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A person is thus distinguished from a mere individual by the call to rule, in his own power and after his own insight, his own world. The essential quality of a moral person is moral independence and an ideal person would be of absolute moral independence.

But the essential quality of a religious person is to depend on God; and he must be as absolutely dependent as a moral person must be absolutely independent. As he seeks a peace which shall endure through self-distrust and the sense of sinful blindness and the overwhelming might of adverse fortune, no part of his reliance can be on high resolve or a pure conscience or a manageable world.

Religion and morality, therefore, cannot be harmonised by compromise and the just mean between reliance upon ourselves and reliance upon God.

Compromise, moreover, is as fatal in practice as in theory. In the nature of the case, and not alone by unfortunate accident and individual perversity, piety used as a buttress for moral independence weakens and corrupts morality. Consciously pious persons are often not moral, in part merely because the natural man can use considerations of piety, like any other convenient evasion, to confuse moral issues, but still more because to substitute dependence upon God for 59 the clear moral sense that we can because we ought, is itself a confusion of moral issues. There is no need to go the whole length of bribing conscience by the hope that occasional times of pleasant and profitable aberration God will wink at; for merely to put conscience on one side and God's mind on the other, and our wills on one side and God's succour on the other, is a frame of mind full of moral pitfalls. And even less is of evil. Though we should admit between them no possibility of conflict, to buttress the approval of our conscience by the motive of doing good to win God's favour would itself endanger the only safe moral attitude, which is to do right solely from reverence for right itself.

Because morality can be so readily corrupted by compromise between moral independence and religious dependence, the history of modern Ethics is little more than an account of various attempts to free morality from religious authority and religious motives, and to find in itself its own sanction and the reward of its own laws.

But there is equally good reason why the history of modern Theology is little more than the story of various attempts to rest religion on its own basis, by showing that it is no mere reward for good behaviour, but has its own sphere and is itself the ground of its own trust and hope. Religion, modified by moral independence, cannot be pure, because it is changed from faith in a truly spiritual hope into trust in a moralistic legal righteousness; and it cannot be strong, 60 because faith conditioned by our moral state is, in the last resort, not faith in God, but in ourselves.

Compromise being found unworkable, isolation has been tried. Religion and ethics, we are told, must, like Abraham and Lot, go their separate ways, and no more attempt to feed their flocks on common pasture. The religious type turns towards the East and the moral towards the West; and their only hope of reconciliation, even in eternity, is to separate far enough to meet somewhere on the other side of the world. On this side, at least, they never could be far enough apart to prevent suspicion and hostile feeling. On the one hand, we shall have a man like Augustine, apt to regard every claim to moral independence as savouring of ungodliness, and treating the appeal to conscience, not as a justification, but as the essence of the offence, when private judgment is set against what is for him God's battalions. On the other hand, we shall have a man like Kant, to whom every kind of dependence, even upon God, is only moral flaccidity, so that to betake ourselves, even in the stress of moral conflict, to prayer for help, is to endanger our moral integrity at the moment we try it most. Both types we must accept, but it will always have to be apart.

This counsel of despair might, through weariness, prevail, did it leave a situation practically tolerable. But the nature of the case, our own experience, the history of faith and morals, all proclaim that nothing except disaster can result from assigning interests so 61 central and so inseparable to different persons, or even to separate compartments of one life.

On the one hand, religion ceases to be spiritual when moral independence is sapped.

Faith is not spiritual unless won by our own insight into truth, received by the consent of our own wills, and applied to the government of our own lives. And, without goodness shining in its own light, every standard by which we could judge a doctrine of God is lost, and faith becomes mere submission to arbitrary greatness. As that greatness has no moral relation to us, it can only operate on us after the manner of a merely mechanical force. Then the self which was expelled by the door returns by the window, because the salvation which is of God's arbitrary working can be desired only for our own selfish well-being.

That in itself is an ominous beginning. But an operation which is effected behind the veil of the unconscious must yet be thought by us to have some condition and some result. The condition, unless it is purely arbitrary, can only be our moral state and the result our moral improvement, but, being linked up to our salvation in that external way, our moral condition could only enter as merit, which is a thing of pride even when ascribed to God's help. Merit to condition grace and display its efficacy is self-regarding from start to finish, and it is the task of true religion to set us free from its power. Yet no religion can deliver us which regards salvation as the effect of sheer unrelated underground explosion, because, as 62 Augustine expresses it, God's grace then becomes our merit.

But the moment religion gives any place to merit, it becomes moralistic, which is to say the doing of things by rule, for some outside end; and as such it utterly fails to be our direct, natural, and right relation to God. Thus it is false, in the last result, even to its own interest of utter dependence upon God.

But, if, on the one hand, religion ceases to be truly spiritual when moral independence is sapped, on the other, morality ceases to be truly ethical when religious dependence is rejected. If religion, without morality, lacks a solid earth to walk on, morality, without religion, lacks a wide heaven to breathe in. Never, except in the atmosphere of living religion, has morality maintained its absolute demand, penetrated from outward conformity to inward motive, grown sensitive to the deeper requirements of humility and sympathy, and, finally, passed all rigid bounds of law and come face to face with the infinite claim of love, which destroys all idea of merit and leaves men, after they have done their utmost, unprofitable servants. Never, in short, can morality without religion penetrate from good form to goodness, from manners to morals.

Morality likewise, left to itself, fails to maintain its own special interest the absolute independence of the moral person. Mere good resolution is no adequate ground for assuring anyone that he can, because he ought. Unsupported by anything beyond isolated 63 determinations, we are certain to bring down our "ought" to the measure of what we "can." Morality is thereby reduced to what the older theologians called "civil righteousness," which does not go much beyond decency and fair-play, and leaves out of sight the deepest of all moral requirements, which is not to act conscientiously, but to seek an ever more penetrating conscientiousness. Thereupon, the danger besets us of immoral satisfaction with a perfection which is little more than abstinence from the grosser forms of wrong-doing. And that means dependence on the external standards of our society.

This restriction of morality to what can be overtaken by resolution explains why, just as there are consciously pious persons who are imperfectly moral, there are consciously moral persons who are not religious. The reason is not too great moral independence, for they are in the highest degree dependent on accepted morality and judge themselves constantly by the approval of others. On the contrary, the true reason is failure to follow the demands of their own consciences to the point where they find that their morality depends on a reality greater than themselves.

Religion and morality may not be either thus yoked together or divorced without destroying the depth and reality of both. No truly religious and moral person is ever tempted to compromise between his own will and God's, or to consider them alien and opposite. The heart of all right living is to find ourselves by 64 denying ourselves, to direct ourselves by renouncing our own preferences, and to possess our world by losing it. We are persons, and not merely individuals, precisely because we unite in one these seeming opposites, and attain our independence as we find ourselves in God's world and among His children.

This living movement the moralist, even more than the theologian, is apt to miss. Then independence has its logical outcome in Fichte's theory that each one builds his own world as a gymnasium for his moral will, because such independence is the isolation of a Zeppelin, which not only directs itself by its own mechanism but floats in its self-produced cloud-vision of a world.

If, however, our world is not of our making, we may not isolate our personal independence, as though it were of no consequence what kind of world we live in, and it did not matter what meaning or purpose it manifests or of what manner of fellowship it admits. Seeing we need a moral world to act in, moral truth to walk by and a moral fellowship in which to serve, to divide moral independence from religious dependence is merely to dissect living reality in order to make explanation easy. As the living unity is thereby turned into separate dead mechanisms, the explanation is as misleading as it is facile.

When, for example, we affirm that, "we can be cause we ought," and regard the aphorism as moral 65 and non-religious, or even irreligious, we can only mean that our individual wills have power to realise every ideal we can conceive, and that they have this ability in complete isolation and in any kind of conflict with the nature of reality. But such confidence in mere resolution only the profoundest ignorance of ourselves and the shallowest view of the ideals of righteousness could maintain. In respect of will thus viewed, we can only say,

"How free we seem, how fettered fast we lie."

The conviction that duty is power, on the contrary, is an assurance of what is possible for us, not in isolation, but in our true fellowship both with our brethren and with the Father of our spirits, and not in any kind of world, but in a world the final order of which is moral and not material. That is to say it is a confidence essentially religious.

Self-determination is just determination by the self. But when we stop there, we have only a moral individual, not a moral person. The deep significance of the self is its interaction with a world on which it depends, yet, of which, nevertheless, it should be independent. It can act on no impulse till that is transplanted within and becomes our motive; yet its aim is never the motive, but always the handling of a situation appointed for us by a reality outside and independent of us. With this situation we can deal rightly only as we are truer to ourselves, yet have less self-regard; as we are less dependent upon outside influences, yet are better served by them; as we are 66 more loyal to our own ideals and heedless of all else, yet are wholly surrendered to a righteousness which is in no way of our appointing.

This distinction between an isolated individual and a moral person in a moral world appears still more plainly in our self-legislation. Its independence would be mere individual preference apart from our dependence on a reality beyond ourselves. The more utterly personal a moral judgment, the more clearly it asserts itself as what ultimate reality decrees. It is no inference from the reality around us; yet, the more life seems antagonistic to all its requirements, the more it must be affirmed as life's one safe guide and wise interpreter. Only by being true to ourselves can we find the reality we must absolutely follow; yet, only by the sense of a reality we must absolutely follow, can we be true to ourselves. Thus our dependence and our independence would seem to be apart merely as strands of one cord, which have no strength unless united.

Our moral judgment, moreover, is also dependent upon the ideals around us. Civilisation is so far from being identical with morality, that every advance in civilisation is merely a further demand upon our personal discernment to differ from its errors and oppose its corruptions. We are not, however, independent, as though it mattered nothing in what age or country we live. Our moral judgment, on the contrary, is the more independent as we most profit from human progress. Only from the summit of the development of 67 human ideals is there any clear and wide moral outlook. But this distinction between faith in mere progress, which would deify history, and dependence on a divine purpose in progress, to be discerned amid human failure, must be religious.

Finally, our self-conscious world, as a moral sphere, requires the same organic unity of dependence and independence. It is our moral sphere precisely because it is our own world, selected by our interests and arranged for our efforts, wherein we are always at the centre, and which has no circumference, but only a horizon which moves as we move and keeps ever arranging itself round us according to the practical business we must transact in it. Nevertheless, this world, though strictly of our self-consciousness, is wholly provided for us. True, it does not invade us, and we can only receive its witness by a response akin to moral sincerity. But this is sincere wholly as it is directed towards a reality beyond ourselves, in the midst of which we cannot be independent after any fashion we choose, but only by dependence on the guidance of truth. Yet this truth, which is of all things most independent of us, we can only follow by fidelity to our own insight. Thus, at the very spring of our consciousness, we find the inseparable demands, to be independent only by the right dependence, and dependent only by the right independence.

Will is moral self-determination, but it is sustained by its true fellowship; it is guided by moral self-legislation, but this ought to be according to a 68 conscience of right which is the meaning of reality; it operates in our self-conscious world, but that, being given and real, can only be dealt with in dependence on truth. Our dependence and independence must, therefore, be united in equal marriage. We are not independent, as though we could ride over reality; but, also, we are not dependent, as though reality could simply ride over us. The moral personality is neither absolute and self-contained, nor overborne by a force absolute and wholly outside; but it must, in a manner, be always at home, even while it lives most abroad. It knows nothing of will, except as it responds to the attractions of a varied outer world, but it only truly realises its will by possessing all things and not being under the power of any; it has no ideals except as it seeks the ultimate nature of reality, but it cannot find them till it return and discover them as the absolute requirements of its own constitution; it has no knowledge except by going out of itself and for getting itself in a varied world, but it can garner what it brings back only as its own experience.

In the end it is a question of the world, that world which is ever new and provided, yet ours as it comes within our horizon, ours, moreover, to be possessed, and not merely contemplated and accepted. Even when it is a monster, there is still trembling on its lips the secret whereby it can be turned into our fairy princess: and religion is concerned simply with the discovery of that secret. In that case, how can we imagine religion and morality alien or even isolated interests?


But a religion which insists merely on dependence on God, without giving heed to its moral conditions, is in no better case than an isolated morality. If morality without religion is apt to be slavery to accepted forms, religion without morality is apt to be slavery to accepted formulas. The explanation of the isolation, moreover, is the same. Man is thought of as a unit, and never really as a person. Just as the moralist thinks under such a rule of exclusion that succour by another person, though it were for helping us to true independence and freedom, is necessarily the limitation of our own, so the theologian, under the same rule, thinks it would be succour whether it helped us to independence and freedom, or merely overbore us. But if grace is distinguished from God's ordinary providence as efficacious according as it demands nothing in the helpless individual except submission, that is surely a condition grace, as irresistible might, could easily enforce; and it would be inexplicable why it suffers even the appearance of a person attempting, of his own insight and after his own purpose, to rule his own world. And the situation grows worse when we set up such channels of its working as the purely impersonal dominance of our fellow-men, which also admits of no relation except passive subjection.

If grace is this kind of strong hand upon the individual, we can no more approve its goodness and wisdom: because a grace which can ignore our moral independence can have no excuse for allowing our 70 moral deficiencies. If God's relation to us need only be individual, there is no manner of justification for an evil or even a defective world. Unfortunately, even in the most restricted religious sphere, the failure of this grace is conspicuous. Especially we have the uncertainties of revelation and the divisions of the Church, which, if grace be irresistible power acting so individually and impersonally that a prophet may be a pen and a pope a mouthpiece, are mere scandals of God's negligence. Nor are there many facts in history which, on this conception, religion can look in the face without attempting to impose dogmas upon and drill, in the spirit of a pedagogue, to give the answer required.

What reason in the world, moreover, can there be, why, if grace can work impersonally and even have a material vehicle, it should not be efficacious over the whole realm of human affairs? Why should it pass in purity only through certain priestly channels, while all other rivers of truth and goodness may be polluted? No reason can be given except God's arbitrary will; and a will that could easily correct by power, and simply will not, is not good. Could it not control the potentates as well as the pope, and secure to their decisions a like infallible expression of God's own mind? Why, when He could by the mere finger of power have made the result so beneficent, is the actual outcome desolation and mutual slaughter?

Nor is there any reason, except God's purely arbitrary good-pleasures, unless we distinguish His grace 71 from His ordinary action in the world, by being more personal, and not by being more powerful. It is not then irresistible, but in the nature of the case, seeing it can only work through our moral independence, it can be resisted. We are never for it mere subjects, and much less mere pawns in God's pre-determined game, but it deals with us as with children, not indeed as those who are free, but as those whom it can only truly bless by helping them to attain freedom. Then we can see that human choice must have a real efficacy in the world, and that the struggle for good is a real conflict and the surrender to evil a real defeat. If man can learn, of his own insight and purpose, only by experience of his own mistakes, his life may be filled with much struggle that is otherwise futile, and his history be a record of much that is, for every end besides his own personal victory, error and failure. But the reason will be that God is patient, and not that He is weak. If He will not have us accept His purpose save as our own, discern His righteousness save by our own insight, and learn His thought about His world save as our own blessed discovery, our dependence upon Him is no more in conflict with our true moral independence than help given in any other perfect personal relation, the basis of which is mutual respect, the relation, let us say, of a father to the son he would equip for finding his task by his own insight and performing it from his own fidelity.

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