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definite and unforeseeable future. Forming a collective Existence without assignable beginning or end, it appeals to that feeling of the Infinite, which is deeply rooted in human nature, and which seems necessary to the imposingness of all our highest conceptions."* At the same time, as Mill himself notices, and as Comte frequently asserts, the Grand Etre is not to be conceived of as composed of "all individuals or groups of men, past, present, and future taken indiscriminately,"t but as made up solely of noble natures who have " played their part worthily in life”—a proviso that plainly impairs considerably the infinitude of the idea. Not Humanity as it is, but Humanity idealized, is to be substituted, like the Greek Jove, for the God of Christianity. Moreover, on the ground that only those who have proved themselves worthy of honor, should be incorporated into the Grand Etre, we are to regard ii as composed essentially of the dead, the living being admitted provisionally merely. Bearing in mind that the only existence accorded to the dead by Positivism, is subjective existence in the minds of the living, we need no further evidence of the indefiniteness and unreality of the Deity of the Positivist. Notwithstanding his hatred of metaphysics, Comte, in presenting this abstract idea as the basis of his religious system, affords a curious illustration of Aristotle's famous dictum: “If we must philosophize, we must philosophize; if we must not philosophize, we must philosophize ;-in any case, therefore, we must pbilosophize."
But the Deity of Positivism is real and definite, or it is nothing. This vague and empty abstraction must, accordingly, be personified, in order to be appreciated. Suitable individuals are to be chosen and worsbip is to be offered to them as the representatives of humanity. Now, it makes no difference, so far as the principle of the thing is concerned, whether a human being is adored under the name of the Lama, as in Thibet, or under the name of Madame Clotilde de Vaux, as in the case of Comte. When we learn, in addition, that the animal races are to be included in the Great Being,l we do not need the assur
* Auguste Comte and Positivism, p. 135. + Comte's Positive Polity, vol. i, p. 333.
| Ibid. $ Positive Polity, vol. iv., p. 96, et seq.
|| Ibid, p. 33.
ance which Comte gives us again and again, that Positivism is more directly connected with Fetichism than with any of the forms of Theology, being able to see clearly “how entirely the primeval adoration of the external world was in instinctive conformity with the ultimate tendencies of Humanity.” Without doubt Comte's system exhibits the same defect as is manifest in earlier and ruder forms of religion, inasmuch as he has failed to perceive the Creator and creature as distinct from each other, and has effected a union between the two by hopelessly confusing them.
If we turn to the secondary aspect of the religious problem, and ask what sort of union is established by the Religion of Humanity not only between man and the Deity whom he worships, but man and his fellow man, the result is no less disappointing. Notwithstanding the many noble sentiments incul. cated by Positivism in regard to the relation of mankind to each other, we find that individuality is regarded by Comte as "anarchy,” the "élément perturbateur" of society : that the idea of natural rights is abhorrent to him, and that he proposes to introduce uniformity of opinion by a legislation as arbitrary as the rule of an eastern despot. In whatever way we look at it, we cannot but conclude that the unity proposed by the Religion of Humanity, whether between God and man, or man and society, is a “homogeneity" without difference rather than a " coherent heterogeneity,” to be compared to the undeveloped germ rather than to the full grown tree or animal, and to be regarded as better adapted to "the beginning of human progress considered as a development" than to the advanced thought of the nineteenth century.
It has been the confidence of the Spencerians, as it has been of the Positivists, that they represent the vanguard in the philosophy of religion. Does Cosmic Theism respond to the test of highest development—the test it has itself proposed ? It is claimed that it does so respond. Let us remind ourselves that, if such be the case, this theory must account for progress from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, from the indefinite to the definite, from the incoherent to the coherent. Comte regards Deity as absorbed in humanity; Spencer, implicitly, in his conceptions of the absolute and the infinite, which ex. clude the possibility of the independent existence of man, and, explicitly, in his denial of free will and even of a mental substance,* seems to regard humanity as swallowed up in Deity. Is not, then, the same objection applicable to Cosmism as to Positivism, that it presents a mere homogeneity without heterogeneity? Strictly speaking, yes. At the same time, the benefit of a doubt is to be conceded. For, however contradictory it may be, and however lacking in a logical basis, it is nevertheless true that Spencer declares the consciousness of personality to be “a fact beyond all others the most certain,"+ and that Fiske expressly denies the charge of Pantheism as false, & while the worth and power of personality are empha. sized and reëmphasized both by Spencer and Fiske. So far, for the sake of the argument, at least, we do not deny Spencer's statement that "the theory of the Cosmos, beginning with fitful ghost-agency, and ending with the orderly action of a universal Unknown Power, exemplifies once more the law of Evolution) fulfilled by all ascending transformations."S These words close a summary of some eighteen chapters of the Sociology in which the development of primitive beliefs has been traced. Having stated that this development conforms to the Law of Evolution by exhibiting an increase in heterogeneity, etc., he adds, "Change from the indefinite to the definite is no less clearly displayed."..."The different kinds of supernatural beings grow more defined in their forms, dispositions, powers, habits; until, in developed mythologies, they are specifically and even individually distinguished by attributes precisely stated."| In his Essays, Spencer carries the explanation still farther and shows exactly how the law continues to be fulfilled. “Supposed concrete and individual causal agencies," he says, “coalesce in the mind as fast as groups of phenomena are assimilated, or seen to be similarly caused. Along with their coalescence, comes a greater extension of their individual. ities. Gradually by the continuance of such coalescences,
* Positive Polity, vol. iv., p. 131.
* Spencer's Psychology, vol. i., pp. 500-503.
| Ibid, p. 452.
causal agencies become in thought confused and indefinite. And eventually, without any change in the nature of the process, there is reached the consciousness of a universal causal agency, which cannot be conceived."* In the Sociology it is distinctly stated that the Law of Evolution is exemplified in developed mythologies by the fact that different kinds of supernatural beings grow more defined. The next step of progress, according to the Essays, is “a loss of distinctness in their individualities;" and from this point there is an advance not from the indefinite to the definite as heretofore, but from the indefinite to the more indefinite. Is it true, then, that this “theory of the Cosmos, . . ending with a universal Unknown Power," exemplifies the law that necessitates an advance from the indefinite to the definite, or is entirely clear that it is out of harmony with that law ? Either there is a mistake here in interpreting the facts of the religious development of the race as being toward an ever increasing indefiniteness in the concept of Deity, or else this is a signal instance in which the universal Law of Evolution fails to account for the facts. If Spencer's assertion is true that the object of religious cognition has, in all religious systems, always remained the same,t it is difficult to see why the multitudinous gods of polytheism should be regarded as separate factors in the religious problem, to be distinguished and again united according to the Law of Evolution, as Spencer himself bas unsuccessfully attempted to do. The universal causal agent being considered as an indivisible and constant factor, the question as to the adequacy of any particular religion, will turn upon the clearness with which the relationship between the divine and buman is apprehended. I However this may be, we repeat that, if it is a fact that Spencer's theory of the progress of religious ideas maintains an advance from the indefinite to the more indefinite, then it is not a fact that it exemplifies the Law of Evolution. Plainly, if his theory is to conform to the Law, the termination of that theory must be something other than the Unknowable. Even from his own standpoint as well as from the standpoint of many of his critics, it would seem necessary to reconstruct his defini* Essays, vol. iii., p. 67.
| Ibid, p. 73. | Cf. Caird's Philosophy of Religion, p. 326.
tions of the conceivable as that which can be pictured by the imagination and the infinite as the indefinite-definitions which, at the very beginning of his investigations, assume the conclu. sions at which he arrives.
But farther; there should be, according to the Evolution formula, an advance not only from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, from the indefinite to the definite, but also from the incoherent to the coherent, i. e., from a loose or superficial unity to a unity that is intimate and complete. But what union can there be between man and an impersonal Deity that is retreating farther and farther into unknowableness ? Suppose it be granted that reverence and fear are due to a Deity, union and communion with such an one would be impossible. It has been well said that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but it is only the beginning.” Not without reason is it that, when Spencer comes to deal with character and conduct in his Data of Ethics, the Unknowable becomes the Ignored. As Comtism must be rejected as “old in structure," because it presents a unity without difference—a homogeneity without heterogeneity—so Cosmism must be rejected as like. wise "old in structure," inasmuch as it furnishes a "differentia- . tion" for which it can offer no corresponding "integration." In this case, unity without difference and difference without unity are equally meaningless, and either is palpably nearer to “the beginning of human progress considered as a development” than to that highest development that includes both differentiation and integration.
It remains to apply the same test to Christianity as bas been applied to the two systems that have been offered to take its place. Having noticed the essential identity of the Law of Evolution with the Hegelian formula of unity in diversity, it is interesting to observe, in passing, that a prominent school among the Hegelians regard Christianity as a most perfect practical exemplification of this principle. It is conceded by all, no matter of what philosophic school, that Christianity, in its emphasis of moral responsibility, in its assertion of the freedom and equality of all men before God, and, we should add, in its proof that immortality is not a fiction but a fact, has been a potent agent in producing the recognition of individu