The Benedick X: Signs Of The Times.

The Benedick X: Signs Of The Times. February 12, 2023


May 22, 1907.

On Sunday, May 19, 1907, the Rabbi Stephen Wise delivered a sermon, “The Possibilities of Religious Fellowship,” at Church of the Ascension, in connection with The New York State Conference of Religion. Rabbi Wise opened the Free Synagogue in Manhattan a month earlier, and was, in some regards, a Jewish counterpart to Grant. Wise began his career as assistant Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York’s Upper West Side. From 1900-1906 Wise served as rabbi of the Congregation of Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon. Like Grant, Wise was outspoken on child labor, and other issues of the day, and upon returning to New York in 1906, he became a founder of the A.C.L.U., and a board member for the N.A.A.C.P. In 1908 Wise would join Booker T. Washington in eulogizing Bishop Potter in a memorial service with Grant.

The late spring had finally passed into summer, and with the coming of warmer weather the annual exodus from the city had begun. Crampton had sailed for the South Pacific, seeking further data for his researches into the origin and mutation of species. J.F.B. Mitchell was in Amsterdam, arranging, it was said, for the importation, not of species, but of specie. Calkins was presiding at a medical conference in a distant city. Dewey had gone to his country home, and, on the evening set for the meeting in Mitchell’s rooms, a message was received from Miller saying that he also would be unable to attend. It developed later, that he and Eastman had gone canoeing together, and had been prevented by head winds and tide from making their home port in time. There was some doubt as to the whereabouts of Robinson—as, having moved his family to the mountains, while his own work kept him near the libraries, he was sometimes to be reached at his club and sometimes not. For this evening he had said he had three separate engagements, in as many different places, but had scouted the suggestion that, as he could not possibly keep all three, he might as well keep none and join the discussion, where he was much wanted. Later, however, he had said he would come if he could.

Johnston had been asked to open the discussion, but, perhaps because of the uncertainty as to Robinson’s coming, or perhaps because of the feeling of intimate understanding that the smaller circle emphasized, the conversation remained long informal and without premeditated direction. When Johnston entered, he found Woodbridge in his accustomed seat in the corner of the cushioned window bench, talking with Griscom and Mitchell about Pragmatism.

“No,” said Mitchell, “I confess I think the ‘Preacher of Pragmatism’ is greater than his doctrine. You remember, Woodbridge, that very pleasant evening given us by Miller at the close of Professor James’s lectures here, when he had us all dine together, and our ‘round table talk’ afterwards? The breadth and human sympathy of the man seemed so much greater than the system he was defending.”’

“I remember very well,” said Woodbridge, “I remember, too, your parable.”

“Was Henry guilty of a parable?” asked Johnston. “Do let us hear it!”

“He was indeed,” said Woodbridge, “but he will have to tell it to you himself.”

“It was not a parable,” said Mitchell, “it was a fact!

“All true parables are facts, as all facts are parables—if we would only so think of them,” said Griscom. “Charley ought to make that into an aphorism. When he has, I shall propose it as a motto for science. But tell us your story, Henry.”

“It is not much to tell,” said Mitchell, “and it requires a long-winded introduction. As you know, the dinner was given at the close of Professor James’s series of lectures on ‘Pragmatism,’ and he was holding the lists, as its champion, against all comers. It so happened that I was sitting next to him, so my turn came last. It is too long ago to remember just what I said, but I recollect the general trend of my thought. In one of the early lectures Professor James had spoken of Pragmatism as ‘limbering up’ our philosophic systems, and, above all, as mediating in philosophic antinomies and contradictions. This had aroused most agreeable anticipations. A philosophic system, or method, that would do this must, indeed, be what I was seeking—for my trouble has always been that my own life insists upon uniting what logic insists are opposed. The description of existence necessitates a paradox which living resolves. A man is really more than a logical copula. But, however that may be, my anticipations were doomed to disappointment, and I was again and again told I must choose this or that, when I knew perfectly well I took both. This was very marked in the lecture on ‘Pragmatism and Religion,’ when Professor James insisted we must look either forward or back, and believe either in predestination or in free will. For his own part, he said, if he were offered existence in a world where salvation was not assured from the beginning, but was conditional upon his doing himself his level best, and upon every one else doing the same, he would accept such existence gladly and enthusiastically. He believed, moreover, that a willingness to accept safety and happiness only as the prize of successful endeavor showed a healthier, more vigorous religion than that which made of salvation a universal and necessitated process, performed upon us from without. Now with all of this I could have completely agreed if I had not been told the two views were inconsistent, and that I must choose between them.

“Those ‘ors’ of Professor James irritated me, and when I had the chance, I said so. I said that instead of having ‘limbered’ our philosophic muscles, such a doctrine showed all the signs of a bad stiff-neck. In actual fact, we looked both to the past and the future in guiding our conduct. If our philosophy could look only in one direction, then our philosophy was stiff-necked.

“Professor James had said we must choose between the doctrines of universal salvation and that of a salvation depending upon individual effort. I was compelled, both by heredity, and personal training, to believe the two were not opposed: by heredity, because a great-grandfather of mine was the first preacher of universal salvation in this country; by personal training, because of the little incident of my childhood to which Woodbridge refers.

“It was a still winter day, I remember,” said Mitchell. “I, a small boy of ten or so, had the afternoon to myself—save that I had been told to clear the snow from the path to the gate. I had thought I would play first and work afterwards, and had had a most happy time building a snow fort. After a while a new idea seized me, and I went to the house for my sled. My mother met me and asked if I had shoveled the path. I said no, I had been playing. She reminded me gently that whatever duty I had to do I should have done at once, and bade me do it then. I knew she was right, but tried to justify myself by saying I had only been told to do it before I came in. Her reply was a quiet ‘Very well, but see you remember,’ and I went coasting. When I came back it was late, too late, I thought, to shovel snow. My mother thought otherwise. I could take my own time, but that path was to be made before I came in. I went back into the winter dusk, away from the warmth and the light, full of rebellion, sure that no boy was ever so badly treated or had such heartless parents. But I would show them! So I made a great pretense of enjoying myself—snow-balling the trees and whistling as cheerily as I could—hoping I was being watched from the windows. They would see I didn’t care. By and by they would be anxious at my being out so late, and would call me in. But they did not. Not a curtain moved. The darkness and the loneliness grew deeper. Visions of being out all night, of freezing supperless in the snow, came before me. I began to think how sorry my mother would be when she found my poor frozen body in the morning and knew she had killed me. I was filled with self-pity at the melancholy scene. I had to struggle with a lump in my throat, and a warm tear or two trickled down my cheek. But, after a while, even the comforting picture of my mother weeping at my funeral failed to sustain me. I knew there was only one way; and, fight against it as I might, I knew it was the right way. I got to work with the shovel.

“Now here is the point. If there was anything certain, to one who knew that small boy, it was that he would sleep that night in his own bed after a good supper. It was equally certain, to one who knew his mother, that he could not do it until he had performed his task. In theory the two doctrines may be opposed, but in practice they are one. Life is so constituted that we cannot escape our tasks, and we are so constituted that salvation is necessary for us. We can play as long as we see fit, but sooner or later we must ‘see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to the Sacred Seat.’”

“What did James say?” asked Griscom.

“He thanked me for a ‘beautiful illustration’ of his own view,” said Mitchell, “and later called me a pluralist when I was defending monism!

“I wonder, Woodbridge, if you have seen that new book of Dr. Inge’s?” Griscom asked. “He makes a very able argument against the adoption of the pragmatic attitude in religious questions.”


Frederick James Eugene Woodbridge.


“You mean the Paddock Lectures which he delivered at the General Theological Seminary this winter?” asked Woodbridge.

“Yes,” said Griscom, “they have just appeared in book form under the title Personal Idealism and Mysticism.”

“I have noticed a number of favorable reviews, but have not yet read it,” said Woodbridge. “It ought to be an interesting book.”

“It is, very,” said Griscom. “As the title indicates, it is a defense of mysticism against the ‘Will to Believe’ and ‘Personal Idealism’ of our pragmatists. But the treatment is so broad and constructive that it never degenerates into barren controversy. In fact, it is one of the most lucid and sympathetic expositions of Christian mysticism and the philosophy of the Neoplatonists that I have seen. Inge has the unusual ability to make subtle things clear without hardening or materializing them.”

“That is indeed a rare gift,” said Johnston, “and one most necessary for this theme.”

“How does he develop his argument?” asked Woodbridge.

“You must read the book,” said Griscom. “The first chapter is on ‘Our Knowledge of God,’ which he begins, I remember, by a quotation: ‘Such as men themselves are, such will God appear to them to be,’ and finds the basis of man’s religion in his experience. But man, he holds, is a microcosm with affinities to every grade of existence, so that in a sense man shares in the experience of the whole. One sentence here reminded me of Crampton’s talk. For Dr. Inge suggests that, as in prenatal life the human embryo runs through all the lower forms, so in the spiritual aspiration of mankind there is a foreshadowing or dim anticipation of another long period of growth and upward progress for the race, which can culminate only in a divinity already potentially ours. We can know only what is akin to ourselves, but there is that in us which is akin to God. The religious problem is to identify ourselves with this indwelling divinity and, by conforming our nature to its laws, to share in its consciousness and immortality.

“It is in the emphasis upon the reality of spiritual law, and the need of obedience thereto, that mysticism is in opposition to the ultra-individualism and utilitarianism of pragmatic thought. The central concept of Inge’s argument, as of all Christian mysticism, is, of course, the Logos doctrine—that the true self of man is the spark of the Logos, which is one in us and in all that is. It is a cosmo-centric philosophy as opposed to the anthropocentric attitude of the early Churchmen and of modern Pragmatism. Against the notion of an impervious and isolated personality, Dr. Inge contends with both force and acumen. He holds, indeed, that it is totally contrary to the whole content and spirit of Jesus’s teachings, and that its importation into Christianity, its ingrafting upon a tradition which knew nothing of it, is responsible for the distortion and absurdities of Christian theology. If we abandon this view of ourselves as isolated units, and, in particular, if we take the Christ as typifying and exemplifying the life of the Logos in man, then even the imagery of Jesus’s teaching becomes logical and consistent.

“But, really, it is absurd for me to try to summarize his argument. It is the time-old thesis of mysticism—only presented with singular clearness, and, it seemed to me, very ably defended. It is remarkable how wide-spread the present revival of mysticism is, and it is as much as a sign of the times as for its own merit that Dr. Inge’s work so holds my interest—”
Griscom was interrupted by a sound at the door.

“Who is this, I wonder?” Griscom asked.

“Monty, and…yes, Percy, too,” said Mitchell. “Excuse me.”

“I wish you had been at his church last Sunday evening,” Griscom continued. “Charley, it was one of the most interesting services I ever attended. Percy had a Jewish Rabbi there who gave the sermon—or address. I want to ask him about it when Mitchell is done playing the host.”

Mitchell soon returned with Montague and Grant.

“Good evening, Percy,” said Griscom. “We were just talking of that very interesting service last Sunday. What a remarkable speaker that Jewish Rabbi is! Who is he?”

“Rabbi Stephen Wise,” said Grant. “He was educated here, and first preached here. Then he went west to Portland, Oregon, where he had a large synagogue and was very successful. They wanted him to stay, but he decided to come back to this city and found a free synagogue—which means, I think, a pretty liberal one.”

“He is certainly an able speaker,” said Griscom. “I have rarely listened to more finished eloquence, though he was evidently talking extemporaneously, or at least without notes. And, his oratory quite apart, one could not help being impressed by the movement of his thought. The ‘Fellowship of Religions’ is a theme which presents difficulties—after all these centuries of warring creeds—yet he did not dodge or evade them. He faced them squarely, but with a penetration and a tact which compelled my admiration. Is it not unusual for a Jewish Rabbi to take part in a Christian service and preach from an Episcopal pulpit?”

“I do not remember ever having heard of its being done before,” replied Grant, “but there is no essential reason why it should not have been. The service, you know, was one of the joint services of the State Conference of Religion.”

“I am afraid I do not know,” said Mitchell. “I was even unaware of the existence of such an organization. What is it?”

“It is a body organized about eight years ago by ministers and laymen of a number of different denominations,” said Grant. “At the start I think there were twelve different religious bodies represented. The motto they adopted expresses the general attitude of the Conference, ‘Religions are many, Religion is one.’ They hold that individual beliefs should be loyally maintained, but that Religion unites many whom Theology divides, and that in religious work much may be gained from co-operation and mutual understanding. This the conference aims to promote. They have a number of meetings for addresses and discussion, and frequently common services—such as that in our Church last week. They do not seek to change anyone’s theology or belief, but only to work together for the common end of personal and social righteousness.”


Rabbi Stephen Wise.


“What an admirable idea it is!” said Griscom.

“I am afraid it has not accomplished very much as yet,” said Grant, “but they tell me it is growing all the time. At any rate, its influence is good.”

“It is surprising that you have been able to include the Jews,” said Montague. “I do not mean that it is so remarkable from the Christian standpoint as from that of Jewish orthodoxy. From what I have heard, the hatred of the Cross is still deeply felt there.”

“Rabbi Wise told a very pretty story of the way in which the unity of religions was first brought home to him,” said Griscom. “He was coming out of his synagogue one day when he noticed an elderly man upon the steps who bowed to him as he was about to pass. Rabbi Wise stopped and greeted him, asking if he belonged to his church. The man replied, ‘I hope so, sir.’

“This answer being somewhat cryptic, the Rabbi Wise repeated his question:

‘Your face is strange to me. You are a member of this synagogue?’

“‘No, sir,’ said the man; ‘this is the first time I have been here.’

“‘From what synagogue do you come?’

“‘From none.’

“‘From none? Of what church, then, are you a member?’

“‘Of that, sir, of which I trust you also are a member—The Church of God.’

“Rabbi Wise,” said Griscom, “told us he went home with many new thoughts in his mind. He did not tell us whether his interlocutor was Christian or Mohammedan, Brahmin or Buddhist. And the beauty of the story is that it does not matter. However the religions of men may be separated by creeds and formulas, which, after all, are more matters of racial psychology than anything else, they are united in the essential object of their worship.”

“It would be a long step forward for organized religious worship,” said Mitchell, “could it recognize this, and, laying emphasis upon the unities of religion—let the differences rest.”

“Do you know, Percy, anything of the Conference, I believe, was held last winter between the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Methodists as to a possible closer union?” asked Griscom.

“No,” replied Grant, “where was it?”

“In Toronto,” replied Griscom. “I heard of it from a correspondent there, but have missed seeing the report, if any appeared in the papers.”

“I had not heard of it,” said Grant. “The most startling proposition of the kind is that which Dr. Briggs has advanced in the North American Review. Did you read his article? He proposes that all the Christian denominations unite under the leadership of the Pope, whose powers should be restricted by a sort of constitution. In other words, that Christendom should treat the Pope as the Russian Duma is now treating the Tsar.”

“Does he suggest that the Pope retain his present absolute power in the Roman Church?” asked Montague. “It would be a very interesting situation should the rigid organization remain unimpaired in the midst of a freer larger one.”

“Perhaps that might be a first step,” said Grant.

“I think it would be an essential point to the Pope,” said Montague. “He might be willing to take a general supervision, or nominal headship, over all Christendom; but he certainly would be unwilling to abandon or curtail his power where it now exists.”

“I am not particularly anxious to have him take supervision over me,” said Grant. “The scheme is so far beyond what anyone dreams is possible, that I cannot believe it will ever receive serious consideration.”

“To one who knows either the Vatican, or the thorough-going non-conforming Protestant it would seem very unlikely of realization,” said Mitchell. “But do you know, Percy, I think there is a certain type of churchman to whom it would appeal. I should not be at all surprised to see some one or other of your earnest, well-intentioned Bishops advocate it.”

“I fancy he would receive little encouragement from Rome,” said Johnston, “beyond being invited to return to ‘The True Mother Church.’”

“Charley, do you realize that you were to have given us a lead this evening,” said Mitchell, “and that, so far, you have hardly said a word? It is too late for us to expect anyone else, I am afraid, so there is no use of waiting.”

“It is rather a pity to interrupt the pleasant conversation we are already having,” said Johnston. “No ‘lead’ was necessary. I had proposed, it is true, to speak tonight of the Eastern view of evolution, which supplements, in what seems to me important particulars, the present Western doctrine and throws new light upon its application to religion. But all our evolutionists are absent, and, as I particularly wanted the criticism of Crampton and Calkins, I think we had best let this subject wait. Let me speak, instead, of two books I have been reading recently, and which present interesting parallels both with each other and with what Clem has told us of Dr. Inge’s volume of lectures. The one is The New Theology, by Rev. R. J. Campbell, a Congregationalist Minister, whose Church is the City Temple in London. The other is The Substance of Faith, by Sir Oliver Lodge, scientist and Principal of Birmingham University. Each is original; each is the mature work of a man who has risen to high place in his own calling; and, though approached from such totally different directions, the conclusions of both are in essential points the same. That upon which they agree may, therefore, be fairly taken as typical of the best thought of these times upon religious questions.

“If we begin with Campbell’s work, we find him telling us that the ‘New Theology’ is neither new, nor of his invention, but is essentially Christian in the fullest sense. It is, indeed, an untrammeled return to Christian sources in the light of modern thought, its starting-point being a re-emphasis of the Christian belief in the Divine Immanence in the universe and in mankind. It holds that we know nothing, and can know nothing, of the Infinite Cause whence all things proceed except as we read Him in His universe and in our own souls. The appeal to experience, the return to nature, only bring us closer to the thought and feeling of Jesus, and the recent great growth in natural knowledge brings out His teaching with fresh luster and power. It is the immanent God with which Christianity has to do, and if this fact is once fully grasped, it will simplify all our conceptions and give us a working faith. It is this faith which Mr. Campbell seeks to make clear.

“The word ‘God’ stands, of course, for many things, but to Mr. Campbell it stands for the uncaused Cause of all existence, the unitary principle implied in all multiplicity. Everyone, of necessity, we are told, must believe in this unity; and wrapped up in this belief is the implication that the finite universe can be but one means to the self-realization of the infinite. No part of the universe has value in and for itself alone, as no part is wholly mean or worthless. Each has value only as it expresses God. To see one form break up and another take its place is no calamity, however terrible it may appear, for it only means that the life contained in that form has gone back to the universal life, and will express itself again in some higher and better form. To all eternity God is what He is and never can be other, but it will take Him to all eternity to live out all that He is. To think of the universe and of God in this way is an inspiration and a help in the doing of the humblest tasks. It redeems life from the dominion of the sordid and the commonplace, and gives it divine significance. To put it, Campbell says, in homely phrase, ‘God is getting at something,’ and we must be laborers together with Him.

“This will serve, I think, to make clear the concept of God as put forward by Mr. Campbell; not, be it remembered, as any new view of his own, but as that interpretation of Christian teaching which he believes is animating liberal theology throughout the whole of Christendom, quite irrespective of sect or denomination, and nowhere more marked than among the Roman Catholics. Let me turn now to what the exponent of modern science has to say upon the same high theme.

“In the view of Sir Oliver Lodge, the law of the universe and the will of God are to be regarded as in some sort synonymous terms. It is impossible, he says, properly to define such a term as ‘God,’ but it is permissible reverently to use the term for a mode of regarding the universe as invested with what in human beings we call personality, consciousness, and other forms of intelligence, emotion, and will. These attributes, undoubtedly possessed by a part, are not to be denied to the whole, however little we may be able as yet to form a clear conception of their larger meaning. We are a part of the universe, and the universe is a part of God. Even we also, therefore, have a divine nature and may truly be called sons and co-workers with God, and, as such, are heirs to that inner joy with which achievement is ever irradiated, and which the Divine Life ever renews.

“The intelligence which guides things, Lodge continues, is not something external to the scheme, clumsily interfering with it by muscular action, as we are constrained to do when we interfere at all, but is something within and inseparable from it, as human thought is within and inseparable from the action of our brains. In some partially similar way he conceives that the multifarious processes in nature, with neither the origin nor maintenance of which we have had anything to do, must be guided and controlled by some Thought and Purpose, immanent in everything, but revealed only to those with sufficiently awakened perceptions. To the higher members of our race the intelligence and purpose, underlying the whole mystery of existence, elaborating the details of evolution, are clearly visible.

“We see, therefore, that the processes of evolution are regarded by both Campbell and Lodge as the gradual unfolding of the Divine Thought, or Logos, throughout the universe; that both agree in the general sense in which they use the word God; and agree also in emphasizing the Divine immanence in us and in all things.

“I have quoted Mr. Campbell as saying that we can only know God as we read Him in our own hearts or in the universe. We can only interpret the universe in terms of our own consciousness. In other words, man is a microcosm of the universe. The so-called material world is our consciousness of reality exercising itself along a strictly limited plane. It is all a question of consciousness. We can know just so much of the universe as our consciousness is open to. The larger and fuller a consciousness becomes the more it can grasp and hold of the consciousness of God, the fundamental reality of our being as of everything else.

“We have an opening into larger fields of consciousness, Mr. Campbell reminds us, in our knowledge of what is called the subconscious mind, or the supra-liminal consciousness. Our discovery of its existence has taught us that our ordinary consciousness is but a small corner of our larger consciousness. It has been well compared to an island in the Pacific, which is really the summit of a mountain whose base is miles below the surface. Summit and base are one, and yet no one realizes when standing on the little island that he is perched at the very top of a mountain peak. So it is with our everyday consciousness of ourselves; we find it difficult to realize that this consciousness is not all there is of us. But when we come to examine the facts the conclusion is irresistible, that of our truer, deeper being we are ordinarily quite unconscious. Beyond the ordinary self whom we are familiar with, there is a larger self, vastly greater than we know. This larger self is in all probability a perfect and eternal spiritual being integral to the being of God. The surface self is the incarnation of some portion of that true eternal self which is one with God.

“Sir Oliver Lodge also has much to say of the infinite possibilities of wider consciousness in man, finding the true self something far larger and higher than our present thought of ourselves, limited and shut in as it is by incarnation in animal bodies. This incarnation, he thinks, accounts for the double nature of man—the inherited animal tendencies, and the inspired spiritual aspirations. He explains it in some such way as this: Our body is an individual collocation of cells, which began to form and grow together at a certain date, and will presently be dispersed; but the constructing and dominating reality, called our ‘soul,’ did not then begin to exist; nor will it cease with bodily decay. Interaction with the material world then began, and will then cease, but we ourselves in essence are persistent, if our character be sufficiently developed to possess a reality of its own. In our present state, truly, the memory of our past is imperfect or non-existent; but when we waken and shake off the tenement of matter, rejoining the larger self, of which only a part is now manifested in mortal flesh, our memory and consciousness may enlarge, too, and the continuity become clear. It is here that he quotes Wordsworth:


Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.


“The idea of gradual incarnation—growing as the brain and body grow, but never attaining any approach to completeness even in the greatest of men—seems to Lodge an opening in the direction of truth. In this view, the portion of the larger self incarnated in an infant or a feeble-minded person is but small: in normal cases, more appears as the body is fitted to receive it. In some cases much appears, thus constituting a great man; while in others, again, a link of occasional communication is left open between the part and the whole—producing what we call ‘genius.’ Second-childishness is the gradual abandonment of the material vehicle, as it gets worn out or damaged. But during the episode of this life man is never a complete self, his roots are in another order of being, he is moving about in worlds not realized, he is as if walking in a vain shadow and disquieting himself in vain.

“Thus the second point of agreement between the minister and the scientist is this dual doctrine of the fragmentary character of our personal everyday consciousness, and the larger self, which is never wholly incarnated, but from which we draw our life and genius.

“Mr. Campbell uses our knowledge of the subconscious mind to illustrate two other important religious principles: first, the fundamental unity of the whole human race—Universal Brotherhood as it has been termed elsewhere—and, secondly, the immortality of the true self through a conscious union with God. Ultimately, he says, your being and mine are one, and we shall come to know it. Individuality only has meaning in relation to the whole, and individual consciousness can only be fulfilled by expanding until it embraces the whole. Nothing that exists in our consciousness now and constitutes our self-knowledge will ever be obliterated or ever can be, but in a higher state of existence we shall realize it to be a part of the universal stock. ‘I shall not cease to be I, nor you to be you; but there must be a region of experience where we shall find that you and I are one.’

“If this doctrine implies that we are one with each other, it implies also that the highest of all selves, the ultimate Self of each of us and of the universe, is God. The New Testament speaks of man as body, soul, and spirit. The body is the thought-form through which the individuality finds expression on our present limited plane; the soul is a man’s consciousness of himself as apart from all the rest of existence and even from God—it is ‘the bay seeing itself as the bay and not as the ocean’—the spirit is the true being thus limited and expressed—it is the deathless Divine within us. The soul, therefore, is what we make it; the spirit we can neither make nor mar, for it is at once our being and God’s. The being of God is a complex unity, containing within itself and harmonizing every form of self-consciousness that can possibly exist—yours and mine and all that is. No one need be afraid, Mr. Campbell holds, that in believing this he is assenting to the final obliteration of his own personality. No form of self-consciousness can ever perish. It completes itself in becoming infinite, but it cannot be destroyed.

“With this I would like to compare what Sir Oliver Lodge has to say in addressing himself to the question as to whether we ever again live on earth. It appears unlikely, in the view he has sketched, that a given developed individual will appear again in unmodified form. If my present self is a fraction of a larger self, some other fraction of that larger self may readily be thought of as arriving,—to gain practical experience in the world of matter, and to return with developed character to the whole whence it sprang. And this operation may be repeated frequently; but these hypothetical fractional appearances can hardly, he thinks, be spoken of as reincarnations. [See Johnston’s The Memory of Past Births.]

“The discussion of the higher self in man leads to a consideration of the personality of Jesus. In the view of the New Theology the character of Jesus represents the highest standard for human attainment; it is an ideal already manifested in history. If the life of Jesus was lived consistently, from first to last, with perfect love, directed toward impersonal ends, in such a way as to be and do the utmost for the whole, what can we call it except divine? Mr. Campbell would restrict the word ‘divine’ to the kind of consciousness which knows itself to be, and rejoices to be, the expression of a love which is a consistent self-giving to the universal life. Jesus was divine because His life was governed wholly by this principle. In Jesus humanity was divinity, and divinity humanity. Christendom recognizes the life of Jesus as the standard of human excellence. But this is not to say that we shall never reach that standard too; quite the contrary. We must reach it in order to fulfill our destiny and to crown and complete the work of Jesus. Traditional orthodoxy would restrict the description ‘God manifest in the flesh’ to Jesus alone. The ‘New Theology’ would extend it in a lesser degree to all humanity, and would maintain that in the end it will be as true of every individual soul as ever it was of Jesus: ‘as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.’

“Mr. Campbell argues that the reason why the name of Jesus has such power in the world today is because a perfectly noble and unselfish life was crowned by a perfectly sacrificial death. The life and death together were a perfect self-offering, the offering of the unit to the whole, the individual to the race, the Son to the Father, ‘and therefore the greatest manifestation of the innermost of God that has ever been made to the world.’ In this self-offering was the perfect manifestation of the eternal Christ, the humanity which reveals the innermost of God, the humanity which is love. To partake of the benefits of that Atonement we have to unite ourselves to it—‘to die to self with Christ and rise with Him into the experience of larger, fuller life, the life eternal.’

“While the resurrection is a symbol, the ‘New Theology’ holds that it is also a fact, taking for granted the broad fact that without a belief in a resurrection Christianity could not have made a start at all. The disciples must have become convinced that they had seen Jesus face to face after the world believed Him to be dead and buried. How are we to account for this confidence of theirs that they had once more looked upon the face of Jesus?

“In the view of the ‘New Theology,’ insistence upon the impossibility of a physical resurrection presumes an essential distinction between spirit and matter, which it cannot admit. The philosophy underlying the New Theology may be called a monistic idealism, and monistic idealism recognizes no fundamental distinction between matter and spirit. The fundamental reality is consciousness. The so-called material world is the product of consciousness exercising itself along a certain limited plane; the next stage of consciousness above this is not an absolute break with it, although it is an expansion of experience or readjustment of focus. ‘Admitting that individual consciousness persists beyond the change called death, it only means that such consciousness is being exercised along another plane; from a three-dimensional it has entered a four-dimensional world. This new world is no loss and no more material than the present; it is all a question of the range of consciousness…Does this throw any light,’ Mr. Campbell asks, ‘upon the mysterious appearances and disappearances of the body of Jesus? Here we have a being whose consciousness belongs to the fourth-dimensional plane, adjusting Himself to the capacity of those on a three-dimensional plane for the sake of proving beyond dispute that—Life is ever lord of death, And love can never lose its own.’ [See Johnston’s “The New Theology in England” in The North American Review (July 1908.)]

This seems to Mr. Campbell the most reasonable explanation of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, and the impression produced by them on the minds of His disciples. It is a matter of no small interest that such views are today advanced from orthodox pulpits.

“It must, of course, be remembered that Mr. Campbell addresses himself with persuasive reasonableness to the many doubts and objections which his views cannot fail to arouse. To do justice to his thought and method you must go to his book. I have tried only to present certain aspects of his teaching, using his own words whenever I could recall them.

“With Mr. Campbell’s theory of the Atonement and resurrection may be compared Sir Oliver Lodge’s statement that the idea of Redemption or Regeneration, in its highest and most Christian form, is applicable to both soul and body. The life of Christ shows us that the whole man can be regenerated as he stands; that we have not to wait for a future state, that the Kingdom of Heaven is in our midst and may be assimilated by us here and now. The term ‘salvation’ should not be limited to the soul, but should apply to the whole man. What kind of transfiguration may be possible, or may have been possible, in the case of a perfectly emancipated and glorified body, we do not yet know.

“The most essential element in Christianity is its conception of a human God; of a God, in the first place, not apart from the universe, not outside it and distinct from it, but immanent in it; yet not immanent only, but actually incarnate, incarnate in it and revealed in the Incarnation. The nature of God is displayed in part by everything, to those who have eyes to see, but it is displayed most clearly and fully by the highest type of existence, the highest experience to which the process of evolution has so far opened our senses. The Humanity of God, the Divinity of man, is to Lodge, the essence of the Christian revelation.

“This is the central thought of Sir Oliver Lodge, speaking as a representative of the foremost science of our time. One cannot fail to see that, point by point, he is teaching the same doctrine as Mr. Campbell: the immanent God; the personal self, as only a fragment of the higher self; the higher self as a link, a stepping-stone to the divine consciousness; the incarnation of Jesus, His life and death, as revelations of divine consciousness, and therefore a prophecy of that future when ‘we shall be like Him in glory.’ The thoughts, the very words, are the same. Not that either borrows at all from the other, but the same Spirit is blowing on the hearts of both, telling of a new awakening of the religious life of mankind.”

“What reason is given for the belief in a God above the universe?” asked Montague. “What reason, that is, other than that one would like to believe in it? Does either Campbell or Lodge give his reasons for this? I would very much like to know what they are.”

“To both Campbell and Lodge such a belief is a matter of obvious necessity,” said Johnston, “evident upon the face of existence; and they so explain their use of the term ‘God’ as to make the denial of His reality impossible.”

“If I remember rightly,” said Montague, “you said that Campbell used it to stand for an ‘uncaused Cause of existence’ and again as ‘the unity implied by diversity.’ I fail to see that such an implication is at all compelled, or that there is in this the least reason for the belief in a ruling power or God above the universe.”

“I do not think that Campbell does believe in a God above the universe,” said Mitchell, “in the sense of being set over against the universe. His whole emphasis is upon the immanence of God. He finds his God within the universe; behind the visible universe would perhaps express his thought, though not behind or beyond existence. As thought lies behind or within speech, or love behind an act of service, in no way to be separated from it, so, I understand, Campbell pictures God within the universe.”

“He repeatedly states that we can know God only as revealed within the universe,” Johnston added.

“But why within?” asked Montague. “Why above? Why behind? Why is there anything to be immanent? Why is there anything other than the universe as we know it? Why is not existence just what it appears to be; a haphazard congeries and conflict of forces—good, bad, and indifferent—striking from moment to moment a mechanical resultant? Is what we have listened to more than a naive assumption that things are as we would like to have them? I thought these discussions were meant to be critical.”

“Existence does not appear to me as you suggest,” said Mitchell. “Indeed, I think such an hypothesis is as opposed to the scientific view as to the religious. Is not the whole message of science that the more deeply we learn of nature the less of haphazard or of accident appears, and the more clearly the universality of law is revealed?”

“Of course,” said Montague. “We all know that. But law itself may be nothing but the mechanical resultant of the lawless action of a multiplicity of independent units and movements—the mathematical average, as it were, which seems fixed and absolute only because the deviations from the norm fall within the error of our observation. No proof, or even attempt at proof, has been here advanced that the universe is not a mere aggregate, let us say, of minutest atoms whose free individual action escapes our perceptions; or that our so-called laws of science are anything but crude statements of the present average resultant of their interactions.”

“Even such a theory as that does not remove the universe from the dominion of law,” said Mitchell. “The laws of integration take the place of those of differentiation. The doctrine of averages, the laws of chance, make chance inoperative. The norm alone persists, and though, perhaps, never perfectly conformed to in any single state or moment, is still the true reality expressing the nature of the aggregate. Chance, as chance, forever nullifies itself, as, it seems to me, human willfulness and sin must do. If for ten thousand times I drop this scrap of paper on the floor and mark its fall, and if I then find its average position six inches to my right, I know it was not chance that caused this, but either the way in which I dropped it or a current of air. And if in another ten thousand falls I find its mean resting place to my left, I know the draft has changed. Change and growth and evolution can come only from directed force, either from within or without, but never from chance. The law of averages reveals the norm, and the norm is the reality, which grows and evolves and persists. If we are to view ourselves as dice, we must realize also that we are loaded, and that the center of our mass may little by little be shifted.”

“I do not think you can put forward the doctrine of averages as the equivalent of the God of religion,” said Montague. “What I queried was the reasons for the belief in God.”

“I am proposing no such substitution,” said Mitchell. “I am trying to say that it is mathematically impossible that the haphazard or chance action of independent units could ever have produced the universe or account for anything at all save the most transient aspects. The doctrine of averages reveals the impotency of chance, that its results must be nil, and, in its neutrality, the nature of being works unimpeded and undisturbed. This Nature of Being Campbell and Lodge call God. Something is. Something has produced and sustains the phenomena of the universe; produced you and me, our ideals and aspirations, and all around us. If it be not chance it must be the noumena of existence, and this we can call God. You spoke of the universe as we know it. But we can know it in various ways and under many aspects. In even the humblest and meanest of things—the most crudely wrong—there is still a divine aspect, to be known if we care to look for it. Mind is; purpose is; nobility, truth, beauty, and love are; above all, the infinite is. If we know this aspect of the universe, are we not knowing what Campbell and Lodge mean by the immanence of God?”

“The trouble is that this aspect is relatively so insignificant,” said Montague. “Your argument identifies God with a single aspect or tendency of life, entirely neglecting the far wider realms which appear to show no moral qualities at all. Yet you persist in speaking of this narrow aspect as though it were all inclusive or the ultimate reality, and of the universe as ultimately unified in an infinite God.”

“That is the way I feel,” said Mitchell. “I feel that that aspect is closer to the nature of things, more deeply and fundamentally real than all else. I think it would be very easy to show that it cannot be called ‘insignificant,’ but I do not see what argument could prove its all-inclusiveness. That seems to me a matter of feeling which experience can justify but which logic cannot demonstrate. In my own nature, for example, there can be little doubt that my faults and failures are more often in evidence than my virtues. Yet I cannot feel that the former are in any such vital way myself as are the latter. And even in my faults I can sometimes see the principle of good— distorted, unbalanced, run riot into evil, but still capable of transmutation into good, rather than needing total eradication. So also it seems to me of the whole, of which I am a part.”

“If it were a matter of feeling, we might all agree,” said Montague. “But our feeling needs the justification of reason. And that appears as yet sadly lacking.”

“Is not your own argument,” said Grant, “that this aspect of existence corresponds with our own ideals, and so should for that reason, if for that alone, be cleaved to and followed—sufficient to make us base our lives upon this feeling of the deeper reality of the good? To the extent that we do this we gain the justification of experience, if not of logic.”

“I also want to speak to Monty’s point,” said Woodbridge. “We assume, I think much too readily, that a choice must lie between Christian cosmogony and a mechanical solution of the universe which will leave no room for religion. This choice is not in fact forced. First, because science is not in essence irreligious; and secondly, because there are many other religious accounts of the origin of things besides the Christian. We give far too little thought to the great pagan systems.

“As most of you know, I have been devoting a good deal of time in the last ten years to a fairly close and critical study of Aristotle. At first I was attracted by his logic, but of late I am finding that the moral and religious aspect of his philosophy is growing more and more important to me; and I confess to being puzzled, and not a little amazed, at the completeness of the neglect which has befallen it. The Greek ideals of art and of beauty have endured. Their sculpture, their temples, their poetry remain as inspirations to our later age. Their logic and their science are the foundations of our own. But their religious attitude has been forgotten, and their metaphysics buried in an obscurity their temples have escaped.

“We look back upon the Greek Gods with the half-pitying, half-patronizing feelings of maturity for youth—as though these were unformed, childish imaginings we had outgrown. In truth, few of us have ever taken the trouble to understand them, to comprehend the interpretation of the universe for which they stood, or to master the developed and co-ordinated scheme of life given us by such a thinker as Aristotle. It is just this scheme of things which I should like to suggest as a possible solution for Monty’s difficulties.

“The pagan Gods did not create the universe, they are its children; responsible not for its existence, but for its law and order. Through the Gods order came from chaos. Upon them depend all the ordered sequences of nature; the courses of the stars, the growing of a flower, the music of a stream, or the fortunes of man. They stand within the universe, neither behind nor above it; transcended by reality, not transcending it. I used to be shocked at this limitation of worship—this humanizing of the Gods. It seemed to me a dreadful thing to think of some of them as living here upon Olympus, close to man and like him, sometimes to be met and talked with, their friendship or enmity obtained. I used to be shocked at the thought that the Gods laughed. But recently I have missed these things in Christianity; missed the sense of humor in paganism; missed its closeness and likeness to its Gods.

“The Ultimate Reality, the Absolute of Philosophy, the Monistic God as a ‘causeless Cause,’ must ever remain unknown and unknowable. However deeply we penetrate into the workings of nature, however exact and wide our knowledge, however high our meditations rise, beyond us is Mystery—the mystery of Being itself, that anything should be. So long as there is good, there must be evil; so long as there is a better, there is a worse. And each is. That in us which craves satisfaction, which reaches out for its own and knows its own to be good, must ever live in mystery and paradox. It cannot contend against existence. It must accept. And its acceptance places it under Law, and Law is of the Gods and leads to the Gods.

“I believe that the pagan concept of these individual, humanized Gods, dwelling in a universe for which they are not responsible, but whose laws they sustain, presents a religious system which has many merits, and which, as molded by Aristotle’s genius, may well be considered along with the Buddhistic theory of emanation and ultimate absorption, or with the orthodox Christian doctrine of an external Creator and Judge.”

“Is not this frank polytheism?” asked Montague.

“It seems more a poetic form of nature worship,” said Grant, “springing naturally from the Greek love of beauty and of order.”

“No, it is not that—not, at least, as that term is ordinarily used,” said Woodbridge. “To the Greeks nature was a thing irregular, often ugly and evil, never to be trusted as apart from law. Law, on the other hand, is regular, just, and beneficent; always of the Gods. It is rather a worship of law than of nature.”

“To the extent, however, that it is religious, is it not a mere poetic personification of natural forces—of the natural law and order?” asked Montague. “And if this be so, is it not again an identification of religion with poetry; the sense of power being impelled by nature, but the sense of worth lent by the poetic temperament?”

“You forget,” said Johnston, “I think, that the Gods came first. The Greek mind was very concrete, in that to it spirit was always embodied in form, and, whatever may have been the case in the age of later skepticism, in the religious life of Greece the Gods were very real and human.”

“Then, as I said, you return to frank polytheism,” said Montague. “Moreover, is not the most marked characteristic of the religious craving the insistence that the object of its worship must be an ultimate reality? If you abandon this, do you not compromise the whole religious position? Is it tolerable to the religious sense that its object should be, like man, circumscribed and limited by an unordered chaos,—making a garden patch in a limitless and pathless jungle? I, myself, believe that more can be said for pluralism than is here the fashion, but it seems to jibe no better with our religious longings than it does with Christianity.”

“It is the old question of the relation of the One to the many,” said Mitchell. “We cannot speak of the ‘many’ without regarding them as in some sense ‘one.’ Plurality exists; but it can exist only in unity—in a unity that at once synthesizes and supports it. So I would quite agree with you that our worship, our religious aspiration, must transcend diversity and separateness, must rise above all differences of form and expression toward the fundamental unity behind them.”

“But, again, why?” asked Montague. “Why is unity behind or more fundamental than plurality?”

“Because Existence is more fundamental than existences,” replied Mitchell. “The fact of being must be behind all that is.”

“The fact of being may be but an aspect, an attribute, of what is,” said Montague. “Things are. Your mind synthesizes them for the purposes of convenience, grouping them according to their attributes; but there is no need to assume that the synthesis you choose to make, these common attributes you discover, are more fundamental than the things themselves. Pluralism is consistent enough.”

“When it is made ultimate it seems to me rather the reductio ad absurdum of philosophy,” said Mitchell. “Beings pass away or alter, Being endures. If, as you say, though I do not see it so, it is logically consistent to view the ultimate basis of things as many, I could only reply that it is equally logical to view it as one—though the nature of that One be ever hid from us. Logic cannot pass on both premises and conclusions, and perhaps it can no more settle this question than it can force a choice between the Euclidean and the non-Euclidean geometries. [see Mitchell’s essay, “The Problem of Unity and the Noetic Power of the Heart.”]

But logical consistency is not our sole criterion of truth, and a moment ago you pointed out that the one system satisfied our religious cravings, while the other, as an ultimate, was intolerable to it. Both our minds and hearts require that the many shall somehow be synthesized into the One, and the fulfillment of this demand seems to me as necessary an attribute and criterion of truth as is consistency of internal structure.

“I think if we approach the Greek religion in this spirit, we will come nearer to an understanding of its actual significance than if we look no deeper than its polytheistic form and nature imagery. Behind the divine must lie Divinity; the Gods can only be such as they express the Godhead. As Woodbridge said, the God of Monism must ever lie beyond our farthest reach. We may enter the light, but we will never touch the Flame—never while we are still men. We need the interpretation of manifested nature and of pluralism; the individual experience of characteristic and attribute which these give, in order that we may, in a re-synthesis, draw near to the meaning and life of the whole. Though the re-synthesis, made by the mind, remains incomplete, it yet seems the closest mental expression of the singleness and unity which the heart knows in religious aspiration. We call ‘the good’ that which we can synthesize with what we feel to be most vitally real; that which remains unassimilable is for us evil. But always there is synthesis. So it seems to me with the individual Gods of paganism. Our worship must transcend their separate personal aspect and be held by the common Divinity which each expresses and exemplifies, and which merges them all into a single principle of good—of law and order and justice, and, in Christianity, of love. This seems to me no other than the Logos of Christianity, the spiritual breath of existence, which is the life of the soul, and whose movement in man was typified, as Christianity has always asserted, in the life of Jesus. I do not think that it belittles spiritual and cosmic forces to find them so completely animating the highest members of the human race that they may be said to be their life and true being. It is not the human form we worship—the man we can perhaps meet on the mountain-side and call our friend—but it is the spirit of life itself, the life of the Logos, which that man has made his own. We need such interpretations of the Divine, such living symbols of the Cosmic Spirit which we seek. But we cannot worship the symbol in itself. I think Christianity forgets too often, or perhaps misreads, those last words of the Angel to John in Revelations, where John has fallen on his face to worship, and the Angel replies, ‘See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.’”

“I have been interested in comparing what you have said with Inge’s statement that Plotinus and the Neoplatonists,” said Griscom, “who so emphasized the Logos doctrine, were in the line of Greek rather than Oriental thought; so that the last word of Greek philosophy was not the proud and melancholy isolation of stoicism, but the warmth and unity of mysticism—the recognition that no man liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself, but that each lives with the life of the whole. Is not the Christian doctrine of the communion of saints similar in principle to the interpretation you are putting upon the Greek pantheon?”

“I suppose it is,” said Mitchell.

“There is another question I would like to see discussed,” said Woodbridge. “The difference between science and religion is no longer one of opinion, nor need it be one of content. It is rather one of method. Each seeks to enrich and better. Which is the more effective? The one deals with the mechanism, the other with the sense of values. The one works from without, the other seeks to appeal to something within. On the one hand we have the betterment of conditions and environment, better sanitation, increased comfort, a wider perspective. On the other, we have the adjustment and betterment of the inner attitude. Which is the better mode of approach, which the more effective method?”

“There is another question to be answered first,” said Griscom. “What is the end to be accomplished? We must know this before we can pass upon the efficiency of means: What is the object of life?”

“Any you choose,” replied Woodbridge. “Let the object of life be what it will. What is the most effective means of attaining it? Take any one of us,—it does not matter what our line—are we being more effective if we stay at home at our desks on Sunday or if we leave them and go to church? That is a crude illustration of what I am asking.”

“I do not see how it could be possible to give a definite answer to such a question as that,” said Grant. “There must be times when it is as much your duty to stay away from church as it is at other times to stay away from your classes. Yet regular periods of prayer and of worship, of attuning ourselves to the great life about us, and rendering the conscience sensitive to highest ideals, must be necessary for effectiveness of any kind. Anything which burrows down into the depths of consciousness and summons thence the latent powers of our natures—as do all religious exercises—must be instrumental in producing efficiency.

“For instance, this town knows perfectly well how to have clean streets, better and safer transportation, hygienic conditions in tenements and factories. All these things science has taught us. But there science leaves it. It is content to present only the method, the possibility. Religion, dealing as you say with the sense of values, awakens us to the need and value of these reforms. It makes them operative where science had only made them possible. Religion is the power, the dynamic driving force, which makes science itself effective for human betterment. It is religion, not science, that awakens the conscience of a community. Therefore science should help religion, and religion, science. They should not be separated, much less opposed.”

“Can we not put it in this way?” asked Johnston. “Science is concerned with the evolution of life from the mineral to man; Religion is the evolution from man to God.”

“Then is Woodbridge’s question left without meaning. Religion is all. This evolution must be unbroken and continuous; must be life itself; must be the ever deepening, expanding consciousness and will, which now make us men, and which can make us something more than man. Science can preserve for us what we have gained, care for and better our bodies, teach us the laws of physical and mental health. It can show us the direction in which we have traveled, and so forecast something of the way ahead. It can help us to an understanding of ourselves and of the universal forces playing through us, which we must learn to use. But the end for which we use them, the direction in which we travel, the purpose and value and object of life, must be a matter of Religion. As Percy said, we are to build for ourselves a spiritual body in which we may know God. Not separate from other men, but one with them, we make our journey. Each step forward that a comrade makes helps us. Each time we rise we help by so much the progress of the race. It is a matter of what we are, and what we become. And the way is lit for us by our own ideals, by the movement of the Logos in our own hearts, by the achievement, the counsel, and the inner companionship to be had from those who have preceded us, yet who have left something of their spirit upon the path they trod. Religion ceases to be a matter of creeds or forms or ceremonies—though these may help us. It becomes, as I said, a matter of what we are, a matter of our own obedience to the ‘light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world.’ It is an obedience which may find its expression as well in cleaning the streets of this city as in a Sunday service. It is a matter of an inner attitude, which permits life to take us by the hand and lead us, through our aspiration and our duties, to a deeper knowledge of itself; till we become one with it and express in our own person its laws, as we share its consciousness. It seems to me that religion is evolution become conscious—a ray of what we are to be, already lighting what we are. Surely nothing in the world can be more important to us than that. All else is but a means to that end.”

“I wish that the churches could be brought to take such an attitude,” said Montague. “It is pretty saddening to see men who have spent years of hard study and sacrifice in preparation for their calling turned away for no other reason than that they cannot prostitute their intelligence. A student of mine came up for ordination last month, and they asked him what historical evidences he could give for the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus. He replied that he was afraid he could give no convincing ones; and was thereupon told to go back and study further. He was all cut up over it when he came back to see me. What could I tell him? It may be necessary to retain the ancient creeds, but one would think one might at least be permitted to take each as a whole: to say that ‘on the whole’ this expresses my religious views and attitude, even though this or that clause can only be interpreted symbolically. Do you not think, Percy, that it is a great pity to so force the literal acceptance of each separate article? It seems to me it is shutting out from the clergy all the best thought of the age, and I know for a fact that it is a great temptation to hypocrisy. If only a free interpretation were permitted, it would help greatly.”

“Individual interpretation must come sooner or later,” said Grant. “But the position of a liberal clergyman in the Church today is by no means a simple one. His motives are frequently questioned. And, as was the case with Dr. Crapsey, people ask why, if he is not content, does he not leave. Many do not see that for him to leave would be for him to lose the little power that he may have to bring the Church in contact with the vital, but too often unrecognized, religious life and thought of such men as you, for instance. There is general ignorance of the foundations of historical churches, such as the English Church and the Episcopal, which, by reason of their comprehensiveness were compromises, and are obliged to be more tolerant and inclusive than other churches. The historic creeds, I think, will be more and more treated as symbols, not as literal statements, both by laymen and clergymen, until the time is ripe for a more universal symbol of faith in the spiritual life. There are many who feel this way, and in the end I think this policy must prevail. Now ecclesiastical liberty is largely in the hands of the individual bishop. I do not know where your friend came up for examination, but perhaps in another diocese he might fare better.”

“He is not very hopeful of that,” said Montague, “and his experience has made him question the honesty of his going further. He does not wish to enter by some back door. Yet he was brought up in the Church, and has for years looked forward to ministering in it. I do not know at all what he will, or can do; though he is able enough, I think, to succeed in any line.”

Griscom rose to leave, for it was now after midnight, and he had a train for Philadelphia the following day. The other participants followed suit, effectively bringing the final meeting of the season to a close.

“I had hoped, Henry, you would have given us one of your illuminating summaries, synthesizing, as you love to do, the many views we have had advanced,” said Grant, “and tying the whole series together for us. I should have liked to hear you.”
Mitchell smiled.


C.A. Griscom, Jr. as “Porthos” at the twentieth reunion of the class of 1887, June 19, 1907.


“I think he had rather thought of doing so,” said Johnston, “as I had myself intended to speak upon another theme. But I believe we were both wiser to refrain. The synthesis exists, and each one of us is taking it away with him tonight. It is better left unformulated, for it has found a truer expression in our mutual understanding and sense of fellowship than it could find in words. Such talks as these should not end in summaries—but in inspiration.”


Exordium: Conscientious Clergyman.

Chapter I. The Nature of the Inquiry.

Chapter II. Christianity and Nature.

Chapter III. Evolution And Ethics.

Chapter IV. Power, Worth, and Reality.

Chapter V. Pragmatism and Religion.

Chapter VI. Mysticism and Faith.

Chapter VII. The Historian’s View.

Chapter VIII.Organization and Religion.

Chapter IX. The Theosophical Movement.

Chapter X. Signs of the Times.

Chapter XI. Has the Church Failed?

Chapter XII. Silence.




Higgins, Shawn F. “The Benedick: An Analysis of Talks on Religion.” Dewey Studies. Vol. VI, No. 2. (2022): 16-75.

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