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passion swept away leaves the air of the mind transparent for more distant visions, and thus by a happy concord of spiritual attractions, the helping graces of heaven descend and meet the soul intent to rise.
Is this steady progress towards moral perfection always possible for the individual man? Is it true that however far a man has let himself go on the downward way he can at any time turn and begin a gradual process of ascent ? This is an ideal theory that does not accord with the facts of life.
If the physical instincts of the body, or avarice or any of the passions which delight to feed alone in solitary selfishness, are indulged for long, there is a growing atrophy of those powers in the man which are distinctively human and potentially divine ; conscience and reason are quenched, selfconsciousness and self - command withered, all the finer qualities of our nature are destroyed one by one,—there is the loss of all the higher self, which is the true loss of the soul. And without dwelling on such disasters
1 Seat of Authority, p. 107. Elsewhere (p. 55) Dr Martineau speaks as if moral evil means only that, with disuse and rejection, the higher springs of action retire and vanish out of sight.
of the soul as this, surely it is not true that the effects of indulging our lower desires-I mean the real effects on self and character
-can be obliterated simply by effort and change of will. The effects may indeed pass out of range of our self-consciousness and be forgotten ; but they work in secret still.
One great means by which evil tendencies come to be so deeply rooted in man's nature is through effects of environment and social and physical inheritance. We know that the sins of the fathers are visited on the children and in them; we know that there are forms of companionship and association which draw out the bad and foster it, and repress the good in those who are subject to them; we know that there are conditions of life which make it almost impossible that those who share in them can grow to be other than morally stunted, degraded beings, full of anti - social and criminal impulses. What avails individual effort here for turning to the path towards a perfect human life?
This it is which gives force to the ordinary evangelical doctrine that, for salvation from
sin and the inheritance of goodness and blessedness, we need a supernatural force. We must not suppose that evangelicalism can be simply identified with the crude notion that Christ's righteousness is imputed to sinful men, and his sufferings taken as a substitute for what they deserve, as in the line
Jesus did it, did it all, long, long ago. The more thoughtful evangelical says that we must “ do it," and do it all ; but adds that we cannot “ of ourselves.” This is the burden of his preaching: “I cannot do it,you cannot,—nobody can”—i.e., do what is really God's will, involving progress towards moral perfection. What does this imply? Surely a consciousness that self as an isolated unit — which according to the current conception it is—cannot “ do it,” or do anything worth doing : and so far the evangelical is quite right. But he then appeals to an external superhuman force, connected with Christ. Now—to employ philosophical terminology — this is to correct one abstract view by another abstraction. What do I mean by an abstract view ? It is one which
takes a fragment of truth about something and then treats it as the whole truth about that thing. Thus, it is true that each man has a life of his own, which no other can live for him, which is not made by its surroundings; this is part of the truth. Abstract thought takes this and supposes it to be the whole truth about man-supposes that he is by nature an isolated being, a detached personality, and that he can live a proper moral and spiritual life without help from Nature, human society, or God. The evangelical sees that a soul, in this state of detachment, could do nothing ; so he corrects this view by the opposite abstraction, derived from another fragment of truth. It is true that, while each of us is in vital union with Nature, humanity, and God, and draws all his inspiration from these sources, their life is in a sense “outside” of ours, or beyond us : this again is part of the truth. This the evangelical takes to be the whole truth, and supposes that the Divine Life is merely outside of us; as though God and God's work in Christ were forces entirely separate from the soul and could come to help it only by
way of supernatural interference from without.
In protesting against this, the Unitarian harks back to the first abstraction; he denounces the doctrine of “a broken will, incompetence or inability to fulfil God's law”; he appeals everywhere to “man, as a grand, thinking, willing being, able to see and do what is right”; he appeals to Jesus, who, he thinks,“ places man, competent in brain, competent in will-power,-places him, without any sacrifice, any mediation of any kind, any vicarious atonement, any substituted Saviour,-places him face to face with his Father, his God; and tells him to deal directly with Him, to become reconciled with Him.” To give up one abstraction in order to fall back on the opposite one is a poor kind of “reform.” The true solution of the difficulty signalised by the evangelical is to recognise that even the natural connection of the individual with the race provides for “mediation” on every hand between him—as a single finite person—and God. This also explains the inheritance of evil, and affords an inexhaustible fount of