Part 5 out of 5
The other passage of mine which he has adduced, employs the word
_reveals_, in a sense analogous to that of _revelation_, in avowed
relation to _things moral and spiritual_, which would have been seen,
had not my critic reversed the order of my sentences; which he does
again in p. 78 of the "Defence," after my protest against his doing so
in the "Eclipse." I wrote: (Soul, p. 59) "Christianity itself has
thus practically confessed, what is theoretically clear, that an
authoritative _external_ revelation of moral and spiritual truth is
essentially impossible to man. What God reveals to us, he reveals
_within_, through the medium of our moral and spiritual senses."
The words, "What God reveals," seen in the light of the preceding
sentence, means: "That portion of _moral and spiritual truth_ which
God reveals." This cannot be discovered in the isolated quotation; and
as, both in p. 78 and in p. 95, he chooses to quote my word _What_ in
italics, his reader is led on to interpret me as saying "_every thing
whatsoever_ which we know of God, we learn from within;" a statement
which is not mine.
Besides this, the misrepresentation of which I complained is not
confined to the rather metaphysical words of _within_ and _without_,
as to which the most candid friends may differ, and may misunderstand
one another;--as to which also I may be truly open to correction;--but
he assumes the right to tell his readers that my doctrine undervalues
Truth, and Intellect, and Traditional teaching, and External
suggestion, and Historical influences, and counts the Bible an
impertinence. When he fancies he can elicit this and that, by his own
logic, out of sentences and clauses torn from their context, he has
no right to disguise what I have said to the contrary, and claim to
justify his fraud by accusing me of self-contradiction. Against all
my protests, and all that I said to the very opposite previous to
any controversy, he coolly alludes to it (p. 40 of the "Defence")
as though it were my avowed doctrine, that: "_Each_ man, looking
exclusively within, can _at once_ rise to the conception of God's
IV. When I agree with Paul or David (or think I do), I have a right
to quote their words reverentially; but when I do so, Mr. Rogers
deliberately justifies himself in ridiculing them, pretending that he
only ridicules _me_. He thus answers my indignant denunciation in the
early part of his "Defence," p. 5:--
"Mr. Newman warns me with much solemnity against thinking that
'questions pertaining to God are advanced by boisterous glee.' I do
not think that the 'Eclipse' is characterised by boisterous glee; and
certainly I was not at all aware, that the things which _alone_
I have ridiculed--some of them advanced by him, and some by
others--deserved to be treated with solemnity. For example, that an
authoritative external revelation, which most persons have thought
possible enough, is _im_possible,--that man is most likely born for
a dog's life, and 'there an end'--that there are great defects in the
morality of the New Testament, and much imperfection in the character
of its founder,--that the miracles of Christ might be real, because
Christ was a _clairvoyant_ and mesmerist,--that God was not a Person,
but a Personality;--I say, I was not aware that these things, and such
as these, which alone I ridiculed, were questions 'pertaining to God,'
in any other sense than the wildest hypotheses in some sense pertain
to science, and the grossest heresies to religion."
Now first, is his statement true?
_Are_ these the _only_ things which he ridiculed?
I quoted in my reply to him enough to show what was the class of
"things pertaining to God" to which I referred. He forces me to
requote some of the passages. "Eclipse," p. 82 [1st ed.] "You shall be
permitted to say (what I will not contradict), that though _Mr. Newman
may be inspired_ for aught I know ... inspired as much as (say) _the
inventor of Lucifer matches_--yet that his book is not divine,--that
it is purely human."
Again: p. 126 [1st ed.] "Mr. Newman says to those who say they
are unconscious of these facts of spiritual pathology, that _the
consciousness of the spiritual man is not the less true, that_
[though?] _the unspiritual man is not privy to it_; and this most
devout gentleman quotes with unction the words: _For the spiritual man
judgeth all things, but himself is judged of no man_."
P. 41, [1st ed.], "I have rejected creeds, and I have found what the
Scripture calls, _that peace which passeth all understanding_." "I am
sure it passes mine, (says Harrington) if you have really found it,
and I should be much obliged to you, if you would let me participate
in the discovery." "Yes, says Fellowes:... '_I have escaped from the
bondage of the letter and have been introduced into the liberty of the
Spirit.... The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. The fruit
of the Spirit is joy, peace, not_--'" "Upon my word (said Harrington,
laughing), I shall presently begin to fancy that Douce Davie Deans has
I have quoted enough to show the nature of my complaints. I charge the
satirist with profanity, for ridiculing sentiments which _he himself_
avows to be holy, ridiculing them for no other reason but that with
_me also_ they are holy and revered. He justifies himself in p. 5
of his "Defence," as above, by denying my facts. He afterwards, in
Section XII. p. 147, admits and defends them; to which I shall return.
I beg my reader to observe how cleverly Mr. Rogers slanders me in the
quotation already made, from p. 5, by insinuating, first, that it is
my doctrine, "that man is _most likely_ born for _a dog's life_,
and there an end;" next, that I have taken under my patronage the
propositions, that "the miracles of Christ might be real, because
Christ was a _clairvoyant_ and mesmerist, and that God is not a Person
but a Personality." I cannot but be reminded of what the "Prospective"
reviewer says of Zeuxis and the grapes, when I observe the delicate
skill of touch by which the critic puts on just enough colour to
affect the reader's mind, but not so much as to draw him to closer
examination. I am at a loss to believe that he supposes me to think
that a theory of mesmeric wonders (as the complement of an atheistic
creed?) is "a question pertaining to God," or that my rebuke bore the
slightest reference to such a matter. As to Person and Personality, it
is a subtle distinction which I have often met from Trinitarians; who,
when they are pressed with the argument that three divine Persons
are nothing but three Gods, reply that Person is not the correct
translation of the mystical _Hypostasis_ of the Greeks, and
Personality is perhaps a truer rendering. If I were to answer with
the jocosity in which my critic indulges, I certainly doubt whether
he would justify me. So too, when a Pantheist objects (erringly, as
I hold) that a Person is necessarily something finite, so that God
cannot be a Person; if, against this, a Theist contend that God is
at once a Person and a Principle, and invent a use of the word
Personality to overlap both ideas; we may reject his nomenclature as
too arbitrary, but what rightful place ridicule has here, I do not
see. Nevertheless, it had wholly escaped my notice that the satirist
had ridiculed it, as I now infer that he did.
He tells me he _was not aware_ that the holding that _there are great
defects in the morality of the New Testament, and much imperfection in
the character of its Founder, was a question pertaining to God_. Nor
indeed was _I_ aware of it.
I regard questions concerning a book and a human being to be purely
secular, and desire to discuss them, not indeed with ridicule but
with freedom. When _I_ discuss them, he treats my act as intolerably
offensive, as though the subject were sacred; yet he now pretends that
_I_ think such topics "pertain to God," and he was not aware of it
until I told him so! Thus he turns away the eyes of his readers from
my true charge of profanity, and fixes them upon a fictitious charge
so as to win a temporary victory. At the same time, since Christians
believe the morality of the _Old_ Testament to have great defects,
and that there was much imperfection in the character of its eminent
saints, prophets, and sages; I cannot understand how my holding
the very same opinion concerning the _New_ Testament should be a
peculiarly appropriate ground of banter and merriment; nor make me
more justly offensive to Christians, than the Pauline doctrine is to
In more than one place of this "Defence" he misrepresents what I have
written on Immortality, in words similar to those here used, though
here he does _not_ expressly add my name. In p. 59, he says,
that "according to Mr. Newman's theology, it is most _probable_
(in italics) that the successive generations of men, with perfect
indifference to their relative moral conditions, their crimes
or wrongs, are all knocked on the head together; and that future
adjustment and retribution is a dream." (So p. 72.) In a note to the
next page, he informs his readers that if I say that I have left the
question of immortality _doubtful_, it does not affect the argument;
for I have admitted "the probability" of there being no future life.
This topic was specially discussed by me in a short chapter of my
treatise on the "Soul," to which alone it is possible for my critic to
refer. In that chapter assuredly I do _not_ say what he pretends; what
I _do_ say is, (after rejecting, as unsatisfactory to me, the popular
arguments from metaphysics, and from the supposed need of a future
state to _redress the inequalities of this life_;) p. 232: "But do I
then deny a future life, or seek to undermine a belief of it? _Most
assuredly not_; but I would put the belief (whether it is to be weaker
or firmer) on a _spiritual_ basis, and on none other."
I am ashamed to quote further from that chapter in this place; the
ground on which I there tread is too sacred for controversy. But that
a Christian advocate should rise from reading it to tell people that
he has a right to _ridicule_ me for holding that "man is _most likely
born for a dog's life_, and there an end;" absorbs my other feelings
in melancholy. I am sure that any candid person, reading that chapter,
must see that I was hovering between doubt, hope, and faith, on this
subject, and that if any one could show me that a Moral Theism and a
Future Life were essentially combined, I should joyfully embrace
the second, as a fit complement to the first. This writer takes the
opposite for granted; that if he can convince me that the doctrine of
a Future Life is essential to Moral Theism, he will--not _add_ to--but
_refute_ my Theism! Strange as this at first appears, it is explained
by his method. He draws a hideous picture of what God's world has been
in the past, and indeed is in the present; with words so reeking
of disgust and cruelty, that I cannot bear to quote them; and ample
quotation would be needful. Then he infers, that since I must admit
all this, I virtually believe in an immoral Deity. I suppose his
instinct rightly tells him, that I shall not be likely to reason,
"Because God can be so very cruel or careless to-day, he is sure to
be very merciful and vigilant hereafter." Accepting his facts as
a _complete_ enumeration of the phenomena of the present world, I
suppose it is better inductive logic to say: "He who can be himself so
cruel, and endure such monsters of brutality for six or more thousand
years, must (by the laws of external induction) be the same, and
leave men the same, for all eternity; and is clearly reckless of moral
considerations." If I adopt this alternative, I become a Pagan or an
Atheist, one or other of which Mr. Rogers seems anxious to make me.
If he would urge, that to look at the dark and terrible side of human
life is onesided and delusive, and that the God who is known to us
in Nature has so tempered the world to man and man to the world as to
manifest his moral intentions;--(arguments, which I think, my critic
must have heard from Socrates or Plato, without pooling out on them
scalding words, such as I feel and avow to be blasphemous;)--then he
might perhaps help my faith where it is weakest, and give me (more or
less) aid to maintain a future life dogmatically, instead of hopefully
and doubtfully. But now, to use my friend Martineau's words: "His
method doubles every difficulty without relieving any, and tends to
enthrone a Devil everywhere, and leave a God nowhere."
Since he wrote his second edition of the "Defence," I have brought out
my work called "Theism," in which (without withdrawing my objections
to the popular idea of future _Retribution_) I have tried to reason
out a doctrine of Future Life from spiritual considerations. I have no
doubt that my critic would find them highly aboard, and perhaps would
pronounce them ineffably ludicrous, and preposterous feats of logic.
If I could hide their existence from him, I certainly would, lest he
misquote and misinterpret them. But as I cannot keep the book from
him, I here refer to it to say, that if I am to maintain this most
profound and mysterious doctrine with any practical intensity,
my convictions in the power of the human mind to follow such high
inquiries, need to be greatly _strengthened_, not to be undermined
by such arguments and such detestable pictures of this world, as Mr.
Rogers holds up to me.
He throws at me the imputation of holding, that "man is _most likely_
born for a _dog's life_, and there an end." And is then the life of
a saint for seventy years, or for seven years, no better than a dog's
life? What else but a _long_ dog's life does this make heaven to be?
Such an undervaluing of a short but noble life, is consistent with
the scheme which blasphemes earth in order to ennoble heaven, and then
claims to be preeminently logical. According to the clear evidence of
the Bible, the old saints in general were at least as uncertain as I
have ever been concerning future life; nay, according to the writer
to the Hebrews, "through fear of death they were all their lifetime
subject to bondage." If I had called _that_ a dog's life, how
eloquently would Mr. Rogers have rebuked me!
V. But I must recur to his defence of the profanity with which he
treats sacred sentiments and subjects. After pretending, in p. 5, that
he had ridiculed nothing but the things quoted above, he at length,
in pp. 147-156, makes formal admission of my charge and _justifies
himself_. The pith of his general reply is in the following, p. 152:--
"'Now (says Mr. Newman) I will not here farther insist on the
monstrosity of bringing forward St. Paul's words in order to pour
contempt upon them; a monstrosity which no sophistry of Mr. Harrington
can justify!' I think the _real_ monstrosity is, that men should
so coolly employ St. Paul's words,--for it is a quotation from the
treatise on the "Soul,"--to mean something totally different from
anything he intended to convey by them, and employ the dialect of the
Apostles to contradict their doctrines; that is the monstrosity ... It
is very hard to conceive that Mr. Newman did not see this.... But had
he gone on only a few lines, the reader would have seen Harrington
saying: 'These words you have just quoted were well in St. Paul's
mouth, and had a meaning. In yours, I suspect, they would have none,
or a very different one.'"
According to this doctrine of Mr. Rogers, it would not have been
profane in an unbelieving Jew to _make game_ of Moses, David, and the
Prophets, whenever they were quoted by Paul. The Jew most profoundly
believed that Paul quoted the old Scriptures in a false, as well as in
a new meaning. One Christian divine does not feel free to ridicule
the words of Paul when quoted erroneously (as he thinks) by another
Christian divine? Why then, when quoted by me? I hold it to be a great
insolence to deny my right to quote Paul or David, as much as Plato
or Homer, and adopt their language whenever I find it to express my
sentiment. Mr. Rogers's claim to deride highly spiritual truth, barely
because I revere it, is a union of inhumanity and impiety. He has
nowhere shown that Paul meant something "totally different" from
the sense which I put on his words. I know that he cannot. I do
not pretend always to bind myself to the definite sense of my
predecessors; nor did the writers of the New Testament. They often
adopt and apply _in an avowedly new sense_ the words of the Old
Testament; so does Dr. Watts with the Hebrew Psalms. Such adaptation,
in the way of development and enlargement, when done with sincerely
pious intention, has never been reproved or forbidden by Christians,
Whether I am wise or unwise in my interpretations, the _subject_ is a
sacred one, and I treat it solemnly; and no errors in my "logic" can
justify Mr. Rogers in putting on the mask of a profane sceptic, who
scoffs (not once or twice, but through a long book) at the most
sacred and tender matters, such as one always dreads to bring before a
promiscuous public, lest one cast pearls before swine. And yet unless
devotional books be written, especially by those who have as yet
no church, how are we to aid one another in the uphill straggle
to maintain some elements of a heavenly life? Can anything be more
heartless, or more like the sneering devil they talk of, than Mr.
Harrington? And here one who professes himself a religions man,
and who deliberately, after protest, calls _me_ an INFIDEL, is not
satisfied with having scoffed in an hour of folly--(in such an hour,
I can well believe, that melancholy record the "Eclipse of Faith,"
was first penned)--but he persists in justifying his claim to jeer
and snarl and mutilate, and palm upon me senses which he knows are
deliberately disavowed by me, all the while pretending that it is my
bad logic which justifies him! We know that very many religious men
_are_ bad logicians: if I am as puzzle-headed a fool as Mr. Rogers
would make people think me, how does that justify his mocking at my
religion? He justifies himself on the ground that I criticize the New
Testament as freely as I should Cicero (p. 147). Well, then let him
criticize me, as freely (and with as little of suppression) as I
criticize it. But I do not _laugh_ at it; God forbid! The reader will
see how little reason Mr. Rogers had to imagine that I had not read
so far as to see Harrington's defence; which defence is, either an
insolent assumption, or at any rate not to the purpose.
I will here add, that I have received letters from numerous Christians
to thank me for my book on the "Soul," in such terms as put the
conduct of Mr. Rogers into the most painful contrast: painful, as
showing that there are other Christians who know, and _he does not
know_, what is the true heart and strength of Christianity. He trusts
in logic and ridicules the Spirit of God.
That leads me to his defence of his suggestion that I might be
possibly as much inspired as the inventor of lucifer matches. He says,
"Mr. Newman tells me, that I have clearly a profound unbelief in the
Christian doctrine of divine influence, or I could not thus grossly
insult it I answer... that which Harrington ridiculed, as the context
would have shown Mr. Newman, if he had had the patience to read
on, and the calmness to judge, is the chaotic view of inspiration,
_formally_ held by Mr. Parker, who is _expressly_ referred to,
"Eclipse," p. 81." In 9th edition, p. 71.
The passage concerning Mr. Parker is in the _preceding_ page: I had
read it, and I do not see how it at all relieves the disgust which
every right-minded man must feel at this passage. My disgust is not
personal: though I might surely ask,--If Parker has made a mistake,
how does that justify insulting _me_? As I protested, I have made
no peculiar claim to inspiration. I have simply claimed "that which
all pious Jews and Christians since David have always claimed."
Yet he pertinaciously defends this rude and wanton passage, adding, p.
155: "As to the inventor of lucifer matches, I am thoroughly convinced
that he has shed more light upon the world and been abundantly more
useful to it, than many a cloudy expositor of modern spiritualism."
Where to look for the "many" expositors of spiritualism, I do not
know. Would they were more numerous.
Mr. Parker differs from me as to the use of the phrase "Spirit of
God." I see practical reasons, which I have not here space to insist
on, for adhering to the _Christian_, as distinguished from the
_Jewish_ use of this phrase. Theodore Parkes follows the phraseology
of the Old Testament, according to which Bezaleel and others received
the spirit of God to aid them in mere mechanical arts, building and
tailoring. To ridicule Theodore Parker for this, would seem to me
neither witty nor decent in an unbeliever; but when one does so, who
professes to believe the whole Old Testament to be sacred, and stoops
to lucifer matches and the Eureka shirt, as if this were a refutation,
I need a far severer epithet. Mr. Rogers implies that the light of a
lucifer match is comparable to the light of Theodore Parker; what will
be the judgment of mankind a century hence, if the wide dissemination
of the "Eclipse of Faith" lead to inscribing the name of Henry Rogers
permanently in biographical dictionaries! Something of this sort may
"THEODORE PARKER, the most eminent moral theologian whom the first
half of the nineteenth century produced in the United States. When the
churches were so besotted, as to uphold the curse of slavery because
they found it justified in the Bible; when the Statesmen, the Press,
the Lawyers, and the Trading Community threw their weight to the same
fatal side; Parker stood up to preach the higher law of God against
false religion, false statesmanship, crooked law and cruel avarice.
He enforced three great fundamental truths, God, Holiness, and
Immortality. He often risked life and fortune to rescue the fugitive
slave. After a short and very active life full of good works, he died
in blessed peace, prematurely worn out by his perpetual struggle for
the true, the right, and the good. His preaching is the crisis which
marked the turn of the tide in America from the material to the moral,
which began to enforce the eternal laws of God on trade, on law, on
administration, and on the professors of religion itself."
And what will be then said of him, who now despises the noble
Parker? I hope something more than the following:--"HENRY ROGERS, an
accomplished gentleman and scholar, author of many books, of which
by far the most popular was a smart satirical dialogue, disfigured by
unjustifiable garbling and profane language, the aim of which was
to sneer down Theodore Parker and others who were trying to save
spiritual doctrine out of the wreck of historical Christianity."
Jocose scoffing, and dialogue writing is the easiest of tasks; and
if Mr. Rogers's co-religionists do not take the alarm, and come in
strength upon Messrs. Longman, imploring them to suppress these books
of Mr. Rogers, persons who despise _all_ religion (with whom Mr.
Rogers pertinaciously confounds me under the term infidel), may one of
these days imitate his sprightly example against his creed and church.
He himself seems to me at present incurable. I do not appeal to _him_,
I appeal to his co-religionists, how they would like the publication
of a dialogue, in which his free and easy sceptic "Mr. Harrington"
might reason on the _opposite_ side to that pliable and candid man
of straw "Mr. Fellowes?" I here subjoin for their consideration, an
imaginary extract of the sort which, by their eager patronage of the
"Eclipse of Faith," they are inviting against themselves.
I say, Fellowes! (said Harrington), what was that, that Parker and
Rogers said about the Spirit of God?
Excuse me (said Fellowes), Theodore Parker and Henry Rogers hold very
different views, Mr. Rogers would be much hurt to bear you class him
I know (replied he), but they both hold that God inspires people; and
that is a great point in common, as I view it. Does not Mr. Rogers
believe the Old Testament inspired and all of it true?
Certainly (said Fellowes): at least he was much shocked with Mr.
Newman for trying to discriminate its chaff from its wheat.
Well then, he believes, does not he, that Jehovah filled men _with the
spirit of wisdom_ to help them make a suit of clothes for Aaron!
Fellowes, after a pause, replied:--That is certainly written in the
28th chapter of Exodus.
Now, my fine fellow! (said Harrington), here is a question to _rile_
Mr. Rogers. If Aaron's toggery needed one portion of the spirit of
wisdom from Jehovah, how many portions does the Empress Eugenie's best
Really (said Fellowes, somewhat offended), such ridicule seems to me
Forgive me, dear friend (replied Harrington, with a sweet smile).
_Your_ views I never will ridicule; for I know you have imbibed
somewhat of Francis Newman's fancy, that one ought to feel tenderly
towards other men's piety. But Henry Rogers is made of stouter stuff;
he manfully avows that a religion, if it is true, ought to stand the
test of ridicule, and he deliberately approves this weapon of attack.
I cannot deny that (said Fellowes, lifting his eyebrows).
But I was going to ask (continued Harrington) whether Mr. Rogers does
not believe that Jehovah filled Bezaleel with the Spirit of God, for
the work of jeweller, coppersmith, and mason?
Of course he does (answered Fellowes), the text is perfectly clear, in
the 31st of Exodus; Bezaleel and Aholiab were both inspired to become
By the Goose (said Harrington)--forgive a Socratic oath--I really do
not see that Mr. Rogers differs much from Theodore Parker. If a man
cannot hack a bit of stone or timber without the Spirit of God, Mr.
Rogers will have hard work to convince me, that any one can make a
rifled cannon without the Spirit of God.
There is something in that (said Fellowes). In fact, I have sometimes
wondered how Mr. Rogers could say that which _looks_ so profane, as
what he said about the Eureka shirt.
Pray what is that? (said Harrington;) and where?
It is in his celebrated "Defence," 2nd edition, p. 155. "_If_ Minos
and Praxiteles are inspired in the same sense as Moses and Christ,
then the inventor of lucifer matches, as well as the inventor of the
Eureka shirts, must be also admitted"--to be inspired.
Do you mean that he is trying to save the credit of Moses, by
maintaining that the Spirit of God which guides a sculptor is _not_
the same in kind as that which guides a saint?
No (replied Fellowes, with surprise), he is not defending Moses; he is
Bless me (said Harrington, starting up), what is become of the man's
logic! Why, Parker and Moses are in the same boat. Mr. Rogers fires at
it, in hope to sink Parker; and does not know that he is sending old
Moses to Davy's locker.
Now this is too bad (said Fellowes), I really cannot bear it.
Nah! Nah! good friend (said Harrington, imploringly), be calm; and
remember, we have agreed that ridicule--against _Mr. Rogers_, not
against _you_--is fair play.
That is true (replied Fellowes with more composure).
Now (said Harrington, with a confidential air), you are my friend, and
I will tell you a secret--be sure you tell no one--I think that Henry
Rogers, Theodore Parker, and Francis Newman are three ninnies; all
wrong; for they all profess to believe in divine inspiration: yet they
are not ninnies of the same class. I _admit_ to Mr. Rogers that there
is a real difference.
How do you mean (said Fellowes, with curiosity aroused)?
Why (said Harrington, pausing and becoming impressive), Newman is
a flimsy mystic; he has no foundation, but he builds logically
enough--at least as far as I see--on his fancies and other people's
fancies. This is to be a simple ninny. But Mr. Rogers fancies he
believes a mystical religion, and doesn't; and fancies he is very
logical, and isn't. This is to be a doubly distilled ninny.
Really I do not call this ridicule, Mr. Harrington (said Fellowes,
rising), I must call it slander. What right have you to say that Mr.
Rogers does not believe in the holy truths of the New Testament?
Surely (replied Harrington) I have just _as_ much right as Mr. Rogers
has to say that Mr. Newman does not believe the holy sentiments of
St. Paul, when Mr. Newman says he does. Do you remember how Mr. Rogers
told him it was absurd for an infidel like him to third: he was in a
condition to rebuke any one for being profane, or fancy he had a right
to say that he believed this and that mystical text of Paul, which,
Mr. Rogers avows, Newman _totally_ mistakes and does _not_ believe as
Paul meant it. Now I may be very wrong; but I augur that Newman _does_
understand Paul, and Rogers does _not_. For Rogers is of the Paley
school, and a wit; and a brilliant chap he is, like Macaulay. Such men
cannot be mystics nor Puritans in Pauline fashion; they cannot bear
to hear of a religion _from within_; but, as I heard a fellow say the
other day, Newman has never worked off the Puritan leaven.
Well (said Fellowes), but why do you call Mr. Rogers illogical?
I think you have seen one instance already, but that is a trifle
compared to his fundamental blunder (said Harrington).
What can you mean? how fundamental (asked his friend)?
Why, he says, that _I_ (for instance) who have so faith whatever
in what he calls revelation, cannot have any just belief or sure
knowledge of the moral qualities of God; in fact, am logically bound
(equally with Mr. Newman) to regard God as _im_moral, if I judge by my
own faculties alone. Does he not say that?
Unquestionably; he has a whole chapter (ch. III.) of his "Defence" to
enforce this on Mr. Newman (replied Fellowes).
Well, next, he tells me, that when the Christian message, as from God,
is presented to me, I am to believe it on the word of a God whom I
suppose to be, or _ought_ to suppose to be, immoral. If I suppose A B
a rogue, shall I believe the message which the rogue sends me?
Surely, Harrington, you forget that you are speaking of God, not of
man: you ought not to reason so (said Fellowes, somewhat agitated).
Surely, Fellowes, it is _you_ who forget (retorted Harrington) that
syllogism depends on form, not on matter. Whether it be God or Man,
makes no difference; the logic must be tried by turning the terms into
X Y Z. But I have not said all Mr. Rogers says, I am bound to throw
away the moral principles which I already have, at the bidding of a
God whom I am bound to believe to be immoral.
No, you are unfair (said Fellowes), I know he says that revelation
would confirm and _improve_ your moral principles.
But I am _not_ unfair. It is he who argues in a circle. What will be
_improvement_, is the very question pending. He says, that if Jehovah
called to me from heaven, "O Harrington! O Harrington! take thine
innocent son, thine only son, lay him on the altar and kill him," I
should be bound to regard obedience to the command an _improvement_
of my morality; and this, though, up to the moment when I heard
the voice, I had been _bound logically_ to believe Jehovah to be an
IMMORAL God. What think you of that for logic?
I confess (said Fellowes, with great candour) I must yield up my
friend's reputation as a _logician_; and I begin to think he was
unwise in talking so contemptuously of Mr. Newman's reasoning
faculties. But in truth, I love my friend for the great _spiritual_
benefits I have derived from him and cannot admit to you that he is
not a very sincere believer in mystical Christianity.
What benefits, may I ask? (said Harrington).
I have found by his aid the peace which passeth understanding (replied
It passes my understanding, if you have (answered Harrington,
laughing), and I shall be infinitely obliged by your allowing me to
participate in the discovery. In plain truth, I do not trust your
But are you in a condition to form an opinion? (said Fellowes, with
a serious air). Mr. Rogers has enforced on me St. Paul's maxim: "The
natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God."
My most devout gentleman I (replied Harrington), how unctuous you are!
Forgive my laughing; but it does _so_ remind me of Douce Davie Deans.
I will make you professor of spiritual insight, &c., &c., &c.
* * * * *
Now is not this disgusting? Might I not justly call the man a "profane
dog" who approved of it? Yet everything that is worst here _is closely
copied from the Eclipse of Faith, or justified by the Defence_. How
long will it be before English Christians cry out Shame against those
VI. I must devote a few words to define the direction and
justification of my argument in one chapter of this treatise. All good
arguments are not rightly addressed to all persons. An argument good
in itself may be inappreciable to one in a certain mental state, or
may be highly exasperating. If a thoughtful Mohammedan, a searcher
after truth, were to confide to a Christian a new basis on which be
desired to found the Mohammedan religion--viz., the absolute moral
perfection of its prophet, and were to urge on the Christian this
argument in order to convert him, I cannot think that any one would
blame the Christian for demanding what is the evidence of the _fact_.
Such an appeal would justify his dissecting the received accounts of
Mohammed, pointing out what appeared to be flaws in his moral conduct;
nay, if requisite, urging some positive vice, such as his excepting
himself from his general law of _four wives only_. But a Christian
missionary would surely be blamed (at least I should blame him), if,
in preaching to a mixed multitude of Mohammedans against the authority
of their prophet, he took as his basis of refutation the prophet's
personal sensuality. We are able to foresee that the exasperation
produced by such an argument must derange the balance of mind in the
hearers, even if the argument is to the purpose; at the same time, it
may be really away from the purpose to _them_, if their belief has
no closer connexion with the personal virtue of the prophet, than has
that of Jews and Christians with the virtue of Balaam or Jonah. I will
proceed to imagine, that while a missionary was teaching, talking, and
distributing tracts to recommend, his own views of religion, a Moolah
were to go round and inform everybody that this Christian believed
Mohammed to be an unchaste man, and had used the very argument to such
and such a person. I feel assured that we should all pronounce this
proceeding to be a very cunning act of spiteful, bigotry.
My own case, as towards certain Unitarian friends of mine, is quite
similar to this. They preach to me the absolute moral perfection of a
certain man (or rather, of a certain portrait) as a sufficient basis
for my faith. Hereby they challenge me, and as it were force me, to
inquire into its perfection. I have tried to confine the argument
within a narrow circle. It is addressed by me specifically to them
and not to others. I would _not_ address it to Trinitarians; partly,
because they are not in a mental state to get anything from it
but pain, partly because much of it becomes intrinsically bad _as
argument_ when addressed to them. Many acts and words which would be
_right_ from an incarnate God, or from an angel, are (in my opinion)
highly _unbecoming_ from a man; consequently I must largely remould
the argument before I could myself approve of it, if so addressed.
The principle of the argument is such as Mr. Rogers justifies, when
he says that Mr. Martineau _quite takes away all solid reasons for
believing in Christ's absolute perfection._ ("Defence," p. 220.) I
opened my chapter (chapter VII.) above with a distinct avowal of my
wish to confine the perusal of it to a very limited circle. Mr. Rogers
(acting, it seems, on the old principle, that whatever one's enemy
deprecates, is a good) instantly pounces on the chapter, avows that
"if infidelity _could_ be ruined, such imprudencies would go
far to ruin it," p. 22; and because he believes that it will be
"unspeakably painful" to the orthodox for whom I do _not_ intend
it, he prints the greater part of it in an Appendix, and expresses his
regret that he cannot publish "every syllable of it," p. 22. Such is
his tender regard for the feeling of his co-religionists.
My defender in the "Prospective Review" wound up as follows (x. p.
"And now we have concluded our painful task, which nothing but a
feeling of what justice--literary, and personal--required, would have
induced us to undertake. The tone of intellectual disparagement
and moral rebuke which certain critics,--deceived by the shallowest
sophisms with which an unscrupulous writer could work on their
prepossessions and insult their understandings--have adopted towards
Mr. Newman made exposure necessary. The length to which our remarks
have extended requires apology. Evidence to character is necessarily
cumulative, and not easily compressible within narrow limits. Enough
has been said to show that there is not an art discreditable in
controversy, to which recourse is not freely had in the 'Eclipse of
Faith' and the Defence of it."
The reader must judge for himself whether this severe and terrible
sentence of the reviewer proceeds from ill-temper and personal
mortification, as the author of the Eclipse and its Defence
gratuitously lays down, or whether it was prompted by a sense of
justice, as he himself affirms.
[Footnote 1: The "Eclipse" had previously been noticed in the same
review, on the whole favourably, by a writer of evidently a different
religious school, and before I had exposed the evil arts of my
[Footnote 2: The authorship is since acknowledged by Mr. Henry Rogers,
in the title to his article on Bishop Butler in the "Encyclopaedia
[Footnote 3: That is, my "discovery" that the writer of the "Eclipse
of Faith" grossly misquotes and misinterprets me.]
[Footnote 4: Page 225, he says, that each criticism "is quite worthy
of Mr. Newman's _friend_, defender and admirer;" assuming a fact, in
order to lower my defender's credit with his readers.]
[Footnote 5: As he puts "artful dodge" into quotation marks, his
readers will almost inevitably believe that this vulgar language is
mine. In the same spirit to speaks of me as "making merry" with a Book
Revelation; as if I had the slightest sympathy or share in the style
and tone which pervades the "Eclipse." But there is no end of such
things to be denounced.]
[Footnote 6: Italics in the original.]
[Footnote 7: In the ninth edition, p. 104, I find that to cover the
formal falsehood of these words, he adds: "what he calls his arguments
are assertions only," still withholding that which would confute him.]
[Footnote 8: I will here add, that this "stinking fly"--the
parenthesis ("in a certain stage of development")--was added merely
to avoid dogmatizing on the question, how early in human history or in
human life this mysterious notion of the divine spirit is recognizable
[Footnote 9: If the word _essential_ is explained away, _this_
sentence may be attenuated to a truism.]
[Footnote 10: Paul to the Corinthians, 1st Ep. ii.]
[Footnote 11: This clause is too strong. "Expect _direct_ spiritual
results," might have been better.]
[Footnote 12: The substance of what I wrote was this. Socrates and
Cicero ask, _where did we pick up our intelligence?_ It did not come
from nothing; it most reside in the mind of him from whom we and this
world came; God must be more intelligent than man, his creature.--But
this argument may be applied with equal truth, not to intelligence
only, but to all the essential high qualities of man, everything noble
and venerable. Whence came the principle of love, which is the noblest
of all! It must reside in God more truly and gloriously than in
man. He who made loving hearts must himself be loving. Thus the
intelligence and love of God are known through our consciousness of
intelligence and love _within_.]
[Footnote 13: He puts _alone_ in italics. A little below he repeats,
"which alone I ridiculed."]
[Footnote 14: He should add: "external _authoritative_ revelation _of
moral and spiritual truth_." No communication from heaven could have
moral weight, to a heart previously destitute of moral sentiment,
or unbelieving in the morality of God.--What is there in this that
[Footnote 15: He puts it between two other statements which avowedly
refer to me.]
[Footnote 16: Mr. Rogers asks on this: "Does Mr. Newman mean that
he claims as much as the _apostles_ claimed, _whether they did so
rightfully or not_?" See how acutely a logician can pervert the word
[Footnote 17: There is much meaning in the word imprudencies on which
I need not comment.]
[Footnote 18: "Unspeakably painful" is his phrase for something
much smaller, ("Eclipse" ninth edition p. 194,) which he insists on
similarly obtruding, against my will and protest.]
It is an error not at all peculiar to the author of the "Eclipse of
Faith," but is shared with him by many others, and by one who has
treated me in a very different spirit, that Christians are able to
use atheistic arguments against me without wounding Christianity. As I
have written a rather ample book, called "Theism," expressly designed
to establish against Atheists and Pantheists that moral Theism which
Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans have in common, and which underlies
every attempt of any of the three religions to establish its peculiar
and supernatural claims; I have no need of entering on that argument
here. It is not true, that, as a Theist, I evade the objections urged
by real atheists or sceptics; on the contrary, I try to search them to
the very bottom. It is only in arguing with Christians that I disown
the obligation of reply; and that, because they are as much concerned
as I to answer; and ought to be able to give me, _on the ground of
natural theology_, good replies to every fundamental objection from
the sceptic, if I have not got them myself. To declare the objections
of our common adversaries valid against those first principles
of religion which are older than Jesus or Moses, is certainly to
surrender the cause of Christianity.
If this need more elucidation, let it be observed, that no Christian
can take a single step in argument with a heathen, much less establish
his claim of authority for the Bible, without presuming that the
heathen will admit, on hearing them, those doctrines of moral Theism,
which, it is pretended, _I_ can have no good reason for admitting.
If the heathen sincerely retorts against the missionary such Pagan
scepticism as is flung at me by Christians, the missionary's words
are vain; nor is any success possible, unless (with me) he can lay
a _prior_ foundation of moral Theism, independent of any assumption
concerning the claims of the Bible. It avails nothing to preach
repentance of sin and salvation from judgment to come, to minds which
are truly empty of the belief that God has any care for morality. I
of course do not say, and have never said, that the doctrine of the
divine holiness, goodness, truth, must have been previously an active
belief of the heathen hearer. To have stated a question clearly
is often half the solution; and the teacher, who so states a high
doctrine, gives a great aid to the learner's mind. But unless, after
it has been affirmed that there is a Great Eternal Being pervading the
universe, who disapproves of human evil and commands us to pursue
the good, the conscience and intellect of the hearer gives assent, no
argument of moral religion can have weight with him; therefore neither
can any argument about miracles, nor any appeal to the "Bible" as
authoritative. Of course the book has not as yet any influence over
him, nor will its miracles, any more than its doctrines, be
received on the ground of their being in the book. Thus a direct
and independent discernment of the great truths of moral Theism is a
postulate, to be proved or conceded _before_ the Christian can begin
the argument in favour of Biblical preternaturalism. I had thought
it would have been avowed and maintained with a generous pride, that
eminently in Christian literature we find the noblest, soundest, and
fullest advocacy of moral Theism, as having its evidence in the heart
of man within and nature without, _independently of any postulates
concerning the Bible_. I certainly grew up for thirty years in that
belief. Treatises on Natural Theology, which (with whatever success)
endeavoured to trace--not only a constructive God in the outer world,
but also a good God when that world is viewed in connexion with man;
were among the text-books of our clergy and of our universities, and
were in many ways crowned with honour. Bampton Lectures, Bridgewater
Treatises, Burnet Prize Essays, have (at least till very recently in
one case) been all, I rather think, in the same direction. And surely
with excellent reason. To avow that the doctrines of Moral Theism have
no foundation to one who sees nothing preternatural in the Bible, is
in a Christian such a suicidal absurdity, that whenever an atheist
advances it, it is met with indignant denial and contempt.
The argumentative strength of this Appendix, as a reply to those
who call themselves "orthodox" Christians, is immensely increased by
analysing their subsidiary doctrines, which pretend to relieve,
while they prodigiously aggravate, the previous difficulties of Moral
Theism; I mean the doctrine of the fall of man by the agency of a
devil, and the eternal hell. But every man who dares to think will
easily work out such thoughts for himself.
I here reproduce (merely that it may not be pretended that I silently
withdraw it) the substance of an illustration which I offered in my
2nd edition, p. 184.
When I deny that History can be Religion or a part of Religion, I
mean it exactly in the same sense, in which we say that history is not
mathematics, though mathematics has a history. Religion undoubtedly
comes to us by historical transmission: it has had a slow growth; but
so is it with mathematics, so is it with all other sciences. (I refer
to mathematics, not as peculiarly like to religion, but as peculiarly
unlike; it is therefore and _a fortiori_ argument. What is true of
them as sciences, is true of all science.) No science can flourish,
while it is received on authority. Science comes to us _by_ external
transmission, but is not believed _because_ of that transmission. The
history of the transmission is generally instructive, but is no proper
part of the science itself. All this is true of Religion.