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EXCURSIONS OF AN EVOLUTIONIST.*—The title of this book suggests the nature of its contents by a charming figure of speech. It both wards and invites us not to expect a very thorough or serious discussion of any particular subject. There is to be no campaign or long journey in any of the well-known or the unexplored fields of inquiry. The word “Excursions” fitly describes the light, rapid, and stimulating, but rather unsatisfactory way in which the author comes into contact with the edges, as it were, of a number of difficult and important truths. That the excursionist proposes to himself to consider everything from one point of view-viz: from that of an "evolutionist," or, more definitely, from that of a pretty thorough-going believer in evolution of the Spencerian type-is also made clear in the title. Casting quick glances at a variety of objects from this one point of view, the author enables us to see with him how it is possible for an evolutionist of this particular type to philosophize a little about them all. We have presented to us chapters on the Arrival of man in Europe, on our Aryan Forefathers and their language, and on a Primeval Mother Tongue, on Hero-worship, on Protestantism, its Origins and True Lessons, on Evolution and Religion (speech at a farewell dinner given to Herbert Spencer, in New York, Nov. 9, 1882), on Mind Stuff, and In Memoriam of Charles Darwin. All these subjects may be said to be presented as they appear almost at first blush to a devoted disciple of one kind of the developmenttheory.
It need scarcely be said that these essays are never tedious; on the contrary, there is not a page of them which does not contain some remark that is interesting and stimulating. To be sure, the interest is often one of quiet wonder or amazement; the stimulus often of the kind which provokes to a gentle opposition. The style is pure and clear; the remarks indulged in, not infrequently show much penetration and acuteness. A certain quantity of diaveté, both of thought and expression, lends an additional charm to many passages. For example: The author recollects (p. 283) "Once asking Mr. Spencer's opinion on some question of pure ontology.” To this question that great master-whom our author believes to “have made greater additions to the sum of human knowledge than have ever been made by any other man since the beginning of the world ” — replied that he had no opinion. The reason for Mr. Spencer's remarkable confession of ignorance is
* Boston; Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1884. pp. 379. Price, $2.00.
stated to be that “he was so entirely occupied in working out the theory of evolution .... that he had not time and strength left to expend on problems that are confessedly insoluble.” Of course, it could never have occurred to our author that there be those who think that Mr. Spencer has made greater additions to the cruder assumptions of ontology than almost “any other man since the beginning of the world.” Again the author praises highly (p. 331) the “ beautiful method” and “fresh light” of Clifford's theory of “ a universe of mind-stuff.” But he thinks that a trifle too much of "anti-theological bias” led Clifford to overstep the bounds of his own theory, and declare “that the complex web of human consciousness cannot survive the disintegration of the organic structure with which we invariably find it associated.” But this conclusion of Clifford's concerning the soul, is really the very foundation of his theory of mind-stuff.
What further can more strikingly illustrate this same charming naïveté than the author's declaration (p. 296) in his after-dinner speech, that “Mr. Spencer's work on the side of religion will be seen to be no less important than his work on the side of science ?” Nevertheless, the way in which he conceives of these important services of Spencer, and the statement (p. 369) that the final effect of Darwin's work may make him one of the best of religious teachers, because he who unfolds to us the way in which God works through the world of phenomena” may well be called such a teacher, are only two among many tokens that Mr. Fiske possesses gifts of prophetic insight which enable him to see much further into the real truth of religion than either Clifford, Spencer, or Darwin..
Clavis Rerum.*_The history of human thought is largely made up of speculations as to the nature and destiny of the universe, and “Clavis Rerum” is perhaps the latest attempt at what has hitherto baffled human ingenuity. The author tells us that this brief essay is "the result of many years of study, observation, and reflection.” He has striven to formulate a harmony of the universe. It would be impossible adequately to criticise a theory of the universe in two or three pages, and so we must content ourselves with an imperfect attempt to give some idea of the author's style and reasoning.
The author at different times appears in the threefold character of a Platonist, an Evolutionary Pantheist, and a Christian
* Clavis Rerum, pp. xiv., 142. Norwich, F. A. Robinson & Co., 1883.
Mystic. At other times we seem to be reading a revived and invigorated Neo-Platonismu. We constantly meet with examples of the Platonic theory of ideas. Evolution, too, finds a prominent position in these pages, while the Emanation theory of Plotinus, and its complement, absorption into the infinite Divinity, may perhaps be said to form the basis of the system advanced in Clavis Rerum. All this is of course unadvoidable in an eclectic system, for it is the aim of the writer to gather fragments of truth wherever he can find them and with these fragments to form a symmetrical structure. The Universe, according to this theory, is made up of the following "elements" or "modes of being":
Matter, “characterized by Extension and Impenetrability.”
Intellect and Will.
Consciousness of God.
Uncreatedness. Then comes an exposition of the combination of these elements :
Matter and force appear in their lowest form in natural phe
Matter, force, and life appear in their lowest form in plants, thence rising to animals and men.
Matter, force, life, and soul enter into the constitution of animals and man, the first three forming their bodies, while soul forms their intellect and will. Man receives the further endowment of spirit giving him consciousness of God. The author then describes the epochs, causes, and development of these combinations which make up the world. These elements proceeded from God or were created by him, the consummation is their assumption into His being. The soul of man is trained by its previous existence in animals. In other words, “the animal creation is, and has been, a training school for souls.” This Platonic theory he makes further use of. Throwing away the doctrine of innate ideas and apparently deeming Spencer's race experience inadequate to account for some of the primitive notions, be advances the theory that these notions are the results of the experience of our animal existence in the immense past.
In matters of style we think the author has too great an inclinotion for fine writing. The temptation is strong of course to try to relieve such a discussion of heaviness by the use of graces of VOL. VII.
style. But such a temptation must be yielded to very cautiously. The author adopts Dr. Pressensé's theory (we believe it is his) of the Mosaic account of the creation, that it was communicated by a vision. He then departs from the paths of severe thought and (see p. 16) gives a loose rein to his imagination in describing what that vision was like. His description with its variations of utter darkness and dazzling light, each followed by new scenes, reminds us irresistibly of a stereopticon exhibition. Again the author tells us (p. 56) that “there was an age of Birds, whose giant footprints still remain to mark the tomb, where saurus and dragon lie in sculptured death.” At first thought it would strike us that the bird tracks show where the birds had once lived. “Sculptured death” is entirely beyond us. On p. 60 he asserts that the only music of our parents “ was the song of birds, the æolian breath of nature.” What, pray, is an æolian breath, or even “the eolian breath of nature"? With a few exceptions of this kind the style is good and, for such a discussion, eminently readable.
DR. FIELD'S TRAVELS AMONG THE HOLY Hills. *_Dr. Field has excellent qualifications as a traveler. He is genial and sympathetic. He has an eye for the discernment of that which is good and attractive, even when evil is mingled with it. He has none of the egotism which feeds itself on fault-finding. He is catholic in his religious charity and in his theological judgments. While intelligent and critical, where there is a call for criticism, he is not a cold observer of sacred scenes. It is a pleasure to accompany him through Palestine. He has not given us a dry, methodical guide-book, nor has he written pages of sentimental comment on the historic places made familiar in Holy Writ. Fact and reflection are mingled naturally and in just proportions. Jerusalem and its neighborhood, Bethel and Shiloh, Nazareth, the towns of Samaria, the Sea of Galilee, Damascus, Baalbec, Mount Lebanon—these are prominent among the spots which the reader of this volume is permitted to visit in the company of a veteran traveler, familiar with the Scriptures, and with a mind open to the impressions of natural scenery and historical associations. There is no prolixness in this narrative of travel. It is a well
Among the Holy Hills. By HENRY M. FIELD, D.D., Author of "From the Lakes of Killarney to the Golden Horn," etc. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1884.
written story, neither curt uor diffuse, of a journey, by an experienced and competent traveler, through a country fraught with interest, not only to every historical scholar, but, also, to every Christian believer. It has the freshness, to use a phrase of his own, of “ a handful of wild flowers from Palestine.”
SCHAFF'S CHURCH History, Vol. III.* _Dr. Schaff advances rapidly in the issue of the volumes of his extensive and very valuable History of the Church. But the rapidity is due to his wellknown industry, and to a thorough preparation, through many years of study, for the task. The present volume is on a level with its predecessors in excellence. The literary aids, which are pointed out, are a feature which every good student will know how to prize. The discussion is able, the spirit fair. We are led through the great controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries by a competent guide-one familiar with the paths, and of a catholic temper. The entire work is abreast of the times, and when completed will stand as a worthy monument of the esteemed author's remarkable ability and learning.
The PARABLES OF JESUS.-This work is designed to investigate the original meaning of the parables under the guidance of a thorough, methodical, and exact exposition, and thus to supply & want which their common catechetical and homiletical treatment does not meet. It is also designed as a check to the caprice with which they are often treated. The work has found considerable favor in Germany. The translator quotes a commendation of it by Dr. Weiss, as characterized by “solid exegesis, sound judgment, and sober, skillful interpretation.” Twenty-seven pages are devoted to a brief discussion of the nature of parabolic teaching; the remainder is devoted to the interpretation of the parables. Notwithstanding all which has been written on the subject, there is still a place for this book, and it will be found valuable to ministers and others who wish to make a careful study of the parables of our Lord.
* History of the Christian Church. By Philip SCHAFF. A new edition, Vol. III. Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity (311-900). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1884.
+ The Parables of Jesus : A Methodical Exposition. By SIEGFRIED GOEBEL, Court Chaplain in Halberstadt. Translated by Professor Banks, Headingley. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 38 George street, 1883. From Scribner & Welford, New York. X. and 460 pages.