Be good, sweet maid, and let who will
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long;
And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever
One grand, sweet song.
Surely these last, who have not accepted tradition in the mass, who believe that we must, as our Lord demanded of the Jews, of our own selves judge what is right, because therein his spirit works with our spirit,—worship the Truth not less devotedly than they who rejoice in holy tyranny over their intellects.
THE QUESTIONING FERVOUR.
And now I turn to the other class—that which, while the former has fled to tradition for refuge from doubt, sets its face towards the spiritual east, and in prayer and sorrow and hope looks for a dawn—the noble band of reverent doubters—as unlike those of the last century who scoffed, as those of the present who pass on the other side. They too would know; but they know enough already to know further, that it is from the hills and not from the mines their aid must come. They know that a perfect intellectual proof would leave them doubting all the same; that their high questions cannot be answered to the intellect alone, for their whole nature is the questioner; that the answers can only come as questioners and their questions grow towards them. Hence, growing hope, blossoming ever and anon into the white flower of confidence, is their answer as yet; their hope—the Beatific Vision—the happy-making sight, as Milton renders the word of the mystics.
It is strange how gentle a certain large class of the priesthood will be with those who, believing there is a God, find it hard to trust him, and how fierce with those who, unable, from the lack of harmony around and in them, to say they are sure there is a God, would yet, could they find him, trust him indeed. “Ah, but,” answer such of the clergy and their followers, “you want a God of your own making.” “Certainly,” the doubters reply, “we do not want a God of your making: that would be to turn the universe into a hell, and you into its torturing demons. We want a God like that man whose name is so often on your lips, but whose spirit you understand so little—so like him that he shall be the bread of life to all our hunger—not that hunger only already satisfied in you, who take the limit of your present consciousness for that of the race, and say, ‘This is all the world needs:’ we know the bitterness of our own hearts, and your incapacity for intermeddling with its joy. We
have another mountain-range, from whence
Bursteth a sun unutterably bright;
nor for us only, but for you also, who will not have the truth except it come to you in a system authorized of man.”
I have attributed a general utterance to these men, widely different from each other as I know they are.