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A life, every event of which was directed to its chief good, would be a blessed life on the one condition that it could not be cut off before its good were realised. But this assurance is certainly not ours, if in this life only we have hope. It is true that we have spoken of reconciliation to our lives, and that, to be reconciled to anything is just to find it good. Nor is this good so outside of them that reconciliation to them could only mean the willingness to endure the ills of time because they may be profitable for eternity. Yet it has never meant, for any higher religion, that we could be reconciled to the present by the present itself. On the contrary, the larger our sympathies and the higher our aspirations, the more we realise that our days are few and evil, and that it is always the blindness of worldliness, and never the insight of faith, which reconciles us to the world as it is. Such contentment is sensual and thoughtless and far from divine, and, even when the soul has been fed into abeyance, endures for, at best, a few sunny years of health and youth and prosperous ease. The shadow of failure and struggle and sickness soon falls on it; and, if, by great good fortune, they are escaped, all face death's gloomy portal. Worldliness, therefore, under no condition, is long justified in her children, 304 and the sunniest worldly face always ends in being clouded and peevish. No question of reconciliation to our lives even arises till we have insight into this vanity of man's whole mortal state: for, only then, can we discover the purpose in them stretching far beyond our uncertain and troubled years upon earth, which reconciles us to them as we now live them.

But, if reconciliation have this dependence upon another life, it may be asked, why we have left so late the question of whether God has some sunnier garden for the tender plant of our affections which has sprung up in the shadow of our mortality. Would it not have been the most obvious requirement of a right method to have begun with this question of a future life? And, if we could have found its proof in some incontrovertible argument for immortality, such as the indissoluble unity of the soul, or better still in some indisputable fact, such as the return of a traveller from the unseen or intercourse with the spirits of the departed, should we not have had something much surer to go upon and our task have been greatly lightened?

In reply, let us say that, if there are arguments, they should be weighed; and, if there are facts, they should be investigated. Both may at least help to meet objections. Nor may that be a small service; for hopes which do not rest on intellectual grounds may still be hampered by intellectual difficulties. But can either arguments or facts afford us the kind of assurance which would enable us better to depend on God 305 or be freer in ourselves? Would they not, as the main ground of our hope, rather increase the danger of making the future life and our prospects in it our direct aim and business in such a way as to corrupt both morality and religion? Could they do other than reinforce a religion which derives its moral sanction from bliss and woe in another world? Religion and morality, thus joined, are in effect mere other-worldliness. Morality becomes a mere extension of worldly prudence, utilitarian and hedonistic, distinguished only from a non-religious ethic by having a longer arm to reward and punish, and religion a kind of police magistrate who would fall into desuetude, if people would learn to behave themselves without needing to have the fear of him before their eyes. Utilitarian morality, so guaranteed, has even been regarded as the foundation-stone of religion; and the attempt to show that goodness has its own law and its own motive has been denounced as the most subtle of all attempts to prove religion unnecessary and baseless. The significance of this way of making men moral by religion, regarded mainly as the guarantee of well-being in a future life, appears in its nakedness when some bluff, worldly person, more interested in the rates than in religion, defends religion as a cheaper and more effective way than prisons and work-houses of keeping men honest, law-abiding and industrious.

Thus conceived, heaven and hell are pure appeals to a selfish self-regard. As that is more effective as 306 it is more material, heaven is apt to be a place of very material bliss and hell of very material misery. Even when these rewards and punishments are more spiritually conceived, if they are still sought in the same self-regarding way as material blessings, there is no real deliverance from the worldly temper. In practice, a life even of ascetic devotion, lived for another life, is not so unworldly as its outward form might lead us to suppose. A truly unworldly life must be lived not for our own benefit, material or spiritual, either here or hereafter, but for God's purposes now.

But if, to arguments, which might be too immaterial and doubtful to stake upon in that way of worldly investment in the future, were added a convincing material demonstration of a future life, the effect would be still more other-worldly and utilitarian. Such walking by sight, at all events, would never do anything to enable us, in any spiritual and inspiring and self-forgetting sense, to walk by faith.

Can it be supposed that the grim silence of the grave has not itself a religious meaning? Theologies in abundance have invaded its mystery, and religions have followed them. But have they followed religiously? Is religion concerned with another life in that direct and external way? Is not its true business within this world and amid the life in which God has immediately placed us? In respect of eternity as well as time the evil of the day is sufficient, and we are not to take thought for the morrow. No more are we to 307 be merely prospective saints in glory and not mortals doing our best with this life such as it is, than a child is to be merely a prospective man and not a child. The ignorance which cuts off the child from the tasks of manhood, by enabling him to attend to the tasks of childhood, not only prepares him better for the future, but allows him to live at the same time his own true life. Similarly we should give ourselves to the tasks of this life, as sons of the Kingdom, citizens of the Realm of God now, grateful that a thick veil prevents us from being distracted by the more glorious activities of another. As the sense of his manhood is rightly there for the child, not in the direct aim at being a man, but only in the presentiment of the responsibility of his maturity as he rightly discharges the duties of his childhood, so should we be sobered and encouraged by our hope only as it blossoms out of right living of our present life.

May it not be that one at least of the reasons why religion fails to touch so many of the most genuinely religious souls, more especially at the time of life when they most willingly respond to generous impulses, is the absence from the common religious teaching of the assurance that religion is blessedness in our present life? Success with prudent, worldly people, who, having made a competency for this life, are warned by declining years of the advantage of securing a further competence in the world to come, is but poor compensation for that failure. Young and generous souls are, and ought to be, intensely 308 conscious of life. Nothing could convince them, nothing should convince them, that life is not their immediate and urgent concern. When, therefore, persons, who, in spite of their chilled blood, are manifestly as tenacious of life as ever, exhort those standing on life's threshold, with all life's glorious possibilities before them, to say with an aged, imprisoned saint, "It is better to depart and to be with Christ," the result is merely a sense both of unreality and of dismay, as though religion, finding no meaning of any sort in this life, had, in desperation, to fling itself upon another. Weakness, captivity and old age have a right to be weary of life; youth and vigour under the open sky have not. Even in Paul the aged the mood is only of nature, and not of grace. The true religious note is his triumph over that natural impulse, the glorious assurance that this life, to its last dregs, would have meaning and value. This note of eternal youth is the true hope of immortality, which delivers from the abject fear of poverty, from warping cares, from cramping personal ambitions, from the paralysing sense of failing powers and of life's narrowing opportunity, and enables us to tread God's own high road, which, because it carries us over time's crude, material dominion, affords an outlook upon eternity, not at the end only, but throughout all life's pilgrimage.

The only truly religious hope of immortality so lives with God now as to know that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. It does not say, 309 Let us live for the life to come, but, Now have we eternal life. Instead of having us miserable now to be happy hereafter, it would give us present possession of a blessedness of such a quality that we know it cannot end. By having already in it victory over mortal terrors, it gives us a right to be assured of victory over the last enemy, death.

Only by finding a blessed and endless purpose in this life, can we have a triumphant hope larger than this life can contain. The hope of another life connected with this, at most, by some link of responsibility, a link which must not be too firmly riveted if that future life is not to be as miserable as this appears to be, never can be more than a dubious hypothesis, without power to act upon us except as a consideration of prudence. And to many it seems very dubious indeed. How should their present unsuccoured evil state afford an encouraging prospect of being compensated for in the world to come? This transference of all good to another life seems like an empty promise to silence their immediate just demands; for is there not cause to fear that a blank cheque upon the future, upon which nothing can be raised for our present necessities, may never at any time be honoured?

For that reason the first object of religion is not to demonstrate the reality of a future life, but to reconcile us to God in this. Though we cannot be reconciled to life if there is nothing beyond it, reconciliation to God does not mean that, though evil in itself, this life can be tolerated without being angry with God, 310 because of the compensation waiting for us in another life. We should not be reconciled to God because we believe in another life, but we should believe in another life because, being reconciled to God, we find a meaning in life which is ever expanding and a purpose death cannot end. Being no less than the infinite goal of holy love, it can give us nothing less than the assurance of eternal approximation to itself. As we realise this in every appointment for us of discipline and duty, we have the present assurance of a life blessed in an eternal hope which is now fulfilling itself. Thus we rightly and religiously believe in another life, because we are serving the purpose of a love for which this life is too small.

Such a hope is the power of an endless life, and not merely the expectation of an ulterior reward, which, by making us serve God only because He has heaven to bestow, corrupts the very assurance of love by which all hope in God lives. By accepting His will of love as, in spite of all our failure to be worthy of it, our own law of liberty, we discover in it a purpose endless and blessed as love itself, and know that already we have eternal life which has in it at once a glorious personal hope and deliverance from the dominion of anxiety about the future.

Yet the hope of another life, without which all realisation of the ends of goodness are for ever beyond our reach, cannot be given by any direct method of promise or gift, without making it an end to be served for its ulterior reward, which turns us away from 311 the service of goodness for its own sake. But again what is not possible as a direct work of omnipotence is possible by the personal, and, therefore, indirect, ways of God, which give heed to right receiving as well as to abundant giving.

The result once again admits of a summary statement. While blessedness in another life cannot be either a direct gift from God or a direct object for our own attainment, without corrupting morals by religion or religion by morals, the possession of eternal life, which we have by reconciliation to God's eternal purpose, gives us a right relation to ourselves, to our neighbours, and to God, and, therefore, an adequate moral subject, an adequate moral sphere, and an adequate moral order. Only as we see how religion provides these for us, do we understand the true dependence of morals on religion, and are no more tempted to make morals wrongly and selfishly dependent on religious motive, or to make religion a mere appendage to morality, or to keep religion and morality in separate compartments.

First, grace, by reconciling us to this life in such a way as to show us how it has its fulfilment in another, puts us in a right relation to ourselves, and so provides an adequate moral subject.

Without this succour of religion morality ends in an insoluble conflict of interests. A moral subject must be an end in himself. The laws he obeys are the laws of his own freedom, and the reverence by which he obeys them is reverence for himself as a 312 moral person: and both would cease, were the moral subject regarded merely as a means to an end, even were the end the race or the Kingdom of God. But, on the other hand, self-realisation is not the moral end, and, except for the higher service we can thereby render, it may not be made any part of the moral end. A true morality does not keep its eye on beautiful motives or a beautiful character, but simply on doing right. Morality is thus faced by a problem it cannot solve--the eternal and infinite significance of the moral subject for all he does, along with the unceasing requirement to forget himself in his moral task. It never can say how the moral subject is the sole final end, yet how a true moral attitude makes our tasks alone, and never ourselves, our conscious object.

But neither can religion find the solution merely in the hope of immortality. Without a hope beyond the grave, we are rather things than persons, with the strange addition that we resent our certain goal, which is corruption. A moral subject, therefore, as an end in himself, would not seem to exist at all without some enduring value. To deny ourselves is not to be indifferent as to whether this be so or not. It is a victory over time, not a disregard to eternity. The secret of not living to ourselves is a reverence for ourselves which, even now, knows the power of an endless life. Self-denial is not self-annihilation. How can we not live to ourselves, if we altogether cease to live? Self-denial, moreover, is not, in itself, a moral 313 end at all, but is good only as it is a necessary means to a moral end. Yet, while it is thus true that the denial of self is wrongly conceived when it is thought to raise us above the hope of immortality, a mere hope of immortality would leave us in the immoral position of making our moral end the perfection of our immortal souls, which, if it did not require us to live to ourselves, would leave us still living for ourselves.

We cannot have a true moral subject, his morality at once springing from his own worth and blessedness, yet forgetful of both and mindful only of call and opportunity, unless, by reconciliation to God in a world which serves our eternal good, we have the power of an endless life wherein law and love are one. Not till we have won this victory, have we a subject who is at once utterly loyal to himself and utterly forgetful of himself. But, with it, the least perfect can be an adequate moral subject, as the highest and holiest cannot be by any merely moral achievement.

Second, grace, by reconciling us to this life so as to show us its full significance in another, puts us in a right relation to others, and so provides us with an adequate moral sphere.

The ethical meaning of love is to treat every man as an end in himself, reverencing him, not for what he is, but for what he ought to become. Yet, how are we to continue to say what he ought to be, when, if the whole story end at the grave, we know it is what he 314 never will be? Our reverence, no doubt, derives a tenderness from the sense that all our relations are at the mercy of change and death, but would it continue if we placed behind them total evanescence and lost all sense that the frail vessel of our mortality has an immortal content? If we have to serve our fellow-men in view only of their possibilities in their few earthly years, not as promise but as achievement, how can we reverence man simply as man or confidently set his worth above his pleasure, especially when he affords us small ground, in his attainments or character, for esteem? Without this reverence for man as man, because of measureless possibilities in him, no one ever stands with effectiveness for any deep and revolutionary justice, anything beyond the most superficial judgment of rights and purely traditional views of possession. Nor can he have enduring patience in face of the slow progress of the ages, unless he believe that all right human relations, even in things material, have value beyond this life and are taken up into the eternal Divine order. Many, no doubt, have had a deep sense of justice who would not have admitted that they were influenced by any consideration of an immortal soul: but, partly, heroisms are often nourished by faiths which have suffered intellectual eclipse, and, partly, the belief in immortality has been regarded as a mere argument about the future and not as a sense of a for ever and for ever in human relations. As long as we regard this life as all that belongs to man, we shall always 315 have a society that is a mere welter of struggle for right, where the first duty of the strong will seem to be the defence of his own, a state which, however it be regulated from without, will always be moral chaos. Only as a society of immortals can we ever hope to base order upon a righteousness in whose regard the last may be first, and weakness and need a greater claim than attainment and possession.

But, again, that can never be helped forward by the mere expectation that another life will be linked to this by the tie of merit and reward. Trust in legal equity, according to which every man, at some time or another, shall meet the reward of his deeds, is one of the commonest and strongest causes of hard indifference to sin and suffering. The assurance that, for every soul of man, there is, even in this imperfect world, the eternal working of the eternal Father, that the soul's true good is His end and things but means, alone can nourish in us that love which reverences man for the possibilities of the image of God in him and make us prompt to succour and slow to condemn. And what else can provide for us a right moral sphere except that sympathetic reverence?

Lastly, grace, by so reconciling us to this life as to show us its full significance in another, provides an adequate moral order.

Because the moral order is valid though not yet realised, it does not follow that it would still be valid though it were never to be realised. Morality is not 316 a castle in the air, or, as Huxley conceived it, a precarious and short-lived revolt against the cosmic order. It is life's ultimate meaning or nothing. And, if the ultimate meaning is a moral order which is love, it is absurd to say that it could be valid though the final actual order were death.

Love is self-abnegation, not self-regard, but it is not self-destruction or self-disregard. Therefore, only if love is itself our best self-realisation, has even love the right to avert attention from ourselves to the fulfilment of its own behests; and it can be so only if the world is so constituted that to be delivered from self is to be saved.

This gives a due place to self-love, while delivering us from a utilitarian morality, which makes self-love the measure and the end of morals. Utilitarianism says, conscience is only self-love wisely judging what really pleases us; a true morality says, right self-love is only conscience wholly determined by God's will of love, which serves what is worthy of God's image in us and blesses us because it is in accord with the true order in which God has placed us.

This moral order, however, cannot be provided by a mere belief in another life, linked to this only by moral retribution. That belief is rather the bankruptcy of a moral order, a confession of trust only in motives which are not moral at all but material, because, however they be spiritualised, they still work upon the self in the same way as material advantage. An order of love which is at once self-sacrifice and 317 self-realisation, which does not work by promises, but is full of promise in all its working, which has not a foot of earth in it above which there is not the whole expanse of heaven, alone will avail. It avails because it can say, For great is your reward in Heaven, because its heaven is just its own perfect rule, so that, living in it, we know that we are amid the things eternal.

Here we see the true relation of morality and religion. "Nothing," as has been said, "should be done for religion, but everything with religion." But in the world of religion, which at once enables us to deny ourselves and find ourselves, mere morality should rejoice to lose itself, because it finds the love which is immeasurably more than the fulfilling of its law. When that is seen, religion will again make good its claim to be the heart of life's business, and not, as it has been, even for many professedly religious people, something that may be good business on its own account, but the last thing that could be imagined profitable for the business of life, the essence of which still remains to fight for our own hand. Then the lives which, without religion, are both self-indulgent and miserable, will at once become both austere and blessed.

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