Imatges de pÓgina

ment of the Chinese Language and Literature in the University of Oxford, is a competent and sufficient witness. In his "Religion of China," speaking of the two primitive Chinese characters, Tî and Fíen, as affording a clue to the original form of belief, he says: "Thus the two characters show us the religion of the ancient Chinese as a monotheism. How it was with them more than five thousand years ago, we have no means of knowing; but to find this among them at that remote and early period was worth some toilsome digging among the roots of primitive written characters. I will only add here that the relation of the two names which we have been considering has kept the monotheistic element prominent in the religion of China proper down to the present time, and prevented the prostitution of the name Tî, as Deus and other corresponding appellations of the Divine Being were prostituted.' . . . Five thousand years ago the Chinese were monotheists-not henotheists, but monotheists; and this monotheism was in danger of being corrupted, as we have seen, by a natureworship on the one hand, and by a system of superstitious divination on the other." 2

Only a few words more are needed to indicate the force and validity of the evidence from these examples. They present not the dicta of a priori speculation, but the witness of history and archæology. The points in which they appear on the horizon of the past mark the three countries whose monuments open the longest and deepest retrospect into the natural religious thought of humanity for the study of the subject. Their testimonies are reported to us by the most learned and competent scholarship, after special and prolonged study of the fullest resources 1 "Religion of China," p. II. 2 * Ib., p. 16.

available in each case-resources not likely to be superseded. These evidences, therefore, have the right of way against theories based in speculative philosophies, superficially sustained by references to the existence of present polytheisms.



As all Christian theology rests in this idea of God, the validity of it needs to be sustained and vindicated against all atheistic denial and agnostic distrust. Hence the necessity of keeping in view the evidences that the conception is not illusory, but stands for a reality that is fundamental and forever certain in connection with the existence of the universe. After being subjected to the most rigorous tests under our modern scientific and philosophic progress, these evidences remain in undiminished fullness, though the formal presentation of them has been shown to be sometimes faulty. We do not claim, indeed, that this great truth is susceptible of the kind of proof which belongs to the demonstrations of pure mathematical science, immediately compelling the assent of the understanding, but that, nevertheless, it is capable of being established in the same sure, rational certainty which assures all the great duties and practical interests of human life and welfare. Christian theology necessarily holds to a double source of these proofs, because, of necessity, it connects both the world of nature and the phenomena of the redemptive revelation with the being and activity of God. They divide themselves, therefore, under such as appear in the realm of nature and such as are afforded by the special divine self-disclosure in Christianity.

It is not the purpose of this work to present these evi

dences at length or in detailed fullness. They are properly studied only in special treatises.' It must suffice to indicate simply their general nature and leading forms, suggesting thus their immense range and completeness.


By these are meant all that may be discovered by reason from the natural constitution of the world. If the idea of God is legitimate at all, the world must be recognized as His creation and its constitution and order be credited as the product of His power. Any other relation than this would vacate the fundamental conception of God—especially as it stands in Christian theism. To be God He must be Creator, to whom the earth and man owe their existence and men sustain religious relations. If deity thus involves creatorship, then everything that is made naturally reflects His being and thought. The expression of Himself is to be found everywhere—from atoms up to starry worlds and to the still loftier wonders of the realm of mind.

"The earth is crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God."

The proper proofs of His existence, therefore, are the sum of all the indications given of Himself in the physical universe, the constitution of the human mind, and the history of mankind. Nothing could be more unreasonable than the notion sometimes suggested, that the

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1 We name a few: The author's "Natural Theology, or Rational Theism" (Boston, 1890); Mahan's "Science of Natural Theology' (Boston, 1867); Cocker's "Theistic Conception of the World" (New York, 1875); J. P. Cooke's "Religion and Chemistry" (Boston, 1864); Fairbairn's "Studies in the Philosophy of Religion and History" (New York, 1876); Flint's "Theism" (Edinburgh, 1878); Flint's

truth of theism is dependent on some single argument, or this, that, or the other form of demonstration. The evidence is as immense, diversified, and cumulative as the inexhaustible range of phenomena which the universe opens to study and interpretation-as boundless as the realm of nature and the reach of reason. If it is fair to affirm a single evidence, there must be innumerable evidences. They appear in thousands of different ways to different minds, approaching the question from different angles. Theism thus rests its conclusion, not simply on one or several formal arguments, but upon the aggregate testimony of the whole world-system and all its particulars, upon the force and consilience of all the indications in nature, thought, and life, as they are found running up and compacting their varied logic in one common demand.

Before marking the chief forms into which the evidences have been most conspicuously and fairly cast, it is proper to note some considerations which, though not amounting to positive proofs, create distinct and strong presumptions in the direction of the theistic conclusion. They are not the final word, but they open the right of way, and establish an evident and impressive probability as to the sure issue of the completest examination.

1. The first of these is the universality of the idea of God. The fullest historical and ethnological inquiry justifies the statement that this idea is connatural to man.


"Anti-Theistic Theories" (Edinburgh, 1879); Janet's "Final Causes " (translated from French, Edinburgh, 1878); Diman's "Theistic Argument (Boston, 1881); Bowne's “Studies in Theism " (New York, 1879); Harris' "Philosophical Basis of Theism" (Boston, 1883); Fisher's "Grounds of Theistic and Christian Belief "(New York, 1883); Bowne's "Philosophy of Theism" (New York, 1887), and "Theism" (Am. Book Co., New York, 1903).

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