits of daily pre-occupations and allow the urgent and solicitant God within him to make known His presence through the agitations of Feeling, if he is to maintain his place in the Universal. We “know” God in His creative aspects alone; but we also, and chiefly, “feel” Him as infinite Being close to our inner selves—always, then, at the command of every man. In this we have a vision of the One-All. We look into an unfathomed and unfathomable depth of mystery. It is the “That” of Plotinus which is before all existence and thought.

Of God as Absolute Unconditioned Being—ineffable source and potential fountain of the actual and possible, “Abysm of all abysms,” we can only say that He is. Nor shall any created being ever fathom the mystery. He is in identity with Himself. As in identity with Himself we are wise if we use the words of Malebranche, “His true name is He that is; or, in other words, Being without restriction, All Being, Being infinite and universal and well-spring of the actual and possible”. But,

All in vain

Would mind address itself to render plain

The nature of the essence.2

“He dwelleth in the Light which no man can approach unto.”

The Intuition or Mystic Contemplation of Being Absolute and One-All.—The mystic absorption of finite mind in the contemplation of Absolute Being is a fact of finite experience. In a previous meditation, I spoke of that “feeling” of Being-universal that enters into the Notion of God and receives expression in the utterances of poets. This is Absolute Being as immanent in all. But the mystic absorption in Absolute Being is more than this, and yet it reveals to us no new element in the Notion God. We already have, as first moment in the concrete Notion, Being-Absolute and Unconditioned; and it is this and this alone that the mystic contemplates. Strange as it may seem, it is this also that the thinking Agnostic contemplates when he speaks of the Ultimate Real as the “primal mystery”.

And yet, while all have the “feeling” of Being as an infinite universal, the elevation of mind, which suppresses self and lives in a kind of conscious identity with Absolute Being, is, though possible for all, experienced only by the few. It is a mental attitude to the “Absolute-One” which has in it an element of reason as well as of feeling. This experience of finite mind would seem to transcend reason, and yet to carry reason with it; it is not, therefore, adequately denoted by the single word Feeling. The word “Intuition” has been appropriated to this peculiar activity of mind because it denotes “beholding”—the direct beholding or envisaging of the ultimate fact and sum of all experience. It is an attitude of mind which is not non-rational; and yet, as it is certainly not characterised by the definiteness of the dialectic activity, it would seem to transcend “knowledge” while yet being a possession of the conscious mind as a reason-act. It is not absorption in mere Feeling. Let us look a little longer at this experience.

Being Absolute and Unconditioned could not be given to us as (in the etymological sense of the word “absolute”) out of relation to the Totality of which we form part: it is given as ultimate ground in pure Feeling, and again it forces itself on us as Being immanent in the conditioned. It is not a negation of all subjective thought, and, therefore, a non-entity. It is given as Being positive, and further, as potential fountain of all; or, rather, it is The All before anything exists, and again as reality of all that exists.3 It does not evade our subjective thinking as positive fact, but only when we seek to determine its characters relatively to itself. We then find that the Brahman is right in calling it the “No No”. Its characters are inscrutable: the knowable predicates are in the finite manifestation alone; in so far forth as they are therein manifested. None the less do we lie close to this Being Absolute—not only feeling, but perceiving and affirming It as Ground, Source and Sustainer; although, as a matter of fact, its presence in us is for the most part sub-selfconscious.

Now, as foundation of our subjective mind-history this Being Unconditioned is a Potential only, the one of all Possibility; but when it has revealed itself as a finite world of differences and has reflected into us, as we grow in feeling and thought, all its richness of reality and form, we then carry back into its teeming bosom all that has been revealed, and now behold It as the One of all Actuality, and not as mere unconditioned Potentiality. It is thus that we, as beings of reason, finally contemplate Being Absolute; and this activity of mind is, I say, to be called Intuition as distinguished from mere Feeling. Hitherto we have seen God as ground of All, and “God in All”; now we see “All in God,” including our own personalities.

The awe and mystery which invest the feeling of Absolute Being as source of All and as the indwelling One are the most potent of all forces in lifting man out of his individuality and bringing him into universal relations: and when now we return to the infinite source and consciously contemplate Absolute Being, we bring with us all that has been revealed as to its nature as creative and in our own life-experience, and give it an actual, though vague, content. It is now beheld as End as well as Beginning, Omega as well as Alpha. The depths of Being are deeper, the mystery more mysterious than ever. There is an infinite emotion in this the supreme act of finite subject. It has been called the Beatific Vision. The mystic is rapt out of his personality and loses himself in the One-All, the All-One. There are those who speak of this elevation of the spirit of man as if it were an illusion. As a matter of fact, it would seem to be the supreme reality of finite experience. It is true that in this virtual identity of finite and infinite there is no definite thought and no definite feeling other than Being One-All in which all finitude, both Ego and its content, is absorbed and seems to be sublated. In this consummation of finite mind we have feeling at its highest power: the mere feeling which we previously had of unconditioned Being has now passed into an emotion in reason and of reason. The Being which we contemplate is still infinite and inexhaustible Possibility; but it is no longer empty. All the moments that constitute the notion God are now there: and there too we behold all of the Divine that the travail of our souls has made actual for us in the course of our striving lives. In the thought of God as immanent in all as idea and ideals, we live and work along with Him; in the thought of God as the Absolute All-One and One-All we find repose, and rest, and tranquillity and blessedness. The barriers of the finite are broken down, contradictions disappear and the Absolute is taken by force. This is the Love for God, of which the Mystic speaks.

Thus it is that the primal mind-experience of Absolute Unconditioned Being ever remains silently with us, deep in our consciousness at all stages of our inner life. We can never extricate ourselves from it: and we consummate this experience by passing again into the same Being-Absolute—our final apotheosis. Our lowest state and our highest, as minds, are, accordingly, analogous; but with this important difference, that whereas the former is, as object, only the implicitude of a world, the latter is full and all-containing, for the whole revelation of Absolute Being as immanent is now there in the object of our ecstatic contemplation in so far as each of us has received the revelation of the Eternal Life. In both states the Object is the same, but how different! We now, in the supreme act of finite reason, see how full Absolute Being is. Plotinus would call this vision Thought thinking itself, and Hegel ought to say the same; but if so, then Feeling and the sensuous generally would be banished; whereas it is the beholding of “All-Being” as source and terminal of the universal of Feeling as well as of Thought.

We distinguish by calling the root-experience sub-rational Feeling, and the consummating experience supra-rational Intuition; for it rests on and emerges out of reason, is immanent in reason, just as reason itself rests on and emerges out of the non-rational attuition of sense. It is the final expression on earth of infinite Mind as finite mind, and is reserved for man.

This is what is meant by God returning to Himself through His highest finite creature. He beholds Himself through the eyes of man, and the circle is complete.

Intuition is not abolition of self.—Ego in the exaltation of Intuition does not however lose itself in the infinite object: it is in communion with the Absolute: it is one with it, but not in an identity. To be in identity would be the annihilation of itself; it is merely raised to its highest potency in a vision of the One Absolute and Eternal. The Sabbath rest of souls in God, of which the Mystic speaks, could not be rest if the soul were not conscious of it, however dimly: it would be the sleep of death. It is the consummation and fruition of the finite spirit in its ceaseless striving after the Infinite. As finite spirit, it has always been in search of The One that is All: it has now found it. But even in this highest experience man cannot abnegate reason: as Will-Dialectic, he wills his own vision of the Absolute. He takes The Absolute to himself, beholding in it the sum of the immanent particularisation now placed back in Absolute Being and lost in its infinite recesses, where also is placed the Ego of man, now dedicated by itself as free act. “I comprehend Thee not,” says Fichte; “yet in Thee I comprehend myself and the world.”

Intuition yields no new truth to man.—If I have correctly exhibited the true nature of Intuition, it follows that it can yield no new truth to us. We can see nothing there save what we carry into it as the issue of our finite feeling and thought. All knowledge, strictly so-called, is in reason and out of reason, and we refuse to receive any message from the rapt seer which reason does not guarantee. Reason resists all pretensions: even an angelic utterance has to be tried in its crucible.

While I say this, I am not blind to the fact of the sub-selfconscious action of reason in the domain of feeling. The conclusions which we reach and which determine our acts are frequently the result of feeling and reason operating in us, and not by us. We may feel, for example, the rightness of an act, though we may not be able always to make explicit the grounds of it. The fervent nature, also, will sometimes act on an impulse which it feels to be its own guarantee, and will not be baulked: it is justified and supported by the whole man and disdains restraint. The impulse seems to be God-given—an inspiration. Thus far I concur with Cardinal Newman's admirable chapter on the Illative sense. But such fervid emotions are subjective only, and may be right for you or for me; but if I proclaim them as objective, I am bound to give a reason for the unreasoned faith that is in me, such as will satisfy the common reason, if not the common sense, of mankind; and I do so by analytically bringing to light the reasoning that worked in me, though not self-consciously by me.

The worldly mind, meanwhile, may be assured that the intuitional attitude of finite spirit is no illusion, although there may be no defined thought at the point where the determined returns into the undetermined, the finite vanishes in the infinite, and knowing identifies itself with ecstatic feeling. And although it yields no new truth (save itself), it assuredly permeates and elevates the whole nature, illumines all knowledge, and transfuses into man a vitality that fits him to discern more and more clearly the verities and high significance of the spiritual life. He is now all in God: he is alone with God: he has attained the highest: there is nothing else left for him to rise to in this sphere of Being. He is already living the life eternal. His own finite consciousness may be even said to be now mediated through his consciousness of the Absolute. But it is only the area of his own experience that is thus exalted: it is his own reason that thus transcends itself: it is only the apotheosis of himself in the Absolute that a man can attain to. In that exaltation the finite and all diversity seem to fall away: I say seem, because it is all there sub-consciously. Thus the vision is the consummated fulness of experience—not a gazing into emptiness, but into a One of Being that is all-comprehensive. A man now sees clearly that contradictions (so-called) are mere logical puzzles: possibility and actuality are not antagonistic but only different moments of one Reality: so with Good and Evil, crooked and straight, black and white, mind and matter—all are seen as the transitions and becomings of one Reality. This is the Absolute.

It is by its effect in elevating the whole man while diffusing a mystic joy through his inmost being that this spiritual transcendence justifies itself as a force and fact in our nature. It is the supreme act of finite reason, in which it divests itself of its finiteness, but still retains it; I say, still retains it, for the divesting is its own act. Reason with its definiteness is superseded by the infinite of Feeling into which it overflows.

Personality is not obliterated in Intuition.—Mystics have spoken of being caught up by this emotion of Being-absolute and their personality obliterated. But while it is natural that they should think so, it is not the fact, as I have said. I would point out that they could not afterwards give an account of their rapt state if self-consciousness, however absorbed in emotion, had not accompanied them into it. Reason is essentially Will directed towards an object or end after a certain form which we call (summarily) the teleologico-causal. The object, in the experience of the mystic, and he does not deny a subject and object, seems to take possession of the Will which usually takes possession of the object, and so to absorb the Will; but this is truly the act of the finite Will itself. Were subject in identity with object, the mystic, I say, could give no subsequent account of his experience; not even to the extent of saying that he had had an experience. By losing itself in Absoluto-infinite Being will-reason finds itself one with its source, and all finite things become hazy and fall away as phenomenal futilities; but the Will and personality are therein intensified, and it is this very exaltation of personality as being also universality, this finite as infinite, that gives the thrill of the mystic emotion. Even a man who whole-heartedly loving another human finite spirit loses himself in the object, he thereby attains to fuller personality.

Remember that we are always in close touch with the universal of Being: we live in it, and it is only when we consciously live in it that we can be truly said to live; and when it presents itself to us in a final blaze of effulgence there is no breach in our spiritual lives: there has doubtless been a long, secret and silent preparation for it, more or less conscious. Plotinus, in speaking of the vision of God, says that what the seer “sees is not our reason, but something prior and superior to our reason”… but then he adds that “absorbed in God, he makes but one with Him like the centre of a circle coinciding with another centre”. Manifestly, then, Ego and self-consciousness are not absorbed and lost. “The spirit dies,” says Suso,“and yet is all alive in the marvels of the Godhead.” Again, the Indian Yogi knows that the production of this mental state is a work of labour and of intense concentration of will on pure Being to the exclusion of all finite things—the active suppression of the many that the One may be all in all.

That the finite always remains whether the illuminate will or not, is evident also, from the utterances of mystics themselves. I think that every instance quoted by James (p. 379, et seq.), shows this, especially the words of Amiel, Walt Whitman and Malwida von Meysenburg.4

When, then, we call this state of consciousness supra-rational, it is necessary to guard ourselves by saying that it is reason itself that sees what lifts it above the ordinary finite limitations and operations of itself. Intuition is reason at its highest power concentrating itself on the One, till it loses itself in emotion and thus effects its own apotheosis.

In these high moments of contemplation, the bounded self seems to pass into the Universal and Eternal, and be wholly lost; but it is not truly so: it passes

into the Nameless, as a cloud

Melts into Heaven,

but it gains through “loss of Self”

such large life as matched with ours

Were Sun to spark.

So far from personality being abolished in such divine communion it is the ecstasy of very Ego as now, at last, a fulfilled concrete.

Not only then does the mystic in his rapture carry his personality with him, but he carries also all his experience of the finite and diverse. What do we see to be the characteristics of this exaltation? A perception of the meanness and triviality of finite things is certainly one characteristic. How can there be this unless things still remain in consciousness (though not for clear self-consciousness) so that they may be assigned their true insignificance in the presence of the One and Eternal. In fact, all the cosmic universals—the sum of the phenomenal world—are now seen or felt in the One of Absolute Being; and but for this foil of the finite there would be no One. Let us note, further, that, in so far as the mystic can give a general description of his ecstasy, it is found to partake of the character and colour of his ordinary life. It “is only the finite speaks”.

An approximation to this exalted vision in which we see nothing definite, know nothing, and yet feel all, is to be found in the familiar sense of The Beautiful in nature, which neither pen nor pencil can ever adequately portray. That which gives us the thrill of joy as we contemplate the beauty of the external world is precisely that which is “deeply interfused”; but this we should annihilate if we brought it, by explanation, into the “light of common day”. A certain type of thinker would insist on defining all feeling, and would count as illusion that which he cannot define. He is definition-proud: “His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal” (Job xli. 15). Feeling is larger than thought.

Further, let me say: in dealing with feelings and emotions, philosophers have not always recognised the emotion in and of reason itself of which I have more than once spoken—a joy of a unique kind in the successful activity of pure thought. Now, in the transcendent experience of the vision of the Absolute One—the “high hour of visitation from the living God”,—it is this emotion of reason (not an exalted crude sensation) which then reaches its highest intensity, and trembles (so to speak) on the verge of its own finitude as it prolongs its gaze into the Infinite All-One.

It has been often remarked that the mystic intuition has a certain sensuousness about it. This is because though a supreme energising of Reason, it is yet at the same time (and, I think, because it is supreme energy of Reason) the highest intensity of feeling; and feeling we found to be the root of all consciousness, and involved in every evolution of finite mind. Feeling and Reason5 here mingle their streams and we have the sensuousness of Reason.

I have been endeavouring in past Meditations to realise for myself God as a concrete whole: but if we are to think God and name Him, not in His full content as containing Nature and Man (absolute synthesis) but as merely the immanent noumenal of our experience—a something which is not the finite and phenomenal, though in them and constituent of them, we cannot much better our old Scottish form of sound words, familiar to us all, which gave to our ancestors their earnestness and their spiritual outlook into the Beyond: viz., “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his Being, Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Justice, Goodness and Truth”. And as to Nature or the finite display, we cannot improve on Hegel's words: “In religion, Nature is only a moment of the Divine and therefore must, as it exists for the religious consciousness, have also the characteristic note of the spiritual mode of existence in it. It thus does not remain in its pure natural element, but receives the characteristic quality of the Divine that dwells in it.”

We may say that to think of all things as in God is to think of things sub specie æternitatis; to think of God immanent in all things is to think of God sub specie finitudinis. The former is the attitude of mystic contemplation, the latter is the practice of living as God would have us live.

The knowledge of God, to which I believe I have now attained in as far as is possible for me, one of many finite creatures, is not for the cultured man alone. The untutored peasant may be closer to God than the philosopher. True, he cannot disentangle the complex elements in his religious conviction and in the strange, but familiar emotion of the Divine; but he feels the universal as Being-infinite, he knows it as universal reason and sustainer of all things, he realises his own dependence and he trusts and adores: thus is he one with the Universal. Man cannot but be religious: it is of his very essence. The notions of the primitive man may be crude and crass and his ritual barbaric; but he is always on his way upward. The immanent God will one day more fully reveal Himself in man for man. This, meanwhile, is true: the Notion “God” is from age to age the high watermark of finite mind and is the great educator of the human race.

We must, not, however, by way of making things easy, present God, even to the humblest, as an object of feeling alone. He is also reason; a God of the head as well as of the heart; of Law as well as of Love. Reason, we may be assured, is not a blunder in the cosmic scheme. If we hold that beings differentiated from all else as beings of reason have to put out the eye of reason in order to see God and the truth of God and to find acceptance with Him, we are pessimists indeed, and are doing our best to run the labouring ship of humanity on the rocks. If we jettison reason, we jettison that which is both helm and helmsman. Mere religious feeling tends to pass into sentimentalism and to think it condones for ethical indolence by multiplying superstitious rites. God is Love! He does not wait to be conciliated with man, but for man to conciliate himself with Him by a strenuous spiritual life.

Let us now consider Man and his duty in the system within which he finds himself.

Note.—See Appendix, Notes 7 and 8.

  • 1.

    The expression a Personality is, I have said, to be avoided, because of its finite and anthropomorphic suggestions.

  • 2.

    Browning's Parleyings.

  • 3.

    That reality and actuality are held in potentiality is a difficult conception only when we think under the finite categories of time and motion

  • 4.

    One writer (Dr. Bucke), trying to explain the mystic state, speaks of cosmic consciousness and places it on a higher level than ordinary self-consciousness as if a new species. But I think that he merely reveals the fact that a dominant element in the mystic state is cosmic consciousness.

  • 5.

    Perhaps we may say that these things can be better understood when we reflect on so familiar a fact as our consciousness of a general concept. The concept “animal” is a generalisation by means of analysis and synthesis of the permanent in the midst of the ever-varying characters of individuals—the “form” or “idea” of a class of existences. In thinking the concept, we do not actually think the multiplicity of animal individuals or any one of them; but these are assuredly matter of subconscious reference lying implicit in the general concept, which is now a mere symbol. Thus we actually think, and contemplate, and use for intelligible conversation what is truly an ens rationis—an ens which is a One comprehending a many that virtually drops out of sight. In like manner with the vision of the Absolute: there is much in our minds which is not for our minds, and which may be felt although not perceived.