|I judge of the order of the world, although I know not its end, because to judge of this order I only need mutually to compare the parts, to study their functions, their relations and to remark their concert. I know not why the universe exists but I do not desist from seeing how it is modified; I do not cease to see the intimate agreement by which the beings that compose it render a mutual help. I am like a man who should see for the first time an open watch, who should not cease to admire the workmanship of it, although he knows not the use of the machine, and had never seen dials. I do not know, he would say, what all this is for, but I see that each piece is made for the others; I admire the worker in the detail of his work, and I am very sure that all these wheelworks only go thus in concert for a common end which I cannot perceive.|
|That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.| -- Christ.
|In early attempts to arrange organic beings in some systematic manner, we see at first a guidance by conspicuous and simple characters, and a tendency towards arrangement in linear order. In successively later attempts, we see more regard paid to combinations of character which are essential but often inconspicuous; and a gradual abandonment of a linear arrangement.| -- Herbert Spencer.
ON one of the shelves in a certain museum lie two small boxes filled with earth. A low mountain in Arran has furnished the first; the contents of the second came from the Island of Barbadoes. When examined with a pocket lens, the Arran earth is found to be full of small objects, clear as crystal, fashioned by some mysterious geometry into forms of exquisite symmetry. The substance is silica, a natural glass; and the prevailing shape is a six-sided prism capped at either end by little pyramids modelled with consummate grace.
When the second specimen is examined, the revelation is, if possible, more surprising. Here, also, is a vast assemblage of small glassy or porcellanous objects built up into curious forms. The material, chemically, remains the same, but the angles of pyramid and prism have given place to curved lines, so that the contour is entirely different.
The appearance is that of a vast collection of microscopic urns, goblets, and vases, each richly ornamented with small sculptured discs or perforations which are disposed over the pure white surface in regular belts and rows. Each tiny urn is chiselled into the most faultless proportion, and the whole presents a vision of magic beauty.
Judged by the standard of their loveliness there is little to choose between these two sets of objects. Yet there is one cardinal difference between them. They belong to different worlds. The last belong to the living world, the former to the dead. The first are crystals, the last are shells.
No power on earth can make these little urns of the Polycystinae except Life. We can melt them down in the laboratory, but no ingenuity of chemistry can reproduce their sculptured forms. We are sure that Life has formed them, however, for tiny creatures allied to those which made the Barbadoes's earth are living still, fashioning their fairy palaces of flint in the same mysterious way. On the other hand, chemistry has no difficulty in making these crystals. We can melt down this Arran earth and reproduce the pyramids and prisms in endless numbers Nay, if we do melt it down, we cannot help reproducing the pyramid and the prism. There is a six-sidedness, as it were, in the very nature of this substance which will infallibly manifest itself if the crystallizing substance only be allowed fair play. This six-sided tendency is its Law of Crystallization -- a law of its nature which it cannot resist. But in the crystal there is nothing at all corresponding to Life. There is simply an inherent force which can be called into action at any moment, and which cannot be separated from the particles in which it resides. The crystal may be ground to pieces, but this force remains intact. And even after being reduced to powder, and running the gauntlet of every process in the chemical laboratory, the moment the substance is left to itself under possible conditions it will proceed to recrystallize anew. But if the Polycystine urn be broken, no inorganic agency can build it up again. So far as any inherent urn-building power, analogous to the crystalline force, is concerned, it might lie there in a shapeless mass for ever. That which modelled it at first is gone from it. It was Vital; while the force which built the crystal was only Molecular.
From an artistic point of view this distinction is of small importance. Aesthetically, the Law of Crystallization is probably as useful in ministering to natural beauty as Vitality. What are more beautiful than the crystals of a snowflake? Or what frond of fern or feather of bird can vie with the tracery of the frost upon a window-pane? Can it be said that the lichen is more lovely than the striated crystals of the granite on which it grows, or the moss on the mountain side more satisfying than the hidden amethyst and cairngorm in the rock beneath? Or is the botanist more astonished when his microscope reveals the architecture of spiral tissue in the stem of a plant, or the mineralogist who beholds for the first time the chaos of beauty in the sliced specimen of some common stone? So far as beauty goes the organic world and the inorganic are one.
To the man of science, however, this identity of beauty signifies nothing. His concern, in the first instance, is not with the forms but with the natures of things. It is no valid answer to him, when he asks the difference between the moss and the cairngorm, the frost-work and the fern, to be assured that both are beautiful. For no fundamental distinction in Science depends upon beauty. He wants an answer in terms of chemistry, are they organic or inorganic? or in terms of biology, are they living or dead? But when he is told that the one is living and the other dead, he is in possession of a characteristic and fundamental scientific distinction. From this point of view, however much they may possess in common of material substance and beauty, they are separated from one another by a wide and unbridged gulf. The classification of these forms, therefore, depends upon the standpoint, and we should pronounce them like or unlike, related or unrelated, according as we judged them from the point of view of Art or of Science.
The drift of these introductory paragraphs must already be apparent. We propose to inquire whether among men, clothed apparently with a common beauty of character, there may not yet be distinctions as radical as between the crystal and the shell; and further, whether the current classification of men, based upon Moral Beauty, is wholly satisfactory either from the standpoint of Science or of Christianity. Here, for example, are two characters, pure and elevated, adorned with conspicuous virtues, stirred by lofty impulses, and commanding a spontaneous admiration from all who look on them -- may not this similarity of outward form be accompanied by a total dissimilarity of inward nature? Is the external appearance the truest criterion of the ultimate nature? Or, as in the crystal and the shell, may there not exist distinctions more profound and basal? The distinctions drawn between men, in short, are commonly based on the outward appearance of goodness or badness, on the ground of moral beauty or moral deformity -- is this classification scientific? Or is there a deeper distinction between the Christian and the not-a-Christian as fundamental as that between the organic and the inorganic?
There can be little doubt, to begin with, that with the great majority of people religion is regarded as essentially one with morality. Whole schools of philosophy have treated the Christian Religion as a question of beauty, and discussed its place among other systems of ethic. Even those systems of theology which profess to draw a deeper distinction have rarely succeeded in establishing it upon any valid basis, or seem even to have made that distinction perceptible to others. So little, indeed has the science of religion been understood that there is still no more unsatisfactory province in theology than where morality and religion are contrasted, and the adjustment attempted between moral philosophy and what are known as the doctrines of grace.
Examples of this confusion are so numerous that if one were to proceed to proof he would have to cite almost the entire European philosophy of the last three hundred years. From Spinoza downward through the whole naturalistic school, Moral Beauty is persistently regarded as synonymous with religion and the spiritual life. The most earnest thinking of the present day is steeped in the same confusion. We have even the remarkable spectacle presented to us just now of a sublime Morality-Religion divorced from Christianity altogether, and wedded to the baldest form of materialism. It is claimed, moreover, that the moral scheme of this high atheism is loftier and more perfect than that of Christianity, and men are asked to take their choice as if the morality were everything, the Christianity or the atheism which nourished it being neither here nor there. Others, again, studying this moral beauty carefully, have detected a something in its Christian forms which has compelled them to declare that a distinction certainly exists. But in scarcely a single instance is the gravity of the distinction more than dimly apprehended. Few conceive of it as other than a difference of degree, or could give a more definite account of it than Mr. Matthew Arnold's |Religion is morality touched by Emotion| -- an utterance significant mainly as the testimony of an acute mind that a distinction of some kind does exist. In a recent Symposium, where the question as to |The influence upon Morality of a decline in Religious Belief,| was discussed at length by writers of whom this century is justly proud, there appears scarcely so much as a recognition of the fathomless chasm separating the leading terms of debate.
If beauty is the criterion of religion, this view of the relation of religion to morality is justified. But what if there be the same difference in the beauty of two separate characters that there is between the mineral and the shell? What if there be a moral beauty and a spiritual beauty? What answer shall we get if we demand a more scientific distinction between characters than that based on mere outward form? It is not enough from the standpoint of biological religion to say of two characters that both are beautiful. For, again, no fundamental distinction in Science depends upon beauty. We ask an answer in terms of biology, are they flesh or spirit; are they living or dead?
If this is really a scientific question, if it is a question not of moral philosophy only, but of biology, we are compelled to repudiate beauty as the criterion of spirituality. It is not, of course, meant by this that spirituality is not morally beautiful. Spirituality must be morally very beautiful -- so much so that popularly one is justified in judging of religion by its beauty. Nor is it meant that morality is not a criterion. All that is contended for is that, from the scientific standpoint, it is not the criterion. We can judge of the crystal and the shell from many other standpoints besides those named, each classification having an importance in its own sphere. Thus we might class them according to their size and weight, their percentage of silica, their use in the arts, or their commercial value. Each science or art is entitled to regard them from its own point of view; and when the biologist announces his classification he does not interfere with those based on other grounds. Only, having chosen his standpoint, he is bound to frame his classification in terms of it.
It may be well to state emphatically, that in proposing a new classification -- or rather, in reviving the primitive one -- in the spiritual sphere we leave untouched, as of supreme value in its own province, the test of morality. Morality is certainly a test of religion -- for most practical purposes the very best test. And so far from tending to depreciate morality, the bringing into prominence of the true basis is entirely in its interests -- in the interests of a moral beauty, indeed, infinitely surpassing the highest attainable perfection on merely natural lines.
The warrant for seeking a further classification is twofold. It is a principle in science that classification should rest on the most basal characteristics. To determine what these are may not always be easy, but it is at least evident that a classification framed on the ultimate nature of organisms must be more distinctive than one based on external characters. Before the principles of classification were understood, organisms were invariably arranged according to some merely external resemblance. Thus plants were classed according to size as Herbs, Shrubs, and Trees; and animals according to their appearance as Birds, Beasts, and Fishes. The Bat upon this principle was a bird, the Whale a fish; and so thoroughly artificial were these early systems that animals were often tabulated among the plants, and plants among the animals. |In early attempts,| says Herbert Spencer, |to arrange organic beings in some systematic manner, we see at first a guidance by conspicuous and simple characters, and a tendency towards arrangement in linear order. In successively later attempts, we see more regard paid to combinations of characters which are essential but often inconspicuous; and a gradual abandonment of a linear arrangement for an arrangement in divergent groups and re-divergent sub-groups.| Almost all the natural sciences have already passed through these stages; and one or two which rested entirely on external characters have all but ceased to exist -- Conchology, for example, which has yielded its place to Malacology. Following in the wake of the other sciences, the classifications of Theology may have to be remodelled in the same way. The popular classification, whatever its merits from a practical point of view, is essentially a classification based on Morphology. The whole tendency of science now is to include along with morphological considerations the profounder generalisations of Physiology and Embryology. And the contribution of the latter science especially has been found so important that biology henceforth must look for its classification largely to Embryological characters.
But apart from the demand of modern scientific culture it is palpably foreign to Christianity, not merely as a Philosophy but as a Biology, to classify men only in terms of the former. And it is somewhat remarkable that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments seem to have recognised the deeper basis. The favourite classification of the Old Testament was into |the nations which knew God| and |the nations which knew not God| -- a distinction which we have formerly seen to be, at bottom, biological. In the New Testament again the ethical characters are more prominent, but the cardinal distinctions based on regeneration, if not always actually referred to, are throughout kept in view, both in the sayings of Christ and in the Epistles.
What then is the deeper distinction drawn by Christianity? What is the essential difference between the Christian and the not-a-Christian, between the spiritual beauty and the moral beauty? It is the distinction between the Organic and the Inorganic. Moral beauty is the product of the natural man, spiritual beauty of the spiritual man. And these two, according to the law of Biogenesis, are separated from one another by the deepest line known to Science. This Law is at once the foundation of Biology and of Spiritual religion. And the whole fabric of Christianity falls into confusion if we attempt to ignore it. The Law of Biogenesis, in fact, is to be regarded as the equivalent in biology of the First Law of Motion in physics: Every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, except in so far as it is compelled by forces to change that state. The first Law of biology is: That which is Mineral is Mineral; that which is Flesh is Flesh; that which is Spirit is Spirit. The mineral remains in the inorganic world until it is seized upon by a something called Life outside the inorganic world; the natural man remains the natural man, until a Spiritual Life from without the natural life seizes upon him, regenerates him, changes him into a spiritual man. The peril of the illustration from the law of motion will not be felt at least by those who appreciate the distinction between Physics and biology, between Energy and Life. The change of state here is not as in physics a mere change of direction, the affections directed to a new object, the will into a new channel. The change involves all this, but is something deeper. It is a change of nature, a regeneration, a passing from death into life. Hence relatively to this higher life the natural life is no longer Life, but Death, and the natural man from the standpoint of Christianity is dead. Whatever assent the mind may give to this proposition, however much it has been overlooked in the past, however it compares with casual observation, it is certain that the Founder of the Christian religion intended this to be the keystone of Christianity. In the proposition That which is flesh is flesh, and that which is spirit is spirit, Christ formulates the first law of biological religion, and lays the basis for a final classification. He divides men into two classes, the living and the not-living. And Paul afterwards carries out the classification consistently making his entire system depend on it, and through out arranging men, on the one hand as pneumatiko -- spiritual, on the other as uchiko -- carnal, in terms of Christ's distinction.
Suppose now it be granted for a moment that the character of the not-a-Christian is as beautiful as that of the Christian. This is simply to say that the crystal is as beautiful as the organism. One is quite entitled to hold this; but what he is not entitled to hold is that both in the same sense are living. He that hath the Son hath Life, and he that hath not the Son hath not Life. And in the face of this law, no other conclusion is possible than that that which is flesh remains flesh. No matter how great the development of beauty, that which is flesh is withal flesh. The elaborateness or the perfection of the moral development in any given instance can do nothing to break down this distinction. Man is a moral animal, and can, and ought to, arrive at great natural beauty of character. But this is simply to obey the law of his nature -- the law of his flesh; and no progress along that line can project him into the spiritual sphere. If any one choose to claim that the mineral beauty, the fleshly beauty, the natural moral beauty, is all he covets, he is entitled to his claim. To be good and true, pure and benevolent in the moral sphere, are high and, so far, legitimate objects of life. If he deliberately stop here, he is at liberty to do so. But what he is not entitled to do is to call himself a Christian, or to claim to discharge the functions peculiar to the Christian life. His morality is mere crystallisation, the crystallising forces having had fair play in his development. But these forces have no more touched the sphere of Christianity than the frost on the window-pane can do more than simulate the external forms of life. And if he considers that the high development to which he has reached may pass by an insensible transition into spirituality, or that his moral nature of itself may flash into the flame of regenerate Life, he has to be reminded that in spite of the apparent connection of these things from one standpoint, from another there is none at all, or none discoverable by us. On the one hand, there being no such thing as Spontaneous Generation, his moral nature, however it may encourage it, cannot generate Life; while, on the other, his high organization can never in itself result in Life, Life being always the cause of organization and never the effect of it.
The practical question may now be asked, is this distinction palpable? Is it a mere conceit of Science, or what human interests attach to it? If it cannot he proved that the resulting moral or spiritual beauty is higher in the one case than in the other, the biological distinction is useless. And if the objection is pressed that the spiritual man has nothing further to effect in the direction of morality, seeing that the natural man can successfully compete with him, the questions thus raised become of serious significance. That objection would certainly be fatal which could show that the spiritual world was not as high in its demand for a lofty morality as the natural; and that biology would be equally false and dangerous which should in the least encourage the view that |without holiness| a man could |see the Lord.| These questions accordingly we must briefly consider. It is necessary to premise, however, that the difficulty is not peculiar to the present position. This is simply the old difficulty of distinguishing spirituality and morality.
In seeking whatever light Science may have to offer as to the difference between the natural and the spiritual man, we first submit the question to Embryology. And if its actual contribution is small, we shall at least be indebted to it for an important reason why the difficulty should exist at all. That there is grave difficulty in deciding between two given characters, the one natural, the other spiritual, is conceded. But if we can find a sufficient justification for so perplexing a circumstance, the fact loses weight as an objection, and the whole problem is placed on different footing.
The difference on the score or beauty between the crystal and the shell, let us say once more, is imperceptible. But fix attention for a moment, not upon their appearance, but upon their possibilities, upon their relation to the future, and upon their place in evolution. The crystal has reached its ultimate stage of development. It can never be more beautiful than it is now. Take it to pieces and give it the opportunity to beautify itself afresh, and it will just do the same thing over again. It will form itself into a six-sided pyramid, and go on repeating this same form ad infinitum as often as it is dissolved, and without ever improving by a hairsbreadth. Its law of crystallisation allows it to reach this limit, and nothing else within its kingdom can do any more for it. In dealing with the crystal, in short, we are dealing with the maximum beauty of the inorganic world. But in dealing with the shell, we are not dealing with the maximum achievement of the organic world. In itself it is one of the humblest forms of the invertebrate sub-kingdom of the organic world; and there are other forms within this kingdom so different from the shell in a hundred respects that to mistake them would simply be impossible.
In dealing with a man of fine moral character, again, we are dealing with the highest achievement of the organic kingdom. But in dealing with a spiritual man we are dealing with the lowest form of life in the spiritual world. To contrast the two, therefore, and marvel that the one is apparently so little better than the other, is unscientific and unjust. The spiritual man is a mere unformed embryo, hidden as yet in his earthly chrysalis-case, while the natural man has the breeding and evolution of ages represented in his character. But what are the possibilities of this spiritual organism? What is yet to emerge from this chrysalis-case? The natural character finds its limits within the organic sphere. But who is to define the limits of the spiritual? Even now it is very beautiful. Even as an embryo it contains some prophecy of its future glory. But the point to mark is, that it doth not yet appear what it shall be.
The want of organization, thus, does not surprise us. All life begins at the Amoeboid stage. Evolution is from the simple to the complex; and in every case it is some time before organization is advanced enough to admit of exact classification. A naturalist's only serious difficulty in classification is when he comes to deal with low or embryonic forms. It is impossible, for instance, to mistake an oak for an elephant; but at the bottom of the vegetable series, and at the bottom of the animal series, there are organisms of so doubtful a character that it is equally impossible to distinguish them. So formidable, indeed, has been this difficulty that Haeckel has had to propose an intermediate regnum protisticum to contain those forms the rudimentary character of which makes it impossible to apply the determining tests.
We mention this merely to show the difficulty of classification and not for analogy; for the proper analogy is not between vegetal and animal forms, whether high or low, but between the living and the dead. And here the difficulty is certainly not so great. By suitable tests it is generally possible to distinguish the organic from the inorganic. The ordinary eye may fail to detect the difference, and innumerable forms are assigned by the popular judgment to the inorganic world which are nevertheless undoubtedly alive. And it is the same in the spiritual world. To a cursory glance these rudimentary spiritual forms may not seem to exhibit the phenomena of Life, and therefore the living and the dead may be often classed as one. But let the appropriate scientific tests be applied. In the almost amorphous organism, the physiologist ought already to be able to detect the symptoms of a dawning life. And further research might even bring to light some faint indication of the lines along which the future development was to proceed. Now it is not impossible that among the tests for Life there may be some which may fitly be applied to the spiritual organism. We may therefore at this point hand over the problem to Physiology.
The tests for Life are of two kinds. It is remarkable that one of them was proposed, in the spiritual sphere, by Christ. Foreseeing the difficulty of determining the characters and functions of rudimentary organisms, He suggested that the point be decided by a further evolution. Time for development was to be allowed, during which the marks of Life, if any, would become more pronounced, while in the meantime judgment was to be suspended. |Let both grow together,| He said, |until the harvest.| This is a thoroughly scientific test. Obviously, however, it cannot assist us for the present -- except in the way of enforcing extreme caution in attempting any classification at all.
The second test is at least not so manifestly impracticable. It is to apply the ordinary methods by which biology attempts to distinguish the organic from the inorganic. The characteristics of Life, according to Physiology, are four in number -- Assimilation, Waste, Reproduction, and Spontaneous Action. If an organism is found to exercise these functions, it is said to be alive. Now these tests, in a spiritual sense, might fairly be applied to the spiritual man. The experiment would be a delicate one. It might not be open to every one to attempt it. This is a scientific question; and the experiment would have to be conducted under proper conditions and by competent persons. But even on the first statement it will be plain to all who are familiar with spiritual diagnosis that the experiment could be made, and especially on oneself, with some hope of success. Biological considerations, however, would warn us not to expect too much. Whatever be the inadequacy of Morphology, Physiology can never be studied apart from it; and the investigation of function merely as function is a task of extreme difficulty. Mr. Herbert Spencer affirms, |We have next to no power of tracing up the genesis of a function considered purely as a function -- no opportunity of observing the progressively-increasing quantities of a given action that have arisen in any order of organisms. In nearly all cases we are able only to establish the greater growth of the part which we have found performs the action, and to infer that greater action of the part has accompanied greater growth of it.| Such being the case, it would serve no purpose to indicate the details of a barely possible experiment. We are merely showing, at the moment, that the question |How do I know that I am alive| is not, in the spiritual sphere, incapable of solution. One might, nevertheless, single out some distinctively spiritual function and ask himself if he consciously discharged it. The discharging of that function is, upon biological principles, equivalent to being alive, and therefore the subject of the experiment could certainly come to some conclusion as to his place on a biological scale. The real significance of his actions on the moral scale might be less easy to determine, but he could at least tell where he stood as tested by the standard of life -- he would know whether he were living or dead. After all, the best test for Life is just living. And living consists, as we have formerly seen, in corresponding with Environment. Those therefore who find within themselves, and regularly exercise, the faculties for corresponding with the Divine Environment, may be said to live the Spiritual Life.
That this Life also, even in the embryonic organism, ought already to betray itself to others, is certainly what one would expect. Every organism has its own reaction upon Nature, and the reaction of the spiritual organism upon the community must be looked for. In the absence of any such reaction, in the absence of any token that it lived for a higher purpose, or that its real interests were those of the Kingdom to which it professed to belong, we should be entitled to question its being in that Kingdom. It is obvious that each Kingdom has its own ends and interests, its own functions to discharge in Nature. It is also a law that every organism lives for its Kingdom. And man's place in Nature, or his position among the Kingdoms, is to be decided by the characteristic functions habitually discharged by him. Now when the habits of certain individual are closely observed, when the total effect of their life and work, with regard to the community, is gauged -- as carefully observed and gauged as the influence of certain individuals in a colony of ants might be observed and gauged by Sir John Lubbock -- there ought to be no difficulty in deciding whether they are living for the Organic or for the Spiritual; in plainer language, for the world or for God. The question of Kingdoms, at least, would be settled without mistake. The place of any given individual in his own Kingdom is a different matter. That is a question possibly for ethics. But from the biological standpoint, if a man is living for the world it is immaterial how well he lives for it. He ought to live well for it. However important it is for his own Kingdom, it does not affect his biological relation to the other Kingdom whether his character is perfect or imperfect. He may even to some extent assume the outward form of organisms belonging to the higher Kingdom; but so long as his reaction upon the world is the reaction of his species, he is to be classed with his species, so long as the bent of his life is in the direction of the world, he remains a worldling.
Recent botanical and entomological researches have made Science familiar with what is termed Mimicry. Certain organisms in one Kingdom assume, for purposes of their own, the outward form of organisms belonging to another. This curious hypocrisy is practised both by plants and animals, the object being to secure some personal advantage, usually safety, which would be denied were the organism always to play its part in Nature in propria persona. Thus the Ceroxylus laceratus of Borneo has assumed so perfectly the disguise of a moss-covered branch as to evade the attack of insectivorous birds; and others of the walking-stick insects and leaf-butterflies practise similar deceptions with great effrontery and success. It is a startling result of the indirect influence of Christianity, or of a spurious Christianity, that the religious world has come to be populated -- how largely one can scarce venture to think -- with mimetic species. In few cases, probably, is this a conscious deception. In many doubtless it is induced, as in Ceroxylus, by the desire for safety. But in a majority of instances it is the natural effect of the prestige of a great system upon those who, coveting its benedictions, yet fail to understand its true nature, or decline to bear its profounder responsibilities. It is here that the test of Life becomes of supreme importance. No classification on the ground of form can exclude mimetic species, or discover them to themselves. But if man's place among the Kingdoms is determined by his functions, a careful estimate of his life in itself, and in its reaction upon surrounding lives, ought at once to betray his real position. No matter what may be the moral uprightness of his life, the honourableness of his career, or the orthodoxy of his creed, if he exercises the function of loving the world, that defines his world -- he belongs o the Organic Kingdom. He cannot in that case belong to the higher Kingdom. |If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.| After all, it is by the general bent of a man's life, by his heart-impulses and secret desires, his spontaneous actions and abiding motives, that his generation is declared.
The exclusiveness of Christianity, separation from the world, uncompromising allegiance to the Kingdom of God, entire surrender of body, soul, and spirit to Christ -- these are truths which rise into prominence from time to time, become the watchwords of insignificant parties, rouse the church to attention and the world to opposition, and die down ultimately for want of lives to live them. The few enthusiasts who distinguish in these requirements the essential conditions of entrance into the Kingdom of Christ are overpowered by the weight of numbers, who see nothing more in Christianity than a mild religiousness, and who demand nothing more in themselves or in their fellow-Christians than the participation in a conventional worship, the acceptance of traditional beliefs, and the living of an honest life. Yet nothing is more certain than that the enthusiasts are right. Any impartial survey -- such as the unique analysis in |Ecce Homo| -- of the claims of Christ and of the nature of His society, will convince any one who cares to make the inquiry of the outstanding difference between the system of Christianity in the original contemplation and its representations in modern life. Christianity marks the advent of what is simply a new Kingdom. Its distinctions from the Kingdom below it are fundamental. It demands from its members activities and responses of an altogether novel order. It is, in the conception of its Founder, a Kingdom for which all its adherents must henceforth exclusively live and work, and which opens its gates alone upon those who, having counted the cost, are prepared to follow it if need be to the death. The surrender Christ demanded was absolute. Every aspirant for membership must seek first the Kingdom of God. And in order to enforce the demand of allegiance, or rather with an unconsciousness which contains the finest evidence for its justice, He even assumed the title of King -- a claim which in other circumstances, and were these not the symbols of a higher royalty, seems so strangely foreign to one who is meek and lowly in heart.
But this imperious claim of a Kingdom upon its members is not peculiar to Christianity. It is the law in all departments of Nature that every organism must live for its Kingdom. And in defining living for the higher Kingdom as the condition of living in it, Christ enunciates a principle which all Nature has prepared us to expect. Every province has its peculiar exactions, every Kingdom levies upon its subjects the tax of an exclusive obedience, and punishes disloyalty always with death. It was the neglect of this principle -- that every organism must live for its Kingdom if it is to live in it -- which first slowly depopulated the spiritual world. The example of its founder ceased to find imitators, and the consecration of His early followers came to be regarded as a superfluous enthusiasm. And it is this same misconception of the fundamental principle of all Kingdoms that has deprived modern Christianity of its vitality. The failure to regard the exclusive claims of Christ as more than accidental, rhetorical, or ideal; the failure to discern the essential difference between His Kingdom and all other systems based on the lines of natural religion, and therefore merely Organic; in a word, the general neglect of the claims of Christ as the Founder of a new and higher Kingdom -- these have taken the very heart from the religion of Christ and left its evangel without power to impress or bless the world. Until even religious men see the uniqueness of Christ's society, until they acknowledge to the full extent its claim to be nothing less than a new Kingdom, they will continue the hopeless attempt to live for two Kingdoms at once. And hence the value of a more explicit Classification. For probably the most of the difficulties of trying to live the Christian life arise from attempting to half-live it.
As a merely verbal matter, this identification of the Spiritual World with what are known to Science as Kingdoms, necessitates an explanation. The suggested relation of the Kingdom of Christ to the Mineral and Animal Kingdoms does not of course, depend upon the accident that the Spiritual World is named in the sacred writings by the same word. This certainly lends an appearance of fancy to the generalisation: and one feels tempted at first to dismiss it with a smile. But, in truth, it is no mere play on the word Kingdom. Science demands the classification of every organism. And here is an organism of a unique kind, a living energetic spirit, a new creature which, by an act of generation, has been begotten of God. Starting from the point that the spiritual life is to be studied biologically, we must at once proceed, as the first step in the scientific examination of this organism, to enter it in its appropriate class. Now two Kingdoms, at the present time, are known to Science -- the Inorganic and the Organic. It does not belong to the Inorganic Kingdom, because it lives. It does not belong to the Organic Kingdom, because it is endowed with a kind of Life infinitely removed from either the vegetal or animal. Where then shall it be classed? We are left without an alternative. There being no Kingdom known to Science which can contain it, we must construct one. Or rather we must include in the programme of Science a Kingdom already constructed but the place of which in science has not yet been recognised. That Kingdom is the Kingdom of God.
Taking now this larger view of the content of science, we may leave the case of the individual and pass on to outline the scheme of Nature as a whole. The general conception will be as follows: --
First, we find at the bottom of everything the Mineral or Inorganic Kingdom. Its characteristics are, first, that so far as the sphere above it is concerned it is dead; second, that although dead it furnishes the physical basis of life to the Kingdom next in order. It is thus absolutely essential to the Kingdom above it. And the more minutely the detailed structure and ordering of the whole fabric are investigated it becomes increasingly apparent that the Inorganic Kingdom is the preparation for, and the prophecy of, the Organic.
Second, we come to the world next in order, the world containing plant, and animal, and man, the Organic Kingdom. Its characteristics are, first, that so far as the sphere above it is concerned it is dead; and, second, although dead it supplies in turn the basis of life to the Kingdom next in order. And the more minutely the detailed structure and ordering of the whole fabric are investigated, it is obvious, in turn, that the Organic Kingdom is the preparation for, and the prophecy of, the Spiritual.
Third, and highest, we reach the Spiritual Kingdom, or the Kingdom of Heaven. What its characteristics are, relatively to any hypothetical higher Kingdom, necessarily remain unknown. That the spiritual, in turn, may be the preparation for, and the prophecy of, something still higher is not impossible. But the very conception of a Fourth Kingdom transcends us, and if it exist, the Spiritual Organism, by the analogy, must remain at present wholly dead to it
The warrant for adding this Third Kingdom consists, as just stated, in the fact that there are Organisms which from their peculiar origin, nature, and destiny cannot be fitly entered in either of the two Kingdoms now known to science. The Second Kingdom is proclaimed by the advent upon the stage of the First, of once-born organisms. The Third is ushered in by the appearance, among these once-born organisms, of forms of life which have been born again -- twice-born organisms. The classification, therefore, is based, from the scientific side on certain facts of embryology and on the Law of Biogenesis; and from the theological side on certain facts of experience and on the doctrine of Regeneration. To those who hold either to Biogenesis or to Regeneration, there is no escape from a Third Kingdom.
There is, in this conception of a high and spiritual organism rising out of the highest point of the Organic Kingdom, in the hypothesis of the Spiritual Kingdom itself, a Third Kingdom following the Second in sequence as orderly as the Second follows the First, a Kingdom utilising the materials of both the Kingdoms beneath it, continuing their laws, and, above all, accounting for these lower Kingdoms in a legitimate way and complementing them in the only known way -- there is in all this a suggestion of the greatest of modern scientific doctrines, the Evolution hypothesis, too impressive to pass unnoticed. The strength of the doctrine of Evolution, at least in its broader outlines, is now such that its verdict on any biological question is a consideration of moment. And if any further defence is needed for the idea of a Third Kingdom it may be found in the singular harmony of the whole conception with this great modern truth. It might even be asked whether a complete and consistent theory of Evolution does not really demand such a conception? Why should Evolution stop with the Organic? It is surely obvious that the complement of Evolution is Advolution, and the inquiry, Whence has all this system of things come, is, after all, of minor importance compared with the question, Whither does all this tend? Science, as such, may have little to say on such a question. And it is perhaps impossible, with such faculties as we now possess, to imagine an Evolution with a future as great as its past. So stupendous is the development from the atom to the man that no point can be fixed in the future as distant from what man is now as he is from the atom. But it has been given to Christianity to disclose the lines of a further Evolution. And if Science also professes to offer a further Evolution, not the most sanguine evolutionist will venture to contrast it, either as regards the dignity of its methods, the magnificence of its aims, or the certainty of its hopes, with the prospects of the Spiritual Kingdom. That Science has a prospect of some sort to hold out to man, is not denied. But its limits are already marked. Mr. Herbert Spencer, after investigating its possibilities fully, tells us, |Evolution has an impassable limit.| It is the distinct claim of the Third Kingdom that this limit is not final. Christianity opens a way to a further development -- a development apart from which the magnificent past of Nature has been in vain, and without which Organic Evolution, in spite of the elaborateness of its processes and the vastness of its achievements, is simply a stupendous cul de sac. Far as Nature carries on the task, vast as is the distance between the atom and the man, she has to lay down her tools when the work is just begun. Man, her most rich and finished product, marvellous in his complexity, all but Divine in sensibility, is to the Third Kingdom not even a shapeless embryo. The old chain of processes must begin again on the higher plane if there is to be a further Evolution. The highest organism of the Second Kingdom -- simple, immobile, dead as the inorganic crystal, towards the sphere above -- must be vitalized afresh. Then from a mass of all but homogeneous |protoplasm| the organism must pass through all the stages of differentiation and integration, growing in perfectness and beauty under the unfolding of the higher Evolution, until it reaches the Infinite Complexity, the Infinite Sensibility, God. So the spiritual carries on the marvellous process to which all lower Nature ministers, and perfects it when the ministry of lower Nature fails.
This conception of a further Evolution carries with it the final answer to the charge that, as regards morality, the Spiritual world has nothing to offer man that is not already within his reach. Will it be contended that a perfect morality is already within the reach of the natural man? What product of the organic creation has ever attained to the fulness of the stature of Him who is the Founder and Type of the Spiritual Kingdom? What do men know of the qualities enjoined in His Beatitudes, or at what value do they even estimate them? Proved by results, it is surely already decided that on merely natural lines moral perfection is unattainable. And even Science is beginning to waken to the momentous truth that Man, the highest product of the Organic Kingdom, is a disappointment. But even were it otherwise, if even in prospect the hopes of the Organic Kingdom could be justified, its standard of beauty is not so high, nor, in spite of the dreams of Evolution, is its guarantee so certain. The goal of the organisms of the Spiritual World is nothing less than this -- to be |holy as He is holy, and pure as He is pure.| And by the Law of Conformity to Type, their final perfection is secured. The inward nature must develop out according to its Type, until the consummation of oneness with God is reached.
These proposals of the Spiritual Kingdom in the direction of Evolution are at least entitled to be carefully considered by Science. Christianity defines the highest conceivable future for mankind. It satisfies the Law of Continuity. It guarantees the necessary conditions for carrying on the organism successfully, from stage to stage. It provides against the tendency to Degeneration. And finally, instead of limiting the yearning hope of final perfection to the organisms of a future age, -- an age so remote that the hope for thousands of years must still be hopeless, -- instead of inflicting this cruelty on intelligences mature enough to know perfection and earnest enough to wish it, Christianity puts the prize within immediate reach of man.
This attempt to incorporate the Spiritual Kingdom in the scheme of Evolution, may be met by what seems at first sight a fatal objection. So far from the idea of a Spiritual Kingdom being in harmony with the doctrine of Evolution, it may be said that it is violently opposed to it. It announces a new Kingdom starting off suddenly on a different plane and in direct violation of the primary principle of development. Instead of carrying the organic evolution further on its own lines, theology at a given point interposes a sudden and hopeless barrier -- the barrier between the natural and the spiritual -- and insists that the evolutionary process must begin again at the beginning. At this point, in fact, Nature acts per saltum. This is no Evolution, but a Catastrophe -- such a Catastrophe as must be fatal to any consistent development hypothesis.
On the surface this objection seems final -- but it is only on the surface. It arises from taking a too narrow view of what Evolution is. It takes evolution in zoology for Evolution as a whole. Evolution began, let us say, with some primeval nebulous mass in which lay potentially all future worlds. Under the evolutionary hand, the amorphous cloud broke up, condensed, took definite shape, and in the line of true development assumed a gradually increasing complexity. Finally there emerged the cooled and finished earth, highly differentiated, so to speak, complete and fully equipped. And what followed? Let it be well observed -- a Catastrophe. Instead of carrying the process further, the Evolution, if this is Evolution, here also abruptly stops. A sudden and hopeless barrier -- the barrier between the Inorganic and the Organic -- interposes, and the process has to begin again at the beginning with the creation of Life. Here then is a barrier placed by Science at the close of the Inorganic similar to the barrier placed by Theology at the close of the Organic. Science has used every effort to abolish this first barrier, but there it still stands challenging the attention of the modern world, and no consistent theory of Evolution can fail to reckon with it. Any objection, then, to the Catastrophe introduced by Christianity between the Natural and Spiritual Kingdoms applies with equal force against the barrier which Science places between the Inorganic and the Organic. The reserve of Life in either case is a fact, and a fact of exceptional significance.
What then becomes of Evolution? Do these two great barriers destroy it? By no means. But they make it necessary to frame a larger doctrine. And the doctrine gains immeasurably by such an enlargement. For now the case stands thus: Evolution, in harmony with its own law that progress is from the simple to the complex, begins itself to pass towards the complex. The materialistic Evolution, so to speak, is a straight line. Making all else complex, it alone remains simple -- unscientifically simple. But as Evolution unfolds everything else, it is now seen to be itself slowly unfolding. The straight line is coming out gradually in curves. At a given point a new force appears deflecting it; and at another given point a new force appears deflecting that. These points are not unrelated points; these forces are not unrelated forces. The arrangement is still harmonious, and the development throughout obeys the evolutionary law in being from the general to the special, from the lower to the higher. What we are reaching, in short, is nothing less than the evolution of Evolution.
Now to both Science and Christianity, and especially to Science, this enrichment of Evolution is important. And, on the part of Christianity, the contribution to the system of Nature of a second barrier is of real scientific value. At first it may seem merely to increase the difficulty. But in reality it abolishes it. However paradoxical it seems, it is nevertheless the case that two barriers are more easy to understand than one, -- two mysteries are less mysterious than a single mystery. For it requires two to constitute a harmony. One by itself is a Catastrophe. But, just as the recurrence of an eclipse at different periods makes an eclipse no breach of Continuity; just as the fact that the astronomical conditions necessary to cause a Glacial Period will in the remote future again be fulfilled constitutes the Great Ice Age a normal phenomenon; so the recurrence of two periods associated with special phenomena of Life, the second higher, and by the law necessarily higher, is no violation of the principle of Evolution. Thus even in the matter of adding a second to the one barrier of Nature, the Third Kingdom may already claim to complement the Science of the Second. The overthrow of Spontaneous Generation has left a break in Continuity which continues to put Science to confusion. Alone, it is as abnormal and perplexing to the intellect as the first eclipse. But if the Spiritual Kingdom can supply Science with a companion-phenomenon, the most exceptional thing in the scientific sphere falls within the domain of Law. This, however, is no more than might be expected from a Third Kingdom. True to its place as the highest of the Kingdoms, it ought to embrace all that lies beneath and give to the First and Second their final explanation.
How much more in the under-Kingdoms might be explained or illuminated upon this principle, however tempting might be the inquiry, we cannot turn aside to ask. But the rank of the Third Kingdom in the order of Evolution implies that it holds the key to much that is obscure in the world around -- much that, apart from it, must always remain obscure. A single obvious instance will serve to illustrate the fertility of the method. What has this Kingdom to contribute to Science with regard to the problem of the origin of Life itself? Taking this as an isolated phenomenon, neither the Second Kingdom, nor the Third, apart from revelation, has anything to pronounce. But when we observe the companion phenomenon in the higher Kingdom, the question is simplified. It will be disputed by none that the source of Life in the Spiritual World is God. And as the same Law of Biogenesis prevails in both spheres, we may reason from the higher to the lower and affirm it to be at least likely that the origin of life there has been the same.
There remains yet one other objection of a somewhat different order, and which is only referred to because it is certain to be raised by those who fail to appreciate the distinctions of Biology. Those whose sympathies are rather with Philosophy than with Science may incline to dispute the allocation of so high an organism as man to the merely vegetal and animal Kingdom. Recognising the immense moral and intellectual distinctions between him and even the highest animal, they would introduce a third barrier between man and animal -- a barrier even greater than that between the Inorganic and the Organic. Now, no science can be blind to these distinctions. The only question is whether they are of such a kind as to make it necessary to classify man in a separate Kingdom. And to this the answer of Science is in the negative. Modern Science knows only two Kingdoms -- the Inorganic and the Organic. A barrier between man and animal there may be, but it is a different barrier from that which separates Inorganic from Organic. But even were this to be denied, and in spite of all science it will be denied, it would make no difference as regards the general question. It would merely interpose another Kingdom between the Organic and the Spiritual, the other relations remaining as before. Any one, therefore, with a theory to support as to the exceptional creation of the Human Race will find the present classification elastic enough for his purpose. Philosophy, of course, may propose another arrangement of the Kingdoms if it chooses. It is only contended that this is the order demanded by Biology. To add another Kingdom mid-way between the Organic and the Spiritual, could that be justified at any future time on scientific grounds, would be a mere question of further detail.
Studies in Classification, beginning with considerations of quality, usually end with a reference to quantity. And though one would willingly terminate the inquiry on the threshold of such a subject, the example of Revelation not less than the analogies of Nature press for at least a general statement.
The broad impression gathered from the utterances of the Founder of the Spiritual Kingdom is that the number of organisms to be included in it is to be comparatively small. The outstanding characteristic of the new Society is to be its selectness. |Many are called,| said Christ, |but few are chosen.| And when one recalls, on the one hand, the conditions of membership, and, on the other, observes the lives and aspirations of average men, the force of the verdict becomes apparent. In its bearing upon the general question, such a conclusion is not without suggestiveness. Here again is another evidence of the radical nature of Christianity. That |few are chosen| indicates a deeper view of the relation of Christ's Kingdom to the world, and stricter qualifications of membership, than lie on the surface or are allowed for in the ordinary practice of religion.
The analogy of Nature upon this point is not less striking -- it may be added, not less solemn. It is an open secret, to be read in a hundred analogies from the world around, that of the millions of possible entrants for advancement in any department of Nature the number ultimately selected for preferment is small. Here also |many are called and few are chosen.| The analogies from the waste of seed, of pollen, of human lives, are too familiar to be quoted. In certain details, possibly, these comparisons are inappropriate. But there are other analogies, wider and more just, which strike deeper into the system of Nature. A comprehensive view of the whole field of Nature discloses the fact that the circle of the chosen slowly contracts as we rise in the scale of being. Some mineral, but not all, becomes vegetable; some vegetable, but not all, becomes animal; some animal, but not all, becomes human; some human, but not all, becomes Divine. Thus the area narrows. At the base is the mineral, most broad and simple; the spiritual at the apex, smallest, but most highly differentiated. So form rises above form, Kingdom above Kingdom. Quantity decreases as quality increases.
The gravitation of the whole system of Nature towards quality is surely a phenomenon of commanding interest. And if among the more recent revelations of Nature there is one thing more significant for Religion than another, it is the majestic spectacle of the rise of Kingdoms towards scarcer yet nobler forms, and simpler yet diviner ends. Of the early stage, the first development of the earth from the nebulous matrix of space, Science speaks with reserve. The second, the evolution of each individual from the simple protoplasmic cell to the formed adult, is proved. The still wider evolution, not of solitary individuals, but of all the individuals within each province -- in the vegetal world from the unicellular cryptogam to the highest phanerogam, in the animal world from the amorphous amoeba to Man -- is at least suspected, the gradual rise of types being at all events a fact. But now, at last, we see the Kingdoms themselves evolving. And that supreme law which has guided the development from simple to complex in matter, in individual, in sub-Kingdom, and in Kingdom, until only two or three great Kingdoms remain, now begins at the beginning again, directing the evolution of these million-peopled worlds as if they were simple cells or organisms. Thus, what applies to the individual applies to the family, what applies to the family applies to the Kingdom, what applies to the Kingdom applies to the Kingdoms. And so, out of the infinite complexity there rises an infinite simplicity, the foreshadowing of a final unity, of that
|One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.|
This is the final triumph of Continuity, the heart-secret of Creation, the unspoken prophecy of Christianity. To Science, defining it as a working principle, this mighty process of amelioration is simply Evolution. To Christianity, discerning the end through the means, it is Redemption. These silent and patient processes, elaborating, eliminating, developing all from the first of time, conducting the evolution from millennium to millennium with unaltering purpose and unfaltering power, are the early stages in the redemptive work -- the unseen approach of that Kingdom whose strange mark is that it |cometh without observation.| And these Kingdoms rising tier above tier in ever increasing sublimity and beauty, their foundations visibly fixed in the past, their progress, and the direction of their progress, being facts in Nature still, are the signs which, since the Magi saw His star in the East, have never been wanting from the firmament of truth, and which in every age with growing clearness to the wise, and with ever-gathering mystery to the uninitiated, proclaim that |the Kingdom of God is at hand.|
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