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than the former one. Some of its consequences are familiar enough. How often we find difficulty in expressing all that we want to express, all that we feel or realise within us! But we must notice carefully what this extremely common experience implies. It implies that that which we desire to express is in our minds, but is there only in the form of a feeling or vague impression; and this we cannot get translated into precise ideas.
Consider what Cardinal Newman, in his Grammar of Assent, calls a "real belief.” Any belief is a “real” belief, if its subjectmatter comes home to a man, or has come home to him, by the way of actual experience, of whatever kind the experience may be-sense, imagination, emotion, or action. Such beliefs have the common quality of being intimately bound up with, or at least intimately affecting, the growth of character and personality. To be capable of this, our thoughts must have that stability which comes of their connection with our personal experience. A belief of this sort does not consist merely of intellectual statements, as a
creed or confession of faith or statement of opinion does; it is a principle of life rather than a declaration of the intellect-it tends to grow into the man and become part of himself. In this sense, when a man's belief grows wider and deeper, it is because his whole nature, or some vital part of it, has grown. It often happens that those who hold a real belief of this kind most intensely, whose lives may be entirely moulded by it, are the very ones who are least able to express it in an intellectual form-in the form of definite assertions which can be clearly understood. Either they cannot express it in this way at all, or, if they do, their intellectual formulation of it may be insufficient or even wrong. Would it not be absurd to expect a child to set down the particulars of its belief in its father and mother, in the form of a number of propositions beginning with “I believe,” like a creed? Is the reason simply because the child is a child is not old enough or wise enough? No; for as regards all our deepest beliefs, the real roots of our personal character, we are in the same position ourselves-our best expression of
them will only be imperfect, as Sordello and the Pope, in Browning's poems, tell us.
The reason of this apparent incapacity of Reason is simply that man's moral and spiritual affections may grow faster or go farther than his intelligence can go; or they may contain a complexity of material greater than his intelligence can grasp. This is more especially the case when the feelings assume unfamiliar forms or give rise to unusual experiences, as in every religious or moral “ awakening”: their true meaning is veiled, for the mass of mankind, until intelligence has developed sufficiently to overtake them.
The distinction on which we have been dwelling is of supreme importance for understanding the nature and growth of religious belief. It is the distinction between what is present in the mind in the form of a vague feeling or undefined experience, and what is also present to the mind in the form of thoughts which can be transmitted from one to another. To express it in a slightly different form, it is the distinction between what we feel or experience within us, and what we not only feel but also understand, In the one case the feeling is there but is not understood, or is only vaguely understood; in the other case the feeling is still there, but thought has begun to grasp its meaning. Our capacity for knowledge and insight grows when we pass from the former state into the latter-never an easy passage to take; indeed, intelligence may destroy the feeling altogether in attempting to understand it, and thereby mutilate our nature. When the interpretation has acquired some degree of coherence, it can be “abstracted” from experience, and then becomes a general conception or theory. Such are general mathematical and physical propositions ; such are psychological, theological, and other doctrines, creeds, and statements of opinion. Assent given to these is called by Newman “notional” assent. We assent notionally when we accept the general meaning of a statement which we meet with, without making any particular application of it. The reader will form his own conclusion as to how much of the professed religion of modern civilised lands consists of “notional assents.” Assents of this kind have little or no effect
upon character ; but, of course, notional assents may, and often do, gradually become real beliefs.
This same distinction is required to appreciate the movements of the collective mind of a race or of an age. Particular moods of mind, and ways of looking at realities, prevail in particular nations or periods of time, just as they do in particular men; so that it is not a mere fancy to talk of the Zeitgeist, the mind or spirit of an age. Thus we may speak of the spirit of the Middle Age in Europe, the spirit of the Reformation, the spirit of Modern Thought, the American spirit, and so forth. The Age has to grow to understand itself and its own deepest needs, just as each man has : otherwise, as history shows, the men of that Age can only grope on their way with painful steps, and may end by “stumbling and falling in disastrous night." There have been many stages of human progress when Lowell's fine words were true—many ages besides this present one :
“I hear the Soul of Man around me waking,