Page images
PDF
EPUB

upon one an impression of parti pris. A philosophy of religion, apart from the comparative science of religions, and apart also from a disinterested and general philosophy of history, must always be more or less arbitrary and factitious. It is only pseudoscientific, this reduction of human life to three spheres - industry, law, and religion. The author seems to me to possess a vigorous and profound mind, rather than a free mind. Not only is he dogmatic, but he dogmatises in favour of a given religion, to which his whole allegiance is pledged. Besides, Christianity, being an X which each church defines in its own way, the author takes the same liberty, and defines the X in his way; so that he is at once too free and not free enough; too free in respect to historical Christianity, not free enough in respect to Christianity as a particular church. He does not satisfy the believing Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed Churchman, or Catholic; and he does not satisfy the freethinker. This Schellingian type of speculation, which consists in logically deducing a particular religion — that is to say, in making philosophy the servant of Christian theology – is a legacy from the Middle Ages.

After belief comes judgment; but a believer is not a judge. A fish lives in the ocean, but it cannot see all round it; it cannot take a view of the whole : therefore it cannot judge what the ocean is. In order to understand Christianity we must put it in its historical place in its proper framework; we must regard it as a part of the religious development of humanity, and so judge it, not from a Christian point of view, but from a human point of view, sine ira nec studio.

16th December 1868. - I am in the most painful state of anxiety as to my poor kind friend, Charles Heim. ... Since the 30th November I have had no letter from the dear invalid, who then said his last farewell to me. How long these two weeks have seemed to me, and how keenly I have realised that strong craving which many feel for the last words, the last looks, of those they love! Such words and looks are a kind of testament. They have a solemn and sacred character which is not merely an effect of our imagination. For that which is on the brink of death already participates to some extent in eternity. A dying man seems to speak to us from beyond the tomb; what he says

has the effect upon us of a sentence, an oracle, an injunction ; we look upon him as one endowed with second sight. Serious and solemn words come naturally to the man who feels life escaping him, and the grave opening before him. The depths of his nature are then revealed; the Divine within him need no longer hide itself. Oh! do not let us wait to be just or pitiful or demonstrative towards those we love until they or we are struck down by illness or threatened with death! Life is short, and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind !

26th December 1868. — My dear friend died this morning at. Hyères. A beautiful soul has returned to heaven. So he has ceased to suffer! Is he happy now?

If men are always more or less deceived on the subject of women, it is because they forget that they and women do not speak altogether the same language, and that words have not the same weight or the same meaning for them, especially in questions of feeling. Whether from shyness

or precaution or artifice, a woman never speaks out her whole thought, and moreover what she herself knows of it is but a part of what it really is. Complete frankness seems to be impossible to her, and complete self-knowledge seems to be forbidden her. If she is a sphinx to us, it is because she is a riddle of doubtful meaning even to herself. She has no need of perfidy, for she is mystery itself. A woman is something fugitive, irrational, indeterminable, illogical, and contradictory. A great deal of forbearance ought to be shown her, and a good deal of prudence exercised with regard to her, for she may bring about innumerable evils without knowing it. Capable of all kinds of devotion, and of all kinds of treason, monstre incompréhensible,' raised to the second power, she is at once the delight and the terror of man.

The more a man loves, the more he suffers. The sum of possible grief for each soul is in proportion to its degree of perfection.

He who is too much afraid of being duped has lost the power of being magnanimous.

Doubt of the reality of love ends by making us doubt everything. The final result of all deceptions and disappointments is atheism, which may not always yield up its name and secret, but which lurks, a masked spectre, within the depths of thought, as the last supreme explainer. Man is what his love is,' and follows the fortunes of his love.

The beautiful souls of the world have an art of saintly alchemy, by which bitterness is converted into kindness, the gall of human experience into gentleness, ingratitude into benefits, insults into pardon. And the transformation ought to become so easy and habitual that the lookers-on may think it spontaneous, and nobody give us credit for it.

27th January 1869. – What, then, is the service rendered to the world by Christianity? The proclamation of good news.' And what is this good news'? The pardon of sin. The God of holiness loving the world and reconciling it to Himself by Jesus, in order to establish the kingdom of God, the city of souls, the life of heaven upon earth, - here you have the whole of it; but in this is a revolution. Love ye

« PreviousContinue »